We are exposed to STRESS constantly. Our lives are busier and the world is more complex than ever. Being constantly in touch with cell phones and email has its advantages, but it also adds to the stress in our daily lives (remember, any interruption is a small stress). Other stressors to our body include pollution, foods with poor nutrition content, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and many of the medications we take (especially when they cause side effects).
Are your hormones &
stress making you sick?
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Stress causes actual changes in our hormone levels. Different people respond to stress in different ways. Short bursts of stress often lead to temporary hormone disturbances that recover. Longer exposure to stress leads to more profound hormone alterations in multiple hormone systems and many of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty Falling or Staying Asleep
- Anxiety or Irritability
- Abdominal Weight Gain
- Foggy Thinking and Disorganization
- Feeling Tired All of the Time
- Menstrual Period Changes
Stress can target hormone imbalances in your thyroid, adrenal, and reproductive hormones that ultimately lead to depression and anxiety disorders, chronic fatigue, memory problems, and obesity. Many medications for depression or sleeping pills do not treat the underlying hormonal imbalance that is causing the symptoms and will sometimes make the symptoms worse by further exaggerating the imbalance.
The Truth About Cortisol, Energy, and Weight
Does Cortisol Make Me Fat or Tired? Do Caffeine Addicts Have a Cortisol Problem?
We are hearing a lot about Cortisol lately. A number of over-the-counter diet pills are touting the blocking of cortisol as the remedy for weight gain in the abdomen. But most people who need to lose weight actually have LOW cortisol levels.
Cortisol is made by the adrenal glands that sit on the upper pole of our kidneys. When exposed to any stress, our adrenal glands are supposed to release Cortisol in preparation for “fight or flight”. When a Cortisol surge is followed by some kind of exercise, our body works stronger and more efficiently until the stress is gone.
If we continue to be exposed to stress without any form of stress release and proper nutrition support, then our adrenal glands become overworked resulting in overproduction of cortisol.
It is this overproduction of cortisol without exercise that causes the accumulation of belly fat, carb cravings, spikes in blood pressure and blood sugar, and difficulty falling asleep at night.
However, when stress continues even longer, or when other hormone systems in our body are unbalanced, the adrenal gland becomes unable to produce enough cortisol to respond to even the smallest stress.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
When stress continues even longer, or when other hormone systems in our body are unbalanced, the adrenal gland becomes unable to produce enough cortisol to respond to even the smallest stress. The result is called adrenal fatigue. These people now have foggy thinking, irritability, and are tired most of the day, but have trouble sleeping at night. They will often get uncontrollably drowsy at breaks during the day, or while driving home from work. If you need caffeine throughout the day just to function, then you could have adrenal fatigue. Once the adrenal gland is in fatigue, frequent doses of caffeine are craved just to get a tiny burst of energy from your depleted adrenals. Up to 60% of Americans may have some sort of Adrenal Fatigue.
Cortisol Management for Weight Loss and Adrenal Health
Cortisol-blocking diet supplements will actually make the person with adrenal fatigue feel worse and even gain weight. Believe it or not, people who have adrenal problems can lose weight and feel better just with the restoration of natural balance than with the use of diet pills! The answer lies in your individual testing. With super-sensitive blood testing or saliva testing, we can best determine your cortisol output at four times in the day. Then we can help your body handle stress better and lose weight with the proper adrenal support or suppression as indicated by your testing. This coupled with some small dietary alterations and well-timed exercise will end your cravings and allow you to lose weight in the healthiest manner for the long term!
Role of Hormones in Weight Gain
Weight gain is caused by an imbalance of hormones and nutrients, accumulation of toxins in the bowel and liver, which do not allow stubborn fat to be released, and stressors in the mind and body. Hence, we find ourselves faced with “stubborn” weight and fat, which is resistant to calorie restriction and exercise. This program is designed to restore optimal metabolic balance and give you back your shape!
Hormones: The main hormones responsible for weight gain are insulin, cortisol (the stress hormone) and thyroid. As we age, and other hormones decline, we may become “insulin resistant”. In times of stress, the stress hormone cortisol increases and adds to this picture (see section on the Role of cortisol and stress on weight gain). In this state, there are insulin highs and insulin lows. We store fat in insulin-dependent areas such as the lower abdomen, thighs, under the arms and under the chin. When insulin and sugars swing low, approximately 30-60 minutes after a meal, we “crash” (i.e. cravings, severe fatigue, headache, dizziness). As we age, thyroid hormone function declines. Sometimes your lab for thyroid may be within the “normal” range, but it is still not in the “optimal” range for your metabolism. In this program, we will optimize these hormones, so you feel good and lose weight.