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Whole Grain Benefits

What to know about the hunger hormone



Ghrelin is a hormone mainly produced in the stomach when it is empty. It is also produced in the small intestine, brain, and pancreas.

Ghrelin travels through the bloodstream to the brain, where it acts on the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain, which produces hormones that regulate hunger, mood, thirst, and many other important functions within the body.

Ghrelin is often referred to as the hunger hormone because its primary role is to regulate appetite. When ghrelin activates its receptor — growth hormone secretagogue receptor — it causes a person to eat more food and store extra fat.

In people who are trying to lose weight or who have recently lost weight, ghrelin levels are often higher, making it challenging to maintain weight loss.

For example, one study from 2020 looked at people with diabetes who participated in a 2-year weight management program. Participants who initially lost weight slowly regained it over the study duration. Researchers found that weight loss was associated with increased ghrelin levels and increased hunger, which might make it difficult to keep weight off.

Ghrelin can also signal the body to decrease brown fat thermogenesis. When this happens, the body burns less fat at rest. Brown fat is known for its thermogenic properties and ability to increase overall calories burned.

Studies show that ghrelin also affects a person’s sleep/wake cycle, taste sensation, and reward-seeking behavior.

As it plays a role in reward processing, many experts believe higher ghrelin levels can contribute to food and alcohol misuse.

Recently, researchers have discovered that ghrelin also has many functions in the body, including improving heart health, preventing muscle atrophy, and influencing bone metabolism.

It can also stimulate gastric acid secretion and accelerate gastric emptying.

Levels of ghrelin frequently change throughout the day and are primarily controlled by food intake. Ghrelin levels usually rise when the stomach is empty and decrease once a person has eaten.

Some studies show that people who have obesity have higher levels of ghrelin circulating. This can lead to a continuous state of hunger and make it difficult to lose weight.

However, research remains conflicted on this point. Yet a 2015 review suggests that ghrelin levels are low in people with obesity and even lower in people with obesity who also have a binge eating disorder.

Dieting also has been known to stimulate ghrelin secretion. What is more, diets can also decrease leptin levels, which is known as the “satiety hormone.” Combined, this may make it difficult to lose weight and keep it off long term.

Interestingly, experts believe people who have undergone weight loss surgery have lower levels of ghrelin, which may make it easier to keep weight off.

In particular, one recent review found that ghrelin levels fall significantly following sleeve gastrectomy. Researchers believe this is because part of the stomach — the gastric fundus — where most ghrelin is produced is completely removed. However, the results of other studies are inconsistent for other weight loss procedures such as roux-en-y gastric bypass.

People with certain health conditions also tend to have elevated ghrelin levels.

People with obesity and Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have very high levels of ghrelin circulating, which may play a role in their constant sense of hunger and difficulty controlling weight.

Additionally, people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and cachexia from illness tend to have higher hunger hormone levels.

Ghrelin levels also may be higher during periods of stress. Higher ghrelin levels are thought to have an anxiolytic effect on the body.

Although elevated ghrelin levels are commonly perceived as unfavorable and associated with increased appetite, certain individuals may benefit from higher ghrelin levels.

For instance, someone struggling to gain weight or with wasting syndrome may benefit from the appetite-stimulating effects of ghrelin.

Newer studies suggest ghrelin administration may potentially be helpful in patients with cancer cachexia because it can help reverse weight loss and protein breakdown in catabolic states. Although short-term ghrelin administration appears to be safe and well-tolerated, we need more studies on its effectiveness and safety before recommending it.

Animal research on how cannabis increases appetite by stimulating ghrelin production also appears to be promising to support its use in treating illness-induced anorexia.

Additionally, one human study in men with HIV found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, can stimulate ghrelin release.

Ghrelin levels may increase following weight loss. Decreasing levels of ghrelin in the body may help decrease a person’s appetite, prevent weight regain, or promote weight loss.

However, it is important to note that other studies highlight monitoring changes in ghrelin alone are not sufficient to predict weight gain following weight loss in most people. Behavioral, physiological, and environmental factors also play a role in weight regain.

A person who wants to naturally decrease ghrelin levels may want to try some of the following interventions.

Follow a healthy diet

People’s ghrelin levels tend to increase when on a diet and not eating enough calories. Avoiding an empty stomach and eating a nutrient-rich diet may help limit ghrelin secretion.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025, the main elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:

  • vegetables of all types
  • fruits, especially whole fruits
  • grains, at least which half are whole grains
  • low fat dairy
  • lean protein
  • oils, such as olive oil and those naturally occurring in nuts and fatty fish

Some foods may also decrease ghrelin levels. In one older study, researchers discovered that fiber-rich foods could reduce ghrelin levels.

Another study looked at 21 men who were either given a bagel or eggs for breakfast. The group who ate eggs for breakfast had decreased ghrelin levels than those who ate bagels.

Get adequate sleep

Poor sleep patterns are tied to increased ghrelin levels and decreased leptin levels, leading to increased appetite and hunger. For better sleep, aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

Eat more protein

Consuming high protein meals and snacks can help promote satiety and reduce ghrelin levels. In fact, many meal-related studies have shown significant reductions in hunger and increased fullness following high protein meals.

Researchers suggest getting between 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day or 25-30% of daily calories to promote weight management and appetite suppression. Most people can follow a high protein diet by eating chicken breast, beans, lentils, low fat dairy, and shellfish.

Limit stress

Although removing stress altogether is near impossible, studies show that high levels of chronic stress can lead to elevated ghrelin levels. In addition to signaling hunger, ghrelin may affect brain function. The exact mechanism remains unclear, and mixed findings make it difficult to draw conclusions about ghrelin’s role in stress.

Some animal studies suggest it may reduce anxiety and have antidepressant-like properties, while other studies suggest it may promote these behaviors.

Regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and practicing yoga or meditation can help minimize stress.


Research surrounding the effect of exercise on ghrelin levels remains conflicting. In a 2021 review, researchers found that acute exercise suppresses ghrelin production. However, they also found that long-term exercise programs may have the opposite effect and increase ghrelin production.

The exact mechanism behind these effects remains unclear, but researchers believe it is likely due to elevated blood flow redistribution and weight loss from exercise.

Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone due to its key role in appetite regulation. High levels of ghrelin lead to an increase in appetite and food intake. However, the body needs ghrelin because it is involved in many processes. These include improving heart health, influencing bone metabolism, and preventing muscle breakdown.

A person who wishes to naturally reduce ghrelin levels in the body may consider eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet, consuming adequate protein, exercising, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress.

In contrast, someone with illness-induced anorexia or difficulty gaining weight may benefit from higher ghrelin levels to promote hunger and weight gain.

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Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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