Tried everything? Realizing that the battle of the bulge is a battle that has no end? Often, the reason for continual fat gain and ill-health stems directly from hormone imbalances.
There are 4 heavyweights in this department that need very little introduction, but each takes a corner of the fighting ring and does a lot of damage. Insulin, the thyroid, cortisol and sex hormones all play a role in becoming unfriendly neighbors in your body, the result, FAT GAIN.
This is one we all know, it and Diabetes are best mates. Normally our pancreas when functioning as it should secrete insulin that helps glucose travel to muscle and to produce energy and of course fat for storage. The challenge comes when the insulin resistance occurs, why, well, insulin is like LEPTIN which is a hormone that says you are happily full, and when you are insulin resistant, well, that message goes nowhere. So when we consume high sugar there is less feedback saying “I am full” and less appetite reduction, basically, you stay hungry.
With staying ‘HANGRY’ you keep eating and keep on eating and your Insulin neighbor causes some heavyweight addition. This causes weight gain, inflammation and of course chronic disease.
This has its implication on many a woman and a man, one in 10 men and one in 5 women have been affected by a low thyroid function also known as hypothyroidism. It is now thought that a cause of hypothyroidism is gluten intolerance, interesting this as if we get our gut functioning properly, can we move away from gluten intolerance and/or if we don’t eat elements that bring about gluten intolerance then we will solve our thyroid dilemma. It may well be worth the SACRIFICE!
WHY worth the sacrifice? Well if your thyroid is misfiring, chances are your weight could be on the increase too. You see, your thyroid does have an influence on how fast or slow you burn up energy. If it is too slow, as in hypothyroidism, this is when your metabolic rate is a snail’s pace. AND when you start gaining weight, are lethargic and have brittle nails. NO GOOD.
But WAIT, there is more, thyroid issues are brought about by nutritional deficiencies such as selenium, iodine, zinc, and the mighty omega 3 fats, so the answer to this is, EAT RIGHT and SUPPLEMENT!
The fact is to get it right we need to make sure that it IS DIAGNOSED firstly, then get the correct tests done by a doctor. Generally what is checked is TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, free T3 and T4, and lastly the thyroids antibodies.
Then eating right is one of the easiest and best ways to get it sorted. Personally, I had an underactive thyroid many years back and after swallowing a hand full of pills I decided to go the natural nutritional route as I could not see myself doing the pills daily. It works! GREAT NOURISHMENT may work for you too! Besides good supplements such as Omega with Vitamin D, to help regulate your endocrine system, pay attention to adding pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and oysters [not that this is a daily grocery item for me] and avoid eating thyroid blocking goitrogens such as soybeans, and raw cruciferous veggies.
And finally, make sure your doctor assists you based on your tests that are done and your health status.
Now, let us bring in a heavy hitter. Cortisol carries a punch based on the fact that it has EVERYTHING to do with stress and that deep down we are still Neanderthal… Where in the good old days stress caused the Neanderthal to run for cover, these days, stress sits in our thoughts, then it sends a couple of self-destructive messages to our metabolic pathways when then help us politely to gain weight and become insulin resistant. Our Neanderthal counterpart WAS being ATTACKED, we, however, PERCEIVE A THREAT when then we have no need to run from [aka some good exercise] so we end up sitting, stressing and gaining weight.
Cortisol kindly helps you run for your life, in those days that is, it forced quick energy into your bloodstream for just that, quick energy… BUT simultaneously, is closing our digestive function and slows metabolism… basically energy conservation to ensure YOU survive the perceived THREAT?!
Do this routine for a couple of days, then weeks, then years and soon your ability to handle stress seems FANTASTIC externally, but internally, oh boy, we have a problem, high blood sugar, a fat belly, sky-high blood pressure, muscle loss (which of course helps the fat pack on) and finally cholesterol, no, not the healthy one.
Slowly that which is supposed to enable to protect yourself and run for your life is, in fact, killing you silently.
I would suggest that the practice of meditation should be your first go to. Take on breathing techniques to breath into and out of stressful situations. Get your thought process rewired, Subliminals are great for that too.
Then, gain a superpower, stretching time… I know, most laugh at me when I say that is my superpower, but I am proud of it. How do you stretch time? Easy, be present, start by being instead of doing. Pay attention to every detail and put down the bloody phone! Train yourself to SLOW EVERYTHING DOWN. And breath into that… It is a great feeling and does take practice in our fast-paced world.
Let us have a look at these, firstly, estrogen, we think this is just a women’s ‘moan’, well men and women have it and too much of it can cause weight issues. WHERE does this come from? Well simply, refined carbohydrates, sugar and that delightful glass of one wine too many causes estrogen to throw a punch. And once again we cannot escape a healthy gut with the right quantity of good fiber which influences the strength of that PUNCH… Besides the foods we eat, triggering estrogen is as easy as taking antibiotics and just ‘living’. Why living? Well, there is substantial use of pesticides called xenoestrogens which are copycat estrogens causing in women problematic menstrual cycles, fluid retention, breast tenderness, and fibroids.
Men also struggle, beer belly and ‘man boobs‘ become clear, then they lose body hair as their testosterone drops, yes, as the low estrogen starts affecting them, and aging ALSO sets in, men start losing testosterone too. With this lack of testosterone, men age faster too. Men are advised to start exercising, reduce alcohol and stress [what is the chance of reducing stress as they get older these days – guys maybe take on meditation practice???]. The low testosterone, of course, leads to low sex drive, bone loss (osteoporosis being the end result) and mental fog and fatigue. That is over and above WEIGHT GAIN. Clearly, sex hormones need our attention!
What is impacting these hormones? If your dietary pick is low-fat foods and possibly using statin drugs (which block cholesterol production – yes we need cholesterol in our bodies!!!), the advise is to rather aim for higher fat intake and really do your investigation on the necessity of those statins. Cholesterol produces testosterone and all the other sex hormones and therefore speak to your doctor and find out about solving your statin problem – nutrition alone can get you off your statins. Time to sort out the sex drive.
What can be said about improving these hormones is the following, include fiber-based foods, if you don’t get enough of these, get a supplement of fiber. Decide how important alcohol is and limit it as much as possible. Start exercising – if however you are highly stressed, chose an easy over form of exercise to not add stress to your already stressful life. Make sure that you avoid constipation, we need to get rid of toxins in your body, good probiotic is also a great addition. Take it DAILY.
Besides this bit of information, let me add, getting your weight under control with the help of hormones should be easy, there are after all 9 hormones in your body that tell you to eat more and 14 that tell you to stop eating according to Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz’s book on helping You on diet.
So, all we need to do is take care of these FAB 4, then the rest should be a walk in the park. Take care of your hormones and they will take care of you, maybe not CORTISOL, but he is the heavy hitter after all.