Weight Loss After 40 - Is It My Hormones?

Anne Dunev, PhD CN
It is common to hear someone tell me, “I used to be so skinny when I was younger. I could eat anything I wanted. Now look at me!” as they pat their puffed- out belly or pinch the spare tire they now carry around their waist.

Dieting has not worked, cutting back has not worked, working out at the gym has not worked. So, it must be hormones, right?

Yes, but it may not be the hormones you are thinking of. The gradual dip in sex hormones is only part of the picture. Our glands and endocrine system work together like an orchestra, creating a beautiful symphony when there is balance and harmony.

The thyroid, pancreas and adrenals are just as important as the sex-hormone producing glands. The thyroid, located at the base of the throat, regulates over-all metabolism, or the rate at which we burn our calories for fuel to our muscles. The adrenals, located on top of each of the kidneys in the low back area of the body, make a number of hormones that regulate our stress and physical movement responses. Some adrenal hormones interact with our fat cells. The pancreas, located on the left side at about waist level, produces hormones that regulate the level of sugar in our blood and tell the body to send excess sugar to the liver for cholesterol and triglyceride formation, which ultimately get stored as fat cells, if the body does not immediately use the sugar for fuel.

Fat cells are manufactured in the liver from dietary sugars and simple carbs like breads and pastas. So “cutting back” on these foods is often not enough. For most of us our bodies are phenomenally efficient at making fat cells!

One important thing to note is that the body hardly makes any fat cells out of protein or vegetables or healthy fats like real butter and virgin olive oil. So, most people can eat a good amount of healthy fats that are high in calories, and eliminate processed, refined carbs like bread and cake, and lose weight.

Forget most of what you have read about “saturated” vs. “unsaturated” fats. It is mostly just hot air and will keep you confused and fat. If the dietary fat exists in Nature you can eat it in the raw or unprocessed form. This is the real basis of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It is not the pasta; it’s the virgin olive oil!

You do not have to be a biochemist to figure out what to eat. But you do need to know a little health history. What our ancestors ate as good fats is what we should eat today. Good news, because good fats make food taste delicious, will balance your blood sugar, give you more hormones (including sex hormones!) and keep you satisfied so you do not crave so much sugar. I think people crave the fat in chocolate, more than the sugar. When woman crave chocolate before their periods, it may be that the body needs fat to make more hormones.

Worried about your arteries? Eliminate sugar and simple carbs and eat more real fat for three months and have a new blood test.

Both men and women do well to stop dieting and start eating real meals, which means eating real food at regular intervals that approximate meals. No snacking except fruit or protein or fat. A variety of seasonal vegetables every day. Raw organic dairy is best and could eliminate lactose issues. Fruit for dessert. No cereals (except oatmeal) or breads or pastas. Drink only plain, filtered or spring water and herbal teas. Coffee and tea do appear to have some health benefits, such as stable blood sugar. But those benefits probably do not extend to Fancy-ccinos. By the way, this is not dieting, this is what I call “healthy ancestral eating”.

Older Americans are experiencing obesity issues that are challenging the health gains we have made in recent years. Only 22 percent of older people were obese between 1988 and 1994. In 2009 to 2010, 38 percent of people aged 65 and older were obese. Many of these did not have weight problems as younger adults. Today it has become commonplace to expect older people to be overweight. Many adults are gaining 10 pounds every decade. The good news is that studies indicate that even moderate weight loss has benefits. And new evidence indicates that yo-yo dieters, those who repeatedly gain or lose 10-20 pounds at a time will also benefit from losing weight.

If you feel tired, toxic, bloated and have skin conditions you may be holding a lot of water. The answer is to detoxify your major organs, such as kidneys, liver and intestines. I have attached a flyer about the Cleanse/Detox program my patients do, with rave results. Many report they have not felt this good in years. There is plenty of food on the program, so you do not need to starve to detoxify. You can improve your waistline without wasting away!