Tag Archives: homeostasis

Stress and Homeostasis – Balancing Hormones

I really liked this article on Radiant Life Company’s blog section all about the relationship between stress and homeostasis. You can read an explanation about homeostasis and its relationship to weight gain here.  Apparently even when we are eating well, exercising, trying to do everything right, our weight loss efforts can still get derailed when we don’t manage our stress well.

Our bodies produce the stress hormone cortisol when faced with threats and dangerous situations. We also produce it when faced with traffic jams, screaming bosses, deadlines and other stressful situations. Constantly living on the edge and not dealing with these stresses can throw our health out of balance. The Radiant Life article  gave 5 ways to rebalance that cortisol.

1. Take fish oil or cod liver oil to replenish vital nutrients. This is especially helpful when paired with vitamin K2.

2. Learn how to breathe properly and deeply. Read how here.

3. Maintain healthy magnesium levels in your body. Eat magnesium-rich foods like properly prepared whole grains, nuts and seeds; kelp and dulse; nutritional yeast; dried coconut; raw milk; or vegetables such as collards, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli and eggplant. Use magnesium supplements or magnesium oils or salts.

4. Supplement with B vitamins, especially B5, to slow down secretion of cortisol.

5. Try earthing – reconnecting with the earth through walking barefoot outdoors, swimming in lakes and oceans and other activities that give skin-to-earth contact.

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How Did We Lose Our Balance? (Weight Loss Series Part 5)

Part 1 –    Part 2 -    Part 3  Part 4

During the last blog in this series we introduced leptin. Leptin is a major player in the hormone family; it is kind of like the President of hormones. Leptin-related problems start happening when communication breaks Lee, Amy, President Lincoln 1976down between the President Leptin and the cabinet Hypothalamus brain and the congress made up of the rest of the hormones plus the body’s hormone receptor sites. A great majority of overweight people have too much leptin.  The hypothalamus in our brain is the main target for leptin messages.  Too much leptin causes imbalances like insulin and adrenaline resistance.  Our liver, pancreas, adrenals and thyroid start blasting out mega-doses of hormones in an attempt to break through the communications block. Consequently we burn out these organs and fall prey to fatigue, disease and more.

Reed Davis, founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition uses the acronym HIDDEN to teach us how we got out of balance in the first place.  HIDDEN stands for Hormones, Immune system, Digestion disorders, Detoxification systems, Elimination, and Neurotransmitter systems.  Julia Ross covers very similar topics in her book The Diet Cure. Ms Ross’ list includes depleted brain chemistry, malnutrition, unstable blood sugar, unrecognized low thyroid function, food addictions and allergies, hormonal issues, yeast overgrowth, and fatty acid deficiencies.

Neurotransmitter depletion – meaning you are missing key neurotransmitters – happens due to prolonged stress; consuming refined sugars, white flours or alcohol; or eating insufficient protein. Neurotransmitters are substances such as tyrosine, glutamine, serotonin, epinephrine, glucagon and endorphins. Without ample neurotransmitters you get insomnia, depression, tendency toward drug addiction and more.

Malnutrition can happen even when we have plenty to eat. For dieters, however, malnutrition often comes as a result of extreme low calorie dieting. The subject of calories deserves a blog post all on its own. For now you just need to realize that low-calorie dieting is the same thing as creating our own personal famine.  Yes FAMINE! Your body, your brain and hypothalamus, sees no difference between voluntarily eating Jenny Craig meals and being involuntarily held in a concentration camp. 900 calories/day = famine whether you pay someone for the privilege of starving yourself or you are held prisoner against your will.

Refined and processed carbohydrates (white flour, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white rice) lack vitamins, protein, fat and fiber. Soon you get stuck in a carbs-body fat-insulin cycle that can lead to diabetes; or you might burn out your adrenals. Symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar to symptoms of adrenal exhaustion. Both are dangerous.

Thyroid problems also deserve their own blog post. Some causes of thyroid malfunction are genetics, low calorie dieting (there it is again!), vegetarian diets, anorexia, soy (yes, soy!), a physical injury to the gland, a severe illness, unidentified gluten intolerance, certain prescription drugs such as the pill/antibiotics/estrogen/lithium, iodized salt, chemicals in your dental fillings, or change-of-life events such as puberty or menopause.

Food allergies can be obvious, they can also be sneaky. Casein and gluten are especially tricky as they behave like opiates by triggering exorphins which flood opiate receptors in our brain with comfort and pleasure. When this happens you get food addictions. Some symptoms of food allergies seem unrelated to food: joint pain, headaches, earache, postnasal drip, ADHD to name a few. Sometimes it is necessary to go on an elimination diet to discover exactly what foods are causing your problem.

American women are frequent targets for hormonal issues. We have more trouble with PMS, infertility and menopause than most women in less developed countries. According to Julia Ross Women in third world countries don’t have hot flashes and don’t dread menopause. Low-fat dieting, sugar, soy, tobacco, artificial hormones in our meat and dairy, birth control pills, skipping meals and adrenal stress all contribute to hormonal issues in American women. Men get it too, male menopause, from poor diet and stress.

Yeast overgrowth in the gut (imbalanced gut flora – see my blog on digestive disorders and gut flora here http://blog.wellfedfamily.net/2010/06/04/digestive-disorders-part-two.aspx) can take over the body-to-brain connection. Yeast needs sugar to grow so you get cravings for sugar and carbs. Side effects of yeast overgrowth are depression, bloating, PMS, painful joints, eczema, sore throat, impaired digestion, urinary problems, shortness of breath, chest pains, sinus infection and ear infections. Yeast can overgrow your digestive system and spill into your bloodstream!

Lastly we get to fatty acid deficiency.  We must eat the right kinds of fats in order to have hormone production, cell protection, healthy skin and hair, mental stability and concentration, regularity and to prevent abnormal cravings. Safe, nourishing fats are those highly valued and eaten regularly by the traditional people Weston Price studied who possessed the true definition of health. Those fats are butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, animal fats from free range and wild caught animals and fish, extra virgin olive oil, and nut/seed/avocado oil from cold-pressed sources never heated. Healthy fats contain vitamins like A, D, & E, CLA, MCT, cholesterol, precursors for hormone production and most importantly omega-3 fatty acids. Balanced omega-3:omega-6 ratios will helpDSC01406 bring balance back to the entire body. Certain people have genetically greater needs for omega-3 fats. If you are descended from Scandinavian, Native American, Native Celtic, Irish, Scottish or Welsh you might not be able to metabolize omega-3 from plants (like flaxseed or chia) and you must get omega-3 from cold water fish, grassfed beef and wild game or fish oil supplements. Depression and alcohol cravings are often signs of omega-3 deficiency.

And there you have it – a lengthy list of how we lose our balance, how we get out of homeostasis, how we run into leptin resistance and become overweight in the first place. Now that you know how imbalance happens you can begin to take steps to correct it. Coming up next are some strategies for restoring balance and regaining a healthy metabolism. Read Part Six here.

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A Healthy Body is a Body in Balance: Looking at Homeostasis

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Orgnization

“A healthy, balanced body cannot have chronic mood and weight problems.”                                     – Julia Ross, The Diet Cure

Take some time to honestly reflect on how you feel right now,  How did you feel this morning when it was time to get out of bed? How do you feel each afternoon around 4 or 5pm?  Would you say you are in a state of completel physical, mental and social well-being?  Or do you have chronic mood and weight problems? Do you have other health problems? Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you frequently tired? Are you plagued by every cold or flu bug that comes around? Do you have indigestion? Do you have skin problems, achy joints, or migraines?

Would you be surprised to learn that all of these conditions are related? They are all symptoms of a body that is no longer in balance. The scientific word for this is homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the ability of a person’s body to maintain a stable internal physiological condition under fluctuating environmental conditions. In other words you feel good even when things aroundscales clip art you are changing – it might be cold and rainy, or hot and dry, or pollen season, or your co-worker has a bad cold – it doesn’t matter because you are able to remain healthy. That is homeostasis.

When you are in a state of balance your metabolism burns efficiently.  You are able to maintain a stable blood sugar. Your emotions are stable. You are the correct weight for your height and body type.

Homeostasis is a key principle of good health. When you are able to get your body into a balance, into a rhythm, all of your other health problems, all of your symptoms, should be resolved.

When the body is working in harmony it has much less internal friction and much less wear and tear.  Homeostasis is the key to being able to bounce back, to recover, and to tolerate stress of any type.

Is this status of homeostasis just wishful thinking, or is it a possible reality?

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration book cover

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr Weston Price

Once again I am drawn toward the work of Dr. Weston A. Price.  His global research during the 1930s has left us with undisputable proof that generations of people have been able to achieve homeostasis across entire villages and regions.  These people were free from chronic disease, maintained a healthy weight, and were mentally stable as well. Entire cultures of happy, healthy people were a reality.

What was the secret of success for these healthy groups of people? Dr. Price felt much credit was due to their traditional diets which were full of all the needed nutrients in abundant and easily absorbable form.

Today in the United States our bodies still have an optimum body weight, still have an ability to achieve balance. We are still able to be healthy both physically and mentally. We have not lost the ability to achieve homeostasis and therefore good health and well-being.

So why are we still so unhealthy?  ……… to be continued……..Read part two here.

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