Quantcast
Health

5 Ways to Balance Your Hormones and Lose Weight

"I've hit a stubborn weight-loss plateau," writes this week's house call, "even though I seem to be doing everything right, like eating the right foods and exercising. How can I overcome that obstacle?"

I've discussed different reasons for weight-loss resistance in past blogs. Many obstacles have nothing to do with what you eat or how much you exercise. Instead, they involve things like nutritional imbalances, chronic inflammation, metabolic challenges, leaky gut, changes in your microbiome, environmental toxins and your genes.

Pixabay

One huge but often-overlooked reason for weight-loss resistance involves hormonal imbalances.

No contest: The monster hormone that causes weight gain, inflammation and chronic disease is excess insulin. Think of this hormone as your fat cell fertilizer! My new book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, discusses how to naturally regulate insulin so you can shift your body from fat storage mode to fat-burning mode.

At the same time, insulin isn't the only player; other hormones also affect your weight and health. Three big disruptors are: thyroid, cortisol and sex hormones. I discuss these hormones in-depth in The Blood Sugar Solution, however, let's briefly look at each of them here.

Thyroid

Research shows hypothyroidism or low-thyroid function, affects one in five women and one in ten men. Unfortunately, in over half of these cases, this condition isn't diagnosed.

Many things contribute to these imbalances. In my e-book The UltraThyroid Solution, I explain how diet, nutrient deficiencies, stress and environmental toxins impact your thyroid and how to address these problems.

A common cause of hypothyroidism is gluten intolerance.

Other major culprits that interfere with thyroid function include pesticides and heavy metals. Nutrient deficiencies can also slow things down. Your thyroid needs specific nutrients to run optimally including selenium, zinc, iodine and omega 3 fats.

Most doctors don't test for thyroid function correctly. Even when they do diagnose it, they don't treat it effectively by optimizing thyroid function through diet, supplements and the right thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

That's unfortunate, since thyroid function plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight and hypothyroid is a major player in weight-loss resistance. Among my patients, I've found these four strategies can optimize thyroid function and weight loss:

1. Get the right tests. Ask your doctor to check your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH and free T3 and T4, as well as thyroid antibodies including thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. I cover this extensively in my e-book. Some people may need to dig deeper and get a special test called reverse T3 to learn if something like heavy metals (mercury), pesticides, yeast or nutritional deficiencies like selenium, vitamin D, zinc or even iodine could block thyroid hormone function. Reverse T3 is the brake that stops your thyroid hormone from working at the right times. Unfortunately, toxins and inflammation increase levels of reverse T3. Even if regular thyroid tests appear normal, high levels of reverse T3 mean your thyroid is not working properly!

2. Eat right for your thyroid. Limit soybeans, raw kale and other raw cruciferous veggies, which might contain thyroid-blocking compounds called goitrogens. I know this sounds confusing. After all, I usually recommend plenty of cruciferous veggies. In this scenario, I am saying it's okay to eat them … just not raw! You should limit the kale juice and kale salad. One study in The New England Journal of Medicine looked at a woman who ate two pounds of raw bok choy a day and went into a hypothyroid coma! I know that sounds extreme, but it could happen. I also recommend wild-caught, low-mercury fish and seaweed for additional iodine, the mineral your thyroid hormones are made from. Since people eat less iodized salt, you might be iodine deficient. Over-exposure to fluoride and chlorine also create iodine deficiencies. Pumpkin seeds and oysters provide excellent zinc sources and Brazil nuts provide selenium and iodine.

3. Use quality supplements for thyroid health. A good multivitamin that contains the above nutrients, plus fish oil and vitamin D, makes an excellent nutrient base. Some people may benefit from iodine supplements. Just be careful not to overdose and be sure to get your iodine levels measured regularly.

4. Replace the right thyroid hormones. Most doctors will only prescribe T4 (such as Synthroid), the inactive form of thyroid hormone your body must convert to its active form T3. Most people do better on bioidentical hormones (like Armour, Westhroid or Nature Throid) or a combination of T4 and T3. A Functional Medicine doctor who understands how to optimize thyroid balance can customize a nutrient protocol.

Cortisol

Another source of weight-loss resistance is stress. Yes, you actually can think yourself fat or think yourself thin and science proves it. Stressful thoughts activate metabolic pathways that cause weight gain and insulin resistance.

Remember, stress is a response to stimulation that makes you feel threatened and not always provoked by real circumstances, rather a perception that you are being attacked.

Most stress isn't real. A worry, thought, fear or projection into the future of what might go wrong can all become real stressors. While short-lived, we carry them with us and don't know how to reset our mindset. If you have survived trauma, it can live in your body even after the original stressor is gone.

Regardless, stress is any real or imagined threat to your body or ego. While that might mean someone putting a gun to your head, it could also mean thinking your boss is mad at you (even when they aren't).

Stress creates hormonal responses that cause weight gain and insulin resistance. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that helps you to run faster, see further, hear better and pump fuel into your bloodstream for quick energy. It is the hormone that helps us survive in the face of true danger. It also shuts down digestion and slows your metabolism.

All of this is perfectly normal in the short term, yet if left unchecked, prolonged stress and high levels of cortisol cause high blood sugar, increased belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and muscle loss.

You can't eliminate stress completely, but you can reduce it with meditation, yoga or deep relaxation. These activities activate pathways that promote weight loss and health.

A few simple ideas I find helpful to reset the stress response include:

1. Fix your thinking. This is the most powerful long-term way to be happy and reduce stress. We often get into habits of thinking, beliefs and ideas that keep us stressed. Don't believe every stupid thought you have!

2. Practice active relaxation. That might be as simple as learning deep breathing or trying a sauna or steam bath, which elevates body temperature to help discharge stress from the body and help reduce stress hormones. Or try meditation. It can be powerful. Check out Ziva Meditation for a great online course on meditation—I did it and it changed my life!

3. Make time to be a human being, not a human doing. Make time to love and connect with others. Taking time with family and friends to love and be loved is powerful healing medicine.

Sex Hormone Imbalances

Sex hormone imbalances, such as estrogen and testosterone, can also cause weight problems. Having too much estrogen causes weight gain whether you're a man or a woman. Do you know how ranchers fatten steer before they go to market? They implant them with estrogen pellets.

For both genders, too much sugar, refined carbs and alcohol spikes estrogen. Keeping your gut healthy also cultivates healthy sex-hormone metabolism. Too little fiber or too many antibiotics damage the gut, triggering estrogen spikes because your body can't properly detoxify or excrete waste. Environmental toxins thrive on pesticides called xenoestrogens, because even at lose doses, they act like estrogen in your body.

Symptoms of excess estrogen in women include breast tenderness, fluid retention, bad premenstrual syndrome, fibroids and heavy menstrual bleeding.

In men, excess estrogen can cause loss of body hair (including chest, legs and arms), a beer belly and "man boobs." Low testosterone in men can also accelerate aging. Lack of exercise, alcohol, stress, environmental toxins or diseases like diabesity or even pituitary problems can also lower testosterone.

Low testosterone causes men to lose muscle and gain fat, leading to sexual dysfunction, low sex drive, fatigue, mental fogginess and bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis.

Interestingly, cholesterol produces testosterone and other sex hormones. Eating a low-fat diet and taking statin drugs that block cholesterol production can negatively impact your sex hormones.

If you suspect imbalances, you'll want to get tested for imbalances. In my free e-book, How to Work with Your Doctor To Get What You Need, I explain exactly how to test for these and other hormone imbalances. These five strategies can help get you started:

1. Eat a hormone-balancing diet. The nutritional principles in Eat Fat, Get Thin, which is low in sugar, high in good fats and high in fiber, can help balance hormones. My own testosterone went up 500 points when I ate more healthy fats!

2, Bulk up on fiber. Ground flaxseeds provide optimal fiber and lignans, which balance hormones. Even two tablespoons a day to a shake or a salad can help. You'll also want to eat fiber-rich organic fruits and veggies.

3. Eliminate daily. Constipation is bad for your hormones. Take magnesium citrate, vitamin C, probiotics and flax seeds daily to help maintain regularity. It's a foolproof combo for most people.

4. Limit or remove alcohol. Excess alcohol can compromise liver and kidney function, which inhibit detoxification and create hormonal imbalances, high triglycerides and fatty liver.

5. Get moving. Exercise helps balance hormones, reducing estrogen and increasing testosterone, which helps you lose fat and build muscle.

Conclusion

While many culprits contribute to weight-loss resistance, I find addressing these three hormonal imbalances helps many patients lose stubborn weight. Hormonal balance might require working with a Functional Medicine practitioner, yet for most patients these strategies become the ticket to ignite weight loss.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular
Alex Nabaum

Hope Trumps Nope: A Blueprint for Resistance

By Naomi Klein

LET'S REWIND A BIT, to the week Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. At that moment, I was reeling from witnessing not one catastrophe but two. And I don't think we can understand the true danger of the Trump disaster unless we grapple with both of them.

I was in Australia for work, but I was also very conscious that, because of the carbon involved in that kind of travel, I might not be able to return for a long time. So I decided to visit, for the first time in my life, the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, a World Heritage Site and Earth's largest natural structure made up of living creatures. It was simultaneously the most beautiful and the most frightening thing I had ever seen.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Austin's Pecan Street Project. Pecan Street Inc.

Rooftop Solar and EVs Save Water and Cut Pollution: Better Use of Data Will Optimize the Benefits

By Beia Spiller

Thanks to improvements in technology, it's easier than ever to be green.

Solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs) are two prime examples of technologies that can help people minimize their environmental footprint, without sacrificing comfort or having to radically change their daily behavior. But the question still remains: How much of an environmental benefit do these technologies actually produce? And, are there actions that owners of these technologies can take to minimize their pollution footprint even more?

Keep reading... Show less

MUST-SEE VIDEO: 5 Threats Today to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante After Trump's Decision

While we fight to defeat President Trump's attacks on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, these are some of the real, on-the-ground threats we must keep at bay.

Following the lead of Native American tribes, The Wilderness Society and other groups have filed lawsuits against President Trump for violating the Antiquities Act when he essentially eliminated Bears Ears and greatly reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Fracking
Shutterstock

Study: Babies With Low Birth Weights More Likely Near Pennsylvania Fracking Sites

By Steve Horn

A new study published in the journal Science Advances has concluded that babies born within two miles of sites of fracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin are more likely to have low birth weights.

Researchers from Princeton, the University of Chicago and UCLA analyzed a decade of Pennsylvania birth data from 2004 to 2013—reviewing 1.1 million birth certificates—and concluded that those babies born to mothers living in close proximity to fracking sites are more likely to weigh under 5.5 pounds at birth. Specifically, the study concluded that babies born within a kilometer (just over half a mile) of fracking sites are 25 percent more at risk of low birth weights, which comes with other health effects.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Victory! Monsanto Shill Michael Dourson Withdraws After Public Outcry

The Center for Food Safety heralded reports that Michael Dourson, President Trump's controversial nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Wednesday withdrew his nomination after senators raised concerns over his past work and conflicts of interest.

"Dourson is a long-time pesticide industry shill, with a history of manipulating scientific research to benefit corporate special interests. He was a dangerous, irresponsible choice to oversee chemical safety at the EPA," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director a Center for Food Safety.

Keep reading... Show less
The manta ray, shown here, is one of at least 37 species of sharks and rays that have been documented in the archipelago. Pelagic Life

See the World's Newest Marine Park in the Pacific Ocean

By Matt Rand

For the health of the ocean and all who depend on it, this is big news: In November, Mexico became the latest nation to create a large, fully protected marine reserve.

The Revillagigedo Archipelago National Park, the country's largest marine protected area, is larger than the state of New York and protects 57,176 square miles (148,087 square kilometers) from fishing and other extractive activities.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy

Major Job Losses in Renewable Energy if Current Tax Plan Passes

By Steve Clemmer

In March 2017, I testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on how federal tax credits for renewable energy have been a key driver for the recent growth in the U.S. wind and solar industries, creating new jobs, income and tax revenues for local communities. They have also helped drive down the cost of wind and solar power by more than two-thirds since 2009, making renewable energy more affordable for consumers.

Keep reading... Show less
Offshore oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel. Berardo62 / Flickr

White House to Release Offshore Drilling Plan

By Pete Stauffer

The Trump administration is expected to unveil the new Five Year Offshore Oil Drilling Plan as early as this week, after signing an executive order earlier this year to expand offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. Expanded offshore oil drilling threatens recreation, tourism, fishing and other coastal industries, which provide more than 1.4 million jobs and $95 billion GDP along the Atlantic coast alone. The executive order directed the Interior Department to develop a new five-year oil and gas leasing program to consider new areas for offshore drilling. The order also blocked the creation of new national marine sanctuaries and orders a review of all existing sanctuaries and marine monuments designated or expanded in the past ten years.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!