Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Carbs are Good for Your Hormones

 

Low carb diets are all the rage right now in the nutrition and health world. And it’s true, cutting carbs can help with weight loss and health improvements for some people, mostly because of the caloric restriction.But for many people – women especially – keeping carbs too low for too long can have pretty unhealthy consequences, especially if you work out with any level of intensity. And even more so if you have hormone-related health issues like HPA axis dysregulation or hypothalamic amenorrhea, PCOS, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s.

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are generally lower than someone who is active. Those who don’t train regularly might be able to get away with less carbohydrates overall. And even if you do work out regularly, you probably won’t immediately feel the consequences when you first cut most carbs from your diet. It may take a few months to see the long-term impact, but at some point, you might start to feel spaced-out, sluggish, cranky and sick.

 

Low Carb Diet & Your Hormones

Eventually, restricting your carb intake too much can lead to many hormone-related issues such as:

  • decreased thyroid output (hypothyroidism)
  • increased cortisol output (abdominal fat)
  • decreased or increased testosterone (low libido and osteopenia)
  • impaired mood and cognitive function (brain fog)

If you already had a pre-existing hormone related condition before cutting carbs, such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, missed or irregular periods, or adrenal fatigue; eating too few carbs will only exacerbate your condition.  And if you’re under a lot of stress already, going too low carb can cause further HPA dysregulation and increase its symptoms.

Your carbohydrate intake is a critical part of the equation when it comes to balancing your sex hormones, losing weight, recovering from exercise, supporting your thyroid, boosting your energy, and so much more. You may be wondering how carbohydrates affect your adrenal health. Reducing carbohydrates excessively can affect stress hormone production in many people, usually causing a significant increase in cortisol. This will directly impact your energy levels causing them to plummet and eventually worsen pre-existing adrenal fatigue.

 

The Basic Chemistry of Blood Sugar

Any time we eat, our food is broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and water. This complex process allows us to derive energy from our food, obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and collect the building blocks needed to make our immune cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, and in different forms. After we eat, blood sugar rises as carbohydrates are digested and absorbed. This triggers the release of insulin, which helps shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells. Insulin is considered an “anabolic hormone,” meaning it promotes the storage of glucose and the conversion of any excess into its long-term storage form: fat. We also have hormones that help us tap into stored glucose or generate more. This occurs when our blood sugar is low or when we have increased energy demands.

So, what does this mini biochemistry lesson have to do with adrenal fatigue?

As the name implies, adrenal fatigue involves a dysregulation in our body’s stress response. Initially this leads to elevated cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. As adrenal fatigue progresses, the dysregulation often leads to low cortisol. Now here’s the catch: Low carbohydrate diets have also been shown to be a stressor on our adrenals.

 

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

-Tend to be a “night person”
-Difficulty falling asleep
-Slow starter in the morning
-Tend to be keyed up, trouble calming down
-Calm on the outside, troubled on the inside
-Tendency to need sunglasses
–Chronic fatigue or get drowsy often
-Crave salty foods

Any time that you are not meeting your body’s needs for energy with adequate fuel, you put stress on your adrenals, since they act as your body’s shock absorbers (allowing your body to adapt to stress). This means that any caloric abuse or nutrition neglect is something that your adrenals have to make up for– by producing stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to get you through the day. Usually, the more severe the adrenal dysfunction, the longer the adrenal stress has been going on.

Additionally, when you inadequately fuel your body, it stimulates the use of glycogen (stored sugar in the liver) for energy. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, tissue breakdown begins (the breakdown of proteins and fat to make glucose [sugar] for energy). This process of muscle catabolism releases amino acids such as cysteine, methionine, and tryptophan, which are all anti-metabolic to your thyroid. This happens because it’s the body’s way of being very intelligent,  by communicating with your thyroid, and telling it to turn down the conversion of active thyroid hormone in order to save your body from running itself into the ground.

 

How Many Carbs to Eat?

Here are my general starting points of the percentage of carbohydrates for hormone related health issues. But please keep in mind that your activity, stress, genetics and hormone imbalance will influence these recommendations:

  • For most women, I recommend a minimum of 25% of calories from carbs, particularly if you’re active.
  • For patients already dealing with an HPA Axis issue (“adrenal fatigue”), I start them at 30-40% calories from carbohydrates.
  • For women who are dealing with health issues surrounding fertility and hypothalamic amenorrhea, I recommend 40-50% of calories from carbs.

 

How do I  Know What MY Carb Needs May be?

In general, everybody has different dietary carbohydrate needs primarily depending on their activity levels and genetics, but also dependent on their age, gender, stage of life, and goals.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are sedentary you can likely eat fewer carbs and feel fine. However, if you regularly participate in intense, glucose-demanding activities like Crossfit, heavy powerlifting, and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body will begin to rely on stress hormones like cortisol to produce the glucose the brain and muscles need. When this happens, you may eventually develop symptoms associated with hormone related health conditions such as amenorrhea, hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue.

 

Which Carbs are Best for YOU?

A hormone-supportive diet isn’t just about the quantity of carbohydrates. It’s also important to consider the quality of carbohydrates and the timing of when you’re eating them throughout the day. Choosing high fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed to support proper hormone function. Also, the fiber in carbohydrates also helps slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus keeping blood sugar more stable. Whole grains are an incredible source of prebiotic fiber and have earned their rightful place in a diverse, healthy hormone based diet. They do this but maintaining your gut integrity, feeding your healthy probiotics foods they need to replicate and in turn create healthier hormones.

Another way to balance blood sugar is to make sure carbohydrates are paired with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack. Spacing carbohydrates out throughout the day is also important for adrenal function. This prevents blood sugar from dipping too low, which will also increase demand on the adrenals to release cortisol.

But to truly know which carbs are best for you, I’d recommend the Nirvana Diet™. I created this Diet to know exactly which foods, and in this case carbohydrates, you should be eating based upon your genetics. It takes the guess work out of knowing which foods are best for balancing your hormones!

The takeaway? Carbs are not the enemy. Eating quality carbs in balance with a whole food diet, can be supportive of all of your hormones in helping to regulate your body’s ability to stay balanced, happy, and regenerating stronger cells.

MTHFR Defects and Estrogen Dominance

MTHFR Defects and Estrogen Dominance

The Link Between Estrogen & MTHFR

MTHFR is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to folic acid to make it usable by the body. The MTHFR gene produces this MTHFR enzyme that’s also important for proper metabolism, muscle growth & glutathione production. If you have a mutation in MTHFR, you may have trouble effectively eliminating toxins from the body or balancing hormones.

 

How Does this Manifest in your Body?

  1. High cholesterol
  2. Difficulty getting pregnant/birth defects
  3. Estrogen dominance
  4. Low energy

But if you suffer from bloating, abnormal periods, acne, mood swings, fibroids, blood clots, endometriosis, PCOS or irritability, these symptoms are signs of Estrogen Dominance. And your body removes estrogen through the process of methylation. So if you have a defect in the MTHFR gene/enzyme, estrogen builds up making your symptoms worse.

 

What can You do to Help?

Though it isn’t possible to change a gene, there are things that can be done to minimize the potential for problems.

  1. Focus on gut health – It’s important to focus on gut health so that the body can absorb the nutrients from food as effectively as possible. This also helps avoid candida, which can make MTHFR related problems worse.
  2. Get your Bs – Supplement w/methylated form of B vitamins so that your body doesn’t have to “deal with the defect” & work around it. And if you’re in the area, stop by my office for a Mega Shot™!
  3. Detox – Give your liver a much needed boost to help with the clearance of hormones quicker. My Detox IV is perfect to help a sluggish liver get the necessary nutrients to eliminate easily and quickly.
Decoding your Periods

Decoding your Periods

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana.

Even though you’ve probably got the hang of your cycle by now, chances are that some menstrual mysteries remain in question. Maybe your cycle is super long or short, or it’s irregular, or it comes with side effects like PMS—and you wonder if what you experience each month is normal. Or maybe new issues have cropped up, like really awful cramps or a heavier flow.

It’s important to pay attention to what’s normal and what isn’t during your cycle, because changes can provide clues to your overall health. On this episode, I discuss the basic  information you need to know, to help clear up the confusion about your periods once and for all!

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please remember to subscribe!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

The Link Between Food Intolerance, Hormones and Your Gut Health

The Link Between Food Intolerance, Hormones and Your Gut Health

Welcome to Regenerate You!

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, PCOSestrogen dominancethyroid 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.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please subscribe and share this podcast to spread the health.

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

Regenerative Health Program™

Regenerative Health Program™

The Regenerative Health Program™

I’m so glad you’re here.

By allowing me to help you, you are about to end your battle with fatigue, lack of confidence, a constant state of discomfort, mood swings, painful periods and a simple lack luster for life.

How can my Regenerative Health Program™ help you? Let’s discuss how I will reprogram every cell of your body, to come back to life.

The Next  Big Thing

in Holistic Medicine

Navigating your own health is similar to starting a new recipe without knowing how to cookYou have an idea of what ingredients to use, but have no idea how to put it all together.

This is where I come in…

I found the Regenerative Health Program™ to help teach you how to renew every cell of your body

Reprogram Your Health

To Reinvent Your Life

Discover the Real You

By regenerating your health struggles, into your ideal self

Regenerate

 

I’m dedicated in helping you have a firm grasp on understanding why your health turned upside down, while supporting your decisions to choose whichever path you prefer in the healing process.

 

 

Reinventing Your Health

I’m guiding you

step by step…

On which ingredients to buy and how to put the recipe together. I take your entire picture, along with your labs, to to paint a clear picture of how you got to where you are, what to do to fix it, and what’s coming down the pipeline if you don’t act now.

I’m always standing

by your side

My job is to teach you how to care for your body so well that you know exactly what to do when things get a little off balance.

Plan a Visit

If you’re suffering from symptoms of imbalance, hair loss, chronic fatigue, PMS, hypothyroidism, adrenal dysfunction, fibroids, endometriosis and have seen everyone and tried everything, I can offer you solutions on your healing journey that will help you to get your life back. A full life of fun, happiness and ease. It’s time to end your needless suffering.

Is your Need for Weed Good for your Body?

Is your Need for Weed Good for your Body?

How Marijuana Use can Affect your Hormones and Overall Health

While Cannabis (or Marijuana) is being legalized in more and more states, both the adverse and beneficial effects of its use are starting to be better understood. The active compound in cannabis, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is widely known to have effects on the brain, producing the “high” that many users are seeking. However, the other more adverse effects cannabis can have on the body are less widely known. In this article, I want to focus mainly on how cannabis can affect your hormones, primarily through the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands, and the reproductive system.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and How It Works

Endocannabinoids are molecules naturally produced in the body in small amounts that act on cannabinoid receptors and play important roles in various processes. There are 2 types of cannabinoid receptors in the body, CB1 and CB2, and a few orphan receptors that also bind with the endocannabinoids. These are the same receptors that THC and CBD binds and activates. The ECS is involved in regulating fertility, pregnancy, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, memory, energy balance, homeostasis, and the immune system. It is also responsible for “runner’s high” through spikes in endocannabinoids circulating in the blood to the brain, where it affects the reward center of the brain through dopamine release. 

The short explanation of how THC works is that it binds to the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 on the outer membranes of the cells. The levels of the amount of cannabinoids  made in the body are regulated by the amount enzymes made and how they are broken down in the body.  The CB1 receptor is mostly found in the brain whereas CB2 is found in tissues found in the immune system and the gut. However endocannabinoids also react with the ion channel TRVP1 which reduces the perception of pain when activated. Natural responses such as exercise, weight management, stress reduction and elimination of toxins also activate this same channel. 

Hemp contains CBD which is similar to THC, the difference is only by one ring in CBD which allows it to bend, whereas THC is flat. This difference explains why it doesn’t contain the same psychotropic properties that THC does. Another difference between Hemp and Marijuana is that Hemp  is a term used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC content (by dry weight). Marijuana however is a term used to classify varieties of Cannabis that contain more than 0.3% THC (by dry weight) and can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects.

Cannabis’s Effects on the Adrenals

The Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis controls the stress response ultimately through the release of cortisol. When different regions of the brain sense a stressor (whether emotional, chemical, physical, or pathogenic), neural signals are sent to the hypothalamus which triggers the release of various “brain hormones” into the bloodstream. It has been shown that THC increases circulating cortisol levels after use (2,3). For infrequent cannabis users, this increase in cortisol can cause increases in blood pressure and anxiety (4). In long-term users, sustained increase of cortisol blunts the body’s natural reactions to changes in cortisol and can affect a woman’s libido and menstrual cycle. Long-term use also has the potential to blunt the morning spike of cortisol. Upon waking, cortisol levels spike, slowly declining throughout the day. This spike of cortisol making it more difficult to shake off sleep and function normally…yikes!

Cannabis’s Effects on the Thyroid

The Hypothalamus’ effect on the thyroid is responsible for maintaining metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, muscle control, brain development, and bone health. THC however, inhibits secretion of thyroid hormone from the pituitary gland (5,6,). This effect is dose-dependent, meaning the more you consume, the more it depresses TSH levels in your blood. This decrease in TSH levels causes a decrease in synthesis of active thyroid hormones. This results in symptoms of hypothyroidism including fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, depression, decreased libido, and abnormal menstrual cycles.

Cannabis’s Effects on the Reproductive System

The hypothalamus secretes gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which stimulates the pituitary to secrete follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH and LH are important in regulating gonadal function in both sexes. In women, FSH and LH are important for pubertal development and ovarian function and play an important role during the menstrual cycle. In men, FSH is essential to the function of the testes and their production of sperm and LH stimulates the production of testosterone. 

THC use in women inhibits the maturation of the ovarian follicle, and ovulation, through the mitochondria (7). During ovulation, the body releases a surge of endocannabinoids in the ovary; excess cannabinoids from cannabis consumption can disrupt the ovulatory surge and lead to an irregular cycle while preventing the conversion of progesterone. THC also has an impact on the developing fetus so stopping cannabis use while trying to conceive will help both you and your developing baby (12).

THC use in men has been shown to decrease sperm count, reduce serum testosterone, reduce sperm motility, and inhibit the processes needed to facilitate sperms’ ability to achieve conception (7,10,11). These effects can lead to a decrease in fertility in both men and women, but fertility can return if cannabis use discontinues.

If you are a habitual Marijuana user and your energy level and sex-drive are lackluster, it may be wise to periodically test your levels of adrenal hormones (cortisol, DHEA-S), sex hormones (estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone), and thyroid hormones (T4, T3, TSH, TPOab) to make sure THC isn’t blunting your edge. Simple and convenient urine tests can help determine if cannabis use is impacting your overall health. 

References

[1] Hill MN, et al. Endogenous cannabinoid signaling is essential for stress adaptation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2010;107:9406-11.

[2] Hilliard CJ, et al. Endocannabinoid signaling and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Compr Physiol. 2018;7: 1-15.

[3] Ranganathan M, et al. The effects of cannabinoids on serum cortisol and prolactin in humans. Psychopharmacology. 2009;203:737-44.

[4] Cservenka A, et al. Cannabis use and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning in humans. Front. Psychiatry 2018;9:472.

[5] Malhotra S, et al. Effect of cannabis use on thyroid function and autoimmunity. Thyroid. 2017;27:167-73.

[6] Hillard CJ, et al. The effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on serum thyrotropin levels in the rat. 1984;20:547-50.

[7] Walker OS, et al. The role of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive tissue. J Ovarian Res. 2019;12:3.

[8] Brown TT, Dobs AS. Endocrine effects of marijuana. J Clin Pharmacol. 2002;42:90S-96S.

[9] Liu X, Herbison AE. Dopamine regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone excitability in male and female mice. 20113;154O:340-50.

[10] Kolodny RC, et al. Depression of plasma testosterone levels after chronic intensive marihuana use. N Engl J Med. 1974;290:872-4.

[11] Gundersen TD, et al. Association between use of cannabis and male reproductive hormones and semen quality: a study among 1215 healthy young men. Am J Epidemiol. 2015;182:473-81.

[12] Velez ML, et al. Cannabis use disorders during perinatal period. In: cannabis use disorders. 2018:177-188.