Increasing Leptin Sensitivity: 6 Foods to Add to Your Diet
Secreted by the body's fat cells, leptin is a complex hormone that plays an important role in regulating food intake and energy expenditure. In healthy, leptin-sensitive people, an increase in food intake leads to high levels of leptin which the brain interprets as a sign that we have had enough food, and that we can stop eating and storing energy in the body's fat tissues. Unfortunately, however, unhealthy dietary habits can cause disruptions in this system, and a condition called leptin resistance may develop.
In a leptin resistant individual, leptin levels are high, but the brain mistakenly thinks that they are low and that the individual may be starving. As a result, the brain tells the body to increase food intake and store energy as fat, which in turn leads to weight gain. One way to reverse leptin resistance naturally is to increase leptin sensitivity by changing your dietary habits. Below, we take a look at 6 foods that, at least in theory, might help increase your brain's sensitivity to leptin.
Turmeric, the yellow root commonly used as a spice, has also been prized for its medicinal properties. Its active constituent, curcumin, has been touted as a natural remedy for everything from rheumatoid arthritis to allergies, and now research suggests we might soon be able to add yet another item to the already long list of health benefits attributed to curcumin: improved leptin sensitivity. In one study, curcumin was found to improve leptin sensitivity as well as insulin sensitivity in fructose-fed rats. In another study, published in the Chinese Journal of Preventive Medicine, similar effects were observed in rats that had been fed high-fat diets. There are also a number of other studies that suggest turmeric might promote weight loss.
A study published in the journal Circulation in 2002 found lower plasma leptin concentrations in a Tanzanian tribal population that consumes freshwater fish as their main diet component, compared with a related tribal population that consumes a primarily vegetarian diet. The plasma leptin concentrations were independent of body fat and BMI, which led the researchers to conclude that a diet rich in fish may improve leptin sensitivity.
3. Maqui Berries
Purple sweet potatoes are hardly the only source of anthocyanins – also many other purple, blue and blackish plant-based foods contain significant amounts of anthocyanins, blueberries being one of the most famous sources of these leptin sensitivity boosting flavonoids. However, when it comes to foods that pack a real anthocyanin punch, one berry clearly stands out. According to a study published in the Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, the maqui berry, which is grown in South America and sold as superfood powder in the United States, contains many times more anthocyanins than famous anthocyanin-rich berries such as blueberries, saskatoons, elderberries or wild blackberries. If you want to give this South American superfood a try, check out the impressive array of maqui berry powders on Amazon.com.
Apples are one of the best whole food sources of pectin, and there is some science-based evidence suggesting that pectin might help fight leptin resistance. Also Dr. Leo Galland much-acclaimed book, The Fat Resistance Diet: Unlock the Secret of the Hormone Leptin, lists apples as one of the top 40 superfoods that can help restore your body's sensitivity to leptin. To reap the most benefits, go for sour apples or crabapples which are said to be particularly rich in pectin.
5. Purple Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes come in many different colors. Those with a purple flesh get their color from anthocyanins, flavonoid pigments that have been the subject of numerous scientific studies. In one such study, published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology, Chinese researchers treated a group of obese rats with purple sweet potato anthocyanins. The researchers found that the rats that were treated with the anthocyanins lost more weight than the rats in the control group, and further investigation revealed that the observed anti-obesity effects were linked to the ability of the sweet potato anthocyanins to mediate the effects of leptin in the brain and to reduce oxidative stress.
6. Spirulina Algae
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has been associated with a number of potential health benefits, including reduced cholesterol levels, protection against allergies and anti-viral activity. Furthermore, there is at least one human study that suggests spirulina might also offer weight loss benefits. While further studies are needed to confirm the weight loss benefits of spirulina, it is not hard to imagine that this marine superfood might in fact prove to be a great natural weight loss aid: according to USDA data, dried spirulina is one of the best dietary sources of leucine, an amino acid that was found to improve leptin sensitivity in rats in a groundbreaking study published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research in 2015.
Don't Miss TheseStock Your Pantry with US-Grown Spirulina Free from Heavy Metals
Locavores, take note: not all spirulina powders and tablets come from Asia.
Tips for People Looking to Buy Pure, Organic Turmeric Powder
You may have to look beyond regular shops if you want to buy pure turmeric powder in organic quality.