Part 2: Bags & bloated bellies. Are our hormones to blame?

If you read (and took anything from) my last post we would all agree that SOMETIMES  it’s understandable that we blame our bad moods and breakouts on unhappy hormones.

What about our hunger? Digestion issues? Sleep? YES unfortunately hormones are responsible for controlling all of these essential functions too.111

Me personally there are two things that make me incredibly grumpy…. Lack of food & lack of sleep (first world problems right here) I’ve trained myself to run on about 6.5-7 hours sleep, any less than that and I’d probably put my underwear on backwards & leave the house without my left shoe.. Hunger… well everyone gets HANGRY once in a while. It’s totally natural!

MELATONIN: The sleep hormone

This little baby helps you go to sleep. We spoke earlier this week about the stress hormone, cortisol. Normally cortisol should peak in the morning for that natural ‘pick me up’ and as the sun goes down cortisol should begin to fall making way for melatonin which helps us drift off to sleep. Suffering from insomnia? Struggling to get to sleep? Tossing & turning all night? These are all sure signs your melatonin levels are too low.

What can be done? Relax and ‘de-wire’ before bed. Remove technology & activities that stimulate the brain. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee after 4pm in the afternoon ( FYI some green teas contain caffeine). Even if you have a late night your ‘wake up time’ needs to be pretty consistent to ensure you keep your body clock in check! Sunday morning lie in’s however are definitely acceptable & advised. Maybe you can stimulate some of the ‘love hormone’ at the same time ;).

LEPTIN & GHRELIN – The hungry hungry hormones

This little dynamic duo basically control when we eat & when we need to get out little paws out of the cookie jar. Leptin is produced by fat cells within the body. When you have eaten enough leptin is released indicating to your brain that you are satisfied. Ghrelin is made by the stomach and alerts us when we are hungry. Ever been sitting in a meeting and you stomach decides to make that dying whale sound…. Yep its awkward.. well that’s ghrelin screaming out for some food!

What disrupts the balance? SUGAR….. Processed sugars will block release of leptin, which causes your stomach to produce more ghrelin. Suddenly you are hungry ALL THE TIME even though you have eaten 5 cream buns, 2 donuts & ¾ of a packet of fantales.

Don’t skip meals.. your stomach will produce ghrelin every 20-30 minutes making you want to eat everything in site. High levels of ghrelin have been shown to be linked with poor food choices. Consume lean protein with each meal, this is a satiating food and will reduce hunger!

SEROTONIN

The ‘feel good’ hormone responsible for your mood & memory. Interestingly this hormone also helps with your ability to multitask… Boys maybe you need to produce a little more of this little fella?

How to keep it in check? Your body needs carbohydrates to produce serotonin. Don’t reach for a sugary snack it will give you a short term lift but the hormonal dip afterwards isn’t worth the trouble. The key (surprise surprise) is a balanced diet; lean protein, good fats (nuts, avocado) and don’t avoid carbs completely… Following a low carb diet?  eat foods such as sweet potato, quinoa & lots of green leafy vegetables!

CHOLECYSTOKININ

Cholecystokinin is produced by the small intestine and is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes & controlling our appetite…I’d put $1000 on red that my levels of this baby are more than content… that’s why I feel the need to eat meals fit for a family of 4.

What can be done? My wise 98 year old grandfather once told me that you should chew each mouthful for 10-15 seconds…. I can’t do that. I’ve tried & 5-6 second is a push. I’m a little guzzler, but I’m trying to improve. So basically chew your food, get your digestive enzymes flowing. Your body is a pretty well functioning machine with an in tune programming system that tells you when to eat, so listen to it. Another little golden rule…. Don’t ever feel obliged to finish EVERYTHING on your plate. It’s by far the easiest way to overeat.

I am still amazed at how much of a role hormones play in controlling everything we do… I think the key take home message is that we need to create balance. My mother always told me ‘everything in moderation’ except for sex you can have as much of that as you want. If you apply this to most things I think she is spot on. Our bodies are quite sophisticated BUT like any machine given the right fuel & the right ‘track’ so to speak, you should be able to find a pretty happy cruising altitude.

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