How Your Hormones Make You Heavy
Spring is upon us and you are wanting more energy and to be further along in your weight-loss goals. You see the summer clothes being advertised and decided that this year, you will wear the tank top or swimsuit with confidence. Despite eating healthy and working out your pant size has not shrunk and the heavy aura of fatigue and tiredness continues to hover over you.
So, what gives?
Your hormones can be the sneaky culprit underlying the fact that your hard work isn't paying off as fast as you hoped. There are plenty of fat-fighting foods and HIIT workouts to burn calories, but did you know that your hormones can be a roadblock to these attempts? Your hormones can either work for you or against you as you attempt to gain energy and lose weight.
Where does this start?
Your endocrine system contains different glands all throughout your body. It acts as the warehouse that employs glands to store and release your hormones in response to physical, chemical and biological stressors.
For example, when you are stressed at work your glands release the hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. These are the 'fight-or-flight' hormones that support you if you need to run away from a life-threatening situation. And while at times you may feel like running away from work, stress is often part of the everyday norm, and you often remain at your desk carrying on with frayed nerves.
But your body has the ability to help balance itself from stress hormones by releasing ‘feel-good’ hormones called endorphins. After stressful moments, try to get up from your desk and move around or find a healthy way to instill a sense of calm, such as mindful breathing. Your glands will release those endorphins, which work to lower the levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
Over time, if those stress hormones are not lowered, they start to cause negative reactions throughout your body. Especially in your liver, which not only filters your hormones and environmental toxins, but also works to lower your blood sugar (insulin) levels from the foods you eat. Under chronic stress, your liver is overburdened with handling the constant rush of hormones. Instead of properly filtering toxins, your liver disperses toxins as fat, in areas you may know as your love-handles or that spare tire you may be holding onto.
It is important to know that stress is not just associated with your feelings about work, money, school or family drama. Chronic stress on your body can be caused by a diet that leads to unstable insulin levels. Eating foods that are high in processed carbohydrates, drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages can exhaust your liver’s healthy functions. Other factors of chronic stress are leaky gut, food sensitivities, infections and autoimmune diseases. Regardless of how stress starts, your body responds the same.
SLOW THYROID AND YOUR SEX HORMONES
Besides excess cortisol and insulin blockage, you may be encountering a slow thyroid gland as well as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen imbalances. Known as your sex hormones, these three are influenced by your thyroid, and your thyroid is influenced by them! They work to strengthen each other. However, as you age, your sex hormones decline. In response, your thyroid works harder to make up for them.
And while it is possible for you to live without your sex hormones functioning, you cannot live without your thyroid gland. This is the most important gland in your endocrine system!
Going back to our metaphor of the endocrine warehouse, your thyroid gland acts as its CEO. Your thyroids control the storage and release of hormones that affect essentially every organ in your body. Thyroids work to regulate your body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism. They also release sex hormones that affect your mood, libido, energy, muscle and bone health along with other functions associated with aging.
Whether it is by chronic feelings of stress or the stressful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, your hormones cannot function properly. When cortisol is in high demand from chronic stress, it will start to steal assistance from your sex hormones, referred to as ‘cortisol steal’. And because your sex hormones are overworked, your thyroid tries to pick up the slack, thus depleting your thyroids functions.
In a clinical setting, this vicious cycle is not typically addressed by its causes. You will probably be given a prescription for whatever hormone imbalance you are deemed to have. However, as you now know…supplanting one hormone for another does not heal the complex interactions that your hormones have with each other.
Using Functional Medicine To Rewrite Your Health
Functional Medicine experts like Dr. Grewal are trained in understanding these various systems and addressing the root cause of hormone imbalances that may be making you tired, depressed and overweight. You are treated with consideration to your whole health and personal experiences. Your unique treatment plan may include innovative functional testing, herbs and supplements, mindfulness and meditation and detox protocols.
With the proven benefits of personalized care in Functional Medicine, you will finally get your hormones in balance. You will regain your vital energy, clear brain fog and feel that your moods are more stable. And with this balance, can come the confidence to finally wear those outfits that excess weight once held you back from.
Tips for balancing your hormones
1. Exhale more often. Don't hold all that hot air in! As mentioned earlier, mindful breathing can help you lower your stress. Gaining control of your breath allows you to physically slow down cortisol release and improve your mental state.
2. Try adaptogens. They contain properties that structurally resemble the human hormones involved in resisting physical, chemical and biological stressors. They lower your cortisol and balance your sex hormones.
Here are a few of our favorites and some of their benefits:
Ashwagandha: helps stimulate libido, lowers your stress by decreasing your cortisol release
Ginseng: improves mental clarity, calms central nervous system, promotes immune function
Cordyceps: a great anti-oxidant, boosts immunity, libido and calms your nervous sytems
Holy Basil/Tulsi: increases clarity and memory, enhances mood, lowers metabolic and mental stress.
3. Choose foods that benefit your hormones. Reduce your overall inflammation, fatigue and reset your gut with our elimination diet. Click HERE to get your FREE copy.
For more information on Functional Medicine visit my website at KiranGrewalMD.com
To Your Health,