Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe you haven’t. Nevertheless, it certainly exists and can wreak havoc on our health. It’s called leptin resistance. That’s the bad news. However, there’s also some good news: you can fight back against leptin resistance.
But what is leptin resistance and why is it so important? Leptin is a hormone that communicates to the brain that we’ve consumed enough food and feel “full.” It also allows the body to use fat as energy. When leptin is working as it should in the body, it helps to control how much we eat and, therefore, helps us to stay at a healthy weight and to have balanced blood sugar levels.
When leptin’s not working correctly—due to processed foods, lack of adequate exercise, stress and other factors—then it goes haywire. More specifically, the body is no longer leptin sensitive, but becomes leptin resistant.
Leptin resistance, in turn, can lead to: gaining too much weight, becoming insulin resistant or diabetic, excessive inflammation or developing cardiovascular disease. The damage is far reaching, too. Leptin resistance can also injure other areas of the body, including the liver, pancreas, platelets, the vascular system and the muscle layers of the heart.
The bottom line is that you want to avoid becoming leptin resistant at all costs or fight back against it if you already are leptin resistant. Here are some tips:
Avoid Inflammatory Foods and Eat Slowly: Inflammation-causing foods directly interfere with how leptin functions in the body. Likewise, C-reactive protein (CRP) is an outgrowth of inflammation-causing foods and paves the way to leptin resistance, among other health hazards such as heart disease and increased risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Food labels can tell you lot, such as how many calories, carbs, proteins and fats are in foods, but they sure don’t tell you how much “inflammation-creating potential” can be found in foods. The truth is that the foods we eat directly affect inflammation through chemicals called prostaglandins from the foods’ nutrients.
Foods such as wild fish, cruciferous vegetables, green, leafy vegetables and some spices such as ginger, cayenne pepper and garlic may be especially healthy for supporting normal inflammation. Other foods that rank positively in “taming the flames” of inflammation include: extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and onions.
On the other hand, foods which increase unhealthy inflammation are conventional processed foods such as bagels, breakfast cereals, packaged granola bars, pizzas, burgers, French fries, chicken nuggets, sodas, conventional ice cream, low-fat milk—and just about anything that is overly processed or is regarded as fast food. Even farm-raised salmon vs. wild salmon can come in high in causing inflammation. Likewise, eating more slowly may help prevent leptin resistance, according to a Harvard University study, so slow it down and savor your anti-inflammatory foods.
Exercise Regularly: Not getting enough physical activity can increase your chances of becoming leptin resistant, since cortisol levels rise when you’re not active—and that adversely affects leptin. Exercise can help curb the effects of cortisol and decrease leptin resistance.
Manage Stress: Chronic stress can also greatly increase cortisol levels, increasing your appetite, which can lead to overeating. As mentioned, cortisol also directly interferes with the proper function of leptin in the body, making you less sensitive to leptin.
Supplement Your Diet: Some dietary supplements may also fight leptin resistance. One is fucoxanthin, a carotenoid found in brown seaweed, among other things. It has shown the ability to support healthy inflammation and to battle leptin resistance. Then there’s zinc. It can bolster leptin’s ability to perform at optimal levels in the body. And let’s not forget about Irvingia gabonensis, an extract of the African mango. It helps lower inflammation and, in turn, has been quite effective in combating leptin resistance.
Keep leptin resistance at bay. Eat right, exercise, manage stress and supplement your diet, when necessary.