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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hormones and Weight Gain

Are your hormones making your fat? There is a huge relationship between hormones and weight gain, and your hormones could be making a big contribution to you either gaining weight or being unable to lose weight. But you are not completely at the mercy of your hormones and there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make which will help.

What are hormones?

Hormones are special chemical messengers released by various glands and cells in your body. They are carried in your blood and taken to receptors which then activate a signal to make the cells in your body perform a certain function.

A good example is the hormone insulin which most people have heard of. It is produced in the pancreas, which is an organ that sits right behind your stomach. When you eat, the digested food is broken down into glucose, the simplest form of sugar that your body needs as an energy source. Once glucose is released into the blood stream, your pancreas secretes insulin. Insulin binds with receptors in the cells, so that they can take in the glucose to be used as energy.

Once the glucose moves into your cells, the level in your blood stream drops and your pancreas stops producing insulin. If the level of glucose drops too much, say you are doing some hard exercise; your pancreas produces the hormone glucagon, which tells the liver to release stored glucose into your bloodstream to keep those hungry little cells fed. Once enough glucose is released and the blood sugars are at the level they need to be, the pancreas stops creating glucagon.

This feedback system helps to keep your body regulated, too much glucose and your body produces insulin, too little glucose and your body produces glucagon. In the same way if you are too hot, you will start sweating to cool you down, and if you are too cold, your body makes you start shivering to warm up. Sometimes however, the stresses of our modern-day life can make these feed back systems go a bit wonky.

Hormones and weight gain

Take for example the hormones leptin and grehlin. Leptin's role is to send signals to your brain to signal satiety (or to tell you when you are full) while the role of grehlin is to increase your appetite by making you feel hungry. Latest research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation causes grehlin to be increased (causing an increase in appetite), while the levels of leptin decrease, so that it takes longer to signal your brain that you are full, easily allowing you to over eat. Your body cannot replenish its energy through adequate sleep, so it is going to try to get that through extra food.

I know that when I have some very late nights, I will be craving sweet foods by the afternoon, and when you are feeling tired; it is very hard to resist.

Stress can also contribute to an imbalance of hormones and weight gain. When you are stressed, your body produces more of the hunger hormone grehlin. You also produce more of the hormone cortisol, sometimes called the "stress hormone". Cortisol stimulates fats and carbohydrates to be metabolised for quick energy release. Stress also stimulates insulin to be released so that blood sugar levels are maintained and this can also increase your appetite.

These hormonal responses served us well as cave dwellers when we needed the "fight or flight" response to prepare us for fighting off the enemy or fleeing large animals viewing us as lunch. Unfortunately the stresses of modern-day living can trigger the same "fight or flight" responses and the same hormonal responses.

What you can do to keep your hormones balanced

If you think that hormones and weight gain is one of your weight loss challenges, here are the two best things that you can do. First of all, make sure that you get a good 6-8 hours sleep a night. Second, try to keep your stress levels to a minimum. If you can't escape from your daily stressors, try to change how you react to them. I found that meditating for 10-15 minutes a day before work, worked wonders for me, allowing me to face the day calmer and more focused.

Visit Jan at eating plans for weight loss, where you can read my three favorite diet reviews and find out how exercise, lack of sleep and stress affect weight loss. Visit today to get the latest research on sugar addiction, losing weight, nutrition and wellness. Nutrition is my passion.

Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jan_Clifford


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