The Connection between Belly Fat and Hormone Imbalance
Hormones have profound effects on your mental, emotional and physical health. It is well known that they are special sauce that make women physiologically “women,” from the monthly cycle to pregnancy. It is less known that hormones also have a profound effect on our mental and emotional health. Estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones that work together in a delicate balance of growth and stabilization to support female physiology. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for “growth” it initiates breast development in puberty and prepares the endometrium for the potential growth of a baby each month. Throughout life it contributes to fat storage, maintains bone and vaginal tissue, and plays a role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.
Progesterone provides a stabilizing effect and prevents estrogen from “running amok.” It helps to burn fat, improves blood sugar balance and contributes to bone growth. Between the age of 35 and 50, a woman’s progesterone level decreases considerably relative to estrogen. Up until this point, estrogen and progesterone are in a more balanced state. This change marks a 35% reduction of estrogen and a whopping 75% reduction of progesterone. Without enough progesterone to keep estrogen in check, the physiologic effects of estrogen are exaggerated, manifesting in symptoms that make women feel out of balance, including emotional effects such as difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and tearfulness, and physical effects such as bloating, tender breasts and fluid retention. This relative deficiency of progesterone as compared to estrogen is referred to “estrogen dominance.”
When you feel out of balance, you are more apt to reach for foods like simple sugars and carbohydrates that provide a temporary rush of energy. These spikes of sugar put stress on the body which increases the hormones we refer to as “adrenaline” cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Then the hormone insulin stores the sugar as belly fat. Belly fat acts like an organ in its ability to create hormones in this fatty tissue through a process called “aromatization.” Estrogen increases as a result of belly fat, so can testosterone. These hormones lead to more belly fat, and this cycle of hormone imbalance leading to poor dietary choices leading to more belly fat becomes a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
Getting off this rollercoaster can seem daunting and many people may not know where to begin. It is easier than you think! Metabolic Research Center offers a simple, non-invasive saliva test that you can do in the privacy of your own home, that will accurately measure your hormone and cortisol levels. Once the potential imbalances are identified, a targeted, individualized treatment plan can be established. Get un-stuck today and ask an MRC Consultant about this simple and accurate test!
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