Let’s talk about the many benefits of oxytocin. Oxytocin, also called the feel-good or “love and connection hormone” is a secret linchpin to so many mechanisms in our body. Originally discovered in 1906, scientists believed the primary purpose of oxytocin was for reproduction, mother-child bonding, lactation and appetite regulation. However in 1963 studies on oxytocin began to reveal that oxytocin had several other powers as well, specifically that oxytocin had a metabolic effect on the body.
So what are the benefits of oxytocin on the body? A meta analysis of oxytocin revealed that when people had higher levels of oxytocin in the body, it improved glucose uptake, insulin sensitivity and induced the breakdown of fat!
So, what this tells me is that oxytocin can help us become metabolically fit!
An animal study revealed that “deficiencies in oxytocin signaling and oxytocin receptor expression lead to obesity despite normal food intake, motor activity and increased leptin levels.”
Let’s talk about oxytocin signalling for a second. Oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands of the brain, and then it travels to four different areas of the body where we have receptor sites for oxytocin. These receptor sites are located in the skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, liver and pancreas. These are the areas where oxytocin will have the most dramatic positive effect.
In another human study, research showed “oxytocin concentration is notably lower in obese individuals with diabetes, which may suggest an involvement of the oxytocin system in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic disease.”
This all means that there may be a deficiency in oxytocin in people with metabolic syndrome.
So next the study looked at what effect increased levels of oxytocin had on people. They found that the “administration of oxytocin was associated with significant weight loss as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity and pancreatic β‐cell responsiveness in human subjects.”
Boosting your oxytocin levels can have the following benefits:
- Reduce hunger cravings
- Induce lipolysis, ie. the breakdown of fat
- Improved weight loss
- Improve glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity
- Improve lipid profile
- Down-regulate the HPA axis, the body’s stress response system
When we think about the “hormonal hierarchy”, we know that oxytocin is at the top of the hierarchy, which means that increasing oxytocin positively influences other hormones down the line, like cortisol, insulin, progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. The irregulation of the HPA axis is directly related to high cortisol levels. So, more oxytocin will help bring down cortisol and calm the body’s stress response system, also saving your adrenals from fatigue.
How can oxytocin help with fasting
Yes, oxytocin can help you fast easier and longer. If you are insulin resistant, adopting a fasting lifestyle can be challenging. What this research on oxytocin is showing us is that increasing oxytocin can naturally help you with fasting, by suppressing hunger and cravings. The study specifically found that “oxytocin markedly reduced hunger-driven food intake in the fasted state in obese men.”
So the next time you’re fasting, make sure you’re getting regular doses of oxytocin throughout the day. I say throughout the day, because the half life of oxytocin is between 3-5 minutes, so you’ll need little doses throughout the day to keep the benefits of oxytocin surging.
Here are 15 FREE ways to boost oxytocin:
- 8 hugs for 10 seconds
- Use love word
- Cuddle a pet
- Rollercoaster rides, skydiving (200% oxytocin spike)
- Warm & Cold Baths
- Give a gift to someone
- Spend time with friends
- Do something nice for someone