How to Increase Leptin Sensitivity

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Jillian Michaels, trainer on the television show "The Biggest Loser" and author of "Master Your Metabolism," calls Dr. Scott Isaacs "the guru of all things hormonal." In his book "The Leptin Boost Diet: Unleash Your Fat-Controlling Hormones for Maximum Weight Loss," Isaacs defines leptin as the chemical messenger that communicates with the brain. Leptin informs the brain about the fat level in the body. Gain too much weight, says Isaacs, an endocrinologist, and you develop leptin resistance, where the brain ignores leptin. Metabolism crawls, and you are hungry. Permanent weight loss is impossible until leptin is balanced, Isaacs says. Fat cells must make enough leptin to communicate with the brain with correct information.

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Lose weight to improve the brain's sensitivity to the full signals from leptin. Restoring leptin sensitivity can reverse severe diabetes, according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Eating a diet that is healthy for your hormones will enhance leptin sensitivity and stop the damaging effects of diabetes.

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Lower your stress, which causes elevated cortisol in the body. Isaacs says high cortisol levels inhibit healthy leptin function. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands to help the body deal with stress. Excessive cortisol causes belly fat and other negative effects.

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Increase your growth-hormone levels. Isaacs suggests that with low growth-hormone levels you have premature ageing, insomnia, depression, lack of energy, increased body fat and weight gain. To improve your sleep, drink more water, eat more protein and get more physical activity.

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Eat more of the mineral zinc, which regulates leptin. Foods rich in zinc include dairy, lima beans, beef, oysters and wheat germ.

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Quit smoking. Smoking decreases leptin levels.

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Stay away from leptin supplements. "These products include vitamins, minerals and other ingredients that are untested and potentially dangerous," Isaacs says.

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