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Leptin is a hormone… but not just any hormone.
It works like an appetite suppressant because it has the power to make you feel full. And for dieters or anyone just wanting to better manage their eating habits, a leptin supplement would be a godsend, right?
Unfortunately, simply supplementing with leptin to curb your appetite cannot be done. But that doesn’t mean you can’t boost leptin’s ability to help you eat less…
All you need to do is improve your leptin sensitivity so it will turn your appetite switch to off. To do that, you have to understand how certain foods dull leptin’s signals. That way you can avoid them and maximize the weight-reducing benefits of this important hormone.…
The effect of fructose and other sugars on leptin
In my previous article on wrangling hormones to improve weight, mood, sleep and energy levels, I listed dietary rules that can enhance leptin sensitivity and turn off your appetite quickly. That’s important advice to remember…
I also wrote that chronic fructose consumption triggers leptin resistance. 1 This means that if you consume high amounts of fructose or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — the main sweetener in sodas — you will not be able to easily sense leptin’s ‘feel full’ signals.
Let’s look at why fructose, and high fructose corn syrup, are different than other sugars…
The scientific literature tells us that fructose is sweeter than either glucose or sucrose (fructose + glucose). In soft drinks and as other sweeteners, fructose is sweet and void of nutrition. Fructose is the preferred sugar sweetener by the manufacturers of sodas because it significantly increases the perception of sweetness. Unfortunately, the rising consumption of soft drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has paralleled the rise of obesity. 2 That could very well be because fructose sweetened foods actually increase your appetite, as shown in published studies. 3 4
Worse, fructose sweeteners have actually been proven to be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. 5 6 In one study, 7 compared to glucose-sweetened drinks, consumption of fructose-sweetened beverages for 10 weeks increased new fat formation, raised bad cholesterol levels, impaired insulin sensitivity (leading to diabetes), and increased abdominal fat in overweight adults.
Moreover, while your body cells utilize glucose (not fructose) for metabolism, your gut bacteria can easily use fructose, so that excess fructose contributes to gut dysbiosis (unhealthy gut flora overgrowth), leading to leaky gut syndrome and chronic diseases.
But in fruit, fructose corresponds with nutritional richness. That’s because fruits contain high amounts of fiber and other micronutrients, even though they are high in fructose. Does the fructose in fruit carry the same risk as fructose-sweeteners? Absolutely not!
So that you aren’t confused by what you may see in print about the fructose content of various foods, let me show you something…
Briefly study the fructose content of the foods 8 listed below (based on a 200 Calorie serving) and you will notice some healthy foods listed right alongside unhealthy, highly sweetened foods:
|Carbonated cola drinks with caffeine||fructose 29.7 grams|
|Applesauce, canned, unsweetened||fructose 28.0 grams|
|Honey||fructose 27.0 grams|
|Sprite (without caffeine)||fructose 26.0 grams|
|Apples, raw, without skin||fructose 25.1 grams|
|Grapes, red or green, seedless||fructose 23.5 grams|
|Dates, medjool||fructose 23.0 grams|
|Watermelon, raw (4.2 cups)||fructose 22.4 grams|
|Ginger ale carbonated drink||fructose 21.7 grams|
|McDonald’s barbeque sauce||fructose 18.7 grams|
|Blueberries, raw (2.4 cups)||fructose 17.4 grams|
|Strawberries halved, raw (4 cups)||fructose 15.2 grams|
|McDonald’s hot mustard sauce||fructose 10.0 grams|
Using simple math you can see that you would have to eat 8 cups of strawberries to match the fructose found in 1 can of Coca Cola.
Strawberries are loaded with micronutrients and fiber and as with other fruits, will help keep leptin hormone function optimal. But Coca Cola contains 55 grams of total sugars — most of which are from fructose — and contains zero micronutrients or fiber, and turns on your appetite even more.
In addition to avoiding high fructose sweeteners (especially HFCS), also avoid sucrose (table sugar), and the high fructose-containing sweetener, Agave if you can.
Contrariwise, Stevia is a sweetener that won’t turn on your appetite. Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, it is many times sweeter than table sugar, but contains no calories, is not an artificial sweetener. In human studies it has been shown to lower high blood pressure, lower blood sugar in diabetics, and improved insulin sensitivity. In animal studies it reduced heart disease biomarkers and reduced arteriosclerosis (artery plaque build-up). 9
Supplements that help
Some supplements can help boost your leptin sensitivity. Those include:
- L-glutamine: 1,000 mg taken 30 minutes before meals reduces insulin and enhances glucose utilization. It also supports a healthy small intestinal lining
- L-Carnitine: is a naturally occurring amino acid that has been thoroughly studied for it’s ability to reduce one’s total fat mass, boost mental focus and also reduce fatigue. There is even evidence it lowers leptin resistance.
- Alpha lipoic acid: Recent studies 10 indicate that ALA helps boost metabolism, promotes fat burning, and reduces food intake
- Omega-3 oils: DHA and EPA are anti-inflammatory with many additional health benefits.
- Omega-6 oil GLA: Gamma-linolenic acid is an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid (unlike the omega-6 oils linoleic acid and arachidonic acid). GLA is a supplement and also in evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant seed oil.
Stimulant appetite suppressants
These increase energy and block appetite. They are only effective for a short time (i.e. up to 3 months) but can be helpful while training your taste buds on nutrient-rich, lower calorie whole foods. Here are some options:
- Yerba Mate, Capsicum, Sida Cordifolia, Green Tea, Yerba Santa, or Gotu Kola taken as a daily or twice daily tea.
- Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is naturally high in caffeine, a natural stimulant. Its antioxidant power is 10xs that of green tea.
- Yohimbine (Corynanthe yohimbine) breaks down fat. It is also an aphrodisiac and aids erectile dysfunction.
- Extact of Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) contains p-synephrine — an alkaloid found in nature, at low concentrations, in a wide variety of citrus fruits — that increases capacity to burn fat. (Note: citrus fruits help undo the damage of the occasional fast food binge)
Metabolism enhancers — fat burners
These are generally useful for six months, but safe to continue as long as they are effective:
- Garcinia Cambogia promotes body fat loss without stimulating your central nervous system. The extract of Garcinia Cambogia is HCA (hydroxycitric acid) which has been show to “increase serotonin availability, reduce appetite, increase fat oxidation, improve blood lipid levels, reduce body weight, and [safely] modulate obesity regulatory genes…” 11 at the dose of 1,500 mg three times daily — as much as 5.4% weight loss in two months (in one study).
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a naturally occurring fatty acid shown to reduce calorie intake, increase fat burning, and slow fat formation, and reduce fat stores. Usual dose is 3.2 grams total daily for 2 weeks at a time with at least 3 days break before repeating.
- Forskolin (Plectranthus barbatus) at 125 mg twice daily significantly decreases body fat mass, and increases lean body mass and serum testosterone levels. 12
- B complex and B 12 injections will increase metabolism, but this will wear off after about 4 months.
- Grapefruit, apple cider vinegar, honey: combine 1 cup grapefruit juice, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, and 1 tsp honey before meals to burn fat. Be aware that grapefruit also competes against some important liver detoxification enzymes.
The sweet taste blocker gymnema sylvestre
- Gymema sylvestre herbal drops onto your tongue before meals helps block the taste of sweet/sugar. It is safe for long term use.
Digestive appetite blockers
- Glucomannan is a food gelling agent so it absorbs water much like psyllium and slows the absorption of sugar in the gut, while feeling full more rapidly. 13
- Pectin: this soluble fiber from apples and citrus fruits lowers food intake by slowing the passage of food from your stomach to your small intestine, which increases the sensation of fullness. Supplementation with leptin is proven 14 to lower leptin resistance and body fat content, and it also lowers LDL cholesterol. Pectin costs less than an apple or an orange and is generally recognized as safe. The usual dose is 500 mg (amount of pectin in 3 apples) to 1 gram three times daily with meals.
- Irvingia gabonensis 15 is a water-soluble “bulk-forming” dietary fiber extracted from African mango seeds. It is one of many similar soluble fiber supplements, like Glucomannan, that reduces the elevation of blood sugar that is typical after a meal 16 and lowers blood cholesterol levels. You’ll find the dose to be 150 mg 17 up to 1,000 mg twice daily.
- Digestive enzymes (plant source) with meals and Betaine HCL (natural stomach acid for digestion)
- Cascara sagrada or senna to get GI tract moving only for 5 days at a time, then rest the bowels for at least two days before using again
- Bitter herbs and essential oils (i.e. peppermint) will stimulate digestion