It's All About the Hormones

For as long as I can remember, fitness and wellness professionals have eagerly informed weight loss clients that the path to their goal is simple: eat less, move more. I know I've spouted this phrase with confidence. Over the past several years I've learned that this model may be flawed. These days the experts are looking deeper and have sights set on something a bit more complex: the hormone.

Hormones were a popular topic of conversation at Inner IDEA this year. While discussion didn't solely surround the concept of hormonal balance for weight loss--the presenters talked about stress relief, energy levels, emotions--the standing room-only classes are evidence of a hot topic.

In "Hormones: A Critical Link to Health," presenter Mark stone caught everyone's attention when he suggested that the oft demonized cholesterol plays a significant role in the development of progesterone--a hormone that helps us handle stress and decrease inflammation. He also suggested that low cholesterol may be linked to the extensive fertility problems among modern women. "We need the right kinds of cholesterol for optimal hormone function. Those cholesterols are found in organic, grass-fed animal meats," he says. He also calls for a variety of vegetables, but urges moderation--especially with leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. They carry a compound known as phytates which can inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals and can disrupt thyroid function.

Though food is important in balancing hormones, our daily actions can create problems as well. For example, Stone suggests removing that big 40" from the bedroom and to log out of Facebook by 7 or 8 at night. The body needs time to shut down naturally. Visual stimulation can disrupt the release of melatonin which diminishes the regenerative benefits of sleep.

Ray Gin, DC, also tackled the topic of hormones and how our outlook can affect them. He posits that hormones and emotions are directly linked. "Hormonal symptoms create emotional changes," he says. "And emotional symptoms create hormonal changes." Negative attitudes, thoughts and beliefs can engender a negative hormonal response that leads to inflammation. "Change your beliefs, change your life," Gin adds. He says that erasing or re-recording beliefs or thought patterns via mind-body techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique or Neuroemotional Technique can help reduce the potential for inflammation and disease.

Attention to hormones and how fitness, wellness and nutrition practices impact them is likely to gain steam over the coming years. Professionals will begin to look past the "calories in, calories out" model with a more discerning eye, especially as clients' goals remain out of reach. There will be greater focus placed on the types of foods eaten, methods of exercise and daily care practices for overall improved health.