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What is Leptin Resistance?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Leptin resistance typically occurs when the body develops an intolerance to the hormone leptin. The body's fat cells normally produce this hormone. When the body is appropriately sensitive to leptin, the hormone can help prevent obesity by signalling to the brain that the stomach is full after a meal. People who suffer from leptin resistance usually don't interpret these neural signals correctly, or they may be experiencing a reduced number of leptin receptors in the brain, which is often a normal result of the aging process. Leptin resistance can stop the brain from recognizing that the stomach is full, leading to continued feelings of hunger and overeating. Leptin resistance usually leads to the development of belly fat, which can raise the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Chronic overeating can cause leptin resistance because it can cause the accumulation of fatty tissues on the body. Fat cells produce leptin, so, the more fat cells a person's body has, the more leptin that person's body produces. When the brain becomes inundated with high levels of leptin, it may begin to ignore the hormone's signals. Some experts believe that the cycle of overeating, weight gain, continued overeating, and continued weight gain begins this way. More fat cells produce more leptin, which leads to higher resistance, and more weight gain.

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Some researchers believe that high levels of leptin in the body can damage the hormone's ability to function properly. Others believe that advancing age can contribute to leptin resistance. The brain's leptin receptors may naturally decrease in number as the body ages. This can inhibit the brain's ability to receive appropriate signals of fullness from the action of leptin. This may be why weight gain becomes more likely as one grows older.

Leptin is considered crucial to the prevention of overeating, weight gain, and obesity, because it typically tells the brain when the stomach is full. Feelings of fullness and satiation occur, and the person most likely stops eating. When the brain fails to receive appropriate satiety signals due to leptin resistance, feelings of hunger are likely to continue even after the stomach is full. As a result, overeating and weight gain are likely.

Most experts believe that leptin resistance can be diminished with regular fat-burning exercises. Shedding body fat can help lower leptin levels, to break the cycle of overeating and weight gain.

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candyquilt
Post 3

@ddljohn-- If that's the case, is there a way to improve leptin resistance? Diabetics are able to improve their insulin resistance with anti-diabetic medications. Are there such medication available for those with leptin resistance? And how is leptin resistance diagnosed anyway?

Of course, exercise and a healthy diet will help, but in severe cases, I think there should be other leptin resistance treatment options available. Those with this problem will naturally lose weight as their leptin resistance improves.

ddljohn
Post 2

@fBoyle-- That's a good question. As far as I know, insulin resistance leads to leptin resistance. I'm not sure how it works exactly, but scientists believe that there is a connection between insulin resistance, high triglycerides and leptin resistance. The former two prevent the brain from recognizing the levels of leptin in the body, which leads to weight gain.

Leptin levels serve the function of a thermostat telling the brain how many calories it should burn, depending on how much energy it has. When there is leptin resistance, the body has a lot of leptin but the brain doesn't recognize it and keeps metabolism low because it thinks that the body is in starvation mode.

It's the same

mechanism found in insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, the body produces insulin but the insulin is not able to remove glucose from the blood. So the brain is basically left without energy in both cases. So people with leptin resistance symptoms need to have their insulin and triglyceride levels checked as well.
fBoyle
Post 1

What is the connection between insulin resistance and leptin resistance?

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