The start of the New Year for many means resolutions, new health habits and so called getting back into routines after the holidays. This year may have been different maybe less stressful, possibly less travel for some depending on where your family is located.
The holidays can come with overeating or possibly indulging in those foods that we may typically not eat. Weight gain can occur because of this; but are you aware that optimal weight is not just about diet and exercise. How many of you are aware that weight gain can be partially contributed to hormones which can also cause you to feel fatigued, sluggish experience brain fog and or anxiety? So what hormones and how do they play a role in our weight.
1. Thyroid. Our thyroid gland produces three hormones T3, T4 and calcitonin. They work together to regulate metabolism, sleep, heart rate and brain development to name a few. If these hormones are not working properly and the thyroid becomes underactive, weight gain can occur.
2. Insulin. This is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When blood sugar rises with the foods we eat Insulin is released from the pancreas to move blood sugar (glucose) into the cells. When we eat processed foods, sugar and alcohol in excess the cells block the entry of glucose into the cells due to excess and this can lead to Insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. This in turn can lead to weight gain.
3. Leptin. This is a hormone that signals to our brain when we are full. It has been referred to as the “starvation hormone” It is located in our fat cells so that when we eat it tells us when to stop. Unfortunately when consuming high amounts of processed sugar this converts to fructose which is deposited into the fat cells desensitizing the body and the brain ignores the signal to stop eating. This vicious cycle leads to weight gain
4. Ghrelin. This is referred to as the hunger hormone. It stimulates appetite and increases fat deposition. It is secreted mainly in the stomach but also the pancreas, brain and small intestine. Individuals who are overweight are more sensitive to ghrelin causing them to eat more.
5. Cortisol. This hormone is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress. This can be physical stress such as an injury or when we are angry depressed, anxious or under some sort of emotional stress. Too much of this hormone can lead to Insulin resistance and weight gain.
6. Estrogen. High levels of estrogen can cause cells that produce Insulin in your body to become resistant leading to increased levels of blood sugar and weight gain. When estrogen levels are too low as when women enter menopause and the ovaries stop making estrogen the body will try to re-balance by converting all extra energy sources into fat that can cause weight gain, particularly around the middle.
7. Progesterone.The body needs to have both estrogen and progesterone in balance. So when we consume foods that are high in antibiotics or have taken numerous antibiotics during our lifetime or the birth control pill, these are triggers leading to imbalances between estrogen and progesterone also a factor contributing to weight gain.
8. Testosterone. A hormone more associated with men but women have this as well but in lower amounts. It is secreted by the ovaries; but when women enter menopause and with the slowing of ovarian function decreased levels of this along with stress and inflammation leading to imbalances of this hormone and can result in weight gain.
9. Melatonin. This is a hormone produced in our pineal gland. When it is working properly the secretion of melatonin increases at night so that we sleep well and wake refreshed. It keeps our circadian rhythms in check. When we do not sleep well and wake during the night melatonin levels are low. Sleep is a way to detoxify and disrupted sleep contributing to low melatonin can lead to weight gain.
So if you are experiencing brain fog, fatigue, weight gain consider the above hormones and making sure that yours are at optimal levels.