Dr. Alan Christianson
What’s going on? You’re taking all the right steps; eating healthy foods and being consistent with your exercise routine, but the scale just won’t budge. Why?
The honest-to-goodness biggest culprit? Your hormones may need some fine tuning.
Good nutrition (proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), is key to helping your body make the hormones you need. If your body cannot make hormones, then it cannot be in balance. If it’s not in balance, you’ll be wearing your fat jeans for longer than you’d like.
So focus on adding foods with good fats such as salmon, walnuts, and avocados to your diet. Pair these good fats with dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and asparagus. Snack on vitamin-rich fruits such as blueberries and bananas to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay in balance.
So which hormones does your body use to stay in balance and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight?
1) Thyroid hormones – It produces hormones that control how your body converts calories into energy. When they are too low the calories turn straight to fat leaving you tired and heavy! Weight gain can be an indicator of an under-active thyroid gland or hypothyroidism. When the thyroid gland is under-active, your metabolism is not burning as many calories as it normally would. You also do not have as much energy, which can make it harder to get out and exercise. Other indicators of thyroid problems include dry skin, brittle nails, achy joints, and constipation. To help your thyroid be sure to take a multivitamin with 100-200 mcg of iodine and 200 mcg of selenium. Iodized salt and brazil nuts are also great sources of these thyroid friendly minerals.
2) Adrenal hormones – They produce cortisol – a hormone that is elevated in stressful situations. The crazy thing is that either too much or too little of this can cause weight to hang on. Some of us lead such stressful lives that our cortisol levels are always high. Eating fast food and simple carbs stress your adrenals, which increases your cortisol levels. This can lead to weight gain, especially around the mid-section. Conversely, if you are not producing enough cortisol, you may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or you may not have enough energy throughout the day much less enough energy to exercise. When you’re tired and sluggish, you tend to crave sugar and simple carbs because they give you quick energy. Ironically, the sugar and simple carbs deplete the adrenal glands making you even more tired and sluggish. Your adrenals are happy when you are! Take time for fun and rest. Try to be consistent about what time you eat your meals, sleep and wake up. Eating smaller meals every several hours can also help.
3) Reproductive hormones- Whether you are male or female, the right balance of sex hormones is important for more than your libido. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are all key in keeping extra weight off. Adrenal problems can affect the synthesis of sex hormones. The adrenals produce large amounts of DHEA, which is converted to testosterone and estrogen. Stressed adrenal glands produce too much DHEA and depleted adrenal glands don’t produce enough. Weight gain may be a symptom of too much estrogen or too little progesterone in women or not enough testosterone in men. Testosterone helps maintain lean muscle mass. And low levels are also linked to lack of motivation in men. If you think these are waning, exercise is the best home remedy. Don’t expect hours of plodding on the treadmill to help, train at high intensity for shorter bursts and challenge yourself with fewer repetitions of heavier weights.
For all of these hormones, if the home measures are not doing the job, any of our docs can surely help.
It’s difficult to obtain and maintain hormone balance without lifestyle modification. Every one of us needs to manage stress in our lives, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Make sure that you’re getting proper nutritional supplementation including adrenal and thyroid support. When your body is in balance nutritionally and hormonally, then it can balance itself physically.
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