Why am I gaining weight when I’m eating well, exercising and eating plenty if fruits and vegetables? Some possibilities may surprise you: you may not be keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day, you may not be exercising with enough intensity to boost your metabolism, and your endocrine system which is responsible for hormones including insulin to leptin (an appetite regulator) may need some calibration.
A new type of specialist has emerged: while endocrinologists have been around for a while, “age management” physicians are on the rise. These professionals, many of whom already practice endocrinology take a laser focus on those quality of life issues that make us feel older. Decreased energy, sex drive, metabolism, mood and weight gain are the most common complaints as we age. Dr. Florence Comite has written a book called ” Keep it up: the power of precision medicine to conquer low T and revitalize your life”. When hormones remain higher or lower than their normal range, it creates problems that can be diagnosed through blood tests.
Common hormonal imbalances include low levels of testosterone in men, and low levels of estrogen and progesterone in women, especially after menopause. We all know that decreased levels of these hormones lower libido, but they also can contribute to memory loss, depression
increased belly fat and loss of muscle mass. Deficiencies in DHEA, thyroid, and growth hormone as well as elevated insulin, cortisol and leptin levels all are associated with weight gain.
Age management specialists create customized health plans using supplements and pharmaceuticals, but they emphasize the necessity of healthy eating and consistent exercise. Which comes first- the chicken or the egg? Lack of exercise, chronic stress, and poor weight management are habits that trigger inflammation and spur excess production of hormones like insulin and leptin. Conversely, hormonal imbalance can also trigger weight gain, decrease energy available for exercise, and affect mood and anxiety levels. The best plan is to increase exercise to at least 150 minutes a week, including high intensity short sprints, and eat every 3to4 hours to keep blood sugar even throughout the day. This eating plan should include drinking a lot of water, eating protein at every meal, plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts for fiber and vitamins, small amounts of starch, ( bread, rice, pasta, crackers, any “empty calories”) and foods with a low glycemic index, like steel cut oats instead of dry cereals. Google low glycemic foods to learn the science behind why these foods are beneficial. Besides keeping you feeling full for longer, they don’t have your blood sugar riding a roller coaster, which is behind a lot of cravings and overeating. For a closer look at essential hormones that keep you feeling your best, go to http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/10/19/hormones-needed-for-anti-aging/
Cortisol- stress management, use of sugar and fat for energy, may stimulate appetite if excess
DHEA- production of sex hormones
Estrogen and progresterone-helps maintain healthy bones, sleep regulation, clear thinking
Growth hormone-helps maintain organs, muscles, tissues and bone
Insulin- regulates blood sugar and plays a role in storing energy (calories) as fat
Leptin-helps regulate appetite and is responsible for body’s set point
Testosterone-fuels libido, keeps muscles and bones strong
Thyroid hormone- regulates metabolism, affects function of many systems of body
For a quick peak on the importance of balance your hormonal levels, go check out this video with Dr. James Baumgartner: www.ihealthtube.com/aspx/viewvideo.aspx?v=45bb048e8feb6b0c
As Dr James Katz, a local physician at Age Management Boston says ” Nutrition and exercise have more influence on vitality and longevity than any pharmaceutical.”
So, back to those New Years resolutions…….
Stay younger, live longer!