When trying to address weight issues, multiple factors must be accounted for. One of these includes having a closer look at hormones. Hormonal imbalances could be sabotaging your weight-loss success. The human body secretes hormones to communicate with other cells to mount a response and some of these messages can directly impact our level of hunger, our metabolism, and the amount of fat we store.
There are dozens upon dozens of hormones all performing different functions in the body. A few hormones show up time and time again however when looking at those that pack on the pounds. The biggies are insulin, estrogen and cortisol.
Insulin allows us to process, use or store sugar. When insulin is in excess, sugars can become stored as fat. Excess insulin can then also prevent stored fat from being burned effectively as energy. Insulin also directly influences our appetite by blocking satiety signals. It also spikes dopamine, which acts on the brain and prompts us to seek out a reward. That reward typically comes in the form of some unhealthy, fatty and/or sugary food. Keeping insulin in balance; which can assault us from many different angles, is necessary to keep weight in check.
Estrogen is actually a group of hormones. Estradiol, the most abundant form of estrogen, is necessary for bone building and bone strength, cardiovascular health and it is most commonly associated with reproductive health. When estrogen is in excess however, a whole host of conditions can arise for both men and woman including toxic weight gain and fat accumulation. Cysts, depression, loss of muscle mass and cancers are also associated with this hormone. Unfortunately, we can also accumulate harmful estrogens from our environment. Pesticides sprayed on our food, skin care products and medications are all viewed as estrogen when they are absorbed by the body.
For all the gentlemen out there, I wrote a bit more on estrogen for you specifically right here.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps us mount a quick response to a dangerous or stressful situation. When we are under constant stress at work or at home, or from a long-standing emotional / mental issue, cortisol production increases. With high cortisol levels our sensitivity to insulin is decreased, which means more insulin will need to be secreted. As discussed previously, more insulin in the blood sets the stage for more fat accumulation. Increased cortisol also depletes serotonin levels, which impacts our emotions and provokes us to eat more comforting carbohydrates. Delicious, yet damaging. Sleep is also impacted by cortisol levels. Higher cortisol levels translates to restless sleep. When the body doesn’t get enough deep sleep, guess what happens? You got it. More weight gets piled on.
So what can you do to balance out your hormones and find success in your weight-loss goals in a healthy way? There is not one single solution that works for everyone unfortunately but a few basic strategies that most will benefit from include:
- cut down on sugar intake and increase healthy fats & protein
- increase water consumption (filtered always)
- increase fiber intake
- reduce chemical exposures (purchase organic foods & “clean” self-care products whenever possible)
- utilize deep breathing exercises when under stress
- don’t eat past 8pm
- in bed by 10pm
I’ve got lots more where this came from but until then, stay strong and keep sharing the health!