Body processes

Appetite – Function, Task & Diseases


Appetite is the pleasurable motivation to eat, as defined by nutritional psychologists. It is subject to complex control mechanisms of the nervous system and has little in common with hunger either psychologically or physiologically.

What is appetite?

The limbic system controls both the hunger and satiety centers in the brain . The centers respond to the release of the hormones leptin and ghrelin . If the stomach wall is stretched, the nerve cells send satiety signals to the diencephalon . Information about the nutrient content is also sent to the brain via receptors in the intestines and liver . The blood sugar level also controls the transmission of satiety information to the brain.

Unlike hunger, appetite is triggered by visual and taste stimuli as well as olfactory stimuli. When there is starvation, there is a shortage of glucose in the cells , which leads to a reduction in body heat . Hunger is the signal to eat now.

If the appetite is stimulated, the production of saliva and gastric juice increases . We have a strong craving for sweets and treats. Appetite is a mental state and a lustful craving for a particular food. Hunger, on the other hand, is the physical desire for food and protects us from malnutrition. Appetite is generated in the limbic system and can arise even when we are not hungry.

Function & task

With today’s oversupply of food in industrialized countries, it is not so easy to distinguish between appetite and hunger. If you feel like dessert right after lunch, you are most likely not hungry, just hungry for it.Food preferences differ from appetite, they are mostly genetic and help to eat the right food if possible. Bitter can be toxic, and sweet is generally safe. These characteristics of flavors were important to our ancestors’ survival strategy. Today they are less important, but they are still in the genes.

We get an appetite for the food we are currently perceiving. Images, pleasant memories and smells have an extreme influence on our appetite. The more intense the performance, the more certain we are of having an appetite for it. Appetite is also shaped by family and cultural influences. If we were rewarded with certain foods as children, we usually have a particularly large appetite for this food as adults. Real hunger isn’t as focused as appetite, because now it’s all about getting the calories you need.

The appetite controls the choice of food and reflects a momentary need. Nowadays we usually continue to eat when we are no longer hungry and ignore the natural feeling of fullness.

Eating has taken on many psychological functions, it makes us superficially happy and distracts us from problems. It’s easier to eat than to worry about solving a problem.

By eating consciously and slowly, we can get our body used to feeling full again. If you don’t want to gain weight, you have to differentiate between hunger and appetite. Because when a strong need for food arises, it does not always have to be satisfied immediately.

Diseases & Ailments

Many diseases of the body and the psyche influence our eating habits. Liver disease , for example, creates an aversion to fats . If you have a fever , you crave mineral and saline fluids. He usually feels an aversion to high-calorie foods. Anyone suffering from a [[gastrointestinal disease|gastrointestinal disease]| affected may even become disgusted with a particular smell or food.Appetite disorders can be triggered by mental and organic diseases. Babies don’t have an appetite. They eat when they are hungry. As we get older, we lose this natural ability to listen to our bodies. Today we often eat out of appetite and rarely out of hunger.

The younger a person is, the more food intake is controlled by internal signals. External stimuli only become more important with age. Then the person reacts much more strongly to appetizing stimuli. The less leptin in the blood , the weaker the feeling of hunger.

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that present with physical symptoms and have developed over a period of time. These include anorexia , bulimia (addiction to eating and vomiting), obesity (obesity) and binge eating disorder, in which extreme food cravings occur repeatedly.

Being overweight often has emotional causes or is caused by a misunderstood feeling of hunger. In overweight people, the satiety mechanism is ineffective, created by a prolonged period of excessive calorie intake. Affected people feel like eating even though there is a larger amount of leptin in their blood. As with addicts, the reward system of overweight people only reacts to very strong stimuli. In order to feel satisfied, they have to consume larger amounts.

Food also has a comforting function for many people. Even a crying infant is soothed with food, which activates the brain ‘s reward center. Our rational attitude also controls eating behavior, which in turn influences the choice of food and the size of the portions.

Website | + posts

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.