The human body regularly needs food, which serves as a source of energy for it. Therefore, it is quite normal to feel hunger a few hours after the meal. But if the stomach reminds of itself with a hungry rumble very often, and hunger does not go away even after eating food, it means that something is wrong with the body. In this article we will try to figure out what the constant feeling of hunger is talking about and whether it is dangerous.
What is polyphagy
Excessive hunger is not an invented or exaggerated problem. This actually exists, and this state even has its own medical name - polyphagia. In polyphagia, hunger is different from the one that appears after physical activity. But if a healthy hunger goes away after eating, then in the case of polyphagy, it can remain even after a dense meal. In many cases, even an increase in portions of food does not help to quell hunger, therefore, in polyphagy, it is important to eliminate the root cause of excessive appetite, which can be caused by various disorders and conditions. An abnormally strong feeling of hunger is a symptom that should not be underestimated. If someone has signs of polyphagy, you should consult a doctor.
What may cause excessive hunger
Although excessive hunger is not necessarily a sign of illness, but this symptom always signals that something has changed in the work of the organism. The most harmless reason for a strong appetite is a change in a person’s physical activity. If, for example, a person began to exercise vigorously or if he pays many hours of physical work every day, it is clear that his body's calorie requirements will also increase.
Therefore, the body will begin to require food more and more often than before the increase in physical activity. But there are other reasons why the appetite may rise to abnormal indicators.
Polyphagia may be one of the signs of diabetes. When carbohydrates contained in food enter the human body, they are broken down to the state of glucose, and it already plays the role of fuel. But in people with diabetes, glucose is excreted from the body as part of the urine, without reaching the cells that need it. As a result, the body, not having received the necessary energy, continues to send signals about the need to consume the next batch of food. By the way, people with diabetes, at first can eat more food than usual, but still lose weight. That is one of the possible causes of a sudden increase in appetite and frequent bouts of hunger - diabetes.
But you should also know that in the case of diabetes mellitus, in addition to excessive hunger, other symptoms appear:
- intense thirst;
- the urge to urinate (especially at night);
- sudden weight loss;
- blurred vision;
- cuts and bruises heal longer;
- tingling and pain in the limbs;
- fast fatiguability.
Low blood sugar
A condition where blood sugar levels fall below normal, experts call hypoglycemia. When this happens, the body also sends persistent signals as soon as possible to consume something high in calories. This often happens in people with diabetes. But hypoglycemia can also occur in other disorders, including hepatitis, kidney disease, and disorders in the functioning of the pituitary or adrenal glands.
When hypoglycemia, in addition to hunger, there is a strong weakness, intense sweating, tremor, pallor of the skin, anxiety.
Disruption of the thyroid gland
Unnaturally strong appetite can appear on the background of failures in the thyroid gland. In particular, if it produces too many hormones. This condition in medicine is known as hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism can be suspected in a person, if, in addition to a constant feeling of hunger, he has developed severe sweating, muscle weakness, constant thirst, he has become irritable, and his pulse has increased.
We must remember that for all the processes occurring in the human body, the brain is responsible. It receives and sends impulses that regulate the work of different systems and organs. If violations occur in a certain part of the brain, this always affects the processes for which it is responsible. So, if the damage occurs in the hypothalamus, the person usually shows signs of polyphagy. But it should be noted that the craving for gluttony is far from the only sign of damage to this region of the brain. As a rule, there are many other more serious violations, including hormonal and mental nature.
If a person constantly wants to eat lately, this may indicate that he lives in a state of chronic stress. When we worry or experience emotional stress, the stress hormone cortisol is more actively produced in our bodies. One of the effects of this substance on the human body is a strong feeling of hunger. It is cortisol that is the reason why many people get “brutal” appetite during stress. Probably, many people noticed for themselves that after stress the body usually “asks” for something very high in calories: sweet or fat. It turns out that it is not just that. In this way, the body tries to "turn off" the part of the brain that is responsible for anxiety.
If chronic hunger is the cause of constant hunger, then a person may also experience mood swings, headache, sleep problems, indigestion and fatigue.
Lack of sleep
It is proved that lack of sleep can affect the feeling of hunger. People who are chronically undernourished want to eat more often than others. The reason is that lack of sleep in the body reduces the amount of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for the feeling of satiety, and vice versa - the level of the ghrelin hormone that causes hunger increases.
According to the observations of scientists, if only for 1 night to deprive a person of proper sleep, during the day he will consume about 15% more calories than people whose sleep lasts at least 8 hours. It is also known that, against the background of overwork, people are more drawn to fatty and very high-calorie foods.
It can be assumed that a constant feeling of hunger is caused by a lack of rest, if such symptoms as weight gain, mood swings, absent-mindedness, clumsiness, and decreased activity during the day appeared along with an increased appetite.
Attacks of gluttony can be a symptom of bulimia. This often happens in women after the first birth. If the cause is bulimia, then bouts of hunger are periodic, short-term, but the appetite at this time is always very strong, it is difficult to tame the snack. After an attack, the feeling of hunger disappears. People suffering from bulimia, quickly gaining excess weight. In addition, they are usually diagnosed problems in the digestive, urinary and cardiovascular systems.
In women of childbearing age, increased appetite may be one of the signs of pregnancy. Signals of hunger during the carrying of a child are a peculiar way for the body to make sure that the fetus will be able to receive enough nutrients for its development.
Excessive increase in appetite in women can also be caused by hormonal changes. Therefore, many women in the PMS can constantly feel hunger. Increasing the amount of estrogen and progesterone, as well as reducing the level of serotonin usually cause cravings for carbohydrate and fatty foods.
In addition to the feeling of hunger, PMS is accompanied by irritability, mood swings, increased fatigue, as well as changes in the digestive system.
Some medicines create a side effect in the form of increased appetite. As a rule, antihistamines, antidepressants, steroids, antipsychotics cause an excessive feeling of hunger. Also narcotic substances, such as marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines, lead to bouts of gluttony.
If a child suddenly has a very strong appetite and is almost chewing on something all day, in most cases this is normal. The reason is that during the period of intensive growth, the human body spends a very large amount of nutrients on the formation of new cells. And it is quite objective that in order to maintain the growth process, it needs to restore the used reserves. If the reason for excessive appetite - a jump in the growth of the child, then the craving for frequent snacks can continue until adolescence. Then the body will switch to the usual mode of operation.
Perhaps the reason for the wrong diet?
The most obvious explanation of why a person is constantly hungry is that he is eating improperly. All products have different energy value. The best options for fighting hunger are foods rich in protein and fiber. But the white bread, biscuits, fast food, loved by many, are usually deprived of the most useful nutrients and are not able to maintain the feeling of satiety for a long time. By the way, constant hunger often haunts lovers of low-calorie carbonated drinks, in which sugar substitute is added instead of regular sugar.
Eating enough protein is very important for keeping your appetite in the normal range. Protein has the properties to reduce the feeling of hunger, and it helps to use during the day fewer calories. Protein foods activate the release of hormones that signal satiety. People whose daily rations do not have enough protein foods are more likely to experience bouts of severe hunger. As part of the study, scientists suggested that overweight people consume more protein: protein foods made up about 25% of their daily diet. After 3 months of such nutrition, participants in the experiment admitted that they rarely experience bouts of severe hunger and not as often as they used to think about food, and they also rarely have a desire to eat something very high in calories before bed. Good sources of protein: eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, legumes, nuts, seeds.
People who eat a lot of refined carbohydrates, as well as food containing too little fiber, vitamins and minerals, also often feel hungry during the day. The most popular source of refined carbohydrates is wheat flour, from which white bread and pasta are made. Sweet drinks, sweets and other sweets are also considered refined carbohydrates. Since there is practically no fiber in such foods, the body digests them very quickly, after which hunger also returns quickly. In addition, the use of refined carbohydrates causes sharp jumps in blood sugar levels. This leads to an increase in the level of insulin, a hormone responsible for transporting glucose to the cells of the body. When the amount of insulin is excessively high, carbohydrates are very rapidly removed from the blood, which can lead to hypoglycemia and, consequently, an outbreak of hunger. Therefore, it is desirable to replace refined carbohydrates with more useful complex ones found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, and beans. In addition, the listed foods also contain a lot of fiber, which helps fight hunger.
Fats play a key role in maintaining satiety. This is partly due to the peculiarities of the metabolism of fatty foods. It stays longer in the stomach and it takes longer to cleave. In addition, the consumption of fats contributes to the production of hormones responsible for saturation. Therefore, people whose diet contains very little fat are more likely to experience bouts of hunger.
Studies show that people who are on a very low-fat diet have an increased craving for food that is full of carbohydrates. In addition, experts have found that people who eat foods that are very low in fat are more likely to experience hunger than people who are on a low-carb diet.
In order to pacify hunger, experts advise to include in the menu products that are rich in human omega-3 fatty acids and medium chain triglycerides. The latter, for example, are found in coconut oil, and omega-3 is found in oily fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. The sources of healthy fats include avocado, olive oil, fatty dairy products and eggs.
If hunger returns again and again, even after a seemingly dense snack, it is possible that the diet does not have enough fiber. Foods high in fiber slows down the rate of gastric emptying, making the feeling of satiety last longer. In addition, studies show that fiber stimulates the release of hormones that reduce appetite. Fiber is found in many foods: vegetables, some fruits, seeds, cereals, beans.
People often do not even realize that their brutal appetite can actually be a signal to the body about dehydration. But experts remind: in case of dehydration, the appetite also increases. If there is a constant feeling of hunger, do not immediately start eating. First you should drink 1-2 glasses of pure water. If within 10-15 minutes the hunger is gone, its true cause is dehydration.
Alcohol abuse can also cause a constant feeling of hunger. Scientists have found that ethanol is able to inhibit the production of leptin, a hormone that suppresses hunger. Experts estimate that it’s enough for men to drink only 40 ml of strong alcohol so that their bodies require 300 calories more than usual. People who consume alcohol regularly, 10% more often during the day have bouts of hunger than individuals who do not drink alcohol.
Liquid and solid foods affect appetite differently. Therefore, lovers to replace solid food with smoothies, juices and lean soups during the day can constantly feel light hunger. The main reason is that the liquid is much faster than solid food passes through the stomach. In addition, studies have shown that liquid food is not as active as solid food, affecting the release of hormones responsible for saturation. Since liquid foods digest very quickly, the brain does not have time to receive information that food has entered the body, as a result, the feeling of hunger does not disappear anywhere.
Diagnosis and treatment of polyphagy
Hunger caused by polyphagia, it is difficult to drown, just take a portion of food. In order to overcome excessive appetite, you must first determine and then eliminate the cause that causes it. Only a doctor after a medical examination can determine the exact cause of polyphagy. In such cases, the doctor is interested in:
- what other symptoms occur with hunger;
- how long this condition lasts in a patient;
- what kind of diet does he follow?
- family history of the disease.
Based on this information, as well as the results of laboratory tests and other examinations, the doctor can determine the cause of polyphagy. The treatment program always depends on the cause of the disorder.If polyphagia is caused by diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism or PMS, it is possible to relieve appetite with the help of hormonal drugs. In some cases, polyphagy can be eliminated by correcting the diet. If uncontrolled hunger is caused by psycho-emotional disorders, you should contact a specialist who deals with mental health.
How to distinguish polyphagy from normal overeating
At first, it can be difficult to tell the difference between overeating and polyphagia, since in both cases the person has increased appetite. In polyphagia, as a rule, other symptoms appear that indicate the root cause of increased appetite. For example, in parallel with excessive hunger, severe thirst, drowsiness, gastrointestinal upsets and even weight loss may appear.
With normal overeating, increased appetite is sporadic. Hungry breakdowns can occur, for example, during a low-calorie diet, and many people tend to overeat during depression or nerve shocks.
Hunger is a signal that the body needs more food. But if hunger persists all the time, it can be a sign of improper eating habits, hormonal imbalances or other disturbances in the body. What exactly caused the state of constant hunger, can only determine the accuracy of the doctor.
Specialty: infectious diseases specialist, gastroenterologist, pulmonologist.
Total experience: 35 years.
Education: 1975-1982, 1MMI, San gig, high qualification, infectious diseases doctor.
Science degree: doctor of the highest category, PhD.
- Infectious diseases.
- Parasitic diseases.
- Emergency conditions.