Hormones…some may feel they can’t live with them, but at the same time we can’t live without them. The human body secretes and circulates fifty different hormones. Think of hormones as our body’s chemical messenger. Our heart cannot beat without them and our body wouldn’t be able to survive more than 24 hours without them.
From the moment of conception, we experience hormones. This particular hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It is produced by the placenta which helps maintain the pregnancy and grow your bundle of joy. We, however, are not here to talk about babies. We are here to focus on managing our hormones and eliminating weight gain that can be associated with them. We will discuss ten different ways to help manage hormonal weight gain.
Eating an adequate amount of protein is extremely important. Protein provides essential amino acids that our body does not produced on its own. Peptide proteins are made by your endocrine system. They help to regulate growth, energy metabolism, appetite, stress, and reproduction.
Eating sufficient amounts of protein decreases the hunger hormone known as ghrelin. When we do not have enough protein, ghrelin is released and we tend to over eat on quick, easy foods. This is why it is important to eat a balanced meal. It is recommended to eat a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein per meal.
When people think of protein they often think of meat. This is not true. You can get ample amounts of protein through legumes, seeds, nuts and protein powders. In short, eating enough protein in our meals, prompts the production of peptide hormones, which suppresses our appetite and helps us to feel full.
2. Regular Exercise
We have all heard this many of many times. Exercise helps you to lose and/or maintain weight. But how? Set aside the fact that exercise helps to increase blood flow ensuring nutrients and hormones get to where they are going, but it also helps to regulate how much of a hormone is being released.
Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar from you bloodstream and produces energy for your body. When we consume too much sugar, our bodies become insulin resistant. This is when your pancreas makes too much insulin. For a while, your blood sugar levels will remain normal, but like anything else, your pancreas will get tired and will not be able to keep up with the demand.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), strength training and cardio have been found to help prevent insulin resistance. Future Fitness Training can help you get started on a regular exercise routine.
3. Maintain a moderate weight
Obesity is heavily linked to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. In recent studies, obesity has been linked to reproductive disorders. This is due to a reduction or even absence of hormone secretion from the testes or ovaries. This is referred to as hypogonadism. Men’s testosterone is decreased and woman have issues with ovulating, both leading to infertility disorders. Proper calorie range and consumption are needed to help maintain hormonal balance.
4. Gut Health
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, your gut flora has trillions of bacteria. Any sort of imbalance in your flora can cause weight gain, illness, risk for disease, leaky gut etc. Leaky gut, as it implies, is when your intestinal lining becomes loose. Molecules slip through creating an immune response, which sends a wave of hormones though out the body, hence causing inflammation and hormonal imbalances.
L-Glutamine is a fuel source for cells of the small intestine and helps to strengthen the intestinal wall. Probiotics also help to restore the makeup of your microbiome by creating a balance between the good and bad bacteria that live in the gut. Thankfully, you can find both of these supplements at FFT Supplements under our Gut Health page.
5. Decrease Sugar
Minimizing the amount of sugar you consume can help to improve hormonal function. Sugar seems to be in everything. Our morning coffees, to that quick snack that work decided to bring in for a job well done, to the condiments that we put on our healthy salad.
Monitoring the amount of sugar that is actually being consumed will help to regulate insulin. This is not to say that ALL sugar is bad. There is sugar in fruit. This is a natural sugar. Most of the time, this is a mixture of sucrose, fructose and glucose. Fruits come with other nutrients that provide a balanced diet. For example, on average, a banana contains roughly 20% of the recommended daily fiber count. You can’t find that in a soda. Getting enough fiber in your diet helps to protect against different bowel cancers.
6. Stress Reduction Techniques
In our last newsletter, we spoke on how stress can increase weight gain. When your body is met with some sort of stressor, cortisol, the stress hormone is released. Once the stressor is passed, the response ends and your cortisol levels go back to normal.
This, however, is not always true. If we experience chronic stress, cortisol levels spike causing an inflammatory response. When our cortisol levels are increased, our appetite sub-sequentially increase, which can lead to a calorie surplus. When a person chronically has high levels of cortisol, gluconeogenesis is stimulated. This is when your body starts to get glucose from non-carbohydrate sources-protein and fats. In the long haul, this causes insulin resistance.
Finding ways to cope with stress such as exercise, yoga, and supplementation can help.
7. Healthy Fats
Medium change triglycerides (MCTs) are fats that are less likely to be stored in fat tissue. Most of the time you hear about short and long chain triglycerides. The longer the chain the healthier it is for you. This is because of how the substance is being transported. In medium chain, they are taken directly to the liver for immediate energy consumption. This creates an increase in calories being burned. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be long chain. They help to increase insulin sensitivity by reducing inflammation and inflammatory markers. Omega-3 may also help to prevent cortisol levels from increasing during chronic stress.
8. Consistent and Quality Sleep
Sleep. You could get every workout in and be the healthiest eater, but if you are not getting consistent and quality sleep, its moot. Poor sleep patterns are linked to hormonal imbalance because your body does not have time to repair itself. This can result in increased insulin, cortisol, and ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels. It also decreases leptin levels.
Leptin is a hormone that helps to regulate our fat storage and how many calories can be ate and burned. Just like anything else, you need to prepare yourself for sleep. Some techniques that can be used are to shut off all electronics one hour before planned sleep. Blue light blocks another hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy. Take a lavender bath, try chamomile tea, look into supplementation, such as our Sleep Formula which contains different herbs to aid in sleep.
Bottom line, find something that works to help you get to sleep and stick to it. Aim for at least seven hours of quality sleep a night.
9. High Fiber Diet
Like previously mentioned, fiber is essential to a healthy diet. Adequate amounts of fiber can improve insulin sensitivity and control the hormones that are linked with appetite.
10. Think Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains, fish, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables. This helps to reduce estrogen levels.
Estrogen is a hormone involved in both male and female reproductive health. What is not so widely known, is that it is also linked to sugar balance, bone and heart health, and immune and brain function. In today’s Western diet, we mostly eat a diet high in refined sugars and animal products. All of which contain high levels of estrogen. Having either high or low levels of estrogen are linked to obesity, metabolic disorders, and various cancers.
Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet increases your intake of protective plant compounds that can help manage your estrogen levels.
In a perfect world, our bodies would produce the exact number of hormones needed and we would all be healthy and there would be no such thing as disease. Well, in case you haven’t heard, we are not in a perfect world and our bodies do not always produce the precise number of hormones needed or they produce too much.
Although aging and other factors that affect hormones are out of our control, you can take charge of your hormone levels by following these simple steps. Eating nutritious foods, exercising, and promoting healthy behaviors can help you on your path to a happy and healthy