Hormone imbalance can result from a multitude of insults to the body: These may include, chronic stress, toxicity, lack of sleep, undetected disease process (just to name a few). The symptoms due to hormonal imbalance can be debilitating and frustrating. Generally speaking, to sort out the cause and effect requires diagnostic testing ordered by a physician
What we frequently notice in our work with patients is that although lab values may be normal, subclinical low levels can indicate an imbalance (or pre-disease state) and warrants attention, especially if symptoms are present. Additionally, functional medicine physicians know how to treat these early states with natural agents, whereas, conventional physicians may not be interested in this option…
Hormones We Often Look Into:
Food Tip: to balance thyroid, eat foods rich in iodine such as sea kelp or cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale) daily.
(a commonly undiagnosed cause for midsection/abdominal weight gain), Food Tip: to balance estrogen, eat two to three servings of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale) daily
Subclinical Adrenal Imbalance/elevated cortisol levels/depressed DHEA-S
Hint: to balance cortisol, undergo light aerobic exercise and avoid post workout crashes. For example a few minutes daily of swimming, jogging, bicycling or walking, strength training with professional guidance, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, yoga, and gentle breathing exercises. There are any number of supplement protocols to support adrenal function (after testing is completed) tailored to each individual patient’s need.
(We tend to be respectful of natures decision to reduce hormones with age, but sometimes this an especially important consideration when an individual is suffering severe hormone related symptoms)
Undiagnosed Diabetes, Prediabetes or Insulin Resistance
Special note: with sugar/insulin tests it is important to look for subclinical normal results and interpret them appropriately. The following values are standard accepted interpretations from the functional medicine community at large. Please compare these to your own physician’s interpretations (which may be grossly mistaken as normal).
Fasting glucose test
Standard normal = 65 – 99 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is far to generalized
Functional Medicine Interpretation
Optimal: 76-81 mg/dL
Normal: 82-85 mg/dL
At risk: 86-99 mg/dL
Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dL
DiabetesL: 126 mg/dL and above
Not commonly looked at by most conventional physicians, but can provide useful additional information
Standard normal = 6-35 microunits per milliliter (mcU/mL) is far too generalized
Functional Medicine Interpretation: Optimal—6 mcU/mL or less
At risk—8-10 mcU/mL
Dangerous—above 25 mcU/mL
2-hour oral glucose tolerance test
Looks at the body’s dynamic insulin response to glycemic/sugar stress.
Interpretation Normal: less than 140 mg/dL
Prediabetic: 140-159 mg/dL, or an increase in glucose of 50 mg/ dL or more within
Dangerous: 160 mg/dL
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
Quantifies glycation (sugar damage) to red blood cell proteins and provides indication of blood sugar levels over the last 3 months.
Interpretation Normal: 4.5% – 4.9%
At risk: 5.0% to 5.6%
Prediabetic: 5.7% to 6.9%
Diabetic: 7.0% or higher
Weight lost is health and energy gained! Being overweight exhausts energy reserves and places undue stress on our physical and physiological systems. Even if you eat correctly and exercise according to standard recommendations there are many rate-limiting factors that may be inhibiting your ability to loose the pounds you desire.
These factors might include:
- Individual genetic predispositions (We can check for these)
- Slowing of metabolism with age (Doesn’t have to be this way)
- Hormonal imbalances (These can be easily identified and corrected)
- Possible prediabetic, insulin resistant state (This can be prevented or reversed)
- Poor liver function (This can make a person feel horrible)
- Lack of understanding of proper diet and exercise. (Hint: its not what the ‘food triangle’ or rouges at the gym are teaching)
What follows are recommendations that I and most other natural health physicians recommend as basic strategies for weight loss. Only after these have failed, are the more novel medical weight loss programs warranted.
These steps (medically supervised) might include:
- Diagnose and treat any thyroid, adrenal, or hormonal imbalances
- Look for and address any individual genetic predispositions
- Increase metabolism at the cellular level
- Protect cells and tissues from the effects of glycation (sugar damage)
- Improve the body’s response to insulin and tolerance for carbohydrates
- Improve liver function and detoxification pathways
- Manage stress, eat right, and exercise ‘smart.’
Rasberry Keytones or Beta hCG
For patients who are struggling with weight loss despite trying all of the above and having undergone a full medical work up, I sometimes recommend protocols using Rasperry Keytones or Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) together with a calorie-restricted diet. Many patients have had great success with these programs. These are medically prescribed and supervised program (Please contact our office for more information)
Other Basic Information
Eat Smart - A Mediterranean style diet is sometimes a good start. This eating style is low in animal fat and refined carbohydrates, and rich in lightly cooked vegetables, raw fruit, legumes, fish, spices, olive oil and some lean poultry. A good general diet for fat reduction has approximately 40 to 50 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat (mainly “good fats” such as omega-3s), and 20 to 30 percent protein. Don’t be a calorie counter. Also, for certain genetic types a diet consisting mainly of lean animal protein and vegetables can be beneficial. In either case, everyone should eat at as close to natural as possible. Go back to the original diets of “hunting and gathering,” avoid processed foods, make sure you include a good protein, a complex carbohydrate and a good fiber source with most meals
Metabolic Typing or Nutrigenomic (genetic) testing may be suggested under special circumstances to devise an ideal diet for and individual, but this is rarely needed.
Limit un-buffered sugar intake (i.e. the white crystalline substance or syrup concentrate isolated from sugar cane, beets, and corn which acts on the body like a drug…) Understand that sweet substances, namely High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, and Chemical sweeteners are being added to food only because we crave them like the dickens. Which is precisely the first clue that we should minimize intake. learn more.
Avoid Soft Drinks & Chemical Sweeteners like Nutrasweet and Splenda (which actually contribute to weight gain) learn more – link article
Drink healthy, clean, chemical-free water
Identify food sensitivities that cause water retention and impair metabolism. Requires diagnostic testing ordered by a physician