The Hormone Diet

Dr. Oz is at it again. He recently hosted Dr. Natasha Turner, who discussed the impact of hormones on belly fat. Dr. Turner has written several books on the subject, and she shared some of her insights on how adjusting our hormone levels can safely and easily melt away that nasty belly fat.

Belly fat is not anyone’s friend. It is definitely a fashion “don’t” that ruins the sleek lines of today’s fashions. Worse, belly fat is unhealthy; far more than fat buildup in other areas of your body.

There is no single solution for belly fat. There are special diets, targeted exercises and gadgets galore; all promising to help. Dr. Turner has a different approach. She says that just a few hormones can be the true root of belly fat evil.

Her first target is the hormone insulin. Insulin is critical to life, converting glucose into a form that our cells can use for energy. Too much insulin can trigger storage of glucose in our body as fat. The basis for all those glycemic index diets, controlling insulin secretion is a first step toward controlling belly fat. Insulin is released by your body when you eat carbohydrates. To limit insulin secretion, shift your diet away from simple carbs and more toward proteins. This will avoid insulin spikes, which means less belly fat creation and fewer food cravings later.

Cortisol is another hormone in Dr. Turner’s cross-hairs  Cortisol is secreted in response to stress. It makes us energized and cranky; hungry and nauseous, depressed and anxious. Too much cortisol can even reduce your bone density and muscle mass and suppress your libido. None of these things are desirable. To reduce cortisol production, Dr. Turner suggests sleeping well.  She suggests getting between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Wouldn't that be nice?

Estrogen and testosterone play a complex role in belly fat. Fat in men triggers conversion of testosterone into estrogen. More estrogen means more belly fat. The cycle continues. There are herbal supplements that can help boost testosterone, along with zinc supplements in most multivitamins.

Our adrenal glands produce a hormone called DHEA. This is a building block of estrogen and testosterone and a natural blocker for the evil cortisol. DHEA increases our energy and libido. Most of us have enough DHEA, but a blood test may show that you’re a bit low. In that case, there are herbal supplements that can put you back in shape. Don’t overdo it, though, too much is worse than not enough.

Growth hormone is blamed for a lot of things, including our mood swings, aging and belly fat. One way to boost growth hormone secretion is to sleep in a cool room in total darkness. This spurs your body to release melatonin, which increases secretion of growth hormone. Not a big sacrifice to boost such a critical hormone.

Dr. Turner believes that tweaking these few hormones can be the best way to fight belly fat. What do you think? Have you shed that spare tire? Tell us your secret!

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