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A hunger suppressant is a food or supplement that reduces one's desire to consume food. People typically use hunger suppressants, also known as anorectics, anorexics, anorexigenics, or appetite suppressants, because they either want or need to lose weight. Some people want to lose weight to improve their self image and to make themselves more attractive and appealing. Other people feel compelled to lose weight because of health reasons, such as high cholesterol, or because of a general lack of physical ability as a result of being overweight. A hunger suppressant, when used improperly, can lead to a variety of health problems; hunger suppressants can place unnecessary strain on the heart or lead one to excessively low body weights.
Generally speaking, a hunger suppressant supplement works through various substances and chemicals that affect the parts of the brain and nervous system that relate to the feeling of hunger. These chemicals tend to bring about one of two different but closely-related effects. Some cause an individual to feel satiated, or full, while others simply cause one to have little or no desire to eat. Unfortunately, some individuals who use such supplements eat too little and fail to take in enough nutrients that are necessary for survival and health.
Hunger suppressant supplements work in varied ways. Many chemicals are related to amphetamines; these work by speeding up brain and body functions while suppressing appetite. Amphetamines and their derivatives, however, are often used like recreational drugs because of their stimulation effects; they can sometimes lead to levels of dependency and addiction. Sometimes, a hunger suppressant will actually work by physically slowing down the rate at which one's stomach is emptied. When one's stomach empties at a decreased rate, one tends to feel full for a longer period of time and, accordingly, will eat less.
A hunger suppressant does not need to be a separate dietary supplement that works through chemical means; some foods and drinks serve as natural hunger suppressants. Water, for example, tends to give one a feeling of fullness without contributing any calories; it takes up volume and dilutes the digestive acids in the stomach. Soups can be consumed for similar effects; many soups are composed mostly of water and they can contain some calories and nutrients which are necessary for good health. Similarly, fruits and vegetables contain few calories, contain many different vitamins and minerals, and can make one feel full.