Have you ever thought of the wonders of our hormones and whether they are at the right levels and sending the right messages? If hormones are in balance, we feel great, we cope well, and our metabolism can function normally, helping maintain good energy, size and weight.
On the flip side when things are not going right or there is an imbalance of hormones we do not feel as good and we tend to gain weight for no reason. This can be more exaggerated around times of hormonal changes- post babies, puberty, perimenopause, andropause and menopause. This article talks about various hormones and how they can be misfiring, doing the wrong thing and in simple terms, mucking up the healthy function in our body.
First, Cortisol is your stress hormone -your fight and flight hormone. Cortisol is perfect when you need the energy and need the adrenaline, but not so good when it is over firing. This is a trouble hormone when it comes to shedding weight. When your body is under long term or chronic stress the cortisol levels can constantly be up. Hormones send messages and one of the messages of constant high cortisol is to raise insulin which in turn does not help our weight/metabolism. When insulin is up glucagon is down and glucagon helps burn fat. Time out for pottering, journals, art, meditation, Qi Gong, hugs, laughter all help cortisol come into balance. Herbal combinations including magnolia or ziphyrus can also help cortisol levels, not to mention calming herbal teas.
Exercises such as running and spin classes place more stress on your body which in turn raises your cortisol. Sometimes you see people in stressful jobs and excessively exercising and then wondering why they are not losing weight. It is because their cortisol is constantly too high.
This is why for one individual it is best to do running and high intensity exercise and for another it is not ideal. The trick is to start exercising smarter. Yoga, meditation and interval training might work better than long distance running. Interval training involves short periods of high intensity exercise with moderate exercise in between. It is effective and does not build up cortisol but helps build up human growth hormone.
Human Growth hormone peaks in adolescents. This hormone helps metabolism. Like I said interval training helps increase HGH. Also, it is good not to have sugary foods as this lowers the growth hormone in your body. If your testosterone is low a testosterone cream can help boost your growth hormone. I do not suggest injections of HGH or synthetic tablets as this can affect your own HGH production. Good quality sleep can also help HGH production in the body.
While talking sleep it is only natural to now discuss Ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that needs to be lower to help metabolism. Too much ghrelin will spike your appetite. Ghrehlin spikes higher in people that do not sleep well and do not have a regular full night’s sleep. Most people require 7-9 hours sleep but less than this seems to increase Ghrelin which is NOT a good thing. Other things that help your ghrelin keep lower are regular exercise, lower stress levels, eating 3 meals a day and keeping a positive mindset. Genetically some people are more inclined to have higher ghrelin.
30 minutes sleep pre midnight is worth 2 hours sleep on the other side of midnight. Good quality full night sleep can help improve cortisol, leptin and ghrelin levels. What is Leptin?Leptin is a hormone that is produced by fat tissue and it will decrease appetite and therefore helps weightless. Yes, sleep helps increase leptin but so does low fructose eating, interval training, omega 3, and high protein breakfasts.
Let me go back to cortisol, there is another common issue with cortisol - Coffee and alcohol. Alcohol raises cortisol and lowers metabolism and is linked to premenstrual anxiety, mood problems and headaches. The simple daily coffee can also elevate cortisol and cause the body to hoard more fat. Another food to note here is the effects of aspartame (found in diet drinks and sugar free gum) which can lower serotonin and lower metabolism. Serotonin is the feel good hormone that helps lift our moods.
Insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas to regulate glucose (sugar) and promote fat storage around the belly. Foods that promote the secretion of insulin are refined flours and sugars. Having more protein based foods like buckwheat, turkey, eggs, fish, nuts, grass fed meat in moderation or Protein powders ( rice, whey, collagen or pea based ) , if right for your individual body, can help balance you insulin levels not to mention daily exercise.
The other hormone worth discussing here is the thyroid and thyroid hormones.To look at the thyroid properly you need to look at all of the hormones involved to get a full picture. To test the thyroid you do this via blood testing - TSH, T3, T4, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies. Many a time people only have the TSH tested and this does not give you a full picture of the thyroid. In the body the TSH is the thyroid stimulating hormone and the T4 needs to be changed into the T3. T3 is the active hormone but if it misfires will becomes Reverse T3 which is a useless hormone. In some people the TSH, T3,T4 and Reverse T3 are normal but the Thyroid antibodies are raised which indicates an autoimmune condition. The thyroid function like all of the hormones are like a fine balance and if misfiring can cause our body to send the wrong messages and therefore cause ill health. I have another article written to learn more on thyroid if interested. Read more
If you would like to speak to your practitioner or would like to get your hormones assessed our naturopaths can help organise this, are trained to analyse your hormonal picture and discuss your best approach to dietary, supplementation and exercise program.