Are your hormones making you fat?
A few weeks ago I was introduced to the term “estrogen dominance”. I had no idea what it meant but after doing some reading on the subject I was intrigued. Could this be the reason why so many women who are 35 and older, struggle with stubborn weight gain that no amount of diet and exercise can get rid off? To add insult to injury, estrogen dominance can also manifest itself in a host of different physical, mental and emotional ailments such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, breast tenderness, headaches, digestive disorders, foggy brain, gallbladder issues, memory loss, irritability, night sweats and low libido. Wow! Who knew a hormonal imbalance could cause such havoc in your body. Let me share a little of what I have learned on this subject. Hopefully, it will provide you with useful information, especially if you can identify with some of the issue listed above.
What is estrogen dominance?
From the age of 35 your body’s progesterone levels are starting to drop and the natural ratio of oestrogen to progesterone is upset. Too much estrogen circulating in the body increases body fat. It also makes it difficult to effectively use fat stores for energy, making weight loss almost impossible. Estrogen dominance causes fat to be stored around the waist, hips and thighs – hence why so many middle-aged women are “pear-shaped”. Being estrogen dominant can affect your thyroid, causing your body’s metabolism to slow down. Your body will release insulin more rapidly and more often which has the effect of increased hunger and cravings for sugar.
What else can cause estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance can also be exacerbated by our industrialised environment. Pesticides, plastics, fuels, car exhausts, dry cleaning chemicals, meat from animals fed drugs to fatten them up as well as birth control pills can put you at risk for estrogen dominance.
What are the health risks of estrogen dominance?
Besides the obvious health issues related to weight gain, estrogen related belly fat is also a contributing risk factor for developing cardio-vascular disease. Estrogen fuels cell growth which can lead to cancer (especially breast and uterine cancers). Elevated estrogen levels have also been linked to an increased risk for fibroids and endometriosis.
How do I combat estrogen dominance?
The books I have read on this topic go into detail regarding foods and supplements to boost your progesterone levels and balance your hormones. Fortunately, there are steps one can take if you have a concern that you may be estrogen dominant. However, there is just too much info on this topic to be able to share it in my blog. Basically good quality protein and fats as well as cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, spinach, Brussel sprouts, cabbage etc are good. Foods to be avoided include sugar, white flour, white rice, caffeine, alcohol, soya products such as textured vegetable protein, soya milk and tofu.
Many women (especially those over the age of 35) are suffering through symptoms related to a hormonal imbalance. They go see their doctor because they are gaining weight and feeling down and fatigued and their doctor will tell them to eat less, exercise more, get more sleep and will write a prescription for an anti-depressant. Our body is an amazingly complex machine and it needs to be treated holistically instead of just treating individual symptoms. If you truly want to get to the bottom of why you are not feeling healthy and happy or why losing weight is so difficult for you, then take action.
Do your own research, read as much as you can on the topic and if necessary seek out the help of a professional who can run tests to determine if your hormones are off kilter.
I found the following books very helpful:
- The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried, M. D.
- Belly Fat to Belly Flat by C.W Randolph, Jr., M.D and Genie James
- Before the Change by Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph. D
Here is a very helpful video clip on estrogen dominance by Dr. Eric Berg.