Our big fat hormonal imbalances

BY KATHERINE CHRISTIE

Imagine exercising daily, counting calories and excluding food groups only to have your belly fat or love handles grow bigger and bigger. The more you strive to meet your goal the farther you are from achieving it. It’s the always shocking, incredibly frustrating unsuccessful dieting phenomenon.

Restricting calories, physical stress, emotional stress, over exercising all increase the negative impact on hormonal balance and actually slow down metabolism. Hormones not only influence many aspects of our health and wellness but one hormone actually impacts another.

How many of the statements below apply to your life?

• Work long hours without leaving your desk for your lunch break

• Skip breakfast

• Stretched for time between work and family obligations

• Eat on the run

• Skip workouts

• Choose pre-packaged foods for convenience

• Make food choices based on calories rather than macronutrient content

• Find yourself craving foods even after eating a meal

• Suffer from nagging PMS every month

• Have lowered libido

• Uncontrollable sugar cravings after 3 p.m.

• Interrupted sleep patterns

• Difficulty coping with simple tasks

• Bloating after meals

• Skin that has lost its luster or tone

• Belly fat that won’t go away

• Miss meals through the day then snack in the evening

• Have love handles that never seem to go away no matter how you restrict caloric intake

Often the response to feel better is a quick fix to lose some weight. Dr. Natasha Turner, author and naturopathic doctor specializing in hormonal balance and weight loss explains it this way. “Yo-Yo dieting has left our bodies so out of balance, that long-term weight loss is next to impossible. Both men and women have ignored their hormonal symptoms.

“Hormones influence your ability to control your appetite, shed body fat, and gain lean muscle mass. Believe it or not, hormones dictate how successful you will be with any given weight-loss program and whether you will be able to drop unwanted pounds and keep it off for life, or continue on the diet merry-go round to no avail.”

If you’ve been unable to lose weight, even with diet and exercise, your hormones are very likely the reason you have not been successful.

Our bodies are hard-wired to send signals when something isn’t right, but often we’re too busy to hear them begging for attention. Any and all imbalance leads to difficulty losing weight and increased risk of obesity.

Unfortunately, the most common imbalances cannot be solved by dieting alone. In fact they can prevent successful fat loss even when a great diet and exercise plan is in place.

At the 2007 Postgraduate Nutrition Symposium at Harvard University, researchers revealed findings suggesting that inflammation and excess insulin are the major contributors to the rising rates of Type 2 Diabetes and the overall fattening of North America.

Insulin is an essential substance whose main function is to process sugar in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat.

The main culprits for excess insulin are consuming too much nutrient-poor carbohydrates found in processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners – insufficient protein intake, inadequate healthy fat intake, and deficient fibre consumption.

Heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, weakness, anxiety, fogginess, fatigue, irritability or impaired thinking are common short-term side effects of high insulin.

Unfortunately our body responds by making us think we’re hungry, which in turn causes us to reach for more high sugar foods and drinks.

We then end up in a vicious cycle of hormonal imbalance, a condition called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, which only furthers weight gain and our risk of diabetes and heart disease.

So think about how your nutrition has evolved with your busy lifestyle.

If you are eating while standing, grabbing a fast bite at your desk, eating in the car while running errands, eating late at night while watching TV, skipping meals altogether, choosing packaged and processed convenience foods, you may be increasing more than just your waist line.

You may increase insulin, cortisol, and inflammation in your body leading to insulin resistance. This may in turn affect the thyroid hormone – your metabolic regulator. That’s a lot of hormonal information to digest!

Katherine Christie is the owner U Weight Loss Clinic in Red Deer. For more information, call 403-340-0612 or visit www.uweightloss.com.

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