Hormones are signaling molecules that tell your cells and organs what to do. Imagine a ship without a captain or a car on the loose without a driver? Things can get off course when your hormones are not in balance.
Some hormones like thyroid, cortisol and insulin are essential to life. Sex hormones are understood to be less essential after your reproductive years. However, these hormones if out of balance can wreak havoc. One of the most common questions I get asked is about weight and hormones. You may have a weight issue due to hormones if you have any of the following symptoms:
Symptoms of hormone imbalance
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Loss of muscle strength
- Low sex drive
- Hair loss
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Dry eyes, skin, vagina
- Menstrual irregularities
- Breast enlargement in a male
- Acne, facial hair and male pattern hair loss in a female
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Since many of these symptoms along with weight gain have multiple causes, it is important to have a thorough evaluation to determine the underlying cause. Some practitioners do not measure hormones at a certain age since they are expected to be low. Some do not measure complete thyroid hormones and only measure TSH.
While hormone replacement can alleviate many of these symptoms and address the root cause, you can be in better balance with a natural approach. At the end, I will tell you the secret of what you can do to help all the major hormone imbalances that cause weight gain!
Hormonal Weight Gain
The most common hormones issues related to weight gain can be from too much or too little estrogen, low progesterone, low thyroid and high or low cortisol.
Estrogen can cause weight gain if not properly balanced with progesterone. This often happens during perimenopause. Estrogen weight gain tends to be in the breasts, hips, and thighs
- Manage estrogen by taking a supplement with DIM- Diindolylmethane, I3C- indole-3-carbinol, eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, radishes, and arugula, avoiding herbicides and pesticides, using natural skin, personal care and cleaning products, avoiding storing hot foods or heating food in plastics a, and eating ground flax meal.
- Low estrogen can cause a lot of dis-stress such as lack of sleep, hot flashes and night sweats among other things and sleep is essential to be able to lose weight. Extract of rhubarb, hops, or red clover can relieve hot flashes so you can get a good night’s sleep. Hormone replacement with estradiol, a natural estrogen can have many benefits if balanced with progesterone.
Progesterone counters a lot of the growth and stimulating effects of estrogen. Therefore, low progesterone will have the symptoms and signs of high estrogen such as anxiety, irritability, impatience, insomnia, growth and/or tenderness of the breasts, cysts of the breasts and/or ovaries, growth of the uterine lining causing irregular bleeding and spotting and weight gain. The weight gain will be in breast, hips and thighs.
Progesterone can relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep. In perimenopause and when you have PMS symptoms, progesterone may be too low.
- In younger women an herb called chasteberry can stimulate the production of progesterone.
- In older women replacing progesterone can give you a good night’s sleep and relieve anxiety.
- Replacing progesterone with natural bioidentical progesterone or micronized progesterone can alleviate the symptoms of PMS and perimenopause and balance your hormones. This balance along with a healthy diet and exercise can allow you to lose weight.
Thyroid hormone is essential to life, and it is dangerous if it is too high or too low. The first step is to have a thorough evaluation and ask your doctor to measure TSH, free T3, free T4 and thyroid antibodies. Your thyroid will respond negatively to any dis-stress in the body such as infection, inflammation, toxins, food sensitivities and reactions, nutritional excess o or deficiency, stress, and trauma.
- In addition to measuring thyroid levels, you need adequate iodine and selenium. Don’t be afraid to eat cruciferous vegetables, cook them and use Celtic Sea salt that has some iodine in it.
- Reduce inflammation with an anti-inflammatory diet – less meat, poultry, dairy, sugar and grains and more fish, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and any of their oils.
- Low thyroid should be treated with thyroid hormone.
Cortisol is essential to life. Too much cortisol can store fat in the belly and raise cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. It can leach calcium from your bones and break down muscle If it is too low it can make you prone to inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. Cortisol is best measured in saliva and at various times of the day – upon awakening, around noon, between 3-5 and near bedtime 9-11.
- For any cortisol abnormalities avoid sugar, processed foods, simple carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, and stimulants.
- Practice deep belly breathing and relaxation techniques such as prayer, yoga, tai chi, walking in nature.
- Learn to say no to reduce stress and take adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, rhodiola, holy basil, eleuthero, Chinese skullcap and avoid licorice and ginseng if your cortisol is high, these are stimulating and are used for low cortisol. Phosphatdylserine can lower cortisol and L theanine is calming.
Since stress, toxins, adverse food reactions, infections, inflammation, nutritional excess, nutritional deficiency, and lack of sleep can disrupt all of the above-mentioned hormones, a detoxification and elimination diet can correct and uncover most of these.
A lot of inflammation comes from the gut and using a gut healing shake and detoxifying herbs along with eliminating alcohol, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, corn, dairy, eggs, peanuts, sugar, soy, wheat and anything with gluten in it for at least 2 weeks can heal your gut, detoxify your liver and promote hormone balance.
Most people feel good to great and can reintroduce foods and determine if any are producing inflammation. The best part of all is that most lose weight and feel great, have clear glowing skin, relief from aches and pains, relief from gas, bloating, refux and have renewed energy and stable moods.
If you think you have a hormone imbalance that is causing weight gain, sign up for a free no obligation clarity call to see if you are a good fit for our programs. We can help you lose weight and feel great!