Have you ever found yourself struggling to lose weight despite going on diets for weeks and spending hours in gym? Would you like to know what happens in our body regarding weight gain and loss when our hormones called estrogen and progesterone are out of balance?
Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. It gives women their female shapes, looks after their mood, and regulating serotonin. Estrogen is responsible for the first half of your menstrual cycle, it boosts sex drive and it helps to protect you against medical problems like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It also helps to fight fatigue and weight gain.
Хeno-estrogens/xeno-hormones make us estrogen dominant. They are called hormone disruptors and come from plastics, synthetic hormones, conventional meats and animal products, etc. This exposure can result in low progesterone. If our mothers were exposed to it, it can cause dysfunction in her daughters ovarian follicles.
Depending on where you live and work, you’re likely to be exposed to many plastic products every day. Food and beverage containers, some disposable plates, and toiletry bottles are all plastic and all are made from chemicals. Research suggests that all plastics may leach chemicals if they’re scratched or heated. Research also strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of the chemicals in these products, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may cause cancer in people.
BPA is a weak synthetic estrogen found in many plastic products. Its estrogen-like activity makes it a hormone disruptor, like many other chemicals in plastics. Hormone disruptors can affect how estrogen and other hormones act in the body, by blocking them or mimicking them, which throws off the body’s hormonal balance.
Stress also increases levels of cortisol, which blocks progesterone from its receptors in the body. Too much stress – and progesterone doesn’t get where it needs to go.
Progesterone is important for your overall sense of well-being – it’s the hormone that raises body temperature and boost your metabolism, and it helps your thyroid perform efficiently. It is a natural diuretic, which means it helps you release excess fluid in your body.
Ideally, you have a perfect rhythm between these two hormones, which should function perfectly along each other. Estrogen dominance happens when you have too much estrogen compared with progesterone. Having too much estrogen in the body causes a number of symptoms, including weight loss resistance, and makes losing weight very challenging, if not impossible. So you need to act quickly before it’s too late.
To lower your estrogen levels and help you lose weight, you need to make some efforts and reconsider your diet and your environment. I recommend getting rid of all plastic dishes and bottles in your kitchen, and getting asap on hormone reset diet. Good start will be eating about half kilo of vegetables per day, divided between meals. The fibre from the vegetables will help excrete estrogen so it doesn’t keep circulating in your body. And using natural products like glass or stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic would save you from invasion of xeno-estrogens into your body. Start from your normal portions, what you usually have, and increase by 50 g each day to get to the goal without gas or bloating.
What are the signs that estrogen and progesterone are out of balance?
The balance between these hormones changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle each month. This produces a woman’s monthly periods and keeps the endometrium healthy.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include weight loss resistance, depression, fatigue, breast tenderness, painful periods or heavy periods. Many women report feeling like they have PMS, or mood swings, particularly the week to 10 days before their periods. Progesterone that’s either too high or too low can cause a range of problems. When progesterone is too low, you’re more likely to develop endometriosis and problems with uterine bleeding. A shift in the balance of these hormones toward more estrogen increases a woman’s risk for developing endometrial cancer.
So, how can we naturally boost progesterone and lower estrogen?
- Turmeric, found in curry, is known to help increase the body’s progesterone levels. Other herbs such as thyme and oregano are thought to have the same properties. (source)
- Increasing the intake of foods rich in vitamin B, especially B6.
- A diet low in conventional meats and animal products, as many times the hormones given to them act as estrogens in the body. Choose organic and preferably grass-fed products.
- Don’t use plastics, canned foods, or conventional cleaners and beauty products. Most of them contain estrogen like compounds that cause a body to be estrogen dominant.
- Ensure enough magnesium intake. Epsom salt bath, magnesium body spray or oil, or suplements – good ways to boost it.
- Eat plenty of protein each day with each meal – hormones need protein for production.
- Consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, and especially dark leafy greens. These micro-nutrients are important for progesterone production.
- Take care of your adrenal glands. When your adrenal glands are fatigued due to constant or recurrent physical, emotional, or mental stress, the precursor to progesterone (DHEA) is used to make cortisol instead of progesterone. A 24-hour adrenal saliva test can show you what your cortisol levels are throughout the day and may be helpful is helping you heal the body.
So, proportionate balance of these two hormones is the goal and if they go out of balance you may get an array of problems.
When your hormones are in balance you look and feel your best. But when they are imbalanced, you feel miserable, with a range of symptoms that include fatigue, sugar cravings, weight loss resistance, bloating, belly fat, trouble sleeping, anxiety or irritability, and constant stress.
You won’t really know if your hormones are to blame for your symptoms until you get some basic blood work done. Record your symptoms and check in with your physician. Most traditional doctors only recognise the numbers of the paper of the blood test results, yet the latest testing techniques to determine hormone levels include saliva and dried urine testing.
What other hormones affect weight loss/gain? How would one know if these are unbalanced and how would one correct the unbalance?
Other hormones that affect weight loss and gain are cortisol, insulin, leptin, testosterone, and thyroid hormone. High leptin causes weight gain and excessive hunger. Leptin is nature’s appetite suppressant. When you’ve had enough to eat, leptin signals your brain to stop eating. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce excess leptin. When your brain gets leptin signals from too many fat cells, it stops reacting because it’s overwhelmed. Leptin levels keep rising, receptors stop functioning, your body doesn’t get the leptin signal, and you don’t feel full. You keep eating and you keep gaining weight. One way to reset leptin levels is to remove or reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
Insulin resistance means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body keeps generating from the food you eat, and your liver converts the glucose into fat. Insulin resistance causes weight gain and sugar addiction. To reset your insulin levels, I recommend drinking filtered water with apple cider vinegar. Consuming two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high carb meal significantly reduces blood glucose levels in people with insulin resistance.
Cortisol is the main stress hormone and is released in response to stress, but most of us are stressed all the time. All those stress hormones wreak havoc on your health over time, and make you store fat—especially in your belly. High cortisol is also linked to depression, food addiction, and sugar cravings, so that you overeat the sugary and processed foods. As the result you get fat. To reset your cortisol, you need to hit the pause button on your caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake. Slowly wean off of them and notice how your sleep and stress levels improve!
Your thyroid hormone can kill your metabolism – low thyroid is very common as we get older, slowing down your metabolism, making you exhausted and unable to burn off those carbs you’re eating. You need to get yourself properly tested and support your thyroid with the nutrients it needs (e.g. Vitamin A, zinc, iodine, tyrosine, selenium)
While exercise is an essential part of managing health and balancing your hormones, it can also get them further out of control if not managed properly. If you’ve got imbalanced cortisol and chronic stress, high intensity exercise can worsen adrenal fatigue. Most people with this situation feel worse or tired after exercise, not energised at all. In cases of hormone imbalance or adrenal fatigue, my best choice of exercises are Yoga, Pilates or just a fast walk for an hour, but not the high intensity exercises.