Hunger Pangs (Pains)
Hunger pangs are caused by the contraction of stomach and intestinal muscles known as peristalis. These muscles are stimulated by a lack of food after about 12 to 24 hours for most people. The hormone called ghrelin, secreted from the walls of the stomach, stimulates the contractions when levels of leptin decrease. Leptin promotes the reduction of the inclination to eat by stimulating receptor sites in the hypothalamus in the brain. Leptin is formed from brown and white adiposites as well as from the gastric chief cells in the stomach. Ghrelin can also be stimulated merely from the sight of food as opposed true need for food.
Hunger pangs can be prolonged for several days if food is not taken but they will taper off with fasting, generally after 3 to 4 days. In children, hunger pains can be pronounced and occur daily and can be upsetting to the child causing restlessness and irritability. A burning sensation can also accompany them in the stomach. The increased motility can bring about gurgling or growling in the stomach due to movement of fluids and gas. Sometimes a hollow sensation is reported in the stomach. Sometimes children will double up with the pains. Generally hunger pains are not as pronounced in adults because the musculature of the stomach and intestines is not as strong or toned as in children.
Appetite and hunger are two different things. Appetite is more psychological and can be stimulated by different emotional states or decreased by emotional states. When someone would normally be hungry negative emotions like fear, anger, jealously, greif or other stress can reduce appetite even when the biochemistry is pushing towards hunger. The hormonal complex of responses can be shut down or stimulated due to emotions.
Understanding your emotional states and how it is affecting your desire or lack of desire for food will help you to moderate your eating habits and desires. It is most healthful to eat only when you are truly hungry and to avoid food during negative emotional states as the biochemistry is not properly set for food to be received and processed correctly.
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