Tag: hormones

Hormones, Mental Health and Obesity

See that fat guy in the picture above?

Yes, that is me. Yes, I have had my own struggles with weight in the past.

Do I have personal experience with mental health and hormonal issues?

You better believe I have had these issues, and without being diligent to keep them at bay, I could have them again during my life despite the shape I am in now.

Women often assume that men have an easier time taking off weight than they do.

Do we?

I can’t say for sure, men struggle too. I will say from my own personal experience, I believe we gain weight just as easy as the ladies. I’m not so sure we are as different when it comes to weight loss as some might believe, our mental health status can certainly have an effect on us and our body chemistry can get just as out of whack. This, I know from the course of my own life. I also know from my own experience that it all can be turned around once we become fully committed to making changes that must be adhered to for the rest of our lives.

I used to be quite the chow hound when it came to junk food and anything with sugar and simple carbs. One of my favorite snacks would be two packages of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts with a large Starbucks Double Shot Espresso Mocha to wash them down with. I could stop at a convenience store on my way home from work while knowing that there would be dinner ready as soon as I got there. I used to get those hunger pains, those cravings for junk foods that are often referred to as being “hangry” multiple times a day. I could eat a five gallon bucket full of salad and not be satisfied until I had something that was loaded with simple carbs, fat and salt. I have had cravings so bad when stressed, that on more than a few occasions I have found myself sitting on the kitchen floor with a package of Oreo cookies, a can of cake frosting and a knife. I was loading those cookies up with big dollops of that sugary frosting in an attempt to quell the stress that was eating me from the inside, harming my health, and leaving me with a sense of shame for being such an out of control glutton. The cravings were no different than that of a junkie looking for a dope fix. Actually, the craving is almost identical as that of an alcoholic craving their next sip of alcohol.

It is a sickness that is driven by multiple factors that drive us to this point!

In my personal case, it has been driven largely by a major depressive disorder coupled with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. To anyone who may think there is no way I can relate to their obesity, you need to know I can, I understand what is happening with mental health and the hormonal issues that often accompany obesity. I also know that even if you feel as if you have no hope, there can be hope for you, but you will have to commit to a lifetime of healthy habits and never allow yourself to return to those which got you fat in the first place. Case in point, I am severely carb addicted, therefore I know that it is not okay for me to even indulge in a slice of cake and scoop of ice cream at birthday parties because like and alcoholic, I will be binging on more in pretty short order. Want to know how I know that I can eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting? It’s because I have consumed an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. I cannot and will not risk ever returning to that life again. It is not just because I do not like how I look when fat, it is because I value and treasure my good health. I do not want to end up prematurely in a nursing home because I can no longer take care of my basic life functions. This thought was cemented into my mind even further over the last year as I cared for my morbidly obese brother in law in my home as he was terminally ill. Towards the end, on several occasions, I had to help the man with getting dressed, caring for his weeping legs from lymphedema, and assisting him with bathing and personal hygiene when he could not do this for himself.

Have you ever tried to help a sick and weakened four hundred pound man off the toilet and helped clean him because he could not do it himself? It is an eye opening experience and can happen to any one of us when we allow ourselves to get to that point. Never, ever think it cannot happen to you. It most certainly can.

Pictured below is my departed brother in law of 34 years, and my best friend. We lost Howard February 23, 2020 and I miss him dearly.  He was a good man, but a large part of his obesity was driven by mental health issues. When he first moved in with us, I began working with him on nutrition and got him down to 364 pounds from 587 pounds. He was on a transplant list for a new liver if we could get his BMI down to under 40. Just as we were making good progress with his weight, and was gaining hope he might have had a chance to live, he began his old habits of eating junk food again while knowing it was going to bring about his demise. I’m pretty sure I have a full and clear understanding that for many people, their obesity is a mental health issue as well as a physical one. I have lived as one with issues too, and then I was a caretaker for one who had severe issues.

Feel Good Hormones and the Brain

Have you ever noticed that when you bite into sugary foods that your mouth seems to come alive and you instantly feel good for a moment? That is because eating prompts the brain to release “feel good” hormones we know as endorphins. The regulation of these naturally occurring opioids, which can produce a sense of pleasure or euphoria, may help the body know when it’s satisfied. On the flip side, overeating associated with the over-stimulation of this system can damn sure contribute to obesity. Face it, we all know it feels good to eat foods full of added sugar and or simple carbs. Have you ever been one to binge on a bowl of Brussels Sprouts? Probably not, they do not contain the added sugar or simple carbs to release your endorphins. While you might enjoy the taste of those little morsels. they will never bring the joy which comes from a slice of cake or a couple of chocolate chip cookies. There is no denying this fact.

There was a Finnish study where the brains of 10 male volunteers  were scanned by positron emission tomography (PET). The participants were instructed to fast overnight and were injected with a radioactive compound, which binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Using the PET scans, the scientists measured the radioactivity in the men’s brains after they broke their fast and ate a pizza. The scans were repeated after the volunteers consumed a less mouth-watering liquid meal that contained the same amount of calories as the pizza. The investigators found that both meals triggered a significant release of endogenous opioids in the brain. However, only the pizza led to a notable increase in pleasant feelings. (1)

Another integral part of the equation with how food affects our mood is Dopamine which is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activities such as eating. Sex, and several drugs of abuse are stimulants of dopamine release in the brain as well as many of the foods we eat! Dopamine is a so-called messenger neurotransmitter that conveys signals between neurons. It not only controls mental and emotional responses but also motor reactions. Dopamine is particularly known as being the “happy hormone.” It is responsible for our experiencing happiness. The downside to all this feeling good is little different from that which comes from doing drugs.  Certain foods, particularly those rich in sugars and fat, are potent rewards that promote eating even when we are not truly hungry and trigger learned associations between a stimulus and conditioning reward. We eat a glazed doughnut, we feel good in the moment. In evolutionary terms, this property of palatable foods used to be advantageous because it ensured that food was eaten when available, enabling energy to be stored in the body as fat for future need in environments where food sources were scarce and or unreliable. However, in modern societies, where food is widely available, this adaptation has become a liability. We are getting fatter than ever as a society. (2)

When we consume an unsound diet of calorie dense, low nutrition foods we throw our body chemistry out of balance. While some of us may have conditions to leave us more prone to being out of balance than others, we can still largely control this through our diets. Our endocrine system is greatly affected by our nutritional habits whether good or bad. Our endocrine systems are a complex network of glands and organs. It uses hormones to control and coordinate your body’s metabolism, energy level, reproduction, growth and development, and response to injury, stress, and mood. While playing a central role in a healthy, functioning human body, the endocrine system unfortunately receives relatively little attention. The system of hormones works by carrying healthy levels of hormones into the circulatory system to be distributed to organs throughout the body. Proper endocrine health begins where all healthy habits do—eat right and exercise! You are never going to keep your hormonal balance in order as long as your habits keep it out of balance. This is a simple truth for everyone, and this is a point of contention I have with weight loss businesses such as Weight Watchers where they tell their clients they can still eat the same crap that got them fat and out of shape in the first place – so long as they track it. This is like telling a drug addict a little hit of heroin once in a while is not going to throw them off the rails in their health initiative. This does not work!

The endocrine system consists of:

  • Pineal gland (modulating sleep)
  • Pituitary gland (Known primarily for affecting growth, but also plays a role in blood pressure, management of energy, metabolism, and some aspects of sexual reproduction)
  • Pancreas (digestion)
  • Ovaries and testes (sexual reproduction)
  • Thyroid/hypothyroid (mood, metabolic rate)

Your skeletal structure, kidneys, liver, and heart are organs with secondary endocrine functions. Accordingly, the entire body is affected by the health—or lack thereof—of this particular system. A healthy diet helps to ensure proper, long-term function.

The list of foods to add and to avoid for proper endocrine health looks a lot like most similar lists—with a few interesting additions or subtractions:

Pineal Gland: Anyone who is an insomniac recently or experiences any unexpected disruption to their schedule can tell you all you’d ever want to know about the effects of disturbances to the sleep cycle. Foods rich in vitamins B5 and B6 will help to regulate the pineal gland, while aiding in the production and distribution of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the all-important circadian rhythms. These foods include: lentil beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, tuna and turkey.

Generally speaking, you’re looking to cereals, fish, grains, and beans in this category.

Pituitary Gland: It’s kind of ironic that such a small gland—approximately the size of a pea—is primarily responsible for regulating growth in living organisms. But this small-but-mighty engine runs primarily on vitamins D and E, which means your basic group of high-protein meats, fish, eggs, and nuts. Manganese is naturally stored in the bones, but the pituitary gland craves the mineral for added function, meaning leafy green vegetables, beans and whole grains can only help the cause.

Pancreas: For proper pancreas function, the list of ‘don’t eat’ foods is much longer than the advisable foods. Olive oil, in particular, is cited as being good for the pancreas, in addition to many of the food groups covered in the pineal and pituitary sections.

The list of foods to avoid is a long one, but not one that requires much thinking. It’s basically populated with every type of food you’d expect to be advised to avoid. Red meats, fried foods, butter, mayonnaise, and pastries all find their ways onto this list.

People with inflammation or conditions affecting the pancreas may benefit in particular from increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Ovaries and Testes: Remember, we’re talking about foods that revitalize health here, not necessarily aphrodisiacs. So you won’t find anything as enjoyable as strawberries and whip cream on this list. But there are some dietary considerations for proper sexual health, which is primarily about proper blood flow.

For males, zinc has received a great deal of positive attention lately—leading to a great deal of discussion around oysters. When seafood isn’t available, zinc is readily available as a supplement. More generally speaking, foods rich in amino acids such as walnuts, almonds and whey proteins are advisable for this category.

Most attention on healthy foods for female reproduction focuses on boosting fertility, which may or may not be a goal at any particular time. In any case, these tips include adding non-animal proteins (nuts and beans rather than chicken and beef), vitamins and supplements, and perhaps surprisingly, high-fat dairy products. You read that right, high-fat dairy products because low-fat dairy products have a link to ovulatory infertility.

Thyroid: Stop me if you’ve heard this one—eat lots of nuts and vegetables. Hey, there’s a reason they’re called “health foods”—they have a positive effect on most, if not all, parts of the body .

Hypothyroidism!

Yes, this condition can cause one to gain a lot of weight. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain crucial hormones. Hypothyroidism may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages. But, over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease. This is a serious condition that cannot be taken lightly, but you should know that not being able to control your weight does not necessarily mean you have a thyroid problem.

Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Accurate thyroid function tests are available to diagnose hypothyroidism. Treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone is usually simple, safe and effective once you and your doctor find the right dose for you.

Foods to avoid if you have hypothyroidism:

  1. Foods With Soy, Including Edamame, Tofu, and Miso. There’s long been concern over the potential negative effects that certain compounds in soy — called isoflavones — may have on the thyroid. Some researchers believe that too much soy may increase a person’s risk for hypothyroidism.
  2. Cruciferous Vegetables Like Broccoli and Cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, are full of fiber and other nutrients, but they may interfere with the production of thyroid hormone if you have an iodine deficiency. So if you do, it’s a good idea to limit your intake of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and bok choy, because research suggests digesting these vegetables may block the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine, which is essential for normal thyroid function. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, you would need to consume a significant amount of cruciferous vegetables for it to truly impact iodine uptake.
  3. Gluten, Found in Bread, Pasta, and Rice. Those with hypothyroidism may want to consider minimizing their intake of gluten, a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. If you do choose to eat gluten, be sure to choose whole-grain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice, which are high in fiber and other nutrients and can help improve bowel irregularity, a common symptom of hypothyroidism. Also be sure to take your hypothyroidism medication several hours before or after eating high-fiber foods, to prevent them from interfering with the absorption of your synthetic thyroid hormone.
  4. Fatty Foods Such as Butter, Meat, and All Things Fried. Fats have been found to disrupt the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone replacement medicines.Fats may also interfere with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormone as well. Some healthcare professionals recommend that you cut out all fried foods and reduce your intake of fats from sources such as butter, mayonnaise, margarine, and fatty cuts of meat.
  5. Sugary Foods.Hypothyroidism can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down. That means it’s easy to put on pounds if you aren’t careful. “You want to avoid foods with added sugar because they contain a lot of calories with no nutrients. It’s best to greatly reduce the amount of sugar you eat or try to eliminate it completely from your diet.
  6. Processed Foods in Packages and the Frozen Aisle. Processed foods tend to have a lot of sodium, and people with hypothyroidism should avoid sodium. Having an underactive thyroid increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, and too much sodium further increases this risk. Read the “Nutrition Facts” label on the packaging of processed foods to find options lowest in sodium. People with an increased risk for high blood pressure should restrict their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day, according to the American Heart Association.
  7. Excess Fiber From Beans, Legumes, and Vegetables. Getting enough fiber is good for you, but too much can complicate your hypothyroidism treatment. The government’s Daily Guidelines for Americans currently recommends that adults up to age 50 should take in 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day. Amounts of dietary fiber from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes that go above that level affect your digestive system and can interfere with absorption of thyroid hormone replacement drugs.
  8. Coffee. According to a study in the journal Thyroid, caffeine has been found to block absorption of thyroid hormone replacement. People who take their thyroid medication with their morning coffee can experience uncontrollable thyroid levels. Only take your medication with water. You should wait at least 30 minutes after taking your medication before having a cup of Joe.
  9. Alcohol. Alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on both thyroid hormone levels in the body and the ability of the thyroid to produce hormone.  Alcohol appears to have a toxic effect on the thyroid gland and suppresses the ability of the body to use thyroid hormone. Ideally, people with hypothyroidism should cut out alcohol completely.

As with many health conditions, some factors are out of your control, including your family history and the environment around you. But diet also plays  quite a prominent role — and since you’re the one in charge of your plate, you can decide which foods you choose to eat.

Choose smart, be well!

 

(1) https://www.WebMD.com

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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Losing That Last 20 Pounds

I was doing a little reading today to find a little inspiration for something to write about, and came upon this question within a weight loss forum where the individual asked if anyone else decided that losing the last few pounds was just not worth it.

If you have ever followed any weight loss social media sights, you know this mindset of quitting is actually quite prevalent, even among those who have had great success at losing a good amount of body fat. It seems it is almost always that last 20 pounds that people have the most difficulty with losing.

And there is no good reason for anyone to just give up on their weight loss journey, especially when they are so close to their goal weight.

Excuses!

When you follow any of these weight loss social media sights, you will see a myriad of excuses why some cannot lose weight, or why some have done well and then cannot get past a plateau.

I just cannot lose these last pounds!

Is it that you cannot lose those final pounds or is it that you simply do not want to remain committed to doing what it takes in order to obtain your goal weight?

It’s too hard!

Too hard? What is going to be harder in your life, losing a few more pounds or living a life that has you less than healthy. A life that involves regular doctors visits for unnecessary ailments that are almost always going to be related to your nutritional habits.

I Just can’t eat any less than I do now.

Really? Do you think you need to eat less in order to lose unwanted weight? If you have quit eating sugar and processed foods and only eat healthy whole foods that meet all of your nutritional needs, you will have a difficult time managing to actually eat enough to not lose weight.

I’m missing out on all the fun my family and friends are having.

Is a few moments of bliss worth the life that comes from gluttonous eating of poor food choices? Is that momentary fun worth the disgust you feel when you peer upon yourself in the mirror? Is that ice cream sundae worth the expense of new clothing because even though you are at an age where your body should have quit growing, it is anyhow? Is the fun on Friday nights out having pizza and beer worth it when you are worried that you might not fit in your wedding dress you recently purchased upon getting engaged? When you have to take readings of your blood sugar and then take your diabetic drugs or insulin, is it really worth having it to join in with your co-workers when one brings donuts to the office?

I’m miserable, I feel so deprived, I’m too depressed all the time.

This is a common problem for those who know that simple carbohydrates and sugar are a problem for them, yet they refuse to quit eating it. Being miserable, feeling deprived and depressed is part and parcel to an addiction to sugar and simple carbohydrates. As long as you keep feeding the addiction, even just a little bit, you are going to feel this way. Quit sugar, quit simple carbs such as breads and pastas, and quit processed foods and soon your mood will improve as the cravings you get from simple carbs and sugar will soon subside entirely as your hormones will come back into balance.

Just one more binge with the junk food and I swear I will be over it, or, I just cannot imagine life without my favorite junk food.

No, you will not be over it. You will not be over it until you actually get it in your mind to get through the first couple of weeks after quitting sugar and simple carbs.

I’m not good at exercise and I have never really liked it anyhow.

So what? Despite the fact I encourage all who are capable of exercise to do so, it is not necessary in order to bring your weight down. Exercise is about strengthening your body and improving your quality of life, however, losing weight is still simply a matter of not consuming more calories than your body burns in a day. If you cannot lose weight, no matter what you think or believe, you are eating more calories than your body requires. Exercise just allows you to eat a few more calories than you would be able to otherwise. But truth be told, most people do not burn as many calories with their exercise routines as they believe they do. Most of the calories you burn every day are a result of body functions you do not even have to think about. It takes energy for you to breathe, and sleep, and for all of your internal organs to function. Only about 15 to 30 percent of your calories burned through the course of the day are through intentional physical activity such as walking, jogging or maybe while doing the Funky Chicken when your favorite song comes on the radio. No matter what you might think, your exercise is not your primary pathway to burning fat, it is only a fraction of it.

You don’t understand, my body is comfortable at this weight. My metabolism will not let me lose more, it’s not my fault.

Really, is it that your body is comfortable being over weight, or is it just all in your own mind? Your metabolism can be revved up through proper nutritional habits and exercise. Odds are you have a larger problem in between your ears than you do with your metabolism. Your metabolism is a dynamic element, it is not static , meaning it cannot be changed.

My hormones are out of whack, therefore I have no hope.

Have you been to a doctor and had blood work to know this for fact? If not, you are just making an assumption that is not well founded. If your hormones are not in balance or being produced in the adequate amount, your doctor can prescribe you medicines to assist with this. However, most of this can be remedied through healthy eating and exercise. You have 9 hormones that tell you to eat, and 14 hormones that are supposed to tell you when to stop. By taking responsibility to consume all the nutrients you need for proper hormonal balance most of these imbalances can and will sort themselves out. However, we do recognize your body may have a genetic glitch such as not producing enough leptin, or maybe it makes too much cortisol. Maybe none of your satiety related hormones are working at all. If that is the case, no amount of willpower is going to overcome this problem. If this is the case, then between you and your doctor, you will need to reprogram your hormonal circuitry. This is going to possibly require medications, but it is definitely going to take you making a choice to begin eating responsibly for your health. The more body fat you lose while adding lean muscle mass, the more your hormonal balance will get back into sync with your body’s needs.

I have done everything right, and now I do not know what to do in order to lose my final 20.

You probably have done everything correctly if you have successfully lost a good amount of weight over time. You may have all the keys in your hand to lose that final 20 pounds, but are overlooking an important step. That step is to continuously evaluate your caloric needs as the calories required in order for you to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week were spot on at 300 pounds, that same total might be what is required to maintain at your current weight. Worse yet, that caloric total might actually be enough for you to begin gaining weight again. You have to make continuous adjustments during your weight loss, and even once you have met your goals. For instance, the total amount of calories you burn during the summer may be significantly higher than those you burn in the winter months. Consider, 1 pound of body fat equals 3500 calories. It takes a deficit of 500 per day in order for you to lose 1 pound of fat per week. Now, let’s assume that while your body requires 2000 calories per day in order to maintain during the active months of the summer, it may only need 1750 calories per day during the winter when you are more likely to be in your home and sedentary. If you have not adjusted your intake down, you will find the fat coming back on at a rate of 1/2 pound per week with only an excess 250 calories per day over your needs. Weight management is truly a management issue. It is not difficult, but it does require constant attention and adjustments along the way. Here at David’s Way, we can help you with this. We have 600 articles and healthy recipes now which have always been, and always will be free to you. If you have questions or comments, then please do so in the comments section, or you can contact us through e-mail through our Contact Menu tab.

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.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17491-soy-foods/benefits-of-soy