By Dr. Shannyn Pearce, D.C., Nutrition Specialist
If you ask the average American if they feel like their hormones are out of whack you will hear a resounding “YES!” Hormone imbalance effects both men and women and contributes to more than just our moods. There are three hormones that play a key role in regulating hunger and weight gain: leptin, ghrelin, and insulin. When these hormones are out of balance, they can affect the signals that tell your brain when you’ve eaten enough. An imbalance of these key hormones cause cravings, hunger and your body’s inability to burn fat.
• Leptin: Leptin is a hormone produced primarily in the white fatty tissue in the body. When you have high body fat, you generally have high levels of leptin. The more calories you take in, the more leptin you produce, triggering the “full” response in your brain.
• Ghrelin: Ghrelin alerts your brain that you’re hungry. Ghrelin levels are at their highest right before you eat, and at their lowest immediately afterward.
• Insulin: Insulin is produced in the pancreas, and its job is to regulate glucose. This means that insulin is a key player in metabolism and energy production. Insulin and leptin are closely correlated; when leptin levels increase, so does your insulin.
8 Ways to Keep Your Hormone Levels Balanced
There are different steps you can take to make sure these three hormones stay balanced.
1. Get proper sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep can affect how our bodies balance our hormones. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night.
2. Exercise. The CDC recommends that adults between the age of 18-64 do at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise each week. New research shows that you can help balance hormones by following a metabolic conditioning program for as little as 12 minutes, 3 times per week.
3. Eat a mostly plant-based diet low in sugar and simple carbohydrates diet. Switching to a mostly plant-based diet can have great health implications. Follow the 80/20 rule at each meal: 80% of your plate should be plant-based, 20% should be protein.
4. Eliminate processed foods. Eating a diet high in processed foods has been linked to many chronic illnesses and weight gain, so stick to a diet that focuses on natural foods and not those made in a factory.
5. Don’t over-eat. Even short-term overeating can cause insulin resistance in otherwise healthy adults.
6. Eat the right type of fats. Good fats are found in free range eggs, organ meats, wild caught fish, fish eggs, butter (from grass fed cows), coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
7. Watch your supplements. Synthetic supplementation can cause hormone imbalance. Read your supplement labels just like food labels, look for supplements that are raw and whole food with no added sucrose, sucralose, corn oil, preservatives or added colors.
8. Avoid Fructose. Studies have shown that fructose consumption can cause leptin resistance and weight gain. High fructose corn syrup is a big culprit, but fructose in general should be strictly moderated.
Losing weight is an important goal for a lot of people, but one that is difficult to achieve. Understanding the hormones that affect hunger and metabolism and how to manage them can give you a step up in your battle against the bulge!
Dr. Pearce, D.C. specializes in natural health and offers free nutrition classes at Reve Body Sculpting. For more information on how to start improving your health, call 859-219-0626.