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.

The Link Between Your Hormones and Anxiety

The Link Between Your Hormones and Anxiety

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

If you’ve ever felt confused by spiking anxiety shortly before your period begins, don’t worry: You’re not alone. Our hormones directly affect our anxiety levels. And it’s not just cortisol — a number of hormones can influence how stressed you’re feeling on any particular day. On this episode, I discuss the wild world of hormones inside your body — and info about how they can cause your anxiety. Plus some tips on what to do to balance them out. While it may be unnerving to think about the hormones your body is putting out, remember that it’s simply about going to the root cause. Don’t guess, but test your hormones to really know what your body is trying to tell you! To receive a B-vitamin or Bliss shot that I mentioned during the is episode, visit my Vitamin Shot Bar.

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.

Don’ forget to subscribe to my Podcast!

 

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

How to Know if Your Hormones are Imbalanced

How to Know if Your Hormones are Imbalanced

Welcome to my Podcast, Regenerate You! I’m Dr. Nirvana and in this episode, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances and what you can do to heal your body by regenerating your hormonal health.

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 to please leave me a review as well!

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

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.

Express your Gratitude in February, for your Health’s Sake

Express your Gratitude in February, for your Health’s Sake

Simple Approaches to Love your Health More

Gratitude Improves Physical Health

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity. Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered and that can have protective benefits on the body, including decreasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel so good.

Gratitude Improves Psychological Health

Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable. Like the anti-depressant medications, gratitude increases circulating levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Thinking of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. If you need more natural vitamin and mineral support for these neurotransmitters, a custom-tailored IV would be perfect for you! The nutrients are tailored to enhance the happy and calming neurotransmitters of your brain while feeding your body the nutrients it needs.

Grateful People Sleep Better

Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer. The University of Manchester in England was interested in the effect that gratitude might have on people’s snooze time. Their study included over 400 adults (40% of whom had sleep disorders) who filled out questionnaires about gratitude, sleep and thoughts that they had prior to falling asleep (“pre-sleep thoughts”). Gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts – and less negative ones – at bedtime. This phenomenon was consequently related to falling asleep faster and having more restful sleep.

When you make the choice to actively experience and express gratitude throughout the day, you are more likely to naturally have your experience filled with positive thoughts and emotions at bedtime. The way that you choose to fill your heart and mind throughout the day has a natural impact on your mood at bedtime. When you have spent the day filled with worry, fear, or sadness, these experiences try to come to bed with you. Just as you can choose to think thoughts filled with fear, you are equally capable of thinking thoughts filled with gratitude.

You don’t have to “have it all” to experience authentic gratitude. In fact, I would be willing to bet that you have much more than you consciously realize in this very moment. Learning to become mindful of pleasant experiences, to slow down and become mindful throughout the day, and take the time to count your blessings all adds up to a calmer heart and mind at bedtime.

Where to Start

If you tend to experience difficulty with falling asleep or getting restful sleep, consider making the commitment to actively cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the next week. Here are some ideas which you can begin to journal nightly to express your gratitude and love about:

  1. Your home. What memories does it hold? What type of protection does it give you?
  2. Your favorite hobby. What do you love about it? How does it make you feel?
  3. A favorite memory. Why does this memory stick out?
  4. Your free time. What do you like to do in your free time?
  5. Someone important. What role does this person fill in your life? How can you show him or her how grateful you are?
Energy Drinks have Detrimental Effects on Brain Health

Energy Drinks have Detrimental Effects on Brain Health

Energy Drinks have Detrimental Effects on Brain Health

Energy drinks are widely promoted as products that increase energy and enhance mental alertness and physical performance. Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed. There are two kinds of energy drink products. One is sold in containers similar in size to those of ordinary soft drinks, such as a 16-oz. bottle. The other kind, called “energy shots,” is sold in small containers holding 2 to 2½ oz. of concentrated liquid. Caffeine is a major ingredient in both types of energy drink products—at levels of 70 to 240 mg in a 16-oz. drink and 113 to 200 mg in an energy shot. (For comparison, a 12-oz. can of cola contains about 35 mg of caffeine, and an 8-oz. cup of coffee contains about 100 mg.) Another major ingredient in energy drinks includes artificial and “natural” sweeteners (stevia). Caffeine makes the body think is it under stress, which raises the cortisol level, raises the insulin level, and causes carbohydrates to be deposited as fat.  In the long run, the brain becomes depleted of the major neurotransmitters that contribute to a variety of mental health concerns such as depression, lethargy, ADD, and insomnia.

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are molecules that regulate brain function. They are chemicals which relay messages from nerve to nerve both within the brain and outside the brain. They also relay messages from nerve to muscle, lungs, and intestinal tracts. They can accentuate emotion, thought processes, joy, elation and also fear, anxiety, insomnia and that terrible urge to over indulge in food, alcohol, drugs, etc. In short, neurotransmitters are used all over the body to transmit information and signals.

There are two kinds of neurotransmitters – inhibitory and excitatory. Excitatory neurotransmitters are what stimulate the brain. Those that calm the brain and help create balance are called inhibitory. Inhibitory neurotransmitters balance mood and are easily depleted when the excitatory neurotransmitters are overactive such as when they are being artificially stimulated by caffeine.

how caffeine effects the brain neurotransmitters depression insomnia

Inhibitory Neurotransmitters

  • SEROTONIN is an inhibitory neurotransmitter – which means that it does not stimulate the brain.  Adequate amounts of serotonin are necessary for a stable mood and to balance any excessive excitatory (stimulating) neurotransmitter firing in the brain.  If you use stimulant medications or caffeine in your daily regimen – it can cause a depletion of serotonin over time.  Serotonin also regulates many other processes such as carbohydrate cravings, sleep cycle, pain control and appropriate digestion.  Low serotonin levels are also associated with decreased immune system function.
  • GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is often referred to as “nature’s VALIUM-like substance”.  When GABA is out of range (high or low excretion values), it is likely that an excitatory neurotransmitter is firing too often in the brain.  GABA will be sent out to attempt to balance this stimulating over-firing.
  • DOPAMINE is a special neurotransmitter because it is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory.  Dopamine helps with depression as well as focus, which you will read about in the excitatory section.

Excitatory Neurotransmitters

  • DOPAMINE is our main focus neurotransmitter.  When dopamine is either elevated or low – we can have focus issues such as not remembering where we put our keys, forgetting what a paragraph said when we just finished reading it or simply daydreaming and not being able to stay on task.  Dopamine is also responsible for our drive or desire to get things done – or motivation.  Stimulants such as medications for ADD/ADHD and caffeine cause dopamine to be pushed into the synapse so that focus is improved.  Unfortunately, stimulating dopamine consistently can cause a depletion of dopamine over time.
  • NOREPINEPHRINE is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is responsible for stimulatory processes in the body.  Norepinephrine helps to make epinephrine as well.  This neurotransmitter can cause anxiety at elevated excretion levels as well as some mood lowering effects.  Low levels of norepinephrine are associated with low energy and decreased focused ability and sleep cycle problems.
  • EPINEPHRINE is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is reflective of stress.  This neurotransmitter will often be elevated when ADHD like symptoms are present.  Long term stress or insomina can cause epinephrine levels to be depleted (low).  Epinephrine also regulates heart rate and blood pressure.

If you believe that your caffeine consumption has become addictive or is the root cause of your mental health imbalances, please know that a simple test can help to determine your neurotransmitter imbalances. Please contact the office here, to begin.