Tag: hormones

Hormones and Nutrition

Our Bodies Social Media

Our endocrine system is an amazing messenger that keeps everything up and running with chemical fuels that are more powerful than we can imagine. They regulate our metabolism, energy levels, growth rates, reproductive health and our responses to everything around us. Nutrition plays a role in regulating our hormones, so for optimum health we need to be aware of how some foods can affect this network of “instant messaging” that runs throughout our bodies.

Necessary Nutrient

I frequently hear people say that they have trouble getting enough protein. They tend to fill up on carbohydrate laden foods and as a result, are never satisfied and tend to overeat. Adequate protein is necessary for hormone production. There are 20 amino acids, the building blocks of protein, that are necessary for human life. We can produce 11 of those inside our bodies but must get the rest through what we eat. In order to insure adequate protein intake we need to get about 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight. If you are a weight trainer, you need more, about 0.8-1.2 grams per pound of body weight to insure the strength and muscle gains that you need and want. Some protein will build hormones and some will build enzymes that act as chemical catalysts and other protein will become muscle cells. Eating protein at every meal will reduce your level of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry. Experts recommend getting a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. (1)

Eat to Stop Eating

Eating anti-inflammatory foods will increase how well you respond to leptin, the appetite suppressor hormone. Fatty fish, nuts and leafy greens are good anti-inflammatory foods that can improve your sensitivity to leptin and help you stop eating sooner.

Decreased Thyroid Function?

Thyroid hormones determine the speed of your metabolism. Eggs, cranberries, milk, lima beans, potatoes, ocean seafood, dried plums or prunes and yogurt are all good sources of iodine which is necessary for good thyroid function. Always consult your doctor for dietary guidance if you have known thyroid problems and especially if you take medications for thyroid function. These drugs are powerful and the thyroid is a very powerful part of your endocrine system.

A Disturbing Trend

I am becoming increasingly aware of an ever increasing number of young women with PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is an insulin resistant condition that may be affected by diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. At David’s Way we always advise you to avoid these foods. Sugar has no known benefits, promotes insulin resistance and packs on the pounds that add additional insult to your endocrine system. Even simple carbohydrates that do not contain sugar may increase your chances of insulin resistance. I have known of young ladies who want children to be told that PCOS would impact their fertility and yet still, they would not make these necessary dietary changes for their health. There are some studies that show a relationship between PCOS and increased risk of endometrial and breast cancer and cardiovascular problems. (1) Sugar and simple carbs cannot possibly be worth the risks involved in eating them.

Good Fat

Medium Chain Triglycerides are good fats that may decrease insulin resistance. So often people avoid fat, thinking that all fat is bad. We are supposed to eat some good fat. These powerhouses are found in palm and coconut oil.

Always avoid transfats. There is nothing good about them. They are found in baked goods, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, fast food, vegetable shortenings, coffee creamers, canned biscuits and canned frostings along with other sources. Read Nutrition Facts on your food purchases and avoid these troublemakers.

Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and nuts are believed to increase insulin sensitivity. I have coconut oil every day in my protein shake and am not hungry for hours afterwards. The healthy fat and protein punch is satisfying and supports muscle development and maintenance for my heavy lifting sessions. I use the liquid oil and it mixes right into my shake easily and gives it a velvety texture.

Naturally Balance Your Female Hormones

These tips that help balance other hormones will help balance your female hormones. Eat good whole foods and avoid sugar and simple carbs and you will immediately notice a difference in the way you feel, especially if you normally eat foods containing empty calories.

Be Proactive

We have so much control over our health including our hormones. We can never have good hormone levels if we don’t give our bodies what they need to make them. When we eat empty calories, foods devoid of nutrition, we set ourselves up for disaster. Take control and reap the benefits of good nutrition today.

(1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/balance-hormones#section1


But, My Thyroid is Sluggish

In no way, do I want to downplay how serious thyroid issues can be. The thyroid can cause serious problems for our health, whether it is over active as in hyperthyroidism, or is under active as in hypothyroidism. Hypothyridism can legitimately cause us to gain weight, but do we have to resign ourselves to obesity because of it? Not necessarily.

Understanding the thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in your neck. It makes two hormones that are secreted into the blood: thyroxine (T4) andtriiodothyronine (T3). These hormones arenecessary for all the cells in your body to work normally. (1)

Thyroid disoders are very common and tend to occur mainly in women, although anybody – men, teenagers, chidren and babies, can be affected. About 1 in 20 people have some kind of thyroid disorder, which may be temporary or permenent.

The T4, or rather the T3 derived from it, and the T3 secreted directly by the thyroid gland influence the metabolism of your body cells. In other words, it regulates the speed with which your body cells work. If too much of the thyroid hormones are secreted, the body cells work faster than normal, and you have hyperthyroidism. If you become hyperthyroid, the increased activity of your body cells or body organs may lead, for example, to a quickening of your heart rate or increased activty of your intestine so that you have frequent bowel movements or even diarrhea. (1) This is a dangerous situation which you need to address with your physician right away.

For the purpose of this article, I really want to focus on hypothyroidism and what you can do to mitigate weight gain as a result of it. Hypothyroidism is a legitmate medical reason for you to gain weight. You may always find yourself struggling with the scale to some degree when you have hypothyroidism, but you also do not have to resign yourself to obesity.

If too little fo the thyroid hormones are produced, as in hypothyroidism, the cells and organs of your body slow down, If you become hypothyroid, your heart rate may be slower than normal, and your intestines work sluggishly so you become constipated. (1)

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are tiredness, feeling cold, weight gain, poor concentration and depression. If you are experiencing these symptoms, have your physician complete blood labs to confirm whether you have hypothyroidism. There are many causes for thyroid disorders. The most common cause is from autoimmune thyroid disease. This is a self destructive process in which the the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid cells as if they were foreign cells. In response, the thyroid becomes under or over active. Your physician can get a good idea about the activity of your thyroid gland by listening to your symptoms, asking you some questions, examining your neck and then by sending off a sample of your blood to a local lab for analysis.

Can thyroid disorders be treated?

Yes, thyroid disorders can be treated by medications, however, there is more you should discuss with your physician in how you can control at least the symptoms through proper diet and exercise. By consuming a proper and healty diet, you may still battle being somewhat overweight, but you do not have to resign yourself to obesity if you suffer from hypothyroidism.

  • There is no best diet for hypothyroidism. However, changing the way you eat will affect how your body responds to the disorder.
  • Cut your caloric intake. We have a Calorie Calculator in our menu where you can figure your caloric needs based on your basal metabolic rate. Note, you might need to experiment some to find the best amount for your daily needs.
  • Ensure you are eating enough fiber. This is one of the best things you can do as a thyroid patient if you want to lose weight. You can increase your fiber intake through higher fiber foods, supplements or a combination of the two.
  • Watch out for thyroid slowing foods such as kale, spinach and broccoli. Skip past raw juice diets in particular.
  • Cut out simple carbohydrates and sugars entirely, or at a minimum, greatly reduce your intake of them. Check to ensure the foods you consume are low on the glycemic index.
  • Besides not eating sugar and simple carbs, quit eating processed foods and begin consuming whole foods that do not contribute to inflammation in your body.
  • Begin intermittent fasting which will stimulate fat burning and help regulate hunger hormones if you have also quit sugar.
  • If you suspect you might have food allergies of any kind, consider getting tested. If you have foods that you are allergic to, then quit eating them.
  • Keep your body well hydrated. Water helps your metabolism to be more efficient. It can help to reduce your appetite, reduce water retention and bloating, and improve elimination and digestion.
  • With your physicians approval, begin exercising in order to stimulate your metabolism and fat burning. If you cannot exercise for a half hour straight, then do small increments to equal a half hour over the course of a day. Once you can exercise for a soild half hour, begin working towards exercising for an hour. It takes 20 minutes of elevated heart rate to burn through your glycogen stores. Once you have done this, then all of your enegy needs are going to come from burning fat to get you through your exercise session.
  • Get enough sleep. Numerous studies link sleep deprevation to a slowed metabolism and obesity.
  • If any of your medications are a concern in regards to weight gain. Talk to your physician about this problem. There is always a chance that your medication can be changed to another which will not affect your weight.

I am not a physician and cannot diagnose or treat medical problems. However, I strongly believe that many conditions can be better controlled through personal initiative, disciplined dietary habits and exercise. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, please be sure to discuss the points in this article with your doctor before just incorporating them.

(1)British Thyroid Foundation.

The Benefits of Soy

I must begin this article by saying that if you have had or currently have breast cancer or are being treated with any breast cancer drug, always discuss everything that you do, eat or drink with your physician. I am not a doctor. There are many conflicting studies concerning the use of soy in breast cancer because it contains a type of plant based estrogen. The use of soy is a personal decision that has benefits for many, but may not be best for everyone. If you have the gene mutation associated with increased breast cancer risk, please do your own research. Again, I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

I have had women tell me that they have trouble getting enough protein because they’re not big meat eaters. While that is not a real problem for me, I do eat soy products for some extra protein that has added benefits for a lot of women. I don’t believe soy to be a great source of protein for men because of the phytoestrogens in the plant. For some of us, that’s a plus!

Many of our currently available commercial hormone treatments originate with soy. The rates of breast cancer among Asian women who were raised on a diet rich in soy products is significantly reduced compared to North American women. (1) This is a long observed phenomena. I must inject here, however, that I have to wonder if the BMI of these women may come into play because North American women do have a higher BMI. We’re just fatter as a nation so I’m not entirely sure that soy is the entire picture here. I do believe that soy plays a part. Good scientific evidence indicates that soy is a strong piece of this puzzle. In one study it was noted that Asian women metabolize soy differently. Without delving too deeply into physiology here, I still wonder about the BMI.

Soy has also been shown to reduce hot flashes, excessive sweating and heart palpitations which are associated with menopause. There are some women who develop weakness and tingling and numbness in the limbs after menopause. Soy has been shown to reduce these parasthesias. (1) I have known many women who were affected by all of these issues in menopause. They said that they would do anything relief. The problem is that when they were confronted with the idea that “anything” might involve eating healthy and exercising, they were not willing to do that. They wanted a pill to fix their symptoms without them having to do anything other than pop it in their mouths. We have to take personal responsibility for our health, ladies. While soy isn’t going to fix everything, it can make a real difference. I won’t be without soy protein in the house and I have never had a single hot flash.

When plant protein replaces excess carbohydrates in the diet, blood pressure may be lowered.(1) Soy foods are cholesterol free and low in saturated fat so anyone who is trying to lower their intake of saturated fat without giving up the protein that can be found in red meat can benefit from soy.

While the idea that soy can enhance female characteristics is controversial, I do believe it to be true. This is strictly a personal opinion based on the effects that I have noticed in myself. I am a strength trainer and am always trying to get more lean and defined. The problem with that, for some women, is that the breasts contain fatty tissue so when we get leaner, we naturally tend to lose a few curves. I can tell a difference in my overall body shape when I use soy.

Milk protein is a commonly used supplement for protein shakes. Everyone can’t use milk. Soy is a great alternative for women who don’t tolerate milk protein well. You can use almond, soy, coconut or lactose free cow’s milk or water to mix your protein. The soy protein that I use is tasteless and I add Swerve sweetener, which is a natural, calorie free sugar substitute, and cinnamon and coconut oil for a wonderful shake. I add eggs but do not advocate that you do. Sometimes I add dark cocoa and/or peanut butter powder. The possibilities are endless. You can even make a fruit flavored shake by adding Swerve and crushed berries. It’s delicious. Swerve comes in granulated, confectioner’s and brown and it’s all delicious and natural. Swerve is not an artificial sweetener.

While the consumption of soy is studied and argued, I see it as a food. If you have special health concerns that plant based estrogens may affect, by all means, discuss the use of soy with your physician. I do not have those concerns. I always have soy protein in the house. It’s a quick protein source that has many benefits for me. You must decide for yourself and if you do decide to use soy, you may have trouble finding it. GNC has a sugar free soy protein that I like that has 13 grams of protein per serving and 60 calories. Be cautious if you look for soy products because when I first started using the protein powder, the only one that I found contained over 20 grams of sugar per serving. Read the label. If it is flavored, it may contain added sugar. The same is true of soy milk. The original flavored soy milk has 6 grams of sugar per serving and in the ingredient list you will see “cane sugar”, as if putting the word “cane” on there makes it any better. Proceed with caution. I hope this helps you in your quest for better health.