The Hormones That Regulate Hunger and Digestion

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Before your body can utilize the nutrients you consume, your digestive tract must digest and absorb them. But before eating, it is beneficial to feel hungry.

Appetite is not the same as hunger. Hunger is a physical response triggered by hormonal and chemical changes in the body when more food is required.

Appetite is primarily psychological and can occasionally a trained reaction to particular foods. It is one of the reasons why you can consume food when you are not hungry. There are various hormones that govern appetite, digestion, and hunger.

Hunger Hormones

Hunger is the sensation felt when the body requires sustenance. When you have eaten enough, you should no longer feel hungry. Because a number of hormones govern appetite, this is the case.


Leptin is a hormone produced into the bloodstream by adipose tissue (fat). The greater the amount of body fat, the higher the leptin levels in the blood. Your leptin level grows with food consumption and is higher in females than in males, but it decreases as you age. Increased leptin levels stimulate the hypothalamus to suppress appetite.


When the stomach is empty, the stomach and small intestine create the hormone ghrelin. Similar to leptin, it acts on the hypothalamus, but instead of inhibiting appetite, it stimulates it.


The hormone adiponectin is secreted by fat cells in your body. However, as your body fat percentage decreases, this hormone increases, and vice versa; when you gain weight, your adiponectin levels decrease.


Cholecystokinin is a hormone generated during and after a meal in the small intestine. It stimulates the release of bile and digestive enzymes in the small intestine, inhibits appetite, and causes fullness.

Peptide YY

This hormone, produced by both the large and small intestines after a meal, lowers hunger for approximately 12 hours. It is produced by the pancreas. It is best recognized for regulating glucose levels in the blood. It also reduces appetite.


These hormones are produced by the adrenal glands, and their major role is to regulate inflammation and other processes; however, they also influence appetite. A shortage in cortisol decreases appetite, whereas an excess of glucocorticoids increases appetite.

Digestion Hormones

Now that you are hungry, you should eat. Several hormones coordinate and regulate digestion.


Gastrin is a hormone that is secreted by the stomach and small intestine during digestion. Gastrin accelerates digestion by stimulating the release of hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen in the stomach. Glucagon, a hormone that interacts with insulin to regulate blood sugar, is stimulated by gastrin as well.


The small intestine produces the hormone secretin, which is then secreted into the bloodstream when acidic chyme from the stomach enters the small intestine. Secretin induces the pancreas to secrete digestive fluids high in bicarbonate into the small intestine.

The bicarbonate neutralizes the chyme’s acidity. Secretin acts on the stomach to stimulate the formation of pepsinogen, which aids in the breakdown of proteins, and it may also slow down the digestive process in the stomach and small intestine.

Cholecystokinin (CCK)

It is produced and released into the bloodstream by the small intestine. Because it stimulates the gallbladder to discharge bile into the small intestine, it is crucial for fat digestion. In addition, it stimulates the pancreas to release its numerous digestive enzymes into the small intestine so that they can digest fats, carbs, and proteins.


Another hormone produced by the small intestine is motilin. Motilin accelerates stomach and small intestine activity. In addition, it stimulates the stomach and pancreas to produce various fluids and contracts the gallbladder.

Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide (GIP)

The small intestine generates this hormone. It stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin and inhibits stomach digesting action. This hormone is occasionally referred to as stomach inhibitory peptide.

Peptide YY and Enterophagy

These are two additional hormones secreted by the small intestine that slow digestion and reduce digestive secretion production.

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