Hidden health disorders behind excess weight

By February 21, 2011 hypothyroid No Comments

Many women beat themselves up for being overweight when it is poor thyroid health, food intolerances, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, brain chemistry imbalances, or a combination of all the above that could be behind their weight problem. Although a crash diet might work, addressing the root cause of excess weight can bring true and lasting results.

Thyroid problems

Poor thyroid function is a common trigger for weight gain as the thyroid regulates metabolism. When it starts to fail metabolism slows and weight gain increases. I’ve heard many stories of women following a strict diet and exercising daily, yet packing on the pounds because of their thyroid condition, a serious blow to the self-esteem.

Hypothyroidism is an immune disease for most

For 90 percent of Americans hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Unfortunately thyroid hormone medication doesn’t address the autoimmune disease. Instead the immune system continues to attack the thyroid gland and hypothyroidism gradually worsens.

Addressing the cause of thyroid problems can lead to weight loss

By addressing the autoimmune disease one can restore harmony to both immune and thyroid function. Only then is weight loss possible.

Gluten and weight loss

When a patient has Hashimoto’s I immediately put her on a gluten-free diet as numerous studies have established a link between gluten and Hashimoto’s. However a gluten-free diet is a profound first step in resolving many chronic health conditions.

Fortunately a gluten-free diet may also lead to a quick drop in weight. Holly, 37, came to see me because of migraines and low energy. A gluten-free diet eliminated the migraines and boosted her energy. As an added bonus she lost those few extra pounds she had been carrying.

Lucy, 52, came to me for help with her debilitating allergies for which she took several strong medications. She began a gluten-free diet and eliminated refined foods, sodas, sugars, and caffeine from her diet. Not only did a lifetime of severe allergies quickly disappear, but she also dropped 10 pounds and gained enough energy to start exercising regularly.

Laura, 28, visited my office because of fatigue, brain fog, constipation, and a life-long rash on the back of her arms. Shortly after adapting a gluten-free diet and a nutritional protocol the rash disappeared, her energy and brain function returned, and she dropped 10 pounds.

Dairy, eggs, and other food intolerances

Gluten can cause weight gain due to the inflammation it causes. Dairy, eggs, yeast, corn, nuts, and soy are other common culprits. When these foods cause an immune reaction this leads to chronic inflammation, which in turn can cause weight gain. I know another woman who was already on a gluten-free diet when she quit eating dairy. She immediately dropped 15 pounds, a sign her body’s immune system was reacting to the dairy.

Hormonal imbalances

Hormonal imbalances are another common cause of weight gain. For women the most common imbalance is that of too much testosterone and too much cortisol, an adrenal hormone. Diets high in starchy foods, such as grains, potatoes, and sweets, cause high levels of cortisol, which is very common today. High cortisol eventually throws hormones out of balance, causing women to produce too much testosterone (and men too much estrogen). Not only do women lose hair and grow facial hair, but they also put on stubborn belly fat.

Controlling high cortisol and testosterone

As long as cortisol and testosterone are high, it will be extremely difficult to lose that excess fat. I use specific dietary protocols, including a lower-carb diet and specific nutrients to help lower cortisol and restore hormonal balance. Only then can women experience successful weight loss.

Brain chemistry imbalances

The cells in our brain relay information through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hypothyroidism, food intolerances, inflammation, and hormonal imbalances all tamper with the delicate balance of these neurotransmitters. This not only affects mood and personality, but it can also stimulate cravings, addictive behavior, anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders that often lead to overeating. I use dietary protocols and specific nutritional compounds to help restore balance to the brain, and hence the body.

Overall health is a key factor to weight loss

The factors that cause one to be overweight can of course be complex. Counseling, hypnotherapy, or a support group may also be necessary to address the emotional or subconscious components that are so often a factor. However by also addressing the overall health of the body and brain, weight loss can be transformed from a losing battle into a victory weight loss.

Dr. Joni Labbe

About Dr. Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionalist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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