by Abraham Jacob
As we age, our hormone levels change and we tend to gain more weight. However, there is a way to identify our hormone levels and break the cycle by optimizing our hormones. National Institutes of Health statistics from 2012 for individuals 20 years of age or older show that more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese, and more than one-third of adults are considered to be obese; greater than one in 20 are extremely obese.
Some of the major factors that are potentially responsible for obesity are sex hormones, leptin, insulin and thyroid hormone. Estrogen and testosterone levels decrease as we age. This can lead to multiple signs and symptoms, with weight gain being one of them. These two hormones can affect where our fat is deposited. Premenopausal women tend to deposit their fat in the lower part of their pear-shaped body, whereas when these levels decrease, the fat is redistributed in the abdominal apple-shaped region. This abdominal fat can lead to other medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease and others.
Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells, and its role is reducing appetite by acting on specific centers of the brain to reduce their urge to eat. In obese people, despite the over-abundance of the hormone, the brain becomes less sensitive, resulting in their not feeling full during or after a meal.
Insulin is a hormone produced by our pancreas that is important for the regulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Insulin stimulates the uptake of glucose (sugar) from the blood into tissues such as muscles, liver and fat for storage to have it readily available for our body to use for energy when we need it. When the accumulation of fat increases in our body, the insulin signals get lost and tissues are no longer able to maintain glucose levels. This can then lead to diabetes mellitus.
Thyroid hormone affects many functions in our body, and metabolism is one of them. This hormone isn’t al- ways associated with the aging process, but hypothyroidism causes our metabolism to slow down, among other signs and symptoms, and can result in weight gain. It is critical to our existence that our thyroid hormone remain in balance to meet our body’s needs.
A simple blood test can measure these hormones, and a trained physician can identify and optimize our hormone levels to get our body back in sync. If the body is out of sync, the efforts we put into getting healthy and fit will become an uphill battle that we may never defeat.
Dr. Abraham Jacob is a cardiologist certified in age management medicine and owner of The Heart and Vitality Center, a wellness center located in Plano. For more information, call 972-596-7399 or visit HeartAndVitality.com.