Home Overall Health Gut Intelligence: How GLP-1 Hormone Shapes Your Health in 6 Ways
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Gut Intelligence: How GLP-1 Hormone Shapes Your Health in 6 Ways

Have you heard the latest buzz about Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) for weight loss? This hormone produced in your gut helps regulate your body’s response to food.

But, the relationship between GLP-1’s natural functions and therapeutic effects is complex. 

Get to know GLP-1 and how it benefits more than your weight; learn:

  • What is GLP-1
  • What are its roles in the body
  • How to boost this hormone

Discovering GLP-1 Hormone

The discovery of insulin in the 1920s revolutionized the treatment of diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin. However, scientists soon realized that glucagon also plays a vital role in glucose regulation.

In the early 1960s, scientists discovered that glucagon is produced in two different places: the pancreas and the intestine. The glucagon produced in the pancreas is the same hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. However, the glucagon produced in the intestine has different functions that still need to be fully understood.

In the early 1980s, scientists discovered that glicentin is the major form of glucagon-like material in the intestine. Glicentin is a 69-amino acid peptide that contains the full glucagon sequence.

Scientists also discovered a smaller intestinal form of glucagon-like material called oxyntomodulin. Oxyntomodulin is a 37-amino acid peptide that contains the full glucagon sequence with eight additional amino acids on its C-terminal end.

In the early 1980s, scientists also discovered two new glucagon-related peptides in the proglucagon gene: glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2). The intestines produce GLP-1 and GLP-2, which have different functions than glucagon.

Scientists are still learning about the role of proglucagon and its derived peptides in human health. However, these hormones are important in regulating blood sugar levels and other bodily functions.

Understanding The Six Functions of GLP-1 Hormone

When you eat certain foods, your gut K-cells and L-cells release hormones GIP and GLP-1. These hormones, called incretins, are released when they sense sugars, fats, and some proteins.

They help various body parts, like the pancreas, liver, and brain, work better. Think of them as messengers that tell your body how to use the food you eat. They also react to other gut substances, like bile acids. So, when you eat, these incretins help manage your energy and keep your body functioning well.

Moreover, the GLP-1 hormone helps control sugar levels in your body. It also affects your appetite, heart health, and response to swelling or inflammation.

Inflammation can be good when fighting off infections but harmful if it lasts too long. Recent studies show that GLP-1 can help reduce harmful inflammation, which may prevent organ damage.

GLP-1’s various modes of action affect various organs and body processes:

1. Blood Sugar Levels

The GLP-1 hormone, made in our gut and brain, helps control blood sugar. When you eat or have inflammation, your body produces GLP-1. It connects to special receptors called GLP-1R, found in various body parts like the pancreas, lungs, heart, and brain.

When GLP-1 connects to these receptors, it starts various actions in the cell, like increasing certain chemicals. It can lower blood sugar by helping your body produce insulin and slow

2. Gastric Emptying

Your stomach empties food at different speeds. It affects blood sugar levels. When your stomach empties faster, your blood sugar can spike. But it can also help if your blood sugar is too low. If your stomach empties slower, it can help control high blood sugar.

In diabetes, stomach emptying can vary a lot. It can affect blood sugar control. Experts suggest GLP-1 plays a significant role. It slows down how fast your stomach empties. It helps control your blood sugar level.

3. Appetite And Hunger

Experts suggest GLP-1 affects appetite or hunger and weight control. It acts on the gut and brain. It delays digestion, reduces food intake, and promotes a feeling of fullness. Glucagon-like peptide-1 is released by cells in the gut and the brain. Moreover, its effects are influenced by signals from the vagus nerve. 

The vagus nerve carries information from your gut to a part of the brain called the nucleus tractus solitarius. It sends signals to your brain about how full your stomach is. It helps you feel less hungry. It’s like a messenger that tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. 

4. Liver Function

GLP-1 prompts the pancreas to release insulin. According to scientists, several things happen in the liver:

  1. Reduces sugar production
  2. Boosts fat production in the liver
  3. The liver becomes better at taking up glucose from the blood.

All of this leads to lower sugar levels in the blood after a meal. This interaction among the gut (which releases GLP-1), the pancreas (which releases insulin), and the liver (which modifies its glucose and fat processes) is termed the “gut-pancreas-liver axis.” It’s a critical system that helps our body keep sugar levels in check.

5. Heart Function

Endothelial dysfunction is a condition in which the inner lining of blood vessels is not working properly; it is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

GLP-1 hormone from the gut has a number of beneficial effects on the body. It includes improving blood sugar control, reducing inflammation, and protecting the heart. Studies have shown that GLP-1 can also improve endothelial function. This means that it can help to improve blood flow and make the blood vessels more flexible.

It is not clear exactly how GLP-1 improves endothelial function. However, scientists think that it may do so by directly acting on the blood vessels or by indirectly increasing insulin levels.

According to experts, these modes of action need more research to understand how GLP-1 works for heart-related conditions. But so far, studies show promising results.

6. Brain Health

GLP-1 is a hormone of 30-31 parts called amino acids. It helps control how cells use energy. Think of GLP-1 as a key that fits into a special lock called the GLP-1 receptor on cells. When they connect, it sends signals to cells in the body to communicate and work properly.

GLP-1 receptor, found in the brain, helps your brain work well and plays a role in various brain functions. According to scientists, GLP-1 can calm down inflammation that can affect the brain.

It’s involved in regulating body temperature, blood pressure, and the creation of new brain cells. Notably, adjusting GLP-1 activity has the potential for Alzheimer’s disease by impacting amyloid β peptide accumulation. For Parkinson’s disease, it influences dopamine levels.

Other scientists also suggest GLP-1 has impact on memory and learning, taste, and reward behavior.

Boosting GLP-1 Hormone Naturally

You can stimulate the release of GLP-1, even if it is naturally produced in the body. Sources of GLP-1 include food, natural substances, and medicines. For example, pairing drugs that mimic GLP-1  with exercise changes the mix of bacteria in the gut. It could improve how well GLP-1 works in people with high blood sugar levels or diabetes.

1. GLP-1 Boosting Food

Among macronutrients, glucose is the best-known molecule responsible for stimulating GLP-1 secretion. Fructose is also a potent GLP-1 stimulator.

There are also long-chain fatty acids or fats that can make the body produce more GLP-1. An example is olive oil, which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Scientists suggest it tends to increase GLP-1 more than butter (rich in saturated fatty acids).

There are many foods and substances that interact with your body’s cells in different ways to help release GLP-1. It then plays a role in digesting and using the energy from the food you eat.

Fiber-rich foods

Eating complex foods that contain a mix of nutrients is more effective in boosting GLP-1 secretion. You can consume high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Healthcare providers recommend them for managing diabetes because they increase GLP-1 secretion.

Studies show that specific foods can improve blood sugar levels. They also increase GLP-1 secretions to reduce your appetite:

  • Foods like oatmeal and high-fiber cereals make you feel full, reduce hunger, and lower calorie intake.
  • Almonds, pistachios, peanuts, peanut butter, eggs, and avocado added to a meal can also improve blood sugar control and make you feel satisfied.

Moreover, changing diet to stimulate GLP-1 secretion has additional benefits. For example, it improves other gut hormones and markers of heart health.


Meals with lots of protein can help the body produce more GLP-1. This might also help people feel full and help control blood sugar.

Scientists compared the effects of the same calories from sugar, fat (olive oil), and protein (from whey and eggs) on GLP-1 in healthy people. They found that fat made the most GLP-1. Whey protein, which is found in milk, is known to increase GLP-1. It’s often used in experiments as a positive control.

Moreover, several proteins like casein (from milk), codfish, egg, and wheat seemed to boost GLP-1. Of the whey proteins, α-lactalbumin stood out. The types α- and β-casein seemed to be the key for casein.

Since the lab cell lines can’t digest these proteins, it means that special structures in these proteins, not just broken-down pieces, might be responsible for increasing GLP-1. It’s clear that proteins have a role in GLP-1 production, but more research is needed to understand their exact mechanism.

2. Herbal And Natural Substances or Supplements

Certain natural substances can help lower blood sugar levels. They impact GLP-1, which stimulates insulin release and slow down digestion:

  • Fenugreek
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Berberine
  • Bitter melon

Other than berberine, researchers also suggest boosting GLP-1 with natural substances:

  • Curcumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Gardenia
  • Resveratrol

However, more research is needed to understand the effects of different nutrients and foods on GLP-1 secretion. Scientists have yet to know how they can benefit people with different health conditions.wwwwwweee

3. Physical Activity

Researchers suggest that exercise, regardless of intensity, increases GLP-1 in the blood.

Other scientists say that exercise affects GLP-1, which can help people with T2D. It can change the balance of bacteria in their gut. As a result, it makes GLP-1 work better. Also, exercise can reduce fat around the belly, making GLP-1 more effective. 

Some studies also find that exercise can increase GLP-1 levels. In a 10-week exercise study, 24 middle-aged overweight women worked out to see how exercise affects their body’s response to GLP-1.

A few of these women were given a special sugar test and GLP-1 dose. After the exercise, their bodies got better at using sugar, their fitness improved, and they lost some deep belly fat. Overall, regular exercise helped these women’s bodies use the GLP-1 hormone better.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is GLP-1?

GLP-1 is a hormone that is produced in the gut after eating. It has a number of important functions, including regulating blood sugar levels, promoting insulin secretion, and reducing inflammation.

  1. What are the benefits of GLP-1?

GLP-1 can help to improve blood sugar control, reduce the risk of heart disease, and promote weight loss. It is also being investigated as a potential treatment for other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

  1. How can I increase my GLP-1 levels?

There are several things you can do to increase your GLP-1 levels. It includes eating a healthy diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Taking natural substances or supplements and exercising can also boost it.

Key Takeaways

  • Hormones or incretins like GIP and GLP-1, released when you eat, help your body use food, control sugar, and reduce inflammation.
  • GLP-1, a hormone in your gut and brain, influences blood sugar, stomach emptying, appetite, liver function, heart health, and brain function.
  • You can stimulate GLP-1 production naturally through food, like fiber-rich foods and proteins, as well as herbal supplements. Exercise also enhances GLP-1 action, benefiting blood sugar control and overall health.

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