AM I OVERWEIGHT BECAUSE MY HORMONES ARE OUT OF BALANCE? There are portions of truth to most weight loss fads. Yes, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol do get out of balance, but the question should be why do they get out of balance? Most of the hormone problems arise because of 5 issues: 1.Inadequate amount of sleep or inadequate quality of sleep. Most people require 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you do not get enough sleep, this places a stress on the body. The body responds to stress by several mechanisms. On such mechanism is the release of several stress hormones including adrenalin and cortisol. One activity of these natural stress hormones is to help the body mobilize energy to deal with the stress. One such way of mobilizing energy is to stimulate appetite. The type of appetite stimulation is usually for calorie dense (high calorie) foods. Another caveat to the sleep issue is sleep apnea. People with moderate to severe sleep apnea just do not get quality sleep no matter how many hours they sleep. As a result, it is very hard for people with sleep apnea to lose weight because their appetite is always high and they eat too many calories. Once the sleep apnea is corrected it becomes important for these people to get adequate number of hours of sleep like the rest of us. 2.Inadequate nutrition. People who eat too many calories and become over weight have changes to their hormone levels. People who eat very low fat diets may have changes in there hormone levels. People who take many of the over the counter hormone precursors may affect their hormones in an adverse fashion. Too much fat on the body stimulates estrogen like hormones. This can throw the estrogen, testosterone ratio out of balance. Too much fat on the body also helps to raise insulin levels in the blood which stimulates more fat deposition. This becomes a positive feedback cycle. However, you must remember that the underlying issue is being overweight from eating too many calories and not the hormones. 3.Inadequate exercise. Exercise stimulates sugar uptake into the muscles in an insulin independent fashion. It increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin so that less insulin is required to perform the essential body functions. It burns calories which limits the amount of fat that is stored as excess energy. It helps to ensure adequate blood perfusion through the organs of the body. 4. Chemical substances including too much alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications. These substances can decrease the production of certain hormones in the body, especially the sex type hormones which are actually made out of cholesterol. Statins are probably one of the most important offenders along with some antidepressant medications, too much alcohol and pot use. However, not all people who take statins or antidepressants are affected in a bad manner. In fact, most people who take these medications, tolerate them well. I do not recommend stopping a statin medication or antidepressant without consulting your physician. Statins are there to lower your risk for heart attack. Antidepressants help you to feel and function better. They are good medications for most people and not all individuals who take them have problems. Your situation should be assessed with your physician. 5.Stress. Stress causes many changes to your body similar to that of sleep deprivation. Addressing your stress appropriately increases your chance of weight loss success. This may require the use of antidepressant medication. Your physician can make better choices for your situation if you share with them your concerns about weight gain or hormone issues. Other ways to deal with stress naturally are to get adequate amounts of sleep and exercise.