Appetite Loss

by Margaret Stoklosa

The body is primed to demand foods at evenly spaced intervals throughout the day to ensure a steady supply of energy to the brain and organs.  While a slowdown of demand for food naturally occurs with aging due to decreased metabolic rate, the demand for food should not wane entirely and especially not in our middle years.  If it does, we must consider other causes and work to correct those. Below are some reasons you may be experiencing low or no appetite. 


  • The nicotine in cigarettes and vapes is a known appetite suppressant as it releases neurochemicals that disrupt regular appetite signals.

Coffee Overconsumption/Substitution

  • Caffeine has been shown to be an appetite suppressant and when consumed in excess or in high caloric drinks, it can suppress the natural appetite signals. (1)

Low Movement

  • Your body is made to move.  When movement is reduced due to unintentional (e.g., surgery) or intentional (e.g., increased sitting) behavior, the body compensates by pulling back the demand for consumption due to reduced muscle action.

Low Zinc Levels

  • Zinc stimulates the appropriate neuropeptides wired for appetite. (2) When there is a deficiency in zinc, appetite is low, and both taste and smell sensations are reduced.

Low Stomach Acid

  • Adequate stomach acid is required for appropriate food breakdown.  When secretions are reduced due to age, chronic disease, H. Pylori, or other causes, the body’s ability to breakdown food products is reduced and thus, the demand for food is tampered.

Macronutrient Intake

  • High protein intakes naturally result in increased satiety and increased digestive time due to breakdown mechanisms, thus appetite is generally reduced. High fat diets such as the ketogenic diet may also suppress your desire to eat due to mechanisms related to the release of ketones. (5)


  • This disorder stops the appropriate flow of digestion from stomach to small intestine and results in an almost paralysis of muscular movement. (3) While typically present in those with diabetes, this disorder is becoming more commonplace with GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide. (6)

Chronic Disease

  • Both anorexia (loss of appetite) and cachexia (wasting) can occur with chronic illness and/or cancer. In these conditions, the body uses resources to deal with the repair of tissues and digestion takes a back seat.

Nervous System Dysregulation

  • The central nervous system regulates the symphony of inputs both from environmental cues as well as bodily tissues. (4) When there is dysregulation due to environmental contaminants, stress, genetic triggers, or direct injury, inputs are disrupted and the normal signaling process is perturbed.

Addressing appetite loss requires understanding either the triggers or the underlying conditions leading to it.  If you are experiencing appetite loss and need an appropriate nutritional approach, you can schedule an appointment with our in-house clinical nutritionist to assist you in addressing the root cause.

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SOURCES: (1)PMID: 27824614  (2)	PMID: 19158231
(4)	PMID: 27085777 (5)PMID: 25402637 (6)PMID: 32848351

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