Hormone Health And Weight Gain
Updated: Aug 24
Hormones are little messengers in the body that regulate the various functions in the body. They help our body respond to the outside world. As such they have tremendous impact on our health and well being. Let's take a look at the key hormones and how they impact weight gain.
Insulin. This is by far the most talked about hormone as it has a direct impact on fat gain. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is important for the regulation of carbohydrates and the metabolism of fat. Insulin stimulates glucose uptake from the blood in tissues such as muscles, the liver and fat. This is an important process to make sure that energy is available for everyday functioning and to maintain normal levels of circulating glucose. In a person who is obese, insulin signals are sometimes lost and tissues are no longer able to control glucose levels. This can lead to the development of type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Leptin. The hormone leptin is produced by fat cells. Leptin reduces a person's appetite. It also seems to control how the body manages its store of body fat. Because leptin is produced by fat, leptin levels tend to be higher in people who are obese than in people of normal weight. However, despite having higher levels of this appetite-reducing hormone, people who are obese aren't as sensitive to the effects of leptin and, as a result, tend not to feel full during and after a meal. Ongoing research is looking at why leptin messages aren't getting through to the brain in people who are obese.
Thyroxine. Hypothyroidism is the term for the production of too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) by the thyroid gland. This may be because of autoimmune diseases (such as Hashimoto’s disease), very poor iodine intake or due to some medications. Since thyroid hormones are essential for physical and mental development, untreated hypothyroidism before birth and during childhood can result in learning disability and reduced growth. Hypothyroidism in adults results in a slowing of the body’s functions with symptoms such as tiredness, intolerance to cold temperatures, low heart rate, weight gain, reduced appetite, poor memory, depression, stiffness of the muscles and reduced fertility.
Estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary female sex hormones. High levels of estrogen can trigger the pancreas to secrete more insulin. It is more important to keep a balance in these two hormones then to have one dominating.
Growth Hormone. The pituitary gland in our brain produces growth hormone, which influences a person's height and helps build bone and muscle. Growth hormone also affects metabolism. Researchers have found that growth hormone levels in people who are obese are lower than in people of normal weight. Growth hormone is released in abundance during sleep.
It might seem all is lost as we can't directly impact our hormones but we can, thru a healthy diet and exercise, manage them better so they are optimized. They good thing is a diet high in fresh vegetables and low in processed foods can impact all these hormones positively. If after following a healthy lifestyle and you find that there is room for improvement you can add foods like cruciferous vegetables for estrogen balance and even cinnamon powder for better insulin control.