Today’s post looks at the important yet seldom (if ever) mentioned role the hormone ghrelin plays in bone health. Known as the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin is a peptide produced by the digestive system in response to low blood glucose and low glycogen.
So what’s the link between this hormone and your bones? Amazingly, ghrelin has been scientifically proven to increase the number of bone-building cells called osteoblasts, thus helping increase your bone density.
A Closer Look At Ghrelin
As mentioned above, ghrelin is also called the hunger hormone because while its functions in the body go far beyond feeling hungry, regulation of appetite is one of ghrelin’s primary tasks.
When your blood glucose levels are low, a neurotransmitter called Neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the hypothalamus is stimulated. NPY then communicates with ghrelin, increasing its production and stimulating your appetite.
Then when you eat, insulin levels increase, as do levels of a chemical called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is produced in the intestinal lining and “switches on” feelings of being full. In turn, increased insulin and CCK cause reduced ghrelin levels. Simply put, when you feel full, ghrelin levels are low. When you’re hungry, they’re high.
It’s amazing the complexity of the cellular response to something that seems as simple as feeling hungry or full!
There’s another peptide involved in this process: leptin. It acts in direct opposition to ghrelin, increasing when ghrelin decreases and vice versa. Leptin is stimulated indirectly by the presence of food in the digestive tract (directly by CCK), and signals your appetite to decrease so you stop eating.
If you never allow yourself to get hungry, then you don’t give ghrelin levels a chance to go up.
Ghrelin’s Effect On Bones
In vivo studies on rats revealed a fascinating connection between ghrelin, osteoblast activity, and bone mineral density (BMD).
When the effect of ghrelin and its receptor, a growth hormone known as GHS-R1a, was studied in rats, researchers found both ghrelin and GHS-R1a within osteoblasts. In addition, the rats’ bone mineral density increased.1
This means that ghrelin is directly responsible for increasing the number and activity of osteoblasts, the cells that build bone, thus increasing bone density.
It’s Good To Be Hungry Before You Eat
If you tend to “graze” throughout the day and find that you never really feel hungry, your ghrelin levels are likely staying low. To stimulate more of this bone-building hormone, you need to wait a few hours between meals so you actually feel hungry before eating.
There are more easy ways to stabilize your ghrelin levels and optimize its bone building capabilities.
Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes With A Balanced Diet
Eating lots of alkalizing fresh fruits and vegetables, getting a modest amount of lean animal protein, and taking in plenty of healthy fats are essential nutritional steps for keeping blood sugar stable and alkalizing the body. This is precisely the nutritional emphasis described in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, and it’s just the kind of nutritional plan that optimizes ghrelin levels.
As described above, insulin influences ghrelin, and if your blood sugar spikes your insulin levels do too. This “switches off” the ghrelin.
Hold Off On Refined Sugar
Eating too much sugar poses a host of health problems including bone loss. Even if you’re eating a healthful, bone-building diet, your bones won’t get all the nutrients you’re taking in if you are also ingesting lots of sugar. And of course, sugary foods send your blood glucose levels up quickly, producing the spike described above. This will undermine your bone-healthy diet.
Interestingly, fructose, the kind of sugar found in fruit (not to be confused with High Fructose Corn Syrup), does not affect ghrelin levels. So a diet rich in fruits, like the one described in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, will not cause ghrelin levels to “yo-yo” the way refined sugar does. This is good news, since just about all fruits are alkalizing and contain many bone-healthy nutrients.
Ghrelin And General Health
Ghrelin is more than just a “hunger hormone.” It stabilizes glucose homeostasis, but it also reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. According to research, this means that ghrelin improves chances of survival in case of a heart attack.2 Amazingly, ghrelin also prevents muscle atrophy because of its ability to induce muscle differentiation (basically, it stimulates the formation of muscle cells).
Now that you know this, you can easily realize that the nutritional scope of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program is multi-faceted and broad.
It effectively builds bone density in many ways, as scientific research continues to reveal more aspects in which a balanced, alkalizing diet, rich in Foundation Foods, is necessary for the health of your bones and your whole body.
Till next time,
1 Nobuhiro, Fukushima, et al. “Ghrelin Directly Regulates Bone Formation.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 27 Dec 2004. Web. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1359/JBMR.041237/full
2 Pradhan, G; Samson, SL; and Sun, Y. “Ghrelin: much more than a hunger hormone.” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Nov; 16(6):619-24. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24100676
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Monday-Friday, eat 3 small meals (biggest meal is one after exercise and dinner). 6 hours no eating between meals. About 800 to 1000 calories/day. Don’t eat anything w/ dairy proteins and gluten!! Paleo diet is your friend – meat and leafy greens. Ok to eat whatever on weekends but keep it 3 small meals.
Cow’s milk (casein & whey) are the cause for poor bone health, high cholesterol and many other health issues. I drank a glass of milk daily and always had lots of health issues. I eventually stopped milk and always feel amazing! All my lab results are normal.
Forgot to mention that my grandma drank cow’s milk all her life and developed osteoporosis early on. At age 80 her new doctor told her to stop dairy. The lies in the food industry.
Hi , Iam just really desperate to help my mom . She is taking foramax .alderonate for osteoporosis . How can I get her help she wants to stop this med is it possible to find a natural product or a different way to go about this. Please any advice will be appreciated . Is there a way of getting this book or info that this site promotes but I don’t have a credit card to order can I get a hold of this anyways thank you bye
Thanks Vivian once again for interesting and informative news. I have found when trying to eat only when I feel I need to, always trying to get the balance right, I have more energy and less pain and stiffness in my arthritic joints!
Good Afternoon Vivian,
Who Knew That Ghrelin Could Help Save Our Bones. Thank You Very Much For Sharing This Very Interesting Article With Us.
Until Next Time – Take Good Care Of Yourself, And Stay Well.
LOVE, LESLIE (MS. L. CARMEL)
I’m just starting the program and I was wondering what you think of reverse osmosis vs distilled water. Is one better than the other?
Thank you Vivian for all of your interesting and very helpful information. You have given me so much knowledge and hope! I would like to know and you may and you may have addresses this topic, but are sprouted grains (bread) acidifying or alkalizing?
The other day I took a bad fall when I tripped on a hole in the sidewalk. I fell on both knees, hand, and back. Full weight fall, hit the concrete.
I broke no bones! Only some bruises and scrapes. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis. Having the bones of a 70 yr old when being only 50. I’ve been following Vivian’s diet, though not doing as well as I should, but even with that, my bones have proven to be resilient.
That’s wonderful news Julie, thanks for sharing.
(not that you fell of course)
No comments today..but maybe in future
Vivian, I just want to say the information you are giving us in these emails is simply marvellous. Thank you SO much.
I have been following your advice for several years & through proper diet & exercise have reversed my osteoporosis. I recently had a lumpectomy for breast cancer & my doctor wants me to take the drug, Anastrozole, daily to prevent a return of cancer. However, one of the side effects can cause bone loss. Would you take this drug if you were in my shoes?
You may find Dr Mercola’s article useful and interesting. Best Wishes!
Good morning Vivian,
I truly appreciate all your excellent info. regarding
different topics you continue sharing to all of us.
I feel blessed and very thankful despite, that I came
to know SAVEOURBONESPROGRAM three months ago,
I’m able to learn, apply, and follow slowly the New expanded edition of your book. I also share this program with family, friends and others.
Have a wonderful day and take care always. Marlene
Several times inrecent years, my husband & I found that after trips we’d come home with a few extra pounds. We then realized we were eating when the clock said “:time to eat.” We began waiting longer to eat, or at least ate much less, I believe we learned to wait tll we were hungry. Now, you’ve taught another good reason to wait.
Thanl you and Happy traveling.
Hi Vivian .
please can you give me advise for my proplem. my tummy has icreased the duple of size in a half a year.it feels like fluid and is verry wably im almost eating nuthing and still is growing i feel verry tired no energy and have somethimes pain in my right side of the back and in the front the tummy.iws at my family Dr. he ignored it
and sad at the ultra sound nothing was wrong but — IM in pain and verry bloatet
I dont Know what to du..imust say the fluid is motly where my ripcae starts in the front. thank you so much for you anser
When my doctor ignores my symptoms and my complaints, I find a DIFFERENT doctor. I won’t stay with a doctor who ignores me. That’s just me. – Suzy
I do not mean to sound alarming but my mother had similar symptoms and had ovarian cancer. I hope I do not scare you. It is not my intention and I may be so so wrong but I just want you to check. My mother didnt check. I would absolutely tell that Dr. to double check.
Thanks for the very interesting article!
Thank you, Vivian, for yet another informative and well written article.
It’s good to hear that ghrelin is a good guy. I read some time ago the relationship between sleep deprivation causing the production of ghrelin resulting in
causing the feeling of hunger. Not good news if you are trying to take off weight. Now I hear that this feeling would be an indicator of bone laying, I won’t feel so bad next time I can’t sleep. Instead of counting sheep, I’ll count bones!
By the way, thank you also for being part of my success story. I had a bone density test last week and my results came back NORMAL. Hx
What is the answer to getting proper/more sleep? Since I quit my hormone patches 2 years ago, I wake up all night and get max. 3-4 hours sleep. I feel tired all day and still have to go to work at 65. I have to take relaxants to get some sort of ‘normal’ sleep, otherwise I feel sick and get headaches/migraines the next day. I am healthy, fit and slim, exercise and keep a good diet, just can’t sleep.
Any ideas how to solve this problem?
Many thanks Vivien for this information on ghrelin. Another great tool to add to the tool box of bone building! I have had neuropathy over half my body resulting from
encephalomyelitis 8 years ago. I do need to take some pain medication for it. But even then it is very painful when I move my muscles. But I force myself to walk a LOT and I even surf neither of which actually increases the pain. But weight bearing exercises do significantly increase the nerve pain. So I am always excited to learn any new information you can give to help my bones without actually doing weight training, Thanks again, Jackie
Fascinating, you learn something new everyday.
I have been diagnosed with osteopenia and at my two year scan, they said it is getting worse in my spine. Please can you clarify whether fasting helps bone density or makes it worse? I have read a few articles where they have tested in mice and conclude that fasting it makes bone density worse?