Gastric bypass, and the loss of ghrelin
When I heard from a dear friend that he wanted to go through gastric bypass surgery, because he couldn’t get his weight under control, my heart sank. I thought he’s heading into a lifetime of more illness and disease, just because he can’t control his carb intake. One wouldn’t think that losing part of their stomach could hurt that much when in all actuality, you’re looking at cutting one of your most important lifelines. That is, if you don’t want to be addicted to pharmaceuticals for the rest of your life. I’m beginning to wonder why this procedure would ever be recommended,
I wouldn’t be so concerned about this if one of the effects of this surgery didn’t involve loss of one of your most influential hormones, ghrelin. Post-surgical data show a reduction in the amount of ghrelin in the stomach of bypass surgery recipients. This one factor alone could severely limit your ability to fight off future illnesses and disease.
Your stomach doesn’t just hold food to be digested, it produces one of the most important hormones for your health, ghrelin. If you take away the source of this hormone, you’re taking away future health.
I touched on this in Carbs, The Payoff of Life Without Carbs, and it has to do with control of your hormones. If you let your hormones control you, you’re going to be subject to leptin’s influence and your hormones are going to follow their own path of least resistance. This is going to continue, to force you to feed them, more carbs.
However, if you’d rather control your own hormones, you’ll learn the value of ghrelin resistance. This will allow the ghrelin to build up in your system where it can perform its magic, the magic of building a bigger brain, boosting anti-oxidants.
The Importance of Ghrelin
Ghrelin is first and foremost a growth hormone, as well as a hunger hormone, but it also serves many other functions. These functions include, but are certainly not limited to, the following attributes (according to Wikipedia);
- “Ghrelin promotes intestinal cell proliferation and inhibits apoptosis during inflammatory states and oxidative stress. It also suppresses pro-inflammatory mechanisms and augments anti-inflammatory mechanisms, thus creating a possibility of its therapeutic use in various gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions, including colitis, ischemia reperfusion injury, and sepsis. Animal models of colitis, ischemia reperfusion, and sepsis-related gut dysfunction have been shown to benefit from therapeutic doses of ghrelin. It has also been shown to have regenerative capacity and is beneficial in mucosal injury to the stomach.”
- “The hippocampus plays a significant role in neurotrophy: the cognitive adaptation to changing environments and the process of learning and it is a potent stimulator of growth hormone. Animal models indicate that ghrelin may enter the hippocampus from the bloodstream, altering nerve-cell connections, and so altering learning and memory. It is suggested that learning may be best during the day and when the stomach is empty since ghrelin levels are higher at these times. A similar effect on human memory performance is possible.”
- “Although the vast majority of neurons in the mammalian brain are formed prenatally, parts of the adult brain (for example, the hippocampus) retain the ability to grow new neurons from neural stem cells, a process known as neurogenesis. Neurotrophins are chemicals that help to stimulate and control neurogenesis.”
Looking at the attributes above, Ghrelin not only supports anti-inflammatory mechanisms, but it’s this last attribute that sets it apart from all the other benefits that this diet provides, as it promotes neurotrophins in the brain which in turn help the brain to produce new cells. In other words, it makes the brain grow. That means that going hungry turns on factors in your brain that actually make it grow. BDNF is just one of these neurotrophins that I talk about on the MY Life Without Carbs page. There are a few others you can find out about at the previous link.
So Ghrelin not only tells when to eat, it also inhibits cell death, it helps control pain and disease by controlling anti-inflammatory mechanisms as well as encouraging our brain to grow by encouraging neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells. It’s this one factor that intrigues me the most. This means that I can grow new brain cells, something that I thought was lost 30 years ago after my severe closed head injury. I didn’t use to think that brain cells couldn’t grow back, when in all actuality, they’re growing all the time, through neurogenesis, (at least for those who want them to grow).
Ghrelin is the hormone of choice when it comes to controlling inflammation. Reducing the amount of it in the body will do little more than increase any expression of inflammation and that includes arthritis and pain, the worst expression of inflammation. Why would anyone want to increase their pain?
Ghrelin is such an important hormone in the body, I can’t understand why anyone would want less of it in their body. It protects the body from so much it’s a downright shame.
How to increase Ghrelin
This may indicate the healthiest benefit of being on a ketogenic diet, the ability to resist the influence of ghrelin on your urges to eat.
Building ghrelin in your body is not the easiest thing to do. It requires effort. There are several ways to build your ghrelin, some easier than others, but all effective.
For me, the easiest way was to exercise, but the exercise wasn’t getting me to my other goals. It was increasing my brain power, but it wasn’t helping me to lose weight. It wasn’t until I decided to give up carbs myself that I finally reached my weight goals and this turned out to be the healthiest manner in which I increase my brain power. This, to me, is evidence of the biggest difference between a carb diet and a keto diet.
It was when I went on the keto diet, my brain growth seemed to multiply because it was 23 months after my switch that I published this site. When you compare that to the length of time it took me to write my post about myself, the difference is astounding. I attribute that to lack of carbs in my body mucking things up.
The damage that carbs do to the body includes but is not limited to;
- increases glucose in the body
- which creates fat
- which create plaque,
- disease, like
- heart disease
- lack of hormonal/emotional control
- more expression of leptin in the body
- more pain
- more hunger
- Tastes good
- Satiates quickly
- Quick temporary energy
- None known
I laid out most of these benefits in My life without carbs;
- Limited glucose in the system to muck things up
- More energy
- Longer lasting energy
- Bigger brain through brain growth (extra BDNF in the brain)
- Anti-oxidant growth (extra Nrf2 to amp up anti-oxidants)
- Larger expression of ghrelin’s benefits in the body
- Weight maintenance is natural
- Low to no body fat
- No plaque in the blood
- No heart disease
- No cancer
- No arthritis
- No inflammation
- Less pain
- Less expression of a common cold
- fewer mosquito bites
I used to get mosquito bites all the time. It seemed that mosquitos flocked to me just to get some of my blood. Now. I rarely get bitten. When I do get a mosquito bite, a seldom notice it, as it doesn’t itch as much as it used to. That is evidence to me, of a lack of willingness of my body to get inflamed, from a mosquito bite. How sweet it is.
Becoming ghrelin resistant is in my opinion, the biggest benefit of being on a ketogenic diet. This allows ghrelin to work more of its magic in your body.
When one balances the benefits versus the damage each diet inflicts on the body, it’s not hard to see the benefit of the keto diet over the carb diet.
When I hear of gastric bypass surgery now, I think, Where is the sense in this?
It’s amazing to think about what some people will unknowingly force themselves to endure, just for the vague perception of an easy path out of their dilemma, when all they have to do, is curb their carbs.