Ghrelin, the Hunger Hormone

Woman stares into open refrigerator pondering how to satisfy her hunger without gaining weight

One often overlooked benefit of gastric sleeve surgery is reducing a hunger-producing hormone called ghrelin. The ghrelin produced in the stomach sends signals to the brain, telling us that we are hungry. According to a study from the University Hospital of Navarra in Spain, ghrelin can also cause additional body fat to accumulate in the abdominal area. This visceral fat is the most dangerous kind and is a leading contributor to heart disease and type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in obese patients.

When the outer portion of the stomach is separated and removed from the abdomen during a gastric sleeve, our body’s main production center of ghrelin is eliminated. For most patients, this leads to fewer hunger pangs between meals and can, in many cases, decrease the amount of food they eat. This, combined with the gastric sleeve’s mechanical restriction, offers patients excellent disease improvement potential and long-term weight loss.

Currently, gastric sleeve patients can enjoy excess weight loss of up to 70% and excellent improvement or elimination of diseases associated with obesity. The National Institutes of Health guidelines stipulate that patients with a Body Mass Index of 40 or over (or 35 or over with obesity-related diseases) can qualify for gastric bypass and weight loss surgery.

Is the Gastric Sleeve Always the Best Procedure?

Most patients will have heard of the gastric sleeve, the most popular bariatric surgery procedure in the United States. However, many practices also offer combination restrictive and malabsorptive procedures such as the gastric bypass and duodenal switch. These procedures typically provide greater potential for excess body weight loss and more significant potential for obesity-related disease improvement or resolution. A bypass or DS may be the best option for patients suffering from poorly controlled or uncontrolled gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It is important to speak to your bariatric surgeon of choice to understand which procedure may be best for you.

Can You Control Ghrelin?

Even before gastric sleeve surgery, you can take steps to control ghrelin secretion in your body. Eating well and exercising properly can regulate hormonal production and keep a proper balance. You may wish to consider non-fad diets like the Mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting. Combining these two lifestyle changes can help you lose weight and improve your health.

For a more detailed explanation of the benefits of gastric sleeve surgery and to start the process toward weight loss surgery, please find a bariatric surgeon in your area by clicking here.

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