Monday, May 5, 2014

Hunger Games-Part 2 Always Hungry, Craving Starches and Sweets? Imbalanced Hormones May Be Causing the Answer

In Part 1 of the Hunger Game series we looked at how our hormones  regulate metabolic functions, energy levels, sexual functions, sleep, how we react to stress, influence appetite and whether or not we put on excess weight and store extra body fat around  the waist line.

In Part 2  let’s look at the hormones that can  have a dynamic impact on how we look, think and feel: cortisol  & DHEA along with imbalanced levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone .

High levels of cortisol increase the storage of fat in the abdomen, decrease libido, muscle mass and bone density while making you depressed, anxious, stressed out and tired.

Elevated levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol often occur when we are under high stress. High cortisol  can trigger the production of excess abdominal fat. as it works hand in hand with insulin to produce extra body fat and increase inflammation in the body. 1 Elevated cortisol  can stimulate cravings for starchy carbs, sweets and junk foods as it increases appetite.

Solution: By learning good sleep habits and taking time out in nature-along with lifestyle changes like yoga and meditation the adrenal glands can be restored- this decreases the production of cortisol. As  cortisol levels normalize appetites calm down.  We become less hungry, less fat is stored and we can rebuild lean muscle mass even if we are not exercising regularly.

Sleep more to lose weight-yes good restful sleep is one of the best ways to rebalance stressed out adrenal glands that are over producing cortisol. Everyone needs between 7 1/2 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night. Insomnia or chronic disturbed sleep elevates the cortisol  and the fatigue this creates acts as an addtional triggers for craving starchy foods and sweets. An added benefit of restful healthy sleep is that it can increase the hormone-leptin that regulates our appetite.

DHEA is another adrenal hormone that helps regulate our immune response,normalize stress levels and enhance well being.

When our DHEA is at normal levels it can work to balance out the excess production of cortisol .Balanced levels of DHEA make it easier for us to lose weight and increase lean muscle mass, improve energy, boost libido and enhance well being.

Solution: Decreasing stress, increasing restful sleep, bringing more joy to our lives and learning to live at a more leisurely are strategies to improve DHEA levels. 2

Imbalances of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone may cause dramatic increase in abdominal fat storage and make it difficult to process insulin, cortisol and thyroid hormones.

Key symptoms that occur when the sex hormones are out of balance are:
-increased belly fat and weight gain 3
-decrease in lean muscle mass
-poor memory, focus and cognitive dysfunction

Inflammatory response from environmental toxins, high levels of  stress, poor diet, and aging and keenly influence our hormonal balance.

Solution: Get your hormone levels checked. Especially if you are feeling bogged down, fuzzy headed and your clothes are shrinking.

I like to use a saliva tests to evaluate cortisol & DHEA levels which can then be evaluated and rebalanced with herbal and nutritional therapies.  Estrogen, progesterone & testosterone levels are usually measured with blood work.-in some situations saliva testing can also be used.

Luckily many of the same foods that help rebalance our sex hormones will also stabilize our cortisol & DHEA, have a positive influence on insulin metabolism, keep us thinking clearly and benefit cardiovascular health.

Food strategies include eating 2-3 cups of specific vegetables each day: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, chard, beet greens, lettuce all support the body’s ability to eliminate unnecessarily high levels of hormones and can also improve how our hormone receptor sites more efficiently  utilize the levels of hormones we do have in our bodies.

Two cups of green tea per day (with or without caffeine) and moving away from high levels of empty carbs and sugar help the body restore itself and make it possible to have more sustained energy.

Finding ways to be happy and experience more joy in life is also important. Learning to laugh and being able to take life less seriously is good medicine too.
You can reach me with your questions at the email address listed above or use the comments box below.  I enjoy hearing from you.

1. Awakening Cortisol Response in Lean, Obese and Reduced Obese Individuals: Effect of Gender and Fat Distribution
2.DHEA: Obesity, Aging, Immune Challenges
3.Sex Hormones, Appetite and Eating Behvior 

Other topics you might like: Hunger Games Part 1
                                             Super Foods Fantastic Foods to Heal Naturally
                                             The Number One Healing Secret

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