Most of us are aware that thyroid glands produce hormones that impact our whole metabolism. Hence those who suffer from hypo-thyroidism may gain weight. The thyroid gland is the only gland that takes iodine from regular food and combines with amino acids to make thyroxine and triiodothyromine, the T3 and T4 molecules that are carried around in the blood stream where they are used by all the cells of the body for their metabolic activities. Monitoring to ensure we have optimal iodine levels and of these hormones is therefore crucial.
Insulin is another well-known hormone that helps in the regulation of blood sugar levels. It binds and carries sugar or glucose molecules and act as the key that unlocks the door of the cells so that sugar can enter. However when we eat too much high calorie foods and we have excess sugar and insulin in the blood stream, eventually it leads to insulin resistance – subsequently, the cells no longer respond to insulin. The excess sugar molecular are not used by cells, such as in the muscle for burning energy but are instead stored away as fat.
Adinopectin, as the name suggests, is produced by adipose tissue and is found to also affect our metabolism by burning fat for energy. Since it is secreted by fat cells, one would expect higher levels of adinopectin hormone in overweight people. However, several scientific literature has found a negative association between increasing obesity and levels of this hormone. But, correlation is not causation and other research have proved that there is a more intricate and complex relationship between adinopectin and insulin resistance. Not all fat is made equal and we have friendly fat and not-so friendly fat. When we have good fat cells, we most likely don’t have insulin resistance or diabetes. It appears that adinopectin levels are lower in those fat people who suffer from insulin resistance and therefore type 2 diabetes. The good news is that the levels of this hormone could be increased naturally by following proper diet – such as the fiber rich Mediterranean diet and when that happens, sensitivity of body to insulin also improves.
Leptin is yet another hormone produced by the fat cells of our body and it helps to curb our appetite by letting the brain know we are full. However when we eat a high fructose, high sucrose and tri-glyceride diet and gain too much fat mass, then we also have too much leptin floating around. Leptin overload eventually makes the brain less sensitive to it. Thus we become leptin resistant and keep eating more.
Most of us are familiar with everyday stress in our lives and therefore with the stress hormone Cortisol! Well, a little bit of cortisol is not necessarily bad. It helps to prepare our body for the flight or fight mode when we need to cope with stress. It helps to release energy quickly from fat reserves. It is only when there is prolonged stress and therefore too much cortisol over time that it can eventually lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. Therefore managing stress and making sure to take time off from work to play and relax is very important.
As we get older, one of the hormone levels that fluctuate in women is the feminine hormone, Estrogen. Reduced levels of estrogen, especially at menopause, is found to lower the body’s metabolic rate and shift fat storage from hips and thighs to the abdomen. There is some research that hormone therapy may restore the body’s metabolic rate and slow down weight gain.
Just to summarize, when hormone levels are not optimal we can get out of shape. Even though in reality, the biology and interactions of these hormones can be very complicated, in general, we want to increase our T3, T4, adinopectin and estrogen levels if they are too low and not have too much cortisol, insulin or leptin floating in our system.