What is Hunger Pangs?
Hunger Pangs (also called hunger pains) are the result of an irritation of the lining of the stomach. Hunger pangs are not true hunger, which is a physiological need for nutrients, accompanied not by pain but by pleasant sensations of desire. Hunger Pangs can cause overweight because they prompt eating when there is no need for food.
But what’s really interesting about hunger pangs is that they don’t actually originate in your stomach. Instead, they come from signals in your hypothalamus, a part of your brain that regulates all sorts of things like hormones, temperature, sleep, and you guessed it, hunger.
Hunger Pangs Causes
When body is starting to feel hungry means that hormone called ghrelin start working. Ghrelin hormones releases when stomach is empty. Then, it sets off a chain reaction in the body to make you feel hungry. There is cause of Hunger Pangs:
- Food poisoning: This is a food-borne illness, resulting from the consumption of food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins. Symptoms develop within 2-6 hours, and include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping (similar to those in hunger pains).
- Gastritis: Gastritis can be caused by excessive alcohol intake, frequent vomiting, or regular use of certain drugs (aspirin or anti-inflammatory agents. Typical symptoms include abdominal discomfort and a gnawing sensation in the stomach.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): IBS is a common condition centered in the colon (large intestine). Among its many uncomfortable symptoms is hunger pain, cramping, and abdominal distress, which may also be due to diarrhea or bloating gas.
- Peptic Ulcer: If mucus layer in the intestines and lining of the stomach is damaged in any way, the acids start digesting the lining of the stomach, resulting in a peptic ulcer. This causes severe abdominal pain and burning especially after meals.
- Acid reflux or Hyperacidity: Sometimes, if gastrointestinal valves do not function properly, acid produced by the stomach moves back up into the esophagus. This is one of the most common causes of heartburn and abdominal pain similar to that of hunger pain.
- Sleep deprivation: Hunger pangs at night often happen if you have problem to sleep.
- Dehydration: Many people cannot tell the difference between hunger and thirst because the symptoms are so similar. When you get hunger pangs after eating, it may indicate that your body gets dehydration. Thirst can cause symptoms, such as:
- stomach pains
- eating the wrong foods
- Hyperthyroidism and Grave’s disease: An autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid
- Genetic disorders: Such as Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS)are sometimes responsible for excessive hunger.
- Adverse intrauterine environment has been found to be the precursor to excessive hunger
- Emotional state: Negative emotions can make it seem like the body urgently needs food, even when it may not.
- Medication and medical conditions: Hunger pangs may be caused by medical conditions in rare cases. This is true for people with diabetes, as hunger increases when blood sugar crashes. It can indicate an infection or digestive illness, such as:
- The environment: Some people experience pangs in response to smells and sights. Many people have a physical response to the smell of freshly baked goods or cooking.
- Pregnancy: Hunger pangs pregnancy affected by hormones change that occur in pregnancy.
- PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
Certain serious conditions can also lead to hunger pangs and some of the rare causes are:
- Low Blood Sugar: The blood sugar level directly determines how active and energetic one feels at any point in time. The crucial factor is to maintain the appropriate levels of blood sugar as that will ultimately lead to a healthy mass to weight ratio and lessen the cases of hunger pangs.
- Irritated stomach linings: Inability to differentiate between real hunger and an irritated stomach in most cases of overeating.
- Eating so much food and liquid at one time that the stomach becomes stretched beyond its natural limit. Stretching the stomach in too much causes a chronic irritation of its lining.
- Eating hot spices irritates not only the stomach but the entire digestive tract.
- Inappropriate eating manner that causes digestion problem.
- not chewing food sufficiently
- drinking liquids with meals such as milk, juice, or soda, which dilute the digestive juices and are absorbed by the food instead of the digestive juices
- eating so much of a particular nutrient (such as protein) that insufficient digestive juices can be produced for its digestion
- haphazard combining of foods (causes irritation of the lining of the stomach because each food type requires a different mode of digestion)
Hunger Pangs Symptoms
Most people think hunger pangs are brought on by their stomach. In fact, that feeling is generated inside the brain. Instead of it, hunger pangs can be caused by actual hunger. If you don’t stick to a regular eating schedule, your body will eventually protest in the form of a rumbling in the tummy. If you’re get hunger pains when not hungry, occasional nausea or episodes that feel like low blood sugar, try eliminating these hunger pangs symptoms by simply reducing the carbohydrates in your diet. Symptoms of hunger pangs typically include:
- abdominal pain
- a “gnawing” or “rumbling” sensation in your stomach
- painful contractions in your stomach area
- a feeling of “emptiness” in your stomach
Hunger pangs are often accompanied by symptoms of hunger, such as:
- a desire to eat
- a craving for specific foods
- a tired or lightheaded feeling
These are the possible causes of the mentioned symptoms, but anyone with long-term symptoms should see a doctor. The doctor will perform a proper physical examination which will rule out fatal disorders that present with similar symptoms.
Hunger Pangs Treatment and Dieting
- Have a substantial breakfast.
- Choose complex carbs and get more fiber. Insulin and ghrelin go hand in hand. When insulin goes up after you eat, ghrelin goes down. Refined carbs makes blood sugar rises dramatically. It’s best to eat complex carbs and fiber, which delay the release of sugar into the bloodstream so that insulin levels are kept stable and you feel full longer.
- Eat on a schedule. Research has found that eating on a schedule prevents spikes in ghrelin. If
- Emphasize high-volume, low-calorie foods. Levels of ghrelin remain high until food stretches the walls of stomach, making you feel full. Green veggies and any foods with a high water content count as high-volume, low-calorie foods that helps reduce overeating.
- Eat protein. Protein-rich foods can suppress ghrelin levels and help create a long-lasting feeling of fullness.
- Water-rich foods. Foods high in water (soups, vegies) have low energy density, so you can eat more compared with high-fat foods (chocolate, nuts) that have a high density.
- Low-GI foods. Low-GI foods keep insulin levels steady and stave off cravings. High-GI foods release a rush of glucose that makes insulin levels soar.
- Get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep helps keep in balance the hormones that influence your feelings of hunger and fullness.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Add more vitamins to the diet or take supplements.
- Always prepare healthy snacks.
- A 10 to 15 minute exercise can help release endorphins which are natural body chemicals that create a sense of well-being and prevent stress and boredom.
Things Not to Do If Hunger Pangs Occur
- Overeat: Replace your food craving with green vegetables or handful of plain roasted almond.
- Eat spicy foods
- Eat junk or fast food
- Eat just before going to bed: Last meals should be at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Drink too much tea or coffee: reduce caffeine consumption and replace it with water
- Keep your stomach empty for a long time
Healthy Meals to Calm Hunger Pangs
- Baby carrots and hummus
- Veggie smoothies
- Low-fat cheese and an apple
- Black bean dip with sliced sweet peppers
- Soy bean dip with celery sticks
- Apple wedges and peanut butter