Women make 200 subconscious food decisions in one single day! It is not surprising that a majority of women feel they need to lose weight. We have always known there were health implications associated with being overweight, but what about our hormones? Overweight women have a large amount of available estrogen due to it’s storage in body fat. They are more likely to have irregular bleeding because they have more available estrogen than progesterone. They also have an increased risk of breast cancer, and uterine cancer, two cancers that are very sensitive to estrogen. Approximately 50% of the American population is 20% over their ideal body weight. Therefore it is likely that a majority of women have increased free estrogen instead of decreased levels of free estrogen. Most of these women are given estrogen replacement therapy in menopause or perimenopause, but if tested using saliva testing, would show high levels of free estrogen, and low levels of progesterone. Most of these women don’t need estrogen at all!!! They may benefit from a little progesterone if the tests indicated, and progesterone supplementation may be all that is needed to bring balance to the hormones. Once in hormonal balance, women are more able to lose weight and feel better.
The presence of estrogen and progesterone in proper ratio creates balance in the body. Modifying diet and lifestyle choices can control many of the risk factors for hormone imbalance. A diet high in fiber and low in fat is shown to decrease PMS symptoms and pain associated with your period. Exercise decreases weight, stress, and insulin levels, all which affect your hormone balance. Supplements can assist in relieving symptoms and restore depleted vitamins and minerals. Adequate sleep will assist in all aspects of your well being.
Limit your exposure to toxins. Buy organic meat, dairy and produce. If you can’t buy organic produce, buy a bottle of veggie/fruit wash and try to remove as many pesticides from your foods as you can. Limit your use of the microwave, but if you use the microwave, cook your food in glass. Store foods in glass or ceramic and not plastic, avoid use of plastic wrap. Drink your water from stainless steel containers, not plastic bottles.
One test we recommend is a cortisol level. This can be measured just one time, in the morning, with your hormone levels, or up to 4 times in that one collection day to give us an accurate picture of your cortisol pattern. Cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands, small glands situated on the top of your kidneys. Your adrenal glands are involved in energy production, fluid and electrolyte balance, fat storage, sex hormone production. DHEAs is made almost exclusively in the adrenals, and after menopause are the major sources of estrogen and progesterone. When you are under stress, whether emotional, physical or medical, cortisol production rises, which affects every major process in your body – energy production, fluid and electrolyte balance, fat storage and sex hormone production. Over time, if the stress doesn’t go away, your adrenals get tired and eventually will get in crisis mode.
This means weight gain (especially abdominal fat), diabetes, insulin resistance, hormone imbalance symptoms, high cholesterol, high blood pressure…Wow, stress never looked so serious. You have to make some changes when you are under stress. Stop refined carbohydrates or high glycemic foods, stop caffeine, stop eating excess calories, start exercising, start taking supplements, and commit to performing stress management techniques. First begin by eating real food, not packaged food. Fresh is best, but frozen is the next alternative, with canned being the last choice. We recommend going organic, especially with dairy and meat and certain fruits and vegetables. Adopt a Mediterranean diet, (www.oldwayspt.org), with nutritious foods, lots of vegetables, fruit, fish, beans, olive oil, with low glycemic foods. Eat in moderation, avoid overeating and take time for your meals. The Italians have it right here! Eat protein at every meal and snack, eliminate caffeine, white flour foods, and artificial sweeteners. Reduce white sugar but eliminate high fructose corn syrup or any -ose ingredient. Exercise 30-40 minutes a day, varying your exercise between aerobic (walking, light jogging, sports), anaerobic (weight lifting) and flexibility (yoga and pilates). Add vitamins that are depleted when you are under stress, like Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, Omega Fatty Acids, Magnesium and Calcium.
Read the Eat Clean Diet book. It is awesome at explaining nutrition and helping with weight loss. (www.eatcleandiet.com). Author Tosca Reno states weight loss is an 80-10-10 split. 80% nutrition, 10% exercise, and 10% genetics. So, how are you eating? We have been struggling with how to each patients nutrition, and we have found it. This book teaches you everything you need to know on how to change your nutrition habits, from shopping, cooking and ordering out healthy, delicious meals that will help you feel great and lose weight.
Check out Dr. Oz’s website, www.realage.com. They have volumes of information concerning total health, from obesity to high blood pressure to weight loss. Their book, You on a Diet, and You the Owner’s Manual are must read’s too.
Check out Dr. C.W. Randoph’s website www.hormonewell.com. He has two good books, “From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well”, and “From Belly Fat to Belly Flat”. They are must read’s for women. He touches on hormones, diet, stress reduction, and vitamins.
Check out www.lowglycemicdiet.com to make good choices about your foods. Choosing foods with a low glycemic index will allow you to store less fat, and lose weight instead of gaining. Also, rethink your food pyramid. Check out www.oldwayspt.org and look at the Mediterranean food pyramid.
Remember that weight loss begins at the grocery store! All the books above have tips on how to be a better shopper. Only have the foods at home that you should eat. The whole family will benefit if you are a better shopper.