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Normalizing just one hormone can have wide-ranging effects on all your other hormones and brain chemicals.
Hormonal imbalances have become a hot topic today, and countless books explain how out-of-whack hormones create a domino effect leading to a vast array of adverse symptoms including weight-loss resistance, a “wired and tired” feeling, and depression.
Depending on your situation, resetting your hormones sometimes can require some detective work and customizing a protocol with an integrative practitioner.
I don’t want to underestimate this process, but over my years working with patients I’ve learned normalizing just one hormone can have wide-ranging effects on all your other hormones and brain chemicals. That key player is insulin.
Insulin’s job involves getting sugar out of your bloodstream, where it can become toxic, and deliver it to your cells as energy or store as glycogen or fat.
Over-consuming empty calories and quickly absorbed sugars, liquid calories, and refined carbohydrates make your cells slowly become resistant or numb to insulin’s call, hence the name insulin resistance. Your pancreas secretes more and more to keep blood sugar balanced.
A high insulin level is the first sign of insulin resistance. The higher your insulin levels are, the worse your insulin resistance becomes, which in turn knocks other hormones out of balance. As the problem worsens, your body starts to lose muscle, gain fat, become inflamed, and you rapidly age and deteriorate.
In fact, insulin resistance is the single most important phenomenon that leads to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.
Excessive insulin doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Like a domino effect, imbalances can impact other hormones that regulate fat metabolism, sex drive, and energy levels. Just to give you some understanding about what excessive insulin and insulin resistance does to your body and health:
- Insulin resistance worsens thyroid function.
- Insulin resistance can create or exacerbate imbalances with leptin, your satiety hormone, and adiponectin, which regulate glucose and fatty acid metabolism. High levels of your stress hormone cortisol reduce insulin sensitivity.
- In men, low testosterone levels can contribute to or exacerbate insulin resistance.
- Estrogen dominance can lead to weight gain in women, increasing your risk for insulin resistance.
- Growth hormone deficiencies can contribute to insulin resistance.
- High insulin levels can adversely impact ghrelin, your hunger hormone.
Insulin imbalances also affect other hormones, but from these seven examples you canunderstand the disastrous hormone imbalances excessive insulin can create.
The good news is when you normalize insulin levels with these 10 strategies, you reset your metabolism so other hormones naturally fall into balance.
- Stop eating flour and sugar products, especially high fructose corn syrup.
- Eliminate liquid calories, including sodas and fruit juices.
- If it doesn’t look like the food your great-great-great grandmother ate, throw it away.
- Stop eating trans or hydrogenated fats.
- Make every meal healthy protein, healthy carbs, fats, and protein.
- Eat 30 to 50 grams of fiber daily.
- Make an oil change to omega 3 fatty acids and other healthy oils.
- Exercise daily.
- Relax! Stress reduction helps improve blood sugar control.
- Take a blood sugar-balancing multivitamin/ mineral along with extra magnesium.
When patients get insulin levels under control, other hormones follow. If you suspect high insulin levels, ask your doctor for a two-hour glucose tolerance test, which measures not only glucose but also insulin levels at fasting and one and two hours after a sugar drink.
Many patients feel better in just days after they do a sugar detox. If you’ve ever employed these or other strategies to normalize insulin levels, what one improvement did you immediately notice?
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TC Adam et al., “Cortisol is negatively associated with insulin sensitivity in overweight Latino youth,”The Journal Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 95, no 10 (2010): 4729-35.
S Ayturk et al., “Metabolic syndrome and its components are associated with increased thyroid volume and nodule prevalence in a mild-to-moderate iodine-deficient area,” European Journal of Endocrinology 161, no 4 (2009): 599-605.
V Gupta, “Adult growth hormone deficiency,” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 15, Supp 3 (2011): S197 – S202.
N Pitteloud et al., “Relationship between testosterone levels, insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial function in men,” Diabetes Care 28, no 7 (2005): 1636-42.
JQ Purnell et al., “Ghrelin levels correlate with insulin levels, insulin resistance, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but not with gender, menopausal status, or cortisol levels in humans,”The Journal Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 88, no 12 (2003): 5747-52.
A Yadav et al., “Role of leptin and adiponectin in insulin resistance,”ClinicaChimicaActa 417 (2013): 417:80-4.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Wikimedia Commons