Enhance Hormonal Balance: How Unbalanced Hormones Can Affect Your Weight
We talk a lot about the best ways to maintain balanced hormones – eat appropriately, get enough sleep, exercise, eliminate toxins and reduce your stress levels – but what happens around age 40 when our hormones start to naturally decline?
In the years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, women start having hormone fluctuations starting with lower progesterone. Add in some stress and your progesterone lowers even more because your body will use it to help make more cortisol. Once menopause hits, your estrogen will begin to fall significantly, and you might notice an increase of fat around your belly. This happens because some of estrogen’s functions are to increase metabolism and insulin sensitivity. As perimenopause and menopause progress, symptoms might increase including hot flashes, weight gain, difficulty sleeping and a host of other problems. Some women can relieve these symptoms with lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs, while other women might choose to replace missing hormones with replacement therapy.
Men can’t escape weight gain due to hormone imbalances either. As men age, testosterone – a hormone with many functions to help maintain weight – starts to decline. And due to lifestyle habits, many men under the age of 40 have low testosterone levels for their age. Low testosterone leads to increase fat mass and weight gain, which then sets off a chain reaction that often leads to fatigue, depression, inflammation, and further weight gain.
We’ve talked a lot about how stress can lead to hormone imbalances and weight gain, but another side effect to stress concerns the thyroid. The thyroid is in charge of metabolism. If your cortisol is high due to stress it tells your body to conserve energy, therefore your thyroid secretes less active hormone and reduce your metabolism, leading to weight gain.
If you’re still having trouble overcoming symptoms of hormone imbalance even after making lifestyle changes, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy. However, it’s very important to find a physician that specializes in hormone testing and is dedicated to treating the underlying cause of your symptoms and not just your symptoms. A physician who understands bioidentical hormones is also important because they have the correct shape to fit into all the receptors on the cells in your body.