Researchers at the University of Michigan are the first to document a new leptin pathway in the brain – one related to the pleasure of eating. They found leptin receptors in a part of the hypothalamus gland that directly influences the production of dopamine, in turn influencing basic mechanism of human behavior behind the desire to acquire, pleasure, and the sense of reward. While this mechanism certainly applies to food – it is a key factor that drives all sorts of human behaviors (both good and bad).

Prior to this study most of the research on leptin and the brain focused on a different region in the hypothalamus that is considered to be the appetite regulation center. In other words, the basic full signal. Scientists also recognized that in addition to this basic full signal, there is simply a pure desire for food based on pleasure alone (dopamine based).

Earlier research has found that a low dopamine setting in the brain causes individuals to eat progressively more to achieve a sense of pleasure or an adequate feeling of reward. Satisfying this feeling, especially if the baseline setting is too low, invariably causes an individual to eat more food than their body needs.

This behavior is especially problematic in individuals with a history of addition to anything (drugs, caffeine, cigarettes, pot, alcohol, etc.). That is because the longer a person is using such substances the more likely they are to have created a “low dopamine” setting. Once they get off the addictive substances, they are more likely to use food to try to get a pleasure surge of dopamine, especially to offset stress.

The more stress a person is under the more they are likely to binge eat on something they know they shouldn’t.

This new study shows that leptin is needed to make dopamine, and that is a new discovery. It means that a person who is leptin resistant (meaning they have too much leptin in their blood but it isn’t getting into their brain) will be much more at risk for developing pleasure-associated binge eating.

I have heard for years from individuals following the Leptin Diet that they feel full on less food and do not have cravings when they stick with the diet. They are even somewhat surprised that they also feel satisfied, meaning they got a feeling of enough pleasure from the food they were eating. My observations are completely consistent with the findings of the new study.

Conversely, when individuals find themselves cheating on the five rules of the Leptin Diet then they find that they now seem to eat more in order to feel full and are much more prone to eating in response to stress or eating too much at once simply to feel better.

Leptin is far more than a hormone involved with managing your weight. This new study essential says that leptin is a driving force in many aspects of human behavior. It has a primary role in negative issues like addiction and positive issues like maximizing motivational drive.

Author's Bio: 

Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources, Inc., is a Board-Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a world renowned natural health expert. Richards is the first to explain the relevance of leptin and its link to solving obesity.