Aging, Hormones, Stress and Weight Gain. You don’t need to accept declining health and an expanding waistline as part of your destiny once you hit 40. You do need to take charge of your health and the foods you eat however to maintain optimal health and weight. How do you do that? Simply by eating a low inflammatory diet and managing your stress (aka cortisol) levels. Luckily it’s all about chemistry, and it’s your chemistry, not calories, that gets you to your health and weight goals. Here is a brief, simple overview of what is happening to you and your new action plan for a healthier, happier life.
Women are more likely to gain weight as they go through perimenopause and into menopause. Estrogen levels drop and lower estrogen produces more cortisol (your stress hormone). Extremely high or low estrogen levels affect the your immune system. Excessive production of estrogen can suppress the thyroid, as well as reduce the activity levels of NK cells and interleukin 2 which stimulate the immune system.
For men, testosterone production decreases as you age and you have the same issue as women can. Much of your fat is redistributed from your arms, glutes and hips to your abdomen AND it can be harder to build muscle and lose weight!
Low levels of progesterone has been linked to some autoimmune diseases and affects proper T-cell and NK cell activity.
When testosterone levels are low, T-cell production overproduction can lead to autoimmune diseases. Testosterone also regulates production of monocytes and lymphocytes – white blood cells that are essential to immunity
Stress and fluctuating hormones all create chronically heightened levels of cortisol lead to long term fat storage, especially abdominal fat. Excess cortisol also attacks thyroid function, your master gland for metabolism. Chronic stress will start to deplete your adrenals worsening hormonal imbalance and weight gain.
To make matters worse, that abdominal fat contains higher levels of an enzyme that prods inactive cortisol to life. At this point, the more stress you have, the more cortisol you make—you’ve basically become a cortisol-producing machine! And through it all, your body is trying to do the right thing when it senses you are stressed. Your body slows metabolic function and clings to every ounce of body fat.
What causes stress? The main factors we all know are work and family, but did you know that eating inflammatory foods and overexercise can raise cortisol levels too? For optimal health and weight we always want to keep our stress in check.
Excess yeast (yes men have yeast too!) causes abdominal bloating. Candida in the tissue affects the ability of the body to respond normally to hormones. So even if your thyroid levels read as “normal” the hormones may not be able to activate metabolic and cellular activity.
Excess yeast also attacks thyroid function (which slows your metabolism) and can block hormone receptors and block hormone action. Hormonal imbalance and inflammatory foods can cause yeast to flare up. What’s interesting about yeast is that when it’s population is too high, it can increase allergic or reactive response to foods.
Yeast has many actions- worsening hormonal imbalance, mood disorders, food cravings usually for simple sugars. It can also affect your immune system by creating leaky gut. Remember 70% of your immune system is in you GI tract and the majority of your serotonin is produced there too.
So now you see we have a VICIOUS cycle.
What should you do?
Find a bio-individual diet that is low inflammatory. It will lower chronic low grade inflammation, balance your hormone and thyroid function, and restore normal yeast/gut balance.
Avoid exercising too intensely for your body which will raise cortisol too! You can read in my next post about the over-exercise cortisol/thyroid connection and how too much exercise can actually slow your metabolism.
Keep yeast in check by eating low inflammatory foods and taking a good probiotic when needed (gas, bloating, reactive response)! You can check out my website for more information about bio-individual low inflammatory diets- www.lyngenet.com.
As always, if you have any questions you can email [email protected]