Loss of Appetite -- Causes and Top 10 Remedies
By ALISON TURNER, Contributing Columnist
Loss of appetite is a little known but serious problem in America.
But loss of appetite has just as many physical, emotional, and societal consequences as an over-active appetite. Our bodies need proper and adequate nutrition, which affects our energy, our strength, sometimes even our perspective and outlook.
But for anyone who stands before the buffet and sees not an array of scrumptious opportunity but an assortment of struggles, you know that a loss of appetite is not a choice. Indeed, causes range from diseases to age to circumstances - and for most of these, there is a possible solution. Listed below are some of the top causes of loss of appetite, followed by remedies that studies from around the world show may work to cure your malady and reawaken your hunger.
Causes of and Remedies for Loss of Appetite
A 2001 study published by the American Cancer Society explains that these factors are partially caused by a "disrupted balance between endogenous cytokine levels."
Cytokins are vital proteins because they are responsible for communication between cells, thereby affecting nearly every organ in the body. They are part of a complicated system that, when knocked off kilter, can lead to "wasting syndrome," which, according to researcher Dr. Razelle Kurzock, is a "hallmark of cancer."
What can help? Dr. Kurzock explains that molecules that could balance the cytokine cycle have been identified. In addition to preventing cancer-related fatigue and appetite loss, these molecules may also inhibit tumor growth. While these findings need further study before hitting the market, the suggestion is encouraging for those suffering cancer and its symptoms.
In the meantime, a favorite book of poetry may ease the aching body of a cancer patient. A study performed in 2005 with the Macmillan Centre in the UK proposes that poetry (whether written or read by the patients) creates an "understanding of the experience of loss of appetite," which is "essential" to adequate care.
2. Pain. Chronic pain can make you lose your appetite. Whether you suffer from a chronic disease, have been in a serious accident, or had a recent operation, you have probably experienced a great deal of pain.
The depth and recovery of this pain depends on the your situation, but a study performed in 2001 by several researches at Harvard Medical School insists that appetite loss is a "common complaint" amongst all patients suffering pain.
The study proposes that hypothalamic neurons that "normally inhibit appetite in response to metabolic cues" may be activated by signals of pain.
If it is pain that contributes to your decreased appetite, how can you decrease this pain?
There are of course, different drugs for different pains - be sure to consult your physician for dosage and diagnoses.
Several recent studies suggest that fish oil also helps to alleviate pain. In 2003 researchers in Brazil found that fish oil (especially when used in combination with the consumption of olive oil) alleviated the pain of patients with arthritis, and in 2010 a paper published by the World Health Organization by researchers in Iran found that fish oil relives symptoms of menstrual pain in women.
[Curcumin spice can also help to relieve pain, as well as ibuprofen some studies suggest. And, capsaicin, the ingredient in peppers that makes them hot, has been confirmed as an effective pain reliever in many university studies.]
In addition to loss of appetite, symptoms of kidney disease include difficulty with urination (whether the urine contains blood, is foamy, or burns when passing), fatigue, and nausea - if you experience these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as you can for early detection.
4. Mountain Sickness. Perhaps you're training for a marathon up in the mountains, or maybe you're meeting family for a ski vacation - either way, if you're over 8,000 feet, you may experience Acute Mountain Sickness.
Acute Mountain Sickness is caused by reduced air pressure and/or less oxygen at higher altitudes. Along with loss of appetite, symptoms include fatigue, troubles sleeping, and headaches - and, in severe cases, confusion, coughing up blood, and difficulty walking in a straight line.
Acute mountain sickness, and any consequent loss of appetite, is easily preventable! An article in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2002) by doctors Michael Schneider, Dirke Bernasch and others, suggest that symptoms usually arise from a speedy ascent and low pre-exposure to a higher altitude : so for the most enjoyable mountain experience - that includes an appreciation for "haute" cuisine --give yourself a few days at the lodge before strenuous activity and exercise.