Frequently Asked Questions - 2

I am in my late forties and seem to gain weight regardless of how I watch what I eat. Is there a reason for this? Is there anyway to help me lose weight without taking diet pills?
It is a quite frustrating situation seen in most Americans. When look into the figures in Texas its even worse. More than 50 % of the population above 35 can be considered overweight and more than 75% of those who have crossed 50 years of the lives suffer from this and have difficulty losing this weight so you are not alone dear friend. As we age there is a parallel decline of essential hormones, our bodies’ starts getting soft, loses water and fat starts building up resistant to any maneuvers of weight loss. So it becomes very important to understand the basic human physiology particularly the endocrine system. And how simple correctible hormone efficiencies can put on extra weight on your body resistant to any treatment you undergo to remove the extra pounds. Unfortunately these quick fixes are temporary and weight comes back again.
To enumerate some hormones and their function:
Estrogen : A female hormone which declines with age. This decline is responsible for production of more fat in the body as fat is an alternative source of estrogen when ovaries stop making estrogen fat starts making it and body starts accumulating more fat to make even more estrogen. On the other hand more fat is stored more estrogen gets blocked in the fat cells and vicious cycle starts.
Progesterone : On the other hand is the other female hormone which counteracts the effect of extra estrogen and helps in breakdown of the fat cells, But what is most important in such cases is the ratio between the estrogen and progesterone in the body. With advanced age the estrogen levels fall but progesterone levels fall much lower than the estrogen as a result although there is low estrogen but there is estrogen dominance because of even lower levels of progesterone.
Thyroid Hormone : Hypothyroidism is a hidden pandemic in the United states and more and more healthy looking persons are being diagnosed as hypothyroid each and every day especially sub clinical hypothyroidism . Thyroid is the main metabolic hormone of our body responsible for utilizing and burning the available energy stores by increasing the basal metabolic rate and keeps the extra pounds away from the body. 
Cortisol : Apart from this another very commonly discussed factor responsible for weight gain but never addressed properly is the tremendous amount of stress in our day to day lives particularly I the developed countries like USA. This stress leads to production of cortisol which is good when in moderation and provides energy and support at the time of need and emergency but chronic stress is lethal. In such states our body tries to store as much energy as possible to be used in future when needed and as fat is the easiest form to be stored and provides maximum energy when burnt as compared to other substrates it is the first choice of our body. 
Insulin : Another basic link is between insulin metabolism and body fat. Being in a developed nation and because of busy life styles we are forced to eat the conventional low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, with lots of processed foods like pasta, white bread, snacks, beer and wine. Constant exposure to this diet creates a condition known as insulin resistance. In this condition your body converts every calorie it can into fat — even if you’re dieting. And it won’t let you burn fat when you exercise. When the insulin is not used properly it gets accumulated to the point where the blood sugar levels start dropping to significantly lower levels leading to lethargy and drowsiness for which we are compelled to have snacks and caffeine to make ourselves feel better. But they actually they only make you more insulin resistant leading to further adrenal exhaustion starts another vicious circle while accumulating body fat. Improper dieting and on –off maneuvers, using artificial sweeteners make things worse. When you diet your body considers it as stress and then tries to store and conserve energy, sweeteners are not sugar but stimulate insulin release and make the situation worse, further they lower blood sugar levels which cause sugar cravings. and you look for caffeine to compensate. You can only shed off extra pounds off your body when you are healthy from inside with balanced hormones. If you will heal your body from inside and try to balance your life, you will then find you achieve and maintain your ideal weight.
Lately, I become unable to get to sleep without taking a sleeping aid. Even when I go to bed at a reasonable hour, I wake up tired. When I was younger, (I am 41) I woke up rested and required less hours of sleep. I have tried reducing my caffeine intake, turning off the television an hour before I go to bed, listening to ocean and rain rhythms and nothing seems to work. Do you have any suggestions?
Sleep disturbance is another issue which becomes uncovered with the advancement of age Again there is a major role of hormonal interplay with the receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain .There is a very well know interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system and combined it is known as the Neuroendocrine system.
Unfortunately sleep is taken for granted and initially when we need more hours to work and are stressed, had deadlines to take care of, we use to pay no attention to our sleep requirements and were happy that we only slept few hours and worked more, but at what cost? In the later years of our lives we start being deprived of good quality sleep and then we realize the importance of sleep in our lives.
It is very important to understand some basic points about sleep cycle before I answer to this question.
Our sleep cycle comprises of 5 stages which repeat 3-5 times every nightcap lasting 1-2 hours with some gap between each cycle. As soon as you close your eyes your brain waves in beta pattern (low and short) which changes into alpha (high and long) here your muscles start to relax but you are still awake. And slowly you will transit into light sleep, theta waves (large irregular) stage I. now you get sleepier and enter stage II with large irregular brain waves (single complex K waves). Next you gently enter into the deep sleep with large slow delta brain waves (Stage III and IV). This phase is the pleasant phase. Later on you will enter the rapid eye movement (REM) phase which is the dream stage or stage V. with intense activity in brain short and fast waves crossing the brain it is paradoxical because the entire body becomes flaccid while the brain and eyes becomes hyperactive. This relieves you from exertion and is a very important part of the sleep cycle. Longer the REM betters the memory. With age it starts decreasing.
On average, Americans tend to get by on less than six and a half hours of sleep during the week and seven hours on weekends, often interrupted. Job stress, family stress that “not enough hours in the day feeling can all contribute to sleepless nights. But so can be the hormonal imbalances.
Particularly in women, Premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy and menopause bring with them estrogen and progesterone fluctuations that can lead to increased wakefulness at night.
Melatonin plays very important role in maintaining the sleep cycle. It induces sleep faster and rapidly transfers you into the third phase of sleep cycle which is the deep and good quality sleep throughout stage IV and V. It is secreted by the Pineal gland and controlled by the amount of light falling on the eyes. It maintains the diurnal rhythm. In contrast to the melatonin the standard sleeping pills do not produce the good quality sleep and as they lengthen the first two stages of sleep and diminish the last three stages which comprise the good quality deep sleep.

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