Hormonal Balance (second edition)
Hormonal Harmony: Why Balancing Your
Hormones Can Help You Zip Your Skinny
Jeans--And Feel A Whole Lot Better.
When your body's hormone levels get out of balance, you
put on weight. A new book by endocrinologist Scott Isaacs
explains why this happens-and what you can do about it.
You already know fad diets don't work. In fact, studies have
shown that about 98 percent of people who lose weight on a
diet will gain it back (and maybe even then some) within five
years. If you've tried everything and are still overweight, it's
easy to get discouraged. But Dr. Scott Isaacs has great news
for anyone longing to lose weight and keep it off forever, and it
can be summed up in two words: hormonal balance . Achieve
this state and you won't just slim down . . . you'll get amazingly
healthy in every respect.
Hormonal balance improves just about every aspect of your
life, says Dr. Isaacs, author of Hormonal Balance:
Understanding Hormones, Weight, and Your Metabolism, (Bull
Publishing Company, 2006, ISBN: 0-923521-69-0, $16.95) .
Your body will be lean and efficient. You won't have excessive
hunger or cravings and your metabolism will work to keep your
body at a healthy weight. You will feel more energetic but
without stress or anxiety. Your mood will be elevated. You will
have deep, restful, rejuvenating sleep every night. You will
have a sharp mind. Hormonal balance means feeling better and
revised and expanded information. Hormonal Balance revised
and expanded information. Hormonal Balance pioneered the
idea that hormones play a key role in weight loss control. The
new edition incorporates recent medical breakthroughs about
hormones and weight that have occurred over the past 5 years.
Writing in clear, simple terms, Dr. Isaacs profiles each hormone
system, discussing what can go wrong and explaining how
imbalances can affect weight and perpetuate obesity. The book
explains how to reverse symptoms of hormonal imbalance
through diet changes and other remedies, and then expands
the discussion, teaching readers how to deal with everything
from menstrual cycles to diabetes by recognizing and
remedying hormonal problems.
Before you try a drastic series of extreme diets that either
eliminate your fat intake or encourage you to avoid carbs, take
a look at your hormonal health, says Dr. Isaacs. Sure, you can
lose weight on these diets, but you won't be truly healthy, and
you'll probably put all the weight back on when you go off the
diet. The Hormonal Health Diet is a different type of diet. It is a
balanced and nutritious way of eating that will help you
balance your hormones and have permanent weight loss
without hunger or cravings.
What is hormonal balance? It depends on who you ask. If you
ask a gynecologist, she'll tell you it's the female
hormones--estrogen, progesterone and prolactin. Ask a
urologist and he'll tell you it's all about testosterone. Ask a
diabetologist and he'll tell you it's about balancing your insulin,
glucagon and blood sugar. An endocrinologist will tell you that
it's about having all your hormones balanced. All your
hormones affect one another, says Dr. Isaacs. It's one big
circle. When one hormone is out of balance, it has profound
effects on all your hormones. They are all connected. Hormonal
balance means having the perfect amount of every hormone. It
means having a body that's healthy and resilient.
As you read the book you'll learn how all your hormones work
together to control your appetite, body weight and
metabolism. You'll learn about the subtle or not so subtle signs
and symptoms of hormonal imbalance and what you can do to
get your body's system of communication back on track. And
you'll learn the powerful influences food can have over your
Below are insights from Hormonal Balance :
Food isn't the only thing that affects your hormones.
Medications, vitamins, and supplements can and do affect your
hormonal balance. Often people don't even consider how a
medication, vitamin or supplement is affecting other parts of
their body as long as the substance is treating whatever they
are taking it for. To clear up any confusion, Hormonal Balance
has the most up-to-date listing of currently available
medications, vitamins, and supplements and how they affect
your hormones, sometimes positively and sometimes
negatively. The comprehensive listing of medications and how
they influence your hormones sets Hormonal Balance apart
from all other diet books. Here are few examples from the book:
Certain blood pressure medications help improve insulin
resistance, while others can slow metabolism and worsen
insulin resistance. If you take a blood pressure medication that
is an ACE inhibitor or an Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB),
not only are you lowering your blood pressure but these drug
have also been shown to improve insulin resistance reducing
the risk for diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular
disease. However, if you are taking a blood pressure
medication that acts as a beta-blocker, the medicine could
make insulin resistance worse.
Most antidepressants affect your weight in one way or
another. This is because the brain chemicals related to
depression--serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine--are the
same brain chemicals that help regulate appetite.
There are also certain medications out there that may be
increasing your growth hormone (GH) secretion levels without
your knowledge. These include drugs used to treat Parkinson's
disease, blood pressure problems, and seizures.
Several vitamins such as folic acid, Vitamin B7, and Niacin can
be used to treat insulin resistance.
These are only a few examples of how substances other than
food can affect your hormones, says Dr. Isaacs. Being
educated in these areas is a huge benefit to anyone trying to
balance their hormones.
When it comes to hormones, you are what you eat. An
important focus of the Hormonal Health Diet is helping you
choose foods that will influence your hormones in a positive
way. The book gives an in-depth look at how different foods
affect different hormones both negatively and positively.
Sometimes the results can be surprising. Here are a few
examples taken from the book:
Uncooked vegetables from the Brassica family, known as
goitrogens can cause hypothyroidism or an underproduction of
the thyroid hormone. These vegetables include broccoli,
cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, kale,
radishes, and turnips. These vegetables do not cause
problems if cooked or if consumed raw in small quantities.
Hypothyroidism can result in a number of symptoms including
weight gain, loss of appetite, fatigue, premature, loss of
memory, and depression.
Sometimes the foods you know are bad for you are also bad
for your hormones. Often these foods include trans fats which
can lower good-cholesterol levels and increase bad cholesterol
levels. Trans fats almost always come from one of three
sources animal products, tropical oils (like palm oil or coconut
oil), and processed oils (like margarine or partially
hydrogenated vegetable oil).
There are also good fats that play an important part in the
Hormonal Health Diet. These fats are unsaturated fats, and
they help the body produce hormones such as cholecystokinin,
leptin, and glucagon-like peptide-1. These hormones tell your
brain that it's time to stop eating and make you feel full.
Unsaturated fats are found in nuts, olives, seeds, and
Of course there are plenty of other foods that play an
important part in the Hormonal Health Diet and plenty of foods
that you should avoid, says Dr. Isaacs. The book lays
everything out for you, and even provides a set of menus and
recipes for those just starting the diet.
The glycemic index and glycemic load: what you don't know will
While the glycemic index measures the amount of glucose in
your blood, what you should really be interested in is insulin.
Scientists take a giant leap of faith and assume that the
response of insulin parallels that of glucose. Many experts and
professional organizations do not support the use of the
glycemic index. The criticisms include variability in testing as
well as the fact that we have no idea what these foods do in a
real-life meal situation. The glycemic index is based not on a
typical serving, but on the amount required to get those 50
grams of carbs. For some foods, the portion is so huge that it is
not a realistic serving size. On the other hand the portion of
another food may be unrealistically small.
Therefore, the glycemic load was created to correct for the
serving size problem with the glycemic index. The glycemic load
measurement gives a rating of the blood glucose response to
the amount of carbohydrate in a typical serving of food. A
glycemic load of 20 or more is considered high, between 11
and 19 is moderate, and 10 or below is considered low. The
experts do agree on some things. The bottom line: slowly
digested carbs are more beneficial than quickly digested carbs:
beans and lentils are far better for you than mashed potatoes
and white rice.
Stress throws your hormones out of whack. We are living in
stressful times. Certainly, many generations have uttered
those words, but think of what our generation faces:
instantaneous communication, constant availability, just-in-time
production methods. Our lives have sped up in ways previous
generations never could have imagined. And all this speeding
around creates--you guessed it--stress. When your body is
under stress two things usually happen: First, it goes into
conservation mode. Metabolism slows, and even your normal
diet leads to weight gain. Second, you look to one of the most
familiar items in your life for consolation: food.
Any kind of stress--whether mental, physical, or emotional--can
disrupt the hormonal balance in our bodies in ways that make
us gain weight, says Dr. Isaacs. It causes the brain, pituitary
gland, and adrenal glands to pump out stress hormones.
These hormones cause the biological reactions we associate
with stress, from rapid heartbeat to a rise in blood sugar to
slowed digestion. They prepare us for the fight or flight'
response. Too much stress and longer-term elevations of
stress hormones cause weight gain. Many diets make you lose
weight in a way that puts a tremendous stress on your body.
This is why most diets ultimately fail. We have enough stress in
our lives without adding more to the body by going on a
Fat cells are hormone culprits, not victims. You probably already
know that hormones can make you hungry. Insulin, thyroid
hormone, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol--all have potent
effects on appetite. There are hundreds of other hormones
that also affect appetite, and they're not necessarily made in
the traditional way, by glands. In fact, one of the biggest
hormone producers in the body is the fat cell. Yes, the same
little piece of the puzzle that collects and reproduces and
causes so much of our misery also makes hormones. Until
recently, the fat cell was seen as an innocent bystander in the
obesity saga, but now we know better. It is actually one of the
biggest hormone producers in the body. It is the culprit, not
the victim. Leptin was one of the first hormones discovered to
be produced by fat cells. Leptin is known as a satiety factor
because of its potent effects on appetite. Satiety has both
hormonal and psychological overtones, says Dr. Isaacs. During
times of satiety, hunger is at a minimum. Yet some people
never feel satisfied. They never reach satiety. For some, this
may be a hormonal disorder. Ultimately, hormones trigger
hunger, uniting your brain, your glands, and your appetite.
Eat those miracle foods. If you're following the Hormonal
Health Diet, miracle foods are vegetables and fruits. Under the
diet you are allowed to have unlimited amounts of fruits and
vegetables. Why? Pound for pound, vegetables and, to a
lesser extent, fruits are extremely low in calories. Fresh
vegetables and fruits are high in fiber and health-promoting
phytonutrients and antioxidants. In fact, many studies have
been published proving the effects of vegetable and fruit
consumption on the reduction of cancer, heart disease, and
strokes, among other ailments. I encourage you to consume at
least five servings of vegetables and five servings of fruits each
day, says Dr. Isaacs. I consider these numbers minimums. As
far as vegetables and fruits go, more is better! If you are
hungry, vegetables and fruits are the first thing you should eat.
He adds that you should stick to fresh vegetables and fruits
(although frozen or canned fruit in unsweetened juice is also
acceptable). Dried fruits, sweetened canned fruits, and fruit
juices are high in calories and are like other processed
carbohydrates. Also, grapes, watermelon, bananas, pineapple
and other tropical fruits are higher in sugar and are not
off-limits, but should not exceed 5 to 7 servings in a given day.
Fruits and vegetables are two of the keys to successful and
permanent weight loss under the Hormonal Health Diet.
Avoid diets that claim to enhance digestion. Any diet that
combines specific foods for the purposes of enhancing
digestion is, at its heart, fundamentally flawed. Slower
digestion is beneficial. It produces a more gradual supply of
energy to the body. If the digestion of starches is sped up, the
energy load comes hard and strong and all at once, and you
get an insulin surge. The insulin surge causes energy to be
converted to fat, instead of being burned as fuel, and results in
a rapid lowering of blood sugar (also known as hypoglycemia),
which can result in dizziness, hunger, perspiration, and
sleepiness. So beware of diets that base their food
combinations on enhancing digestion: all they're doing is
enlarging your waistline.
Eat throughout the day. The Hormonal Health Diet provides for
three meals and three snacks a day. It is important that you
have all of these meals. Small frequent feedings keep
hormones in balance and prevent excessive hunger. You
should try to eat some protein at breakfast or for your
midmorning snack. This provides energy and quenches hunger
later in the day. Lunch and the mid-afternoon snack should be
light. Dinner is protein, starch and lots of vegetables. A snack
at bedtime is important to keep fueling your metabolism
throughout the night. By following the Hormonal Health Diet,
you provide a constant low-level source of glucose (energy) to
your body, and your body will not respond with a huge insulin
surge, which can cause weight gain.
Skipping breakfast turns you into a Sumo wrestler, not a
swimsuit model. Do you know how a 400-pound sumo wrestler
gains all of his weight? He skips breakfast. He wakes up,
exercises, and practices his technique all morning, and then
has a big lunch. It's a healthy lunch--the Japanese have
notably healthy diets, high in seafood and low in fat--but it's
also loaded with starch in the form of white rice, a
high-glycemic food. After that lunch, he sleeps for several
hours. Metabolism slows after a big meal, and sleep slows
metabolism (and digestion) even more.
Several studies have linked obesity to skipping breakfast, says
Dr. Isaacs. Many of my patients have told me that they simply
aren't hungry for breakfast. I have found that the most
common reason is overeating the night before. It is a vicious
cycle. Skip breakfast and get too hungry for lunch and dinner.
Overeat at night and feel full the next morning. The cycle
repeats itself. If you follow the Hormonal Health Diet, you will
be hungry for breakfast. Always start the day with protein
because it has been shown to reduce hunger cravings and
you'll be less likely to overeat at both lunch and dinner. There
are many ways to enjoy protein in the morning. My favorite is
an egg white omelet packed with fresh vegetables and a slice
of fat-free cheese.
Beat those PMS cravings. Progesterone is the primary culprit
behind the cravings that come during the second half of the
menstrual cycle. It provokes appetite and makes you sleepy
and less likely to want to exercise. It causes insulin resistance
and makes blood sugar levels rise. This can increase weight
gain, especially during the second half of the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone may also be the culprit behind premenstrual
syndrome with its host of unpleasant symptoms: short
tempers, bloating and fluid retention, depression, crying spells,
anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, and headaches and migraines.
Ultimately, though, we're still not sure what causes PMS. What
is known is that PMS is a problem of the brain and is caused by
the brain's response to hormones. The good news is that PMS
can be tamed, if not cured.
And here's the best thing about following the Hormonal Health
Diet and achieving hormonal balance in your life: not only will it
help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, but it reduces
your susceptibility to many serious and even deadly medical