Unlocking the Mystery of Hormones and Weight Loss
Apr 10, 2011 12:09PM
The Holidays are a time that many people battle extra weight. Each year it seems easier to put on the pounds and it gets harder to take them off. There are many factors behind this phenomenon; one frequently overlooked component in stubborn weight problems is the role of the endocrine system.
The endocrine system produces hormones that regulate many of the body’s vital functions. Usually produced by a gland or organ, hormones are chemical messengers that have an effect on another location in the body. Hormones fit into receptors at the target site like a key into a lock. They are the body’s internal communication system.
Typically hormones work in a feedback loop where they are stimulated by a shortage in a particular level and then as the production reaches a desired level the presence of the hormone at the stimulating gland will slow or shut off production. Take estrogen for example; the hypothalamus secretes a hormone called GnRH which in turn stimulates the pituitary to secrete follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone which in turn stimulates the ovaries to secrete estrogen, the estrogen levels rise which in turn signals the hypothalamus to slow production of GnRH.
Round and round it goes maintaining a delicate balance in our bodies. Similar cycles are repeated countless times with over six hundred known hormones controlling body functions such as growth, reproduction, calcium regulation, urinary output, digestive processes, and fat metabolism among others. What happens when there is a break in one of these communication cycles? The end result is that either too much or too little of a given hormone can be produced. Either scenario can cause problems in the affected organ systems creating undesired symptoms.
Unfortunately there are factors in our environment that can be disruptive to the body’s ability to communicate within itself. These factors are endocrine disruptors that can lock into the receptors on a gland and prevent messages from being sent or received. Some common environmental disruptors include pesticides, herbicides and fungicides which get into the foods that we eat. Growth hormones that are fed to cattle, poultry and even farm raised fish have also been implicated as endocrine disruptors. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy are by their very nature altering the function of the endocrine system and are not without known side effects.
The body is a magnificently complex organism that is designed to be self healing and self regulating. When systems get out of balance there is a price to be paid and that expense is usually to your health. These days there is much emphasis on symptom relief rather than addressing the underlying causes and actuating the body’s own self healing mechanism.
Weight problems are an area where this can be applied. There are three choices that the body can utilize for fuel; these are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Basically the body is either in fat burning or fat storing mode and there has to be a select hormone balance for the body to actually burn its own fat for fuel. Usually with a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates the hormone insulin defeats the ability of fat burning hormones such as glucagon and growth hormone from functioning. The adrenal hormone, cortisol can also be suppressive to hormones that cause the body to burn its own fat. The presence of insulin and cortisol together make it almost impossible for the body to burn fat so real weight loss is inhibited. You find that you can lose a few pounds but the core issue, body fat, remains because we have not utilized our built in fat control hormones.
Simple solutions to these particular problem areas include dramatically reducing or eliminating refined or simple carbohydrates from the diet. Eating organic produce and meats can eliminate some of the endocrine disruptors that we get in our food supply. Eliminating caffeine and finding ways to de-stress such as yoga, massage and comfortable exercise such as walking or swimming can do much to soothe those adrenals. Customized nutritional programs and body restoration work can also be beneficial in awakening the body’s natural healing mechanisms, by helping to reconnect the internal communication systems.
Dr Sonja Mountain D.C. and Noel Mountain L.M.T. own Well Within, a natural health improvement center at 302 E Strawbridge Ave in Melbourne. For more information call 321-724-1212.