The Hormone-Gut Connection: Key Hormones for Weight Loss
Weight loss is a tough subject for many people - I completely understand. As someone who has been on the wrong side of an eating disorder too many times, a lot of the information out there can be upsetting, and it often neglects a key element of any healthy, sustainable weight loss journey. If this is something you’re looking to embark on, here are some thoughts about holistic health to keep in mind, especially in regard to the hormone-gut connection, plus some key hormones for weight loss.
Gut & Hormones - How The Two Are Related
Gut health is an absolute minefield, it’s responsible for so much in the human body that some even liken it to the second brain. And the truth is it might as well be, it is involved in that much, especially in regard to hormones. So when the gut is impaired, or the health of the digestive system isn’t optimal, our hormones can become imbalanced - especially those that relate to weight regulation.
To explain how this works, we need to dive a little into the anatomy and physiology of the human body. There are certain cells, enteroendocrine cells, that live within the mucosal lining of the gut and synthesize and secrete a number of hormones including cholecystokinin (CCK), peptide YY (PYY), glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), and serotonin (5-HT), which have regulatory roles in key metabolic processes such as insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, fat storage, and appetite. When the gut health is compromised, or when we are struggling with something like ‘Leaky Gut’, these hormones will be thrown off balance - as will their processes in the body.
Hormones & Weight Loss: Why This Is Important
When it comes to weight loss aspirations, body confidence, or even fitness levels, the calories-in, calories-out mindset isn’t always the best approach. Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the clear picture of why we may be dealing with unexplained fluctuations in our weight. Hormonal imbalances come with widespread side effects, and weight gain is often one. In addition to factors like blood sugar control, insulin balance, and even our mood (hello snacks), hormones control our metabolism - meaning they determine what foods we’re breaking down, and just how quickly we’re doing it. Here’s three of the key hormones you may need to consider:
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas whose main role is to regulate glucose (sugar) levels and promote fat storage, especially around the belly. Foods that promote the secretion of insulin include white refined flours and sugars. People struggling with diabetes will also be greatly impacted by insulin.
Glucagon and insulin are best likened to enemies and have opposing effects. In other words, when one is up, the other one is down. Glucagon is a fat-burning hormone and is secreted by the consumption of protein. Eating adequate amounts of protein is important for any weight loss journey.
Cortisol is your stress hormone. Unfortunately, cortisol and insulin are best buddies. If cortisol is elevated due to mild to moderate periods of stress (typically chronic stress), insulin is typically raised which can make weight loss difficult. That’s when we often start to see things that are now endearingly dubbed the ‘cortisol belly’.
So what should you do from here?
It’s important to note that some hormones are influenced by the nutrients in our bodies - what we may or may not be deficient in. It’s important to unpack any underlying issues that may be burdening the body to figure out the pathway forwards.
Also - stay tuned, we’ve got some very exciting things coming your way that talk to all of this - and more.
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