An average person gains 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years with the abundance of holiday festivities, cookies, pies and an overindulgence of alcoholic beverages. With the toxic sugar overload keeping the hunger game revved up, the bodies energies at an all-time sluggish low….all while in the midst of a fast paced lifestyle it makes it difficult to get a grasp on eating diet friendly foods.
When the holidays come to a close and the scale reveals the added pounds, the frustrations with oneself leads to probably the #1 resolution mantra…”it’s time to lose the weight”. Then so many individuals become stressed by a double whammy of beating themselves up because of emotional eating patterns and by the personal disappointed verbiage echoing in one’s head because of not feeling strong enough to incorporate all that one needs to stay on track. The added impact of everyday stress and the stress one feels by not being able to achieve one’s desired goal can cause one to gain weight alone by just carrying around this burden. When the body recognizes stress, cortisol levels go way up and our leptin sensitivity (how we perceive feeling full)decreases and the hunger satiety pangs remain high and so does the scale.
When it comes to health, hormones, stress and gut bacteria have a much bigger effect than many people realize. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers which are responsible for growth and development, sexual function, reproduction, mood and metabolism which is how your body gets energy from the foods we eat or don’t eat enough of. Two significant dietary factors that regulate our hormone production are fats and cholesterol. Making wise food choices can seriously influence the thyroid hormones which regulate the hunger we feel, satiety, fat accumulation and our energy levels.
Fat can be our friend with our bodies especially needing omega-3 fatty acids such as olive oil, avocado’s, nuts, seeds(chia, flax) that are higher in monounsaturated fat and some polyunsaturated fish sources. It is now known that they help hormones to release glucagon that burns the fat, fills us up by triggering leptin and are the building blocks for keeping cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone all in check.
The average American diet is high in nutritionally depleted starchy carbohydrates that only causes a surgeance of insulin to go into the bloodstream making an overload of glucose being dumped into the fat cells of muscles and tissues. Hence, there’s a population that is extremely overweight, a diabetes crisis and heart disease striking way too many victims. Refined carbohydrates have also been recognized for triggering symptoms consistent with food addiction in the same way cocaine and heroin stimulate the brains pleasure center releasing dopamine. Carbs that are low in starch are to be eaten moderately with more of an emphasis on lean protein. Being careful with beans that are a rich protein source but contain a higher percentage of starch. A diet that consists of higher protein will help suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin, builds greater muscle mass that encourages a stronger metabolism to help keep the weight off. Opt for lean poultry, fish, eggs, game meat, hemp, green chlorophyll rich plant proteins like spinach, kale, ocean vegetables that are highly alkaline and supply absorbable B vitamins.
To build a long lasting healthy weight foundation to reduce your desires to binge during and after the holiday season while also providing good digestive immune support here are six harmonizing hormone suggestions.
One of my favorite protein power tools is a quality whey protein powder which makes for a convenient meal replacement to incorporate into a wonderful morning smoothie. It builds muscle mass which in turn revs up metabolism, promotes feelings of fullness and our body doesn’t have to work as hard to breakdown this protein which is energizing in itself. What I love about whey also, is its ability to reduce toxins and triggers the production of our master antioxidant glutathione in the liver. Both of which is very necessary in the very toxic world we live with the amount of exposure to chemical carcinogens and both viral and bacterial microbes dwelling in the indoor environment during the winter months.
One of the weakest links in the American diet is the lack of soluble fiber. Eating more fiber such as psyllium, oat or rice bran, legumes, and sea vegetables all decrease hunger as their volume increases in the gut it promotes fullness and slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. A TLC(therapeutic lifestyle change) diet is based on how many grams of soluble and insoluble fiber equivalent up towards 15-25 grams per day. Smart fiber choices might mean getting out of the box by trading up processed foods for real whole nutrient dense foods like fruits, some veggies, barley, brans, nuts, seeds, legumes that adds roughage for important colon health. High glycemic foods and one specific in mind in which to avoid would be whole wheat. This is another topic in itself and in regards to gluten and other food intolerances and/or allergies factors in on hormonal imbalance.
A probiotic enriched organic yogurt or kefir repopulates the good bacteria in the gut and also helps eliminate harmful pathogens. These fermented foods with numerous healthy micro-organisms are beneficial for our energy metabolism and absorption enhancing role of necessary nutrients. Also research has proven a strong connection between digestive health and the nervous system called the brain-gut axis. This interaction requires tens of billions of numerous strains of good-bug probiotics cultivating in the inner ecosystem to actively ward off mentally damaging depression and other brain ills.
Research supports that green tea consumption will help break down abdominal fat while increasing energy expenditure to burn more calories. Green tea extract has very potent polyphenols epigallocatechin-3-gallate(EGCG) which are strong antioxidant and antibacterial compounds, but being particularly effective in weight control. A published study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that drinking four cups of green tea or equivalent doses of extract per day “significantly decreased body weight and BMI” in obese people with metabolic syndrome. When metabolism increases weight loss speeds up, but even better yet, is that flavonoids seem to slow down the rise of blood sugar and halts oxidative stress in the body.
Eating three to five times daily steadies insulin levels throughout the day and optimizes metabolism. By incorporating apple cider vinegar prior to each main meal will do the same but will further help burn the fat instead of storing it. The acetic acid may inhibit carb absorption while promoting a higher alkaline-acid balance for enhanced digestion. By consuming 2 tablespoons before meals and at bedtime will regulate better glucose levels and aid in digestive function. With less stress on the digestive system for breaking down foods when consumed allows the metabolic enzyme function to increase instead of the body being heavily burdened with digestion and absorption with each meal.
Nourish the thyroid by getting sufficient amounts of iodine by consuming more ocean vegetables or forms of algae, such as sea kelp, nori, kumbo and dulse flakes that can be incorporated in salads, soups, stir fry’s or by making nutritious rolls. By fortifying the thyroid gland ultimately supports normal metabolic function. Reclaiming your bodies energy responses will simultaneously address the adrenal glands helping to bring more harmony to level the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
By following simple rules to keep hormones in balance and boosting good gut bacteria will conversely optimize health and well-being. Keep the liver clean by detoxifying daily with proper foods and adequate exercise regimens. Consume enzyme-rich foods or add in a good quality complex enzyme to help absorption and assimilation allowing the metabolic process to function adequately. Eat a fiber-filled, nutrient dense diet to help keep the body highly nourished, stabilizing sugar levels, hunger and promoting the purging of toxins out of the body. Avoid processed foods, those grown with pesticides, most laddened with preservatives and chemicals ultimately avoiding non-organic produce and livestock that’s been compromised with antibiotic’s, GMO feed and other synthetics. Keep in mind it’s also what one puts on the body that disrupts the endocrine system which has a profound effect on our well-being. Avoid xenoestrogens found in hair care products, laundry detergents and personal care products as they play a very serious role in hormonal dysfunction. They mimic the hormones themselves becoming problematic because the body can attempt to create hormones using the wrong building blocks binding to cells that lead to auto-immune conditions and the incidence of certain cancers. Drink adequate amounts of ionized water to replenish your tissue and bodies supply of nourishing minerals, being a conduit for cellular exchange and to send the necessary message the brain that hunger is being quelled and it’s not a matter of de-hydration.
Lastly, I wish you much peace and blessings this holiday season and as the New Year rings in… remember to Eat Real, Live Mindfully and Laugh Often!