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What Foods Unleash Leptin in the Body?

By Ros James ; Updated July 27, 2017

Leptin is the hormone that tells the body it is not hungry, so when the system works properly, any food will have the effect of unleashing leptin. The problem is that people develop leptin resistance--so overweight people can still feel hungry. As part of a health program to reverse this, Dr. Leo Galland, author of "The Fat Resistance Diet," recommends eating fresh whole foods, Omega-3 fats, phytonutrients and fiber.

Fresh Whole Foods

These are defined as natural foods that have had a minimal amount of processing and are eaten in their natural state. Whole foods are thought to bring a range of benefits--such as a healthier heart--as well as adding interest to your diet. In "The Fat Resistance Diet," Dr. Galland argues that a major problem of our modern diet is that the natural components of food have been removed, with the result that the body is less able to fight inflammation and becomes leptin resistant. Consuming whole foods will help overcome this and unleash the potential of leptin. Choose wholemeal bread, whole-grain cereal or brown rice. Also include raw or minimally cooked fruit and vegetables in your diet.

Omega-3 Fats

Dr. Galland describes the anti-inflammatory effects of Omega-3 fatty acids as "a natural and intrinsic component of numerous complex regulatory systems in the cells of our bodies." So, in addition to having numerous other health benefits, it is likely that these "good" fats help keep our leptin receptors working properly. The best sources are fish oils, found in salmon, tuna and halibut. For those who don’t eat fish, the Vegetarian Resource Group recommends plant sources such as flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts, walnut oil and purslane.


"Phyto" comes from a Greek word for "plant," and the U.S. Department Of Agriculture defines phytonutrients as certain organic components of plants that are thought to promote human health. It lists fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and teas as rich sources. As well as being good for general health, says Dr. Galland, phytonutrients are an excellent way of adding interest to our diet through different flavors and colors. This makes it easier to cut down on refined sugars, fats and salt in what we eat, which in turn can help overcome leptin resistance and so unleash the hormone’s potential. Nutritionists recommend selecting many different kinds–and colors–of these foodstuffs, according to Julie Garden-Robinson, writing for Ag.NDSU.edu.


Defined by the Harvard School of Public Health as "a type of carbohydrate the body can’t digest, " fiber has a range of health benefits, including guarding against metabolic syndrome, which the Harvard School explains as "a constellation of factors that increases the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes." As these factors include high insulin levels and excess weight, it is likely that fiber has a key role in unleashing the potential of leptin, too. The best sources are whole fruit and vegetables, beans and whole-grain breads and cereals.

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