Friday, September 9, 2016

It's All in Your Head

Earlier today we were looking at a tasty looking recipe for a low-calorie dish using spaghetti squash in place of actual spaghetti. Of course, squash is a vegetable (well, technically, a fruit) and pasta is a grain-based dish; there really aren't all that many similarities except that it's long and stringy. Still, cover it with the right sauce and it can be a very nice part of a low-cal healthy lifestyle, even if lacks a lot of the yummy starch most of us crave. For us humans, it seems, a lot can be accomplished by fooling ourselves in minor ways with what really amounts to psychological tricks.

At Dr. Feiz & Associates, we're keenly aware that there's no underestimating the psychological side of weight loss. We're not just taking about psychology in the usual sense of dealing with how our thoughts and emotions impact our desire to overeat, we also mean that the only way we know we're hungry -- and we mean physically hungry, not just desiring food in order to pass the time -- is through our brains. Every time we eat, whether we're eating just the right amount to nourish our bodies or far too much, our brain is at the center of the experience.

An example of this that we often discuss involves the production of a hormone called ghrelin. In a person without obesity, this hormone performs the essential function of telling an individual that food is needed. However, obese individuals seem to produce more of it and, worse, its production actually increases when we begin to lose weight. So, our brain actually thinks we need food even when we don't and we feel as if we haven't eaten nearly enough. No wonder the statistics on weight loss are so depressing.

Fortunately, it turns out that bariatric surgery, such as a gastric sleeve, has a pretty big impact in terms of reducing these deceptive and dangerous signals. Specifically, by removing a large portion of the stomach, we also appear to reduce the production of ghrelin, which apparently makes it a lot easier to stick to the reduced calorie regimen we need to lose significant a lot of weight and keep it off over the long term.

So, in a funny way, when it comes to dealing with obesity, the way to a person's brain is largely through their stomach!

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