Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your body what to do. Everything that is fun in your life is dependent on hormones… whether it’s great daytime energy (cortisol), feeling happy (serotonin), sleeping well (melatonin) and of course, your sex hormones.
Much of the latest research is showing that even weight gain and weight loss is primarily hormonal. It’s the hormonal response of the food that triggers how much gets stored in fat cells, meaning it’s at least as much about what you eat, rather than how much.
When it comes to hormonal balance the difference between men and women is dramatic. A man’s hormonal system is like a Toyota Hilux; you can pretty much do what you like to them and they’re still going to run fairly well, the only problem being that one day in many years’ time, the engine will blow up with no warning (heart attack).
Whereas women and the hormonal system of females is more like a Formula 1 racing car, it’s incredible what it’s capable of (grow a baby for example). But unfortunately it doesn’t take much to throw the timing out.
In my clinical experience, it seems to be much harder for women to lose weight than men, because in my books, weight loss is primarily hormonal.
In the modern world, one of the biggest hormonal imbalances I see is oestrogen dominance. Oestrogen is predominately a female hormone, but men have a little of it and so both sexes can be affected by excess oestrogen.
The signs of oestrogen dominance for women will be:
– Increased fat storage on the hips
– Increased pre-menstrual tension
– Heavier menses
– Difficulty losing body fat
And in extreme cases diseases like endometriosis and even polycystic ovarian syndrome are heavily linked to hormonal imbalance.
For men the signs of oestrogen dominance are more likely to be increased fat storage on their chest (man boobs) and a lower libido.
Clinically I have seen a dramatic increase in cases of oestrogen overload over the last 10 years. This is partly due to the increased number of environmental oestrogens that we are now exposed to, (called xeno-oestrogens) that are sitting on our oestrogen receptor sites, driving a perceived oestrogen dominance.
The other main reason is liver load. Most people’s livers are already so overworked and backed-up that they cannot neutralise oestrogen as it arrives to be processed. In the liver, things foreign to the body will always take priority to be processed, such as alcohol, sugars, pesticides and chemicals, etc. So oestrogen, being something that the body recognises as its own, often ends up back in the bloodstream, in a more active form after being partially processed by the liver.
A common situation we see are woman 25 to 45 (often with the above symptoms) coming into the clinic perhaps only for weight loss, because no matter what they do they can’t lose body fat. Once we start running tests it becomes obvious that it’s hormonal imbalance and oestrogen dominance holding them back from losing weight.
We will see their body sliding into insulin resistance, meaning their bodies are not storing and accessing the energy in their cells very effectively. We then go through improving liver function and balancing their hormones. Not only do their PMT symptoms improve, but the side effect is body fat loss.
There are many aspects to optimal hormonal balance. Ensuring we are eating enough of the raw materials to make hormones (primarily high quality fats and proteins) and adequate vitamin and mineral intake are co-factors for hormone production. It is also essential that detoxification systems are functioning at their best, in order to rid our bodies of hormones once they have done their job.
So I wanted to share my top five tips for helping hormonal balance, particularly lowering your oestrogen load.
1) Move away from re-using plastic water bottles
The thin plastics are only designed for a single use and they leach xeno-oestrogens (BPA and dioxins) into the water which add to the oestrogen load. One of the biggest weight losses a friend of mine, who owns a Pilates centre, has ever seen was when the whole base of clients moved from drinking out of plastic water bottles, to glass or stainless steel.
2) Avoid unfermented soy
Soy has strong phyto oestrogens, which can compete with your own oestrogen. Traditionally soy has only been consumed fermented, as the fermentation process breaks down these strong oestrogens. So drop the soy latte unless you are skinny and post menopausal (as these people generally benefit from the extra phyto oestrogens).
3) Cruciferous vegetables
Eat broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage (ideally lightly steamed). Cruciferous vegetables have compounds in them called DIM (Diindolylmethane) and sulfuraphane, which up-regulate the liver’s ability to detoxify oestrogen. Three-day-old broccoli sprouts pack the most detoxification punch.
4) Take a close look at your skincare products
Eight percent of what’s on your skin will be in your bloodstream. Many of the chemicals in skincare products contain phthalates and parabens that act as oestrogenic once in your bloodstream. Look for 100 percent natural skin care and makeup products.
5) Reduce and ideally eliminate alcohol consumption
Alcohol is really hard on your liver and if you are exhibiting any signs of oestrogen dominance and difficulty losing weight, then alcohol really needs to go. Swap it for a Kombucha instead, a fermented, sparkling cold tea drink, which assists detoxification of oestrogens.
For more information on hormone testing or to attend one of Ben’s seminars, visit www.bepure.co.nz
There’s something about Ben
If you haven’t yet heard Ben Warren speak in person or watched one of his talks online, you’re missing out.
The high profile holistic nutritionist is regarded as something of a guru when it comes to transforming people’s lives. As founder of BePure, his passion for holistic health and the healing power of nutrition is just part of the success behind his health and performance practice.
Genuinely motivated to generate positive change among the New Zealand population, Ben holds nutrition courses around New Zealand and is also a popular speaker on the international stage.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, he has made it his mission to build a new future of health by empowering and educating New Zealanders on the importance of nutrition through his seminars and online programmes.
His ancestral eating programme encourages the consumption of organ meats, butter, leafy greens and avoiding foods like highly processed grains and sugar. This approach has produced amazing results, reversing the parameters of type two diabetes in a pilot study of 27 Maori, and was featured on 60 Minutes involving former All Black captain, Taine Randell.
Ben works with a team of nutritionists at his BePure Clinic and is making exciting developments in his work towards preventing and reversing chronic disease.
The former elite athlete boasts double honours in experimental psychology and a Masters Degree in holistic nutrition, as well as several other qualifications.
He lives with his family on a 15 acre, organic, permaculturally-designed, nutrient-dense farm in Hawke’s Bay.