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Friday, April 17, 2009

Hormonal Imbalance And Weight Gain

A person can gain weight due to any number of reasons. Getting married, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet like fast foods, heavy fatty or fried foods, snacking in between meals and intake of alcoholic drinks or sugary soda drinks are the usual suspects. These are however well explained since, its no surprise that you will gain weight if your calorie intake is more than the amount of calories you burn in the day. But, what if you are gaining weight in spite of eating healthy and exercising regularly?

Hormonal imbalance is one of the most overlooked factors leading to weight gain. In most cases people as well as medical practitioners find enough compelling evidence for weight gain to even bother about deeper underlying malaises. For instance certain medications like antidepressants, mood elevators, anti-hypertensives, and drugs that control diabetes can cause weight gain. It has been seen that some steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and even oral contraceptives may also cause gradual weight gain.

“Hormones” are chemicals that are released by cells in our body that act as messengers to transport signals from one cell to another via the blood stream. These hormones are a part of the “endocrine” system controlled by the pituitary gland and they affect the cell metabolism depending upon the kind of signals they receive. Depending on whether cell metabolism increases or decreases, the body will either lose or gain weight.

Hormonal imbalances occur throughout our growth and development for different reasons, while some may be a normal physiological phenomenon, the other reasons have more to do with our lifestyles. For example, lack of proper sleep can cause tiredness and fatigue in the body. A person who doesn’t sleep well will experience a physiological stress. Such chronic stress at the physiological as well as psychological level will induce hormonal imbalances. As we approach middle-age the effect of the hormonal fluctuations becomes more intensified causing a marked difference in the physical and mental well-being. The hormones also have a major role in the efficiency of our immune system and other vital functions of the body.

In women, typically, hormonal fluctuations occur during the menstruation cycle, pre-teen years, perimenopausal and menopausal ages. Stress, emotional tensions, psychological factors and the lifestyle all play a major role in causing hormonal imbalances resulting in weight gain, depression or irritability, difficulty sleeping, hot flashes, bone loss, and other complications such as osteoporosis and breast cancer. During menopause the estrogen levels drop down dramatically and they are treated with hormone replacement therapy which is a cause for fluid retention. Also, as a woman ages, her metabolic levels decrease thereby making her susceptible to gaining weight.

Dietary factors like high fat, carbohydrates and low fiber content cause hormonal imbalances in men resulting in bone loss, impotence or erectile dysfunction, depression or irritability, weight gain, weight or muscle loss, memory loss, breast enlargement, and other complications.

Weight gain could also be due to hormonal imbalances caused by medical conditions like Hypothyroidism or Cushings Syndrome.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance associated with cysts filled with fluid in the ovaries. This condition affects women mostly in their childbearing age and can seriously complicate their ovulation. The symptoms of POCS are weight gain, irregularities in menstruation, infertility, facial hair growth, sometimes acne and it is also associated with insulin resistance (similar to type 2 diabetes). The high levels of insulin causes health risks like obesity and high blood pressure.

Have a look at this “Weight Gain Shockers Slideshow” that illustrates all the reasons why you could be gaining weight.

Therefore, when tackling weight gain, it is essential to overrule any of the medical conditions associated with hormonal imbalances and then ensure a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and a healthy stress free lifestyle coupled with a regular exercise regime.

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