Low Appetite? Causes and Solutions

August 3, 2023

Contents from this article were shared in an article published in HerZindagi on 06.04.2023 featuring Mugdha. This article was written to serve as input for the same following a query from HerZindagi.

Low appetite is usually a sign of some kind of health issue. Women are supposed to consume approximately 2000 calories a day. Requirements vary from person to person and are higher if your physical activity level and muscle mass are higher. Our food environment today is such that we are all tempted to eat more since there is such a wide variety of highly palatable foods easily available. This is why the overwhelming problem today for the vast majority of people is the overconsumption of calories.  In this situation, having a low appetite and struggling to eat more becomes a  significant indicator of underlying problems. 

The possible underlying reasons for it are vast and can be both physiological and mental. A comprehensive health assessment and root cause analysis is required to identify the problem. The most common problems include:

Gut issues: Gut issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can cause appetite loss by disrupting the normal functioning of the digestive system. This can lead to abdominal pain, nausea, and changes in bowel movements, all of which can decrease appetite. When the digestive system is not functioning properly and is under pressure, the body doesn’t feel like ingesting any food.

Thyroid and other hormonal issues: Thyroid and other hormonal imbalances can cause appetite loss by disrupting the normal balance of hormones in the body. Leptin, Ghrelin, and Cortisol are all hormones that play a role in regulating appetite. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that helps to suppress appetite, while Ghrelin is a hormone produced by the stomach that stimulates appetite. Cortisol, a stress hormone, can also affect appetite by increasing cravings for unhealthy foods. When these hormones are out of balance, it can lead to changes in appetite.

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, is a common cause of appetite loss.

Slow metabolism: A slow metabolism can cause appetite loss by reducing the body's energy needs, leading to decreased hunger and appetite. This is related to the previous point since it is commonly caused by low thyroid function and hormonal issues. It is also aggravated by aging and a sedentary lifestyle.

Psychological issues: Psychological issues can cause appetite loss by altering an individual's relationship with food and their perception of hunger. Anorexia is a mental health condition characterized by appetite loss due to the individual’s irrational obsession with being thin. Clinical depression is also very commonly associated with loss of appetite.

Loss of appetite is a serious issue and should not be ignored. One should seek immediate medical advice if the problem persists. Functional nutrition is one of the most sustainable treatments to rectify the root cause of chronic health conditions. With proper guidance and healthy lifestyle changes, anyone can reverse their problems and live a quality life.

Mugdha Pradhan
Functional Nutritionist

With a Master’s degree in nutrition and two decades’ experience in health and wellness, Mugdha has successfully healed many people at iThrive (Previously ThriveFNC) since 2017. Mugdha herself was struggling with finding solutions when her health took a nosedive. With modern principles of functional medicine and ancient wisdom about food, paired with spirituality, she beat several chronic illnesses.

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