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Tag: Hormones

Chapter 3 – Four stubborn hormones

This chapter was full of information – some depressing, some surprising, and some that I nodded with approval and acceptance. I’m going to talk about cortisol first because it pissed me off. Haha. Wow. Now that’s a stubborn hormone. Just reading about cortisol probably released excess cortisol, omitted my relaxation, consumed my muscle tissue, raised my blood sugar level, will slowly destroy my metabolism and my hard-worked-for body composition, and will make me use my belly for fat storage. No, seriously, that’s how crazy cortisol is FOR REAL. Whether you have emotional stress (unhappy marriage, stressful job, financial worry), physical stress (injury, illness), mental, or environmental – it’s stress and stress raises cortisol levels.

Here’s the fat on cortisol:

  • It pisses off your thyroid and so your thyroid squashes your beloved metabolism
  • The stress hormones, cortisol and neuropeptide Y,  makes you crave carbs and fat and then makes more room for tummy fat
  • It strips away your happy hormone, SEROTONIN, which then makes you the opposite of happy and crave carbs in an unhealthy way
  • It messes with your blood sugar levels and can give you headaches, jitters, tiredness, and irritability
  • It boosts neuropeptide Y, which makes you eat more and blocks the one thing that will prevent you from wanting to overeat – leptin
  • Gradually weakens/destroys testosterone causing chronic “I’m not in the mood, tonight….again.” Along with other health concerns.
  • Eats muscles and inhibits muscle repair
  • Is the evil that gives you those wide-awake nights
  • It haunts the productivity of the growth hormone partly responsible for building metabolically active muscles, tissue rejuvenation, and aging.
  • Together, cortisol and NPY diminish cellular sensitivity to insulin which causes elevated insulin levels, insulin resistance, and accumulation of tummy fat

Insulin – The Sweet Imbalance of Excess Insulin

I suppose having an imbalance in insulin, or any hormone, isn’t very sweet. However, insulin’s main priority is to process sugar in our bloodstream and carry it too al of our cells. So digestion starts in your mouth and ends in your small intestine. Upon your first bite of something begins the process, then through digestion, what you ate is broken down into sugar (glucose). Whatever sugar is there, it enters into our bloodstream and triggers the pancreas to release insulin. The amount of insulin released is dependent on the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

MORE SUGAR = MORE INSULIN

Three things can happen with insulin.

  • Used straightaway as a fuel source. The brain and kidneys burn up most of it
  • The liver or muscles can store it as glycogen for later use. BUT space is limited and both can only store so much… like a sock drawer, there’s only so many you can squeeze in it.
  • If the “drawers” are all stuffed and not immediately used, the body will store whatever is left as FAT – which is much more difficult to burn off rather than the accessible, immediate fuel.

Our tummies and insulin.

With the proper amounts, our bodies thrive. With excess insulin, we gain weight. Why? Well, it actually blocks the use of stored fat as a source of energy. We know our brain and hormones are connected, just like our spinal cord and brain talk to each other, our hormones do too. In the case of insulin, it actually prevents leptin from doing its job in suppressing appetite and when leptin is blocked we eat more and become less active. The second thing we need to know is that insulin causes a spike in dopamine – the reward-seeking hormone. It sparks a desire to eat to achieve a pleasurable rush.

When balanced, insulin is your best!

It’s a main anabolic hormone, which not only rebuilds the body’s proteins but also prevents protein breakdown, like what happens after you workout. Because it uses testosterone – which grows and maintains muscle tissue. Insulin also allows your body to use sugar as energy.

How do we go into insulin overload?

  • eat too many nutrient-poor carbohydrates (processed food, sugary items, packaged low-fat foods, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup products
  • not enough intake of protein
  • not enough fat
  • low fiber intake
  • chronic stress
  • physical exertion that compromises muscle tissue
  • steroid-based meds
  • poor liver function and toxin exposure
  • aging

What we will feel like if we are walking around with too much insulin?

Well, to put it simply, you feel plain bad. Some feelings you could feel are:

  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • poor concentration
  • weakness
  • anxiety
  • fogginess
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • impaired thinking
  • water retention
  • swelling
  • tummy fat storage
  • shrinking or sagging breasts
  • abnormal hair growth
  • acne
  • male-pattern hair loss

Ghrelin – huh?! What’s Ghrelin? Never heard of it. Well, it’s actually super important because it stimulates our appetite. It activates special neurons in our hypothalamus involved in regulating our weight and appetite! When this hormone reaches our brain, it stimulates the release of peptides and neuropeptide Y – remember this one? It stimulate our desire to eat. This is an important one, for sure!

And the winner is? ESTROGEN!

You can’t talk about women’s hormones without talking about estrogen. The majority of estrogen is produced by the ovaries in response to FOLLICLE-STIMULATING HORMONE (FSH). Before menopause, estrogen is manufactured by the pituitary glands and after by the adrenal glands and fat cells. The first two weeks after menstruation estrogen dominates, stimulating all that good stuff in the uterus while the ovarian follicles develop the egg. Estrogen peaks and then dwindles just before ovulation.

Estrogen is made up of THREE important hormones: estradiol, estrone, and estriol.

  1. Estradiol: the strongest and most prevalent. It does so much for our bodies and opens up my eyes to the fact that it needs to be in balance, without a doubt. Here’s some things that make it special: Primary hormone of our cycle and dictates the thickness of the uterine wall. It controls vaginal moisture and lubrication. It makes us “in the mood” prevents UTI’s and urinary incontinence (urgency). It stimulates the cells that build bone and helps the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and zinc for strong bones. It increases your good cholesterol and lowers your bad cholesterol. It has a positive influence on insulin and balancing blood sugar. What else does it do? There can’t be more? Well, there is! Estradiol improves memory, helps us sleep, and protects nerve cells. It keeps our eyes moist and is the secret to glowing skin, preventing wrinkles by maintaining skin tone, texture, and thickness. Lastly, it is a mighty antioxidant for our skin and brain cells! Wow! Why wouldn’t you want to keep this hormone balanced?
  2. Estrone – ok, the “Debbie Downer” of this beautiful hormone. Estrone is labeled as the BAD hormone. I would label it as the BIG, BAD, BULLY. When you have too much of this hormone, it’s detrimental to the breast and uterine walls and, unfortunately, is thought to lead to cancer. Ok, so before we hit menopause, our ovaries, liver, and fat cells produce estrone. After menopause, it’s naturally produced by FAT CELLS. So, if we have excess fat, we are most likely to be estrone dominant. [side note: alcohol feeds this hormone]. To make things worse, this bug, bad, bully blocks the beautiful efforts of estradiol, especially in the brain. It increases the risk of blood clots, toxic fat gain, gallstones, and stress on the liver. BOO!  We don’t like you estrone. Let’s NOT have excess estrone!
  3. Estriol – ahhh (sigh), bring the mood back up. Although it is the weakest of the hormones, it is good estrogen. Estriol is the good girl, she’s not super woman like estradiol, but she’s a good girl. Estriol is created with estradiol and estrone come together. A little super power comes out to block estrone from attacking our breast cells! As a supplement it cann relieve vaginal dryness and symptoms of menopause.

Ok, so how do we even get high estrogen?

  1. Xenoestogens – found in hormones added to animal products, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, and even cosmetics. Go ALL natural, baby!
  2. Stress – yes, it’s true. If we are stressed, our body will take some progesterone to make cortisol which leaves us with extra estrogen. :-/ Bummer. Yoga and meditation, baby!
  3. Impaired Liver Function – your liver does a lot and if it’s hindered I’d doing its job, it will cause estrogen buildup.
  4. Poor digestion – a lack of good digestion leads to improper elimination of estrogen
  5. Alcohol – just don’t do it. It spikes estrogen production – even 1 drink!
  6. A high-fat diet – makes us produce more estrogen
  7.  Nutrient deficiencies – we have nutrients responsible for the break down of estrogen and also for the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Those nutrients are: zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, plus a few other essentials. If you are deficient, they can’t do their job!
  8. Obesity  – increases the production of the big, bad, bully above!
  9. Lack of exercise
  10. Sleep deprivation – it reduces melatonin. Melatonin helps protect against excess estrogen. Go get that good nights sleep!

What does excess estrogen look and feel like?

  • PMS
  • too much body fat around hips
  • hard time losing weight
  • history of gallstones
  • varicose veins
  • uterine fibroids
  • cervical dysplasia
  • endometriosis
  • ovarian cysts

Lastly, LOW Estrogen

A shift from hip fat to tummy fat. That dive in estrogen creates an increase in insulin. It also decreases serotonin and makes us crave carbs, which fuels our insulin production.

What does low estrogen look and feel like:

  • vaginal dryness
  • memory loss/brain fog
  • depression
  • ouch! That hurt! Decrease in pain tolerance
  • increased risk of Alzheimer’s
  • hair loss
  • no desire to be “in the mood”
  • dry eyes
  • urinary urgency
  • thinning and wrinkly skin
  • waist weight
  • loss of bone density
  • night sweats
  • high cholesterol and blood pressure
  • bad sleep
  • decrease in breast size
  • cravings for carbs

 

That’s it! Truly, that’s all she wrote for this 1 chapter! Haha! Honestly, it wa my favorite chapter. I’ve read it all three times because it was fascinating to me. I hope you enjoyed the recap. Feel free to comment or not!

Be well and big hug!

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Book Club: Chapter 1 Review

As part of the Mama’s Got Change books club, I decided that I would read a chapter or two a week and post a review/summary/report on what I read for all of you. It’s a big book and people are busy.

So what did we learn in chapter 1?

Something called PPAR’s: PPAR’s is our peroximone proliferator-activated response. They regulate fat burning, blood sugar levels, and the balance of energy in cells. They are naturally present in the liver, fat cells, and heart & skeletal muscles. They react when you eat and they get triggered when you exercise. Things that mess up the beautiful symphony of your PPAR’s is hormonal imbalance and inflammation. So if your hormones are out of whack and you have inflammation, then the pathways for fat burning from the liver and muscles will not be accessible.

Causes of chronic inflammation:

  • poor digestive health
  • overworked immune system
  • poor nutrition
  • lack of exercise
  • abdominal obesity and insulin resistance
  • estrogen decline
  • toxicity – environmental, liver, fatty liver
  • depression and stress

Our bodies are magnificent!  “…a truly phenomenal machine that naturally strives to remain in a balanced state. When we’re cold, we shiver. When we’re thirsty or hungry, the brain gives us the appropriate signals to drink or grab a bite to eat.” They are built to respond to problems, but when the problems are in excess, we then run into trouble.

5 major factors that affect metabolic rate:

  • thyroid – everything slows down when thyroid levels are low because your thyroid controls every cell in your body and maintain body temp
  • adrenaline – first response to stress. It’s a short term boost from body fat stores
  • muscle – metabolically activate, so you burn calories even when you are sleeping. The more muscle the more burn.
  • eating – thermogenic foods heat you up and raise metabolism. Burn calories through digestion
  • liver – fat burning organ , so it’s important to have a healthy liver!

Chapter two:

Reading or filling out a hormone profile. It’s really interesting to see what is listed under each checklist. The checklist includes categories with characteristics pertaining to: inflammation, excess insulin, low dopamine, low serotonin, low gaba, excess cortisol, low DHEA, excess estrogen, low estrogen, low progesterone, excess progesterone, low testosterone, excess testosterone, low thyroid, low acetylcholine, low melatonin, and low growth hormone. Once you’ve added up your “score” the book helps you to interpret the data. I, personally, didn’t have any alarming numbers, but I’m still very interested in all of it, because I may have hormonal chaos one day, again.

 

Thoughts?

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Mama’s Got Change Book Club – Our Female Bodies

We go through A LOT! Starting from birth, we have these amazing bodies that move, grow, and shape as we age. Some of us wish that we could be as physically strong or fast as our male counterparts but we, to put it simply, are just built differently. So, when I read material authored by male fitness pros and/or research performed by men… I just have a hard time agreeing. Here’s the thing, I don’t even think we, as women, really understand the complexities of our body and men certainly don’t either. The intricacies of our hormones on an individual level can’t be compared to a small cohort of women from a study.

I used to puke every time I got my period and now the only reason I know I have it is because I see blood. I’ve taken courses and certications to help me understand and work with women better and nothing has even compared to my own exploration. When my hormones weren’t under control, a hard workout on my first day of menstration was hard! I still did it though. Now, my workout can be just like any other day. So, when I read articles and research regarding hormones and how to adjust exercise regimens around the menstruation cycle I… pause. I pause because I love science and I love learning, but at the same time every women needs to learn their own body and find what works best for them – from nutrition to stress to exercise.

Reading about hormones has been a pastime of mine for the past seven years or so, specifically beginning when we were thinking about having children. Since going plant-based, gaining some knowledge of my own genetic make-up, and seeing women all around me struggle with their own hormones has really intensified that fire for understanding our bodies. Since I’m not a doctor or a naturopath, I leave diagnosing and all that jazz to the professionals. However, I do think learning is important for all of us women. We need to take a stand for our health and equip ourselves with information so we aren’t blind-sided at age 45 or 50, feeling achy, run-down, or maybe even buzzing at night sleepless all the while being diagnosed with excess estrogen or cortisol or testosterone!

To gain this knowledge, I propose a health book club and the first book is The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner, ND. I’ve read others but this one really has spoken to me, just in the first couple of chapters. No one needs to take every thing they read as complete truth, but learning as much as one can to better themselves and their health is how you find the truth. We will talk, discuss, say “Yes” or say “No way.” We will agree and disagree. In the end, we will discover more about ourselves than we knew before we  flipped to the first page. You can post a message below or contact me at me@keelygrand.com to be added to the secret Facebook page – Mama’s Got Change Book Club.

 

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