Obesity & Hormones

Hormones influence our ability to lose weight. The hormones leptin, insulin, estrogens, androgens, cortisol, thyroid all influence the ability to lose weight. Hormones are chemical messengers. They regulate many processes in our body. They are a big factor in causing obesity. In turn, obesity creates hormonal levels that encourage abnormal metabolism and cause accumulation of body fat. Excess or deficits of hormones can lead to obesity and obesity can lead to hormonal changes.

Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells in our body and regulates fat storage and how many calories the body burns. Leptin is produced by fat cells. It reduces appetite by acting on centers of the brain to reduce the urge to eat. Obesity creates high levels of leptin, but the signal to reduce appetite may not be recognized by the brain. This is known as leptin resistance. Leptin resistance can cause hunger and reduce the number of calories you burn. When fat is lost, leptin levels decrease signaling the brain to interpret as starvation. This changes the biology and behavior to make you regain the lost fat.

Leptin resistance can be caused by inflammation, elevated free fatty acids and high leptin levels. All are associated with obesity.

Things to do to reduce leptin resistance:

·        Avoid processed foods. These foods compromise the gut integrity and drive inflammation.

·        Eat soluble fiber. This will help improve the gut health and help protect against obesity

·        Exercise. Physical exercise may help reverse leptin resistance.

·        Sleep. Poor sleep is implicated in problems with leptin.

·        Lower your triglycerides. High triglyceride levels prevent the transport of leptin to the brain. Reducing carb intake can help lower your triglycerides

·        Eat protein. Protein can cause weight loss which may result in an improvement in leptin sensitivity.

Leptin resistance can be reversible but it involves significant diet and lifestyle changes. Improving your quality of life is essential. Leptin resistance may be one of the main reasons you gain weight and are resistant to weight loss.

Obesity is not caused by greed, laziness or lack of willpower. Many strong biochemical and social forces play an important role. The Western Diet in particular may be a leading driver of obesity. Other hormones, i.e. insulin, estrogen etc. also have an effect on weight loss and we will discuss them in following sessions.

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