Dr Wendi's Health

Category Archives: Hormones

body fat

In healthy people, about 80-90% of our fat is located underneath the skin, called subcutaneous fat, and about 6-20% is found surrounding abdominal organs, called visceral fat.  Having excess visceral fat, aka belly fat, is more highly associated with cardiovascular disease than excess subcutaneous fat in other regions of the body. In other words, it is healthier to be a pear-shape than an apple-shape.  The distribution of our body fat can be a more significant indicator of heart disease than overall body fat percentage.  Gender and genetic factors contribute approximately 50% to body fat distribution but hormones play a very significant role.  You can actually get an idea of hormones that might be elevated or decreased by where you store extra fat. Hormones have a major influence on body fat distribution.  Overall, the hormones that have the biggest impact on how we burn or where we store fat are cortisol,…

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Many things can impact our hormones and things can get a little out of wack if we have a lot of stress, don’t get enough sleep, then drink more caffeine than we need, maybe fighting a cold or flu, and then perhaps some bad food choices because that is easier than cooking and junk food gets rid of stress, right?? Or does eating crap cause stress?  Then mood and productivity go out the window and we feel overwhelmed so then we nap and then can’t sleep at night.  How do we get it all back on track? For the most part it boils down to how we are impacting our hormones.  Hormones affect how we function and how we feel……how we feel affects our mood and energy, which then affects our lifestyle choices that affect our hormone production.  It is all a cycle and we have to choose a place…

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fasting vs starving

A very common argument against intermittent fasting is that you are starving your body and this will lead to a slower metabolism and weight gain in the long run.  Intermittent fasting will not cause your body to think it is starving if you are following one of the standard intermittent fasting methods (see below). In fact, humans can easily tolerate 48 hours without food once in a while with no ill-effects on metabolism. It is healthy to give your liver, insulin receptors, fat cells, and digestive tract a break from eating each day because it will give those tissues time to regenerate and repair…..things it can’t do when it has to digest food and store nutrients. A few methods of intermittent fasting: 16 hours – each day, eat during an 8 hour window 24 hours – once per week, from dinner one day until dinner the next day 2:5 –…

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love oxytocin

What hormone causes you to feel love, empathy, compassion, and trust, makes you feel bonded to your loved ones (including pets), reduces feelings of fear and stress, increases honesty, causes women to deliver babies, and causes men and women to have orgasms? This hormone is the main reason why animals, like humans live in cooperative groups.  Body language, compassion, social recognition, and emotional connections are essential for survival in social animals. It also happens to help us live longer, and….this hormone makes us feel really good!! This hormone is oxytocin We often separate our cognitive/thinking brain functions from our emotional/feeling brain functions but feelings are as physiological as thinking, regulating body temperature, or digesting food.  We feel things because of the levels and combinations of hormones and neurotransmitters produced by our brain and endocrine system. When we have higher levels of hormones like oxytocin and serotonin then we feel good.…

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bone broth

Throughout human evolution periods of feasting have been followed by periods of fasting.  Our body is physiologically adapted to spending a little time without food. Skip eating for a day or so, 24-36 hours, and just consume water, tea, or bone broth and feel the health benefits.  I suggest fasting from about 6pm after you have had dinner until 6pm the next day and then have a small dinner, or if you feel good, go until breakfast time the next day.  During the fast you can consume as much non-sugar liquids as you want.  I want to point out that a 24-36 hour fast is completely safe and will not cause your body to go into “starvation mode”; metabolism won’t start slowing down until after about 72 hours.  I do not suggest doing a fast if you are pregnant or diabetic. What are the benefits of a 24-36 hour fast?…

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has several important functions in our body.  Getting into the winter months, it may be time to think about adding a vitamin D supplement.  Studies show that approximately 40-50% of North Americans and about 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is primarily made in the stratum basale layer of our skin when we are exposed to UVB sunlight (below I made a diagram of the steps involved in its production). We can get some from consuming liver, eggs, oily fish, mushrooms, and fortified milk but food is only a minor source compared to sun exposure or supplementation. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in our liver so there is a supply to draw on for a period of time.  If you had about 10-20 minutes of sun exposure a few days per week during the summer, you likely have…

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Stress has a significant impact on how our body functions.  Short term stress can actually be beneficial, for example, exercise is interpreted by the body as acute stress, we produce cortisol and epinephrine (adrenalin) and increase blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure.  Then when the acute stress is over, the body regenerates cells and repairs muscle and restores glycogen; making the body stronger and better able to deal with the next acute stress. But what happens if we have increased cortisol all the time? In my previous post I explained all of the details about what cortisol does in the body but here is a quick list of some key things that happen when we have excessive amounts of cortisol.  The effects are dependent on the dose, so the higher the stress level, the more cortisol produced and the stronger the effects will be.  Cortisol is a hormone that…

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cortisol is made in the adrenal glands

One of the main stress hormones is cortisol and it can have a huge impact on your health.  75% of North American adults report that they have physical or emotional symptoms of stress.  It is a significant factor in chronic health issues like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, mood disorders, and dementia. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, meaning it is made from cholesterol similar to other steroid hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.  It is made in the adrenal gland, which is the main gland that helps us cope with stress and it is extremely beneficial for short duration stress reactions but can cause havoc on our body when secreted in large amounts over long periods of time. Chronic stress can be sneaky and not super obvious or it can be very distressful. See if any of these apply to you: Time stress – you worry about how much you…

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happy brain

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm and good.  It is commonly called the happy hormone but it doesn’t technically make us excited happy; that feeling comes from a combination of serotonin and dopamine.  When we don’t have enough serotonin can feel the following in varying degrees: Depression Loss of interest in things we normally enjoy Irritability Lack of motivation (due to a decrease in dopamine) Easily overwhelmed Less social Lower pain tolerance Lethargy/ fatigue Hopeless Still feeling tired after sleeping Changes in appetite Loss of sex drive Poor ability to regulate body temperature Low serotonin is a physiological situation that is not fixed with phrases like ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘things could be worse’.  Those expressions are well-meaning but the brain doesn’t make more serotonin when the person hears these kinds of comments.  Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan that is converted…

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