Two of the most current common buzz words are “Hormones” and “Balance”. But what does that even mean? What are hormones anyway, and how do you balance them?
Our society has now reached a point where the majority of our community are either overweight or obese and facing a tsunami of disease. The only way out of this crisis is through education. Knowledge is power, and lack of knowledge is lack of power. It’s time to begin the process of educating ourselves about how the body works, and what you need to know in order to lose the weight and recover your lost health.
I base my coaching practice around the philosophy of vitalism, which simply means:
- That the life of an organism and its psyche’ are intertwined
- The organism has purposive activity.
- There is organic unity (the idea that a specific thing is made up of independent parts, for example a body is made up of its constituent organs).
- Embryological development (where the brain is the very first organ to develop and sends creative power to every cell in the body, and therefore controls the healing processes).
If you are someone who struggles with your weight, you might be interested to know that weight gain has nothing to do with calories and lack of exercising. Hormones are the chemical signals that the body produces in order to control every aspect of your health, including your metabolism, where fat is stored in the body, your appetite, and cravings. This means, in the case of a hormonal imbalance, if you are overweight, or even underweight and suffering from a lifestyle disease such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc. you have within you the power to heal. Don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.
One way to look at hormones is to see them as the secret language of your body. Your hormones are those quiet whispers that gently nudge you towards what the body needs to remain in balance. The problem is, we have created powerful emotionally driven habits that run as unconscious programs, when we begin to run these programs we can no longer hear the language of the body. I tell my clients this, if you don’t listen to the whispers eventually you’ll be taken down by the screams!
The brain is constantly monitoring our systems for imbalance, when this occurs an electrical signal is sent through the central nervous system to a particular part of the body telling it to release a specific chemical to correct the imbalance.
Weight management and health in general, are supported by knowledge of how your hormones work and how to respond to them by being able to identify them, understand how they work, and how you can influence them to your advantage.
Ghrelin is produced in your stomach, it’s more commonly known as your hunger hormone. A good way to remember the name of this hormone is to think of grrrr-growling stomach. As soon as you begin to feel hungry your stomach will begin producing ghrelin. If you skip a meal you’ll begin producing a lot of this hormone, it’s your body’s way of making you feel restless until it drives you to eat anything close to you. This is where people often get caught out, they don’t plan their meals and they don’t have healthy snacks on hand. Being overhungry causes emotional stress on the body, and emotional stress will drive you overindulge in sugar, salt and fat.
Consuming foods high in healthy fats and good quality proteins will lower your ghrelin levels much more than high carbohydrate foods. This is why breakfast foods should be packed with more proteins and vitamin rich fruits and vegetables. A low carb high protein diet will help to keep your ghrelin levels down.
Leptin is the hormone that that suppresses your appetite. This hormone is very important to you if you are attempting to lose weight. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when to stop eating and unfortunately it tends to decrease as you age.
As you get older, you begin to experience leptin resistance, which means your body may no longer hear the message to top eating. You can strengthen this hormone by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, by including the following foods in your diet:
- Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
- Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil and olive oil)
- Pastured eggs and dairy
Sleeplessness is another major cause of leptin decline, and this causes an increase in ghrelin, which explains why you eat more when you are sleeping less. Lack of sleep causes stress on the body, and stress drives us to seek out sugar, salt and fat. We tend to wear our lack of sleep like a badge of honour, when in fact, we need to be getting at least 7 – 8 hours of good quality sleep every night.
Stress and cortisol are related, the same way cortisol and belly fat are related. Every time you become stressed, your body releases cortisol in order to deal with the challenge. This hormone encourages the body to hold onto visceral fat, which is around your waist. After its release, you crave salty and sweet foods to soothe and comfort the tension from the event.
A couple of ways to overcome the fat-storing effects of cortisol are to give up drinking coffee or caffeine when stressed and to surround yourself with happy people who love to laugh. You cannot be happy and stressed at the same time, which means laughter is an excellent remedy for cortisol.
These three hormones are very important for weight management and health maintenance in the long term. Once you understand how they work, you will be able to trigger or repress them to get what you want. For example, stop skipping meals to prevent high levels of ghrelin, which will drive up your stress levels and cause you to crave sugar, salt and fat. You can also trigger leptin by eating a well balanced diet of whole foods.
Everyone is different. You can target specific areas of your body that are retaining the most fat by balancing your hormones. Each of us has fat deposits in certain areas of the body than others, and people lose weight differently. There are certain foods you can eat to target those stubborn fat deposits such as:
- The belly: Fat stores around your waist will prevent your abs from showing. This is because of too much cortisol. To reduce belly fat, you must get control of your cortisol production, and foods such as spinach, nuts, citrus, barley and beans will be very beneficial.
- The back: Fat on your back is less common compared to belly fat, but it is there, and some people have problems reducing fat in this area of their body. Fat at the back and upper trunk shows you have high levels of insulin and need foods high in conjugated linoleic acid, for example; yoghurt, milk, beef and fermented cheese. Whole grains and green vegetables are also very helpful.
- Bottom fat: Some people are very comfortable with a big bottom and some people are not. If you have more fat on your bottom, it could be because you have high levels of estrogen in your body. If this is a problem for you, then it’s important to understand how to bring your estrogen levels down. Certain foods will help, for example; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, red grapes, pomegranates and whole grains. These will help in blocking the production of high amounts of estrogen. Other options include, flax seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds – these contain polyphenols, which clears estrogen in your bloodstream.
Balanced hormones make us feel great! You wake up in the morning with confidence, knowing you can take on anything the world throws your way. In my next article we’ll look at some of the foods you can include in your day that are high in fibre, taste great and don’t irritate your digestive system.
Health is Wealth – Don’t Waste Another Day!
Many people say they are ready to heal, but subconsciously they’re doubtful. Often this is because they are holding onto powerful, emotionally driven unconscious habits which prevent the healing process from occurring. Unfortunately, it’s very common for those desperate to feel better to try several therapies (and spend thousands) on diets, protocols and procedures only to have them fail. Is this because the programs they tried were flawed? Not necessarily – all protocols exist because they have worked for someone at some point.
However, no therapy or protocol will really stick long-term if the person is simply being told to “stop doing what you’ve always done” and the deeper issues are not addressed. The Optimal Health Blueprint is a holistic course that will set you on your path towards real sustainable health. By identifying the underlying triggers that set your habits in motion, we can begin the process of creating new, healthier habits that support your good health in the long term.