Appetite Suppressants: Factors That Curb Hunger

Loss of appetite can sometimes be natural, often associated with ageing, or it can stem from physical or psychological factors. Sometimes, it could be because of your lifestyle or eating habits. Read to know more.

By URLife Team
22 May 2024

Feeling like you don't want to eat much every now and then is normal. Maybe you're feeling a bit sick, like when you have a cold or the flu, and food just doesn't seem appealing. Or perhaps you're going through a stressful time, like before an important exam or a big presentation, and eating is the last thing on your mind. But if you find that you're never hungry, it might be a sign that something else is going on. It could be due to underlying causes like having a chronic illness, like diabetes or thyroid problems, or it could be a side effect of certain medications you're taking. Understanding why you're not hungry is important for making sure you stay healthy.

One important factor that hampers or reduces appetite without any underlying conditions is ageing. Many people gradually feel less hungry as they age. Around 15 per cent to 30 per cent of older people experience a loss of appetite. Certain conditions that are associated with ageing, such as dementia, can also reduce appetite.

Some infections and medications can significantly affect appetite due to their impact on the body's physiological and biochemical processes. Infections trigger the body's immune response, which can lead to symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or inflammation. These symptoms can directly influence appetite by making food unappealing or difficult to digest.

Similarly, medications often come with side effects that can interfere with normal bodily functions, including appetite regulation. Other factors are hormones involved in appetite control, leading to changes in hunger levels.


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Related story: 7 Nutritional Deficiencies That Can Wreck Your Mental Health


Common Causes of Loss of Appetite 

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Respiratory infections
  • Bacteria or viral infections
  • Constipation 
  • An upset stomach
  • Digestive issues
  • Acid reflux
  • Food poisoning
  • Allergies 
  • Food intolerances
  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Stress
  • Medication side effects
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • High calcium levels in the blood
  • Diabetes 
  • Intestinal worms
  • Sleeping pills
  • Use of certain medicines, including antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, codeine, and morphine


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However, loss of appetite can also indicate underlying conditions that require immediate action and medical intervention. These conditions include:

  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Dementia
  • Hepatitis
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Pregnancy (first trimester)
  • Use of street drugs, including amphetamines (speed), cocaine, and heroin


When discussing changes in your appetite with a doctor it's essential to provide detailed information about the severity and duration of the decrease in appetite, along with necessary questions such as

  • Is the decreased appetite severe or mild?
  • Have you lost any weight? How much?
  • Is the decreased appetite a new symptom?
  • If so, did it start after an upsetting event, such as the death of a family member or friend?
  • What other symptoms are present?


Not only physiological conditions but psychological conditions can also affect and reduce your appetite. You might have noticed that when you are anxious either you land up at comfort eating and end up eating more than what your physical hunger or your appetite is completely lost. Here are the various psychological reasons responsible for loss of appetite 

  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorder
  • An emotional reaction like grief, fear, sadness or shock
  • Depression
  • Stress


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Nutritional Deficiencies and Loss of Appetite 

Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc can lead to a decrease in appetite. These nutrients play crucial roles in our bodies. 

A shortage of vitamin B1 can cause weakness and fatigue, leading to a reduced appetite. Similarly, insufficient vitamin D may not only weaken bones but also influence mood and appetite. Deficiency in vitamin B12 may result in fatigue and weakness, accompanied by a loss of appetite. Iron deficiency can lead to weakness and decreased appetite, while inadequate zinc intake might alter taste perception and diminish interest in food. 


Diet and Loss of Appetite 

Many times it’s not any underlying health condition but a good and healthy diet that’s keeping you full for a long duration. 



The body cannot break down fibre in the same way it does other foods. This means fibre stays in the digestive tract longer, slowing digestion and keeping individuals full longer. So don’t take episodes of not feeling hungry as an alarm. It might be because of a good intake of fibre. A 2023 research published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition suggests that fibre can be an effective appetite suppressant. 


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Every nutritionist recommends starting your day with a protein-dense breakfast. It’s because not all foods satisfy hunger equally. According to a 2018 research published in Nutrition, protein and certain fats are more effective than foods like carbohydrates for satisfying hunger and keeping people feeling full for longer.

Proteins are the most satiating macronutrient. This means they can help make people feel fuller for longer and better than most other foods. However, If you consistently experience prolonged periods without feeling hungry, lasting for a day or more over several days, it's advisable to consult a doctor.



In a study published in the journal Obesity, participants who drank two glasses of water before a meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories compared to those who didn't, highlighting the role of hydration in appetite regulation. 

Similarly, according to a comprehensive review published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, caffeine consumed 30 minutes to 4 hours before a meal causes a reduction in appetite.  It is important to note that consumption of liquids might interfere with your appetite. However, if you experience a loss of appetite for more than a day, then it is important to consult a doctor.


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Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have any underlying condition. Taking regular health checks can help detect the condition at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.
With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.



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