Tags: hormone | diet | weight | loss | middle | age

Hormone-Friendly Diet: Help for Middle-Age Weight Loss

By    |   Monday, 09 June 2014 09:45 AM

When we think about hormones, we tend to focus on sex hormones — testosterone and estrogen. But the truth is that many hormones are produced by the body as chemical messengers to regulate everything from the immune system to hunger levels and even metabolism.
As a result, hormones play a critical role in keeping you healthy, and making sure that you don't get fat or sick, or have problems with sleep or libido. But as we age, our bodies produce fewer hormones, robbing us of youthful vigor and vitality, and making it harder to lose belly fat, no matter how much we diet and exercise.
That's why it's critically important to keep your body's hormones in balance as a primary way to live a long and healthy life, argues Dr. Erika Schwartz, a leading advocate of disease prevention and wellness. For many women and men, that means following a hormone-friendly diet or taking prescription bio-identical hormones in products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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"Hormones define everything we do … hormones are what defines youth," says Dr. Schwartz, the author of Dr. Erika's Healthy Balance newsletter. 
"It's not just estrogen and progesterone and testosterone … There's a whole symphony of hormones. There's thyroid, there's adrenal hormones, there are the brain hormones, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, there are so many many hormones. [And] they all work together to keep us healthy, if they are in balance."
She explains that eating a nutritious diet — as well as exercising regularly and, for some, taking bio-identical hormone supplements — can keep hormone levels where they need to be as we age.
"Chronic disease of aging set in, unless we … bring the hormones back in and we change our lifestyles, accepting the fact that unless we change our lifestyles, we're going to get old and miserable," she says. .
"People spend their whole lives on yoyo [diets], a million diets, drugs … and the truth is that if your hormones are not in balance you're not going to be able to lose weight properly."
A key factor is what Dr. Schwartz describes as "an epidemic of low thyroid hormone" in the U.S., which lowers metabolism, boosts cravings for carbs, increases fatigue — making it harder to lose weight, no matter what you eat or how much you exercise.

"If your thyroid is low you don't feel like exercising because you're exhausted, you can barely drag yourself off the couch to go to work," she explains. "And the foods that you will crave are foods that are really bad for your hormones and for you. They're usually carbs, they're sugars, they're really bad stuff. So at the end of the day, if you can balance the thyroid, you're going to be able to start losing weight because it'll boost your metabolic rate, you'll start burning fat, and with that you'll start being able to lose weight, and if you go on a diet you'll kind of see results."
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are also critical to building muscle, which help to burn fat and regulate insulin, which keeps blood sugar levels from rising too high.
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Dr. Schwartz adds that many commonly prescribed medications, including antidepressants and birth control pills, can add to age-related declines hormone production. Yoyo diets also throw hormone levels out of balance.
To counteract these effects, she recommends four key strategies, beginning with boosting the nutritional value of your diet:
Nutrition: Eat foods that are healthy and have high levels of nutrients — organic vegetables, fruit, meats — which help to keep hormone levels in balance. She also recommends limiting or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, and dairy products which are harder for our bodies to handle as we grow older.
Exercise: Getting regular daily exercise has been tied to range of physical and mental benefits, but working out also boosts the release of beneficial hormones in the body. "There are a lot of people who believe, and a lot of scientists who have proven … that people who exercise every day of their lives — not to extreme, but like 15, 20 minutes, a half an hour a day — are actually the people who stay healthiest because their immune systems are so strong," Dr. Schwartz notes. "Because during exercise you release hormones … and, as such, you improve your health."
Sleep: Getting a good night's rest recharges our minds and bodies, but also is critical to the production of hormones. "When you sleep hormones get made, your body renews and regenerates itself," she explains.
Supplements: For some men and women, taking bio-identical hormone supplements — identical to those our body makes, as opposed to synthetic alternatives — can offer a range of health benefits. Blood tests can identify potential deficiencies that supplements can correct. "The right quality of supplements, the right mixture of supplements, will actually help protect you … improve your energy production, boost your immune system, decrease inflammation, and support your hormone function."

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Hormones play a critical, under-appreciated role in keeping you healthy. That's why keeping your body's hormones in balance as you grow older can help you lose weight, in addition to maintaining your vitality and general wellness.
hormone, diet, weight, loss, middle, age
Monday, 09 June 2014 09:45 AM
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