If you find yourself struggling with food intolerances of any kind, then it’s most likely causing an imbalance in your hormones as well. And if you’ve been diagnosed with low testosterone, PCOS, estrogen dominance, thyroid issues, or insulin resistance; then your food sensitivities are making them worse.
In this Podcast, I discuss how they’re linked and where to begin to help heal and regenerate your body from the attack on your immune system.
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And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!
There are certain foods I can’t stop eating even though I suspect they’re bad for me.
I crave sugar like crazy.
Diets that work for others don’t seem to work for me.
I lose five pounds, and then I regain seven.
I’m tired of and frustrated with weight loss.
Do those statements also resonate with you? If so, you might not know an important secret: the reason you struggle with your weight is that your hormones are out of balance.
As a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, I am uniquely qualified to understand the private suffering that women experience with weight gain and body shame. Although hormones are complex, when out of balance, they make losing weight close to impossible particularly for women. During my lecture, I’ll share which hormones are to blame, how they affect your weight, and at least one simple action you can take to bring each hormone back into balance.
Please join me on May 18th at 2pm, as I help you understand the ins and outs of your complex body, with natural solutions for weight loss.
Fats are important in a balanced diet because they help to produce hormones and feed our brain while adding delicious flavor and texture to food. They also help to slow digestion (which contributes to the feeling of satiety). Unfortunately with the overwhelming attention given to the new of high fat diets, very little attention is given to the quality of fats and how they effect health in the long run. When is fat considered bad for your health?
A plethora of lipids in the blood, eventually leads to the inability of the fat cells to store additional fat; excess lipids are then shuttled into other tissues such as the penis, eyes, and other organs, including liver cells, resulting in inflammation and increased risk of insulin resistance or obesity. Researchers have hypothesized that development of insulin resistance may be modulated by the types of lipids in their circulation as well as their genetic makeup. Dietary fat types and quantity may impact risk of insulin resistance or cardiovascular disease through diet modification.
Fat as Friend or Foe
After being vilified for years, fat is having a comeback. But with so many sources and types of fat out there, it can be hard to keep track of what’s healthy and what’s not. Many people have turned to the ketogenic diet to successfully lose weight and reverse insulin resistance or type two diabetes. A new study, however, offers a simple rule of thumb: Plant fat sources appear to be better for you than animal sources.
Studies of the geographical prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have shown a correlation between this increase in dietary fat and the development and progression of MS. The most important research, however, is the life-long work of Professor Roy Laver Swank of the Swank Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in Portland, Oregon, in the USA. Professor Swank noted that the incidence of MS seemed to follow the consumption of saturated fat, particularly dairy products.
“Researchers set out to understand why saturated and unsaturated fats produce opposite effects in the body, theorizing that something in cell membranes must be able to differentiate between saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, are potent activators of enzymes called Jun kinases (JNK), molecules that are implicated in the development of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and atherosclerosis. Unsaturated fatty acids like palmitoleic acid (POA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) work in an opposite manner. They block the activation of JNK by palmitic acid. The incorporation of saturated fatty acids into the cell decreases cellular membrane fluidity. It appears that the cell membrane is the only structure in the cell that can differentiate between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. An enzyme identified as c-Src, which resides within the cell membrane, seems to be responsible for the activation of JNK by palmitic acid and other saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats smother and push c-Scr into the cell membranes, literally clogging membranes at the molecular level and disrupting basic metabolism. Jun kinases set into motion the chemical reactions that cause insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Unsaturated fats, such as POA and EPA, work in an opposite manner and block the accumulation of c-Src, thus preventing the chain of events that lead to health problems.”
Regulating Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain
Foods from animals are the chief sources of saturated fat, including cheeses and meat, whole-fat milk and cream, butter, and ice cream. Not only do they contain high amounts of saturated fats, but they also are riddled with hormones and antibiotics.
Some liquid vegetable oils, such as canola and soybean oil, contain harmful trans fats. These are formed unavoidably during the refining process. The main source of industrially produced trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils. These oils are used by food manufacturers to improve the shelf life and texture of food. Some foods that may contain partially hydrogenated oils include:
commercially baked goods such as cookies, pies, pastries
The key to reducing saturated and trans fat foods leading to insulin resistance, type two diabetes and weight gain is to avoid as many foods derived from animals.
Skip the bottled, creamy salad dressing and make your own with heart-healthy oils, like olive oil, walnut oil or avocado oil. Mix two parts oil with one part vinegar, add your favorite herbs
Add more seeds into your diet such as healthy flax, chia or hemp seeds by making seed puddings at home by whisking into vegan milks of your choice, and then letting it sit overnight with some of your favorite oats or sprouts grains
Go nuts! Toss a few into salads, spread nut butter on whole grain bread, or snack on pistachios when hunger strikes
Add avocado to sandwiches and salads or toss some into your morning smoothie for some added creamy texture
When you’re craving something salty, skip the chips and reach for olives. Just a few can curb your craving and fill you up
Consider trying some vegetable chips to munch on made with delicious cashew nut butters and green leafy veggies
While stress is a universal experience, we all experience it, and it’s a normal and even necessary part of life. We also experience varying degrees of stress based on our personality traits and the resources we have available. In spite of these differences, most people experience stress on a daily basis, and many of the stressors are the same for everyone. Stress is any kind of outside factor that our body perceives as a threat to our safety or well-being. Many people think this only refers to emotional stress or trauma, but it also includes physiological stress on the body, such as infection, traumatic injury, or a poor diet. Stress can also include environmental factors like exposure to chemicals and other toxins.
One of the bodily processes that occurs during acute stress is often referred to as “fight or flight.” It is the defense mechanism that kicks in when we are in danger – or think we are. In addition to the adrenals pumping out more hormones, bodily functions that are unnecessary in the moment (such as digestion), are put on hold to preserve energy for the “fight or flight.”
While this can be a very useful and sometimes life-saving response to a threat, problems can begin to occur if stress becomes frequent or chronic. As the adrenal glands become over-worked, they eventually can’t keep up with the body’s demands for the various hormones they’re responsible for.
How Chronic Stress Affects your Health
The adrenal glands produce more than just cortisol. They also produce neurotransmitters such as adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers (also considered hormones of the brain) that help regulate things like mood, performance, weight, pain perception, and sleep. Depending on the degree to which the adrenals have been affected, the neurotransmitters become unbalanced in various ways.
In addition to neurotransmitters and cortisol, the adrenals also produce small amounts of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Along with balancing out hormones based on whether a person is male or female, the sex hormones also help keep the negative effects of too much cortisol in check, acting as an antioxidant. But once the adrenals become chronically over-worked, more and more of the precursor materials (used to make sex hormones) get diverted to make cortisol, resulting in a decrease in sex hormones. This results in decreased libido and other symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, such asPMS in women or erectile dysfunction in men.
Blood Sugar Balance
When cortisol is released, another hormone called glucagon is signaled and insulin is then directly suppressed. Glucagon controls glucose storage in the liver so that glucose can be signaled for realease into the blood. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating the amount of glucose or simple sugars being taken from the bloodstream into the cells.During chronic stress, the cells start to become resistant to insulin, leaving blood glucose levels elevated. This is why insulin resistance is the precursor to type II diabetes. A few symptoms of insulin resistance include inability to lose weight, high cholesterol and triglycerides, brain fog, and elevated blood glucose or insulin levels.
The adrenal glands are part of the HPA-axis and this is where the thyroid comes into play. The adrenals are regulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. When cortisol is released under stress, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands work in a feedback loop with cortisol to slow down their production of hormones all together. Unfortunately, this will inevitably slow down function of the thyroid gland since the hypothalamus and pituitary regulate thyroid hormones as well. Stress can also negatively affect the enzyme that converts inactive thyroid hormone to the active thyroid hormone. There are a few other mechanisms involved in the stress/thyroid dysfunction connection as well. Hypothyroid symptoms such as cold extremities, dry skin, depression, and constipation often indicate lowered adrenal function. Most likely, thyroid treatment will be less effective if the adrenals are not addressed as well.
Stress triggers inflammation. Our body knows that chronic inflammation is damaging, so it compensates by slowing down the immune system in order to keep the inflammation in check. The immune system is also directly suppressed during stress since it is one of those “unnecessary” functions when we’re in “fight or flight” mode. This also affects thyroid health since a suppressed immune system can activate viruses capable of attacking and damaging the thyroid.
As you can see, so many functions in the body are interconnected and related back to adrenal function and the stress response.
How Diet and Lifestyle help Moderate the Effects of Stress
Eat Good Mood Foods
Nuts, dairy, leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, black tea, and raw vegetables, which have all been shown to have a positive impact on mood, therefore decrease stress levels. Walnuts are rich in healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, that help nourish your nervous system and calm your mind. Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.
There are many breathing techniques that take only a few minutes from your day, but will make a significant impact on reducing the effects of stress. Box breathing is one technique used by Navy SEALs to stay calm and focused. It’s easy: find a comfortable spot to lie down. Inhale for 4 seconds, then hold the air in for 4 seconds. Exhale for 4 seconds and hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds. Continue for 5 minutes or however long it takes you to relax, regroup, and refocus; then repeat as necessary.
If you’re interested in balancing your hormones naturally and relieving the stress on your body and mind, please contact the office to begin.
If you are a man who’s suffered from bedroom issues you’ll know, erectile dysfunction (ED), can take a major toll on self-esteem and romantic relationships. While ED mostly impacts older men, age usually has nothing to do with it. If you suffer from any of the conditions below, they may be at the root of your performance problems.
Heart disease ~ For the majority of men with ED, cardiovascular problems such as arteriolosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and high cholesterol are at the root of the issue. That’s because, to achieve an erection, the arteries must allow blood to flow throughout the body, not just in the penis. Anything that clogs up your arteries or narrows arteries is going to affect blood flow. Which leads us to the primary cause of heart disease….SUGAR.
For men diagnosed with insulin resistance or diabetes, sugar is the main root of their problem with erectile dysfunction. When the body loses the ability to regulate sugar, it stores it in the vessels due to a process known as glycosylation. Think of this process as the build up of sugar making the blood more “sticky”, therefore leading to blockages in the kidneys, blood vessels (to the penis particularly), peripheral nerves and lenses of the eye.
Hormonal problems, such as thyroid dysfunction or pituitary tumors or malfunction, can lead also lead to ED.
Although testosterone deficiency plays a part, those hormone levels affect libido, not erectile function. If a man’s libido is low, that certainly can affect his erections, but it does it indirectly.
What’s more, it can be hard to tell whether ED is related to low testosterone, as men with low testosterone can also have symptoms like fatigue, and weaker erections. Whether or not that is related to testosterone deficiency or usual things like not sleeping enough, poor lifestyle and/or lack of exercise, is part of my job.
As a Naturopathic Doctor I have spent years decoding the mysteries behind the miraculous functions of the body. If you find yourself in any of the above situations, know that there is a natural solution. Contact the office to schedule your appointment to discuss your concerns and solutions further.