How is my brain affected by insulin?

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

It was used to be thought that the brain was not affected by insulin. This belief was based upon a false assumption that there were no insulin receptors in the brain. However, insulin receptors have now been discovered in nearly every region of the brain, especially those regions in charge of controlling appetite. In insulin-sensitive people, a rise of insulin after meals results in a promotion of satiety through its action in the brain. However, in those with insulin resistance, even the excessive insulin levels experienced after meals no longer result in a significant sense of satiety.

In normal individuals, it has been shown that regions of the brain responsible for appetite regulation respond to after-meal elevations in insulin by significantly increasing their intake of glucose and, subsequently, increasing the metabolic activity in these regions. In particular, the brain regions most responsible for appetite, such as the hypothalamus, readily respond to insulin. This reaction to insulin results in a decrease in appetite and a sense of satiety. In contrast, those with insulin resistance have been shown to lack this increase in metabolic activity in these important brain regions following a significant rise in insulin levels. We at the Hunger Free Forever program now know that the brain becomes insulin resistant along with the rest of the body, and that this insulin resistance plays an important role in the loss of after-meal satiety that accompanies weight gain. Think of the appetite control center having an "off" button for appetite that will only respond to insulin. With insulin resistance, the appetite never really gets shut down.
Hunger Free Forever: The New Science of Appetite Control

More About this Book

Hunger Free Forever: The New Science of Appetite Control

From two leading authorities on appetite control, obesity, natural medicine, and food comes a breakthrough in getting healthy and staying slim without starving.Millions have spent years searching for...

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.