Thursday, December 2, 2010

Balance your hormone levels by reducing 
your weight

Hormones are chemical messengers that act to regulate body processes. They are part of what is known as the endocrine system. Hormones are produced by a number of organs in your body, including your fat cells.
Hormones produced by your fat cells!
Your fat cells are responsible for producing the following important hormones:
  • Estrogen: Your fat cells are one of the body's sources for producing Estrogen, a hormone responsible for developing sexual characteristics, protein synthesis, fat storage, fluid balance, reduced bowel motion, and growth of tumors and cancers. The fatter your are, the more estrogen you produce, and the greater your chances of getting breast cancer.
  • Leptin: This hormone is produced by your fat cells and secreted into the blood stream. It acts to control how the body manages its store of fats, and also works on the brain to reduce our urge to eat. 
When you go on low carbohydrate diets, leptin levels drop, causing an increase in appetite and a reduction in your metabolism (the rate at which you burn energy and fat). This may be one reason for the rebound effect of many crash diet types of weight-loss programs , 
where the dieter regains all the weight that was initially lost.
  • Adiponectin: This protein hormone acts to modulate a number of metabolic processes including fatty acid breakdown and the regulation of glucose levels. The greater your weight, the lower the levels of Adiponectin, resulting in less breakdown and use of fatty acids, and poorer regulation of your sugar levels.
  • Resistin: This hormones acts to increase insulin resistance. As resistin levels increase (due to greater volumes of fat cells), the less sensitive your cells become to insulin. This imbalance affects your body's ability to control and manage insulin levels, and results in spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels.
  • Angiotensin: This hormone is responsible for a host of metabolic functions in your body. It causes vasoconstriction of your blood vessels, adhesion of platelets to each other, increases your blood pressure, and causes the release of aldosterone by the adrenal cortex. 
Aldosterone, in its turn causes the kidney to retain sodium, and release potassium. This is in turn increases your thirst AND increases your desire for salt. 
Excessive release of angiotensin by increased numbers of fat cells in your body can, and does, upset the delicate metabolic balance maintained by your body.
These are just a few of the hormones (produced by your 
adipose tissues) whose levels become unbalanced when you 
are carrying excess weight. By losing your excess's weight (in a healthy manner), you can stop your hormonal imbalances, and all of its associated side-effects, and allow your body to perform in a balanced, efficient manner.
Hormones that affect your fat metabolism
In addition to the role that adipose tissue plays in producing hormones, your fat cells are also affected by hormones produced by other organs in your body. The hormones which most affect your weight loss goals are:
  • Cortisol: This important hormone is released as a reaction to stress (mental, physical, emotional, or even imaginary). Cortisol helps to mobilize the body's energy reserves by producing sugar from proteins. Cortisol places your body on red-alert, and diverts energy and resources to activities associated with immediate 
survival. This includes:
o Suppressing inflammatory responses.
o Stopping self-healing mechanisms since these require energy and raw materials.
o Suppressing the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.
o Mobilizing and releasing energy stores in the liver and muscle tissue.
o Inhibiting digestion and nutrient absorption.
o Storing of fat in the abdominal areas.
Higher levels of cortisol have been associated with poor eating habits, inducing a craving for high-fat, high-sugar foods.
Unfortunately, higher cortisol levels results in higher levels of muscle destruction (part of our flight or fly response to stress), where muscle and protein tissue is converted into sugars for rapid use. If there isn't an immediately available source of protein and amino acids, then cortisol will obtain it from our muscle tissues. This is why you gain your weight back on those crash diets... cortisol consumes the muscle we need to burn fat!
Any loss of muscle means an increase in fat gain. Muscle burns more energy than any other tissue in your body. The less muscle you have, the more fat you store. So, when you have increased cortisol levels, you burn more muscle, and thereby reduce your ability to burn your stored fats due to decreased metabolic rates.
So what can you do? Rest, relax, sleep, and meditate to bring down your stress levels. Eat a low glycemic diet that does not cause blood sugar levels to spike. And finally, restore normal cortisol levels by taking appropriate nutritional supplements.
  • Insulin: This very important hormone is secreted by the pancrease and plays a critical role in building enzymes, proteins, hormones, and muscles. It plays a critical role in processing sugars and amino acids.
Insulin is required to facilitate the transport of blood glucose across the impermeable cell membrane. It is released when blood glucose levels are elevated. The insulin molecules bind to receptors on the cell surface, and allow the entry of glucose (sugar) , fatty acids, and amino acids into cells.
However, when insulin is produced in excess, it causes obesity by increasing the production of body fat, while at the same time inhibiting the breakdown of stored body fat. It also contributes to cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes.
More importantly, your body is designed to draw up to 70% of its energy for its day-to-day activities from fat . When insulin levels are high, it prevents your body from using your stored fat, and instead causes your body to use alternative sources such as amino acids and blood glucose. And thereby carefully preserves all the stored fat in your cells, and preventing you from losing weight.

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