Unintentional Weight Loss and Tips for How to Increase Appetite

Tips on how to better manage weight

Image Credit: By Rahul Dev 801 on shutterstock.

Eating the right amount of food is crucial to maintaining good overall health. The amount you need to eat depends on your current height, age, and weight. Food is measured in calories, which are converted by our bodies into energy. Generally, it is recommended that we eat around 2000 calories per day. For most people, this is where the number of calories coming is equal to those being burned. As a basic rule, burning more calories than you consume will lead to weight loss, while eating more calories than your body uses will lead to weight gain. To give you a basic idea of how many calories are in a meal, a big mac from McDonald’s has about 560 calories in it, while running a mile burns about 150 calories. Some foods may be high in calories, but low in nutrients such as potato chips and doughnuts. Other foods can also be high calories, but high in nutrients such as nut butters and dried fruits. These latter options are ideal for those trying to gain weight. This article will discuss how to increase appetite for those who are losing weight without trying to.

Often when people think of eating disorders, the first thing that comes to mind is overeating. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It is a disorder where people constantly overeat, or can’t control how much they are eating. This disorder most often leads to obesity, which has many health problems associated with it, including a greatly increased risk of heart disease. Another disorder associated with binge-eating is bulimia, which is when someone overeats and then throws up the food they just ate to maintain a normal weight. Bulimia can lead to health problems such as acid-reflux and cavities due to worn off enamel from teeth regularly coming into contact with stomach acid. Both conditions can lead to serious health problems, but it is not eating enough that claims the most lives. Anorexia is a condition where people think they are overweight when they are not and leads to people eating too small of portions or not at all. In severe cases, this can lead to people dying of complications related to starvation. Another devastating result of this disorder is that suicide rates are much higher among women struggling with anorexia than those who are not. In addition to anorexia, various illnesses can also lead to a poor appetite and weight loss.

Those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer may experience a loss of appetite due to side effects caused by these treatments. Nausea and fatigue are side effects associated with many cancer treatments that can make it difficult to eat. Many other ailments can make it hard for people to eat three solid meals a day and reach their ideal caloric intake. One strategy nutritionists recommend if you don’t have the appetite to eat regular sized portions is to eat smaller more frequent meals. So, instead of eating three normal sized meals a day, try eating four or five smaller meals a day, or regularly snacking on high calorie, nutrient-rich foods such as peanut butter. If it is hard for you to eat regular sized meals, choosing high-calorie foods is important to keep from experiencing unwanted weight loss. Another tactic to try if you have a poor appetite is to simply eat your favorite foods. Adding healthy fats to your diet also may help to lessen weight loss.

A condition known as wasting syndrome is commonly seen in those suffering from late-stage cancer, HIV, and other ailments. This condition differs from starvation in that a starving body converts fat stores into energy, while those with wasting syndrome begin to lose muscle mass and may have organ failure. Doctors believe that wasting syndrome is caused by the immune system going into overdrive and producing excess substances known as cytokines. Cytokines increase metabolism while decreasing appetite. Wasting syndrome was known by the ancient Greeks as cachexia, literally translated as “bad condition.” If gone untreated, wasting syndrome often proves fatal due to organ failure. One of the most effective treatments doctors have found for wasting syndrome is nutritional counseling. Because high-calorie diets don’t necessarily help to keep wasting syndrome from causing weight loss specialized diets are necessary. If you are experiencing unwanted, or unexplained weight loss you should seek medical advice from your doctor.

There are many appetite stimulant medications on the market. These may help people to be able to overcome some of their appetite loss. However, they are often expensive and require prescriptions. There is another option, an appetite stimulant that has been around for thousands of years and used by people around the world. This medicine is cannabis. Although cannabis is a Schedule I drug according to the United States Federal Government, many states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. One of the first therapeutic applications of cannabis to be recognized by the medical community was its ability to reduce nausea and increase appetite, especially in those undergoing chemotherapy. Recent research into cannabis has revealed an entirely new network of neurotransmitters known as the endocannabinoid system. This system regulates everything from mood to motor functions, as well as appetite. There have been two main neuroreceptors identified in the endocannabinoid system. These are known as CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors and both interact with specific compounds in cannabis known as cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD. THC interacts with CB1 receptors and is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors and regulates functions such as sleep, motor functions, and appetite. Researchers believe CBD holds a great deal of potential as a therapeutic agent and has been shown to suppress nausea, increase appetite, and is even thought to help those with wasting syndrome. For those suffering from appetite loss because of treatments, or ailments, being able to comfortably enjoy a meal can be a huge relief and greatly increase one’s quality of life. Hopefully, as more research is performed we will be able to better understand how cannabis works and tailor specific medications to help treat those suffering not only from appetite loss but a great number of ailments.

To learn more about how cannabis can help treat colon cancer read Pot and Potty: the Complete Guide to Medical Marijuana and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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