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To ensure a constant energy supply, our brain has mechanisms that detect when our body needs to ingest food and when it doesn't. This article describes the main strategy our brain follows to keep us fueled to perform our daily activities.

Usually, an adult would eat from three to five times a day. So, how do we maintain a constant bodyweight? Our body is so well designed that, also through signalling, it is able to know how much energy we need every day and how much food and which nutrients we must ingest in order to fulfill those requirements. For this, our body requires long term signals that are in charge of two important hormones: insulin and leptin.

Leptin, the weight-lose hormone?

Leptin is produced by our adipose tissue.

Research has identified leptin as participating actively in maintaining body weight and also in promoting satiety, together with CCK.

For instance, it is known that reduced levels of leptin found in people with mutations that affect leptin production cause obesity, a condition that can be reversed when an exogenous form of the hormone is administered to these patients.

No wonder why there are nowadays so many weight lose products and programs based on increasing leptin levels. But before you get all excited, research has also shown that people with obesity with no leptin genetic alterations actually have high leptin levels, and other studies have shown that the use of exogenous leptin has very small effects on body weight.

There are also several diets that claim to be able to control leptin levels, in order to help you loose weight. If these work or not, I do not know, but what is true is that weight is affected by several factors, not only leptin levels, so it is difficult to determine whether a specific type of diet or food will help you manage leptin levels. 

Insulin and glucose control

The pancreas is the one in charge of producing insulin in response to food intake, unlike leptin.

Insulin also regulates the levels of glucose, or blood sugar, as others may call it. 

Right after a meal, glucose levels in the blood rise and promote the liberation of insulin, which lets our cells know that glucose is available for them to use. When insulin no longer works, a state known as insulin resistance causes chronic high blood glucose levels, which can alter other body functions and develop into what is known as diabetes.

Insulin also participates in satiety signaling. Overweight and obese people have higher risk of suffering from insulin resistance and eventually, diabetes, than people who have a healthy weight. 

In conclusion, both our digestive system and our brain work together to control our food intake and how the energy obtained from food should be used, transformed or stored. These control mechanisms are really precise, but are also very prone to be affected by changes in our diet or schedule. The good thing is that biological systems are flexible and eventually get used to the changing conditions they are exposed to. 

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