The Hormone Prescription to Beat Belly Fat through the Decades

Posted January 23, 2019

By Dr. Natasha Turner ND

One of the most common concerns that I hear from patients is that their once slim physique is now home to an ever growing population of fat cells – especially around their abdominal area. And even more so, it is increasingly stubborn to remove as we age. The good news is that there are things you can do today to beat belly fat through the years.

Tweaking for Your 20’s and 30’s

• Manage your stress levels. Elevated cortisol levels cause an inhibition of thyroid gland function leading to accelerated aging, water retention and increased abdominal fat. Not only do excess cortisol levels increase your appetite and cravings, it causes a loss of muscle mass, libido and bone density and also contributes to depression and memory loss. In other words, chronic stress makes us soft, flabby and much older than we truly are! Incorporating stress reduction techniques in your 20’s and 30’s will also help to keep your fat-burning hormones revving as you get older. Study after study shows that stress causes abdominal fat – even in people who are otherwise thin. Researchers at Yale University, for example, found slender women with high cortisol had more belly fat. More results published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000, showed an established a link between cortisol and increased storage of abdominal fat. I could go on to cite literally hundreds more studies that prove depression, anxiety, sleep disruption and simply feeling dissatisfied or overwhelmed with life wreak havoc on the waistline by increasing both appetite and belly fat – two definite signs of insulin and metabolic imbalance. The herbal formula Relora + Vitamin B Complex lowers cortisol, assists with abdominal fat, helps restore healthy sleep patterns. I recommend two pills in the evening before bed and one pill upon awakening.

• If you are having trouble shedding the pounds despite regular exercise and dietary changes, you may want to have your thyroid gland tested. The thyroid gland is the main governor of the metabolism. You should test TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies. Your TSH should be less than 2.0, not 5, the previously accepted normal range. If your thyroid tends to be a little sluggish, but still within the recommended range, a natural thyroid booster such as the Dopamine Support (Rhodiola, Tyrosine and Phenylalanine) may help to increase your energy, metabolism, mood and support your fat loss efforts. Take 3 capsules upon rising.

• Reduce symptoms of estrogen dominance. In younger women, excess estrogen is associated with PMS, water retention, difficulty in losing belly fat, weight gain around the hips, uterine fibroids and other gynecological conditions, as well as increased risk for certain types of cancers. If any of these symptoms are an issue, consider my Hormonal Detox Support formula, which helps to rid the body of excess negative estrogen and to correct the balance of estrogen to progesterone.

Fabulous in Your 40’s

  • Have your fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin levels tested as this stage of life is like investing money in the bank of lasting health and leanness! If you are becoming insulin-resistant, which means you have high insulin levels on fasting tests (insulin is the body’s signal to store energy as fat if it is not consumed) you will tend to gain weight around the abdomen, be more sensitive to carbohydrates and have difficulty losing weight in general. If your insulin levels are high, then a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet is essential for you to successfully lose weight.
  • Make sure your estrogen and progesterone levels are healthy. Progesterone is naturally highest in the second half of the menstrual cycle, and normal values can range widely. Progesterone is protective against anxiety, PMS, fibrocystic breast disease and water retention. It also encourages fat burning and is crucial for fertility. Decreased levels are associated with infertility, amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), fetal death and toxemia in pregnancy.  At this stage of life, a natural progesterone cream available through your MD or ND can be helpful if used in the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Fit at 50 and Beyond

  • Estrogen values will vary in women depending on their age and point in the menstrual cycle. The optimal value for estrogen is 180 to 200 pg/mL for premenopausal women and 60 to 120 pg/mL for women in their late 40s and older. As estrogen levels decline, more abdominal weight gain can arise. In fact, according to researchers from the University of Maryland, your fat cells actually change in the presence of low estrogen. The study, published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that postmenopausal women had reduced lipolysis, the process by which stored fat is released from fat cells. In the buttocks, the amount of lipolysis was cut by 75% in postmenopausal women compared with perimenopausal women.
  • Lower levels of estrogen are also associated with a decrease in serotonin, which can lead to depression, anxiety, worrying and sleep disruption. This hormonal dip also increases the risk of insulin resistance, belly fat, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. If you find that your progesterone or estrogen levels are falling, I recommend consulting with a health practitioner who practices bio-identical hormones. Clear Medicine has two Naturopaths that specialize in BHRT. Dr. Nadine Khoury and Dr. Lindsey Campbell.
  • Boost declining DHEA levels. DHEA is a precursor hormone to estrogen and testosterone. This adrenal hormone tends to naturally decrease as we age. At the same time, it protects against the harmful effects of stress hormone cortisol, it is cardio-protective and is crucial for healthy body composition. DHEA levels are best measured in the blood or saliva and replacements should only be taken when a deficiency has been diagnosed. Optimal levels should be above 225 mcg/dl or, more specifically, 300 to 400 mcg/dL for men and 225 to 350 mcg/dL for women. I prefer low dosage of 5–25 mg twice daily with meals. You should test your DHEA levels after 4 to 6 weeks of taking the supplement to avoid taking in excessive amounts, which can be harmful. Relora is also known to significantly reduce cortisol and raise DHEA.  The herbal formula Relora + Vitamin B Complex has relora and is a favourite here at Clear Medicine.
  • Test your IGF-1 levels. This test is a marker of growth hormone status, which is the ultimate anti-aging hormone.  An optimal IGF-1 value will range between 200 and 300 ng/mL. Growth hormone is essential to maintaining healthy bones, skin and hair, as well as strong, lean muscle mass. It tends to naturally decrease as we age, however, conditions like sleep deprivation, diabetes, hypothyroidism, some cases of osteoporosis, anorexia and insulin resistance can cause levels to decline more rapidly. By the time we’re 40 nearly everyone is deficient in growth hormone, and at 80 our levels have diminished by at least 90%. In a landmark 1990 study by published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Daniel Rudman revealed that the decline in growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) associated with aging leads to a decrease in body mass and an increase in body fat. After replacing growth hormone levels in those who are deficient, the participants increased their lean body mass by 8.8 % and decreased their body fat by 14.4%. Even bone density increased 1.6%. The good news is that strength training 3x a week, incorporating protein at each meals and maintaining good sleep habits will naturally boost your growth hormone levels, while keeping belly fat at bay.

Regardless of the decade you are in, you may feel like you need a reset or some inspiration to get your body working to its  potential. Want to figure out what is going on with your hormones? Join us for one of two bootcamps that are about to begin. Read more here. Can’t make one of the group bootcamps? Call today to make an appointment to see a Naturopath or Holistic Nutritionist OR better yet, begin the transformative 5 Week Clear Medicine Wellness program. Read more here. Call 416.579.9105  if you have any further questions.

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