Hormone imbalance can cause your body weight to shift. Do you know if yours are working properly?
If you are observing weight gain and wonder why, since your diet and lifestyle haven’t changed, yourhormones may be to blame. These chemical messengers in the body regulate, activate or inhibit the activity of a particular tissue or organ by traveling through the bloodstream to act on them. However, when they are altered, for various reasons, such as stress, they stop working properly and cause, among other problems, weight gain.
Does stress affect the weight?
The frenetic pace of life we have led in recent decades can generate hormonal disorders that favor the extra kilos. For example, stress and lack of sleep activate cortisol, a hormone that promotes appetite and fat accumulation. Stress also sometimes causes an excess of estrogens—a hormone that can lead to obesity when its levels are high.
Also, hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, makes some people put on weight.
What hormones affect us the most?
Many different hormones can affect our weight in one way or another, but the following ones have a more direct influence:
- Cortisol: When you are stressed, your body increases its production. Chronic stress and consistently high cortisol levels may be associated with increased appetite and weight gainaccording to several studies.
- Estrógenos: Estrogens are sex, and mainly female, hormones. Estrogens are produced by the ovaries, the placenta (during pregnancy) and, to a lesser extent, the adrenal glands. Estrogens are responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics, such as breast growth. They are also involved in fat, cholesterol metabolism, and can lower blood pressure. Although they are present in the body in small quantities, they play a fundamental role in our overall health, as well as in the distribution and localization of fat.
- Insulina:This hormone is produced by the pancreas, whose main function is to control glucose metabolism. By helping us regulate blood sugar levels, it becomes responsible for our body weightcontrol.
- Leptina: It is the hormone responsible for the feeling of being full. It acts by sending a signal of fullness to the brain and inhibiting appetite, activates energy expenditure (fat loss) and affects various metabolic processes. As its main function is to inhibit food intake and increase energy expenditure, it helps us to maintain a constant body weight.
- Ghrelina: It is produced in the stomach and its main function is to regulate food intake, energy balance and, therefore, weight control. Ghrelin production follows a circadian rhythm: it shows a peak before each meal then decreases after food intake. In contrast to leptin, it is a hormone that increases the sensation of hunger. At elevated levels it can lead to significant weight gain.
How to know which one the problem is?
Ideally, one should visit an endocrinologist, who, with a blood test, can find out if our hormone levels are normal. To treat imbalances, the doctor will prescribe a personalized diet, exercise, and other specific treatment, which usually consists of the administration of hormones that the body does not produce (thyroid, insulin...) or ones that regulate the activity of the affected endocrine gland. If hormones are involved in the causing of weight gain, in no case should one resort to remedies other than those prescribed by the endocrinologist, as the long-term health consequences can be significant.
If the problem comes from stress, you can resort to natural remedies to improve cortisol levels in the body. Things like meditating, practicing yoga, going for a walk, and breathing in nature, can all do wonders for the body and mind.