The hid­den hor­mone that can help weight loss

Want to know how to have more en­ergy and a youth­ful body? It’s all down to keep­ing a cer­tain hor­mone happy and bal­anced

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Our hor­monal sys­tem is both beau­ti­ful and mys­te­ri­ous. We might not al­ways un­der­stand it, but we can in­tu­itively feel the power of hor­monal changes. When it comes to sex hor­mones, oe­stro­gen and testos­terone tend to get all the press, but an equally vi­tal one is pro­ges­terone, of­ten dubbed the ‘feel-good’ or ‘youth hor­mone’.

“Most con­ven­tional doc­tors only look at pro­ges­terone in re­la­tion to preg­nancy when lev­els are at their high­est, but it has many other health ben­e­fits too,” says Dr So­hère Roked, a GP with a spe­cial­ist in­ter­est in in­te­gra­tive medicine. Here’s why pro­ges­terone is such an anti-age­ing hor­mone.

IT BLASTS FAT

One rea­son pro­ges­terone is so great is its abil­ity to aid weight loss. “The hor­mone has a di­uretic ef­fect that re­duces wa­ter re­ten­tion and bloat­ing, it speeds up me­tab­o­lism and en­hances fat burn­ing,” says Dr Roked. It also helps to pre­vent oe­stro­gen dom­i­nance, which can cause weight gain, es­pe­cially on the but­tocks, thighs and around the mid­dle.

IT CURBS CRAV­INGS

Good lev­els of pro­ges­terone help you to make healthy food choices. The rea­son for this is that it helps reg­u­late blood su­gar lev­els.

“On an­other level, eat­ing badly can throw hor­mones, in­clud­ing pro­ges­terone, out of bal­ance and make it more dif­fi­fi­cult to lose weight,” says nu­tri­tion­ist Dr Mar­i­lyn Glenville.

“If you eat too many sug­ary foods, this causes in­sulin spikes. When your blood su­gar lev­els rise too high, your body pro­duces in­sulin to bal­ance it.

In­sulin is our fat-stor­ing hor­mone. So, the more in­sulin your body makes, the more stub­born fat you ac­cu­mu­late.”

When you make too much in­sulin, this means pro­ges­terone lev­els are con­tin­u­ously de­pleted. Sug­ary foods also cause the body to pro­duce more cor­ti­sol and this fur­ther im­pairs pro­ges­terone.

IT BOOSTS EN­ERGY The thy­roid gland re­leases hor­mones that con­trol me­tab­o­lism and reg­u­late many bod­ily func­tions, in­clud­ing mus­cle strength, heart rate, choles­terol lev­els and more. When your thy­roid is func­tion­ing prop­erly it’s easy to main­tain a steady weight and good skin and hair, plus you have lots of en­ergy.

“Pro­ges­terone stim­u­lates the pro­duc­tion of an en­zyme that makes thy­roid hor­mones. In fact, quite of­ten when a woman has a thy­roid im­bal­ance, a GP will only look at her thy­roid but it may be that low pro­ges­terone is the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem,” says Dr Roked.

CHANG­ING LEV­ELS Pro­ges­terone lev­els can fluc­tu­ate. Dur­ing ovu­la­tion, it more than dou­bles, then lev­els dip just be­fore a pe­riod. It’s at its high­est dur­ing preg­nancy and nat­u­rally de­creases in menopause. The ex­cess cor­ti­sol se­creted when you’re stressed re­duces pro­ges­terone, and poor diet, lack of ex­er­cise and cer­tain med­i­ca­tions can also lower lev­els. Chem­i­cals, such as bisphe­nol-A (BPA), found in many plas­tics, and ph­tha­lates, in fra­grances, cos­met­ics, house­hold clean­ers and food pack­ag­ing con­tain en­docrine-dis­rupt­ing chem­i­cals that dis­rupt hor­mones gen­er­ally.

IT MAKES YOU GLOW ‘This re­vi­tal­is­ing hor­mone is ben­e­fi­cial for skin elas­tic­ity and cir­cu­la­tion,’ says natur­o­pathic doc­tor Natasha Turner. It also has an anti-in­flam­ma­tory ef­fect, which helps to reg­u­late the ac­tion of an en­zyme called di­hy­drotestos­terone (DHT), which causes se­bum pro­duc­tion that can lead to acne. Bal­anced pro­ges­terone lev­els helps to keep DHT lev­els low and skin blem­ish-free.

IT HELPS YOU SNOOZE Pro­ges­terone has a nat­u­ral calm­ing ef­fect that can help you sleep bet­ter. It en­hances the ef­fects of gamma-aminobu­tyric acid (GABA), a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that soothes your brain, mak­ing you more re­laxed.

Re­cent stud­ies show that sleep boosts immune func­tion, helps you to avoid weight gain, re­duces stress, en­hances men­tal func­tion and has a re­ju­ve­nat­ing ef­fect that makes you look younger. It also helps to keep your hor­mones bal­anced.

“Not get­ting enough sleep raises cor­ti­sol lev­els and low­ers pro­ges­terone, which is then a vi­cious cir­cle as without pro­ges­terone, you won’t get as much shut-eye,” says Dr Roked.

ANY­THING YOU CAN DO TO FEEL MORE RE­LAXED WILL HELP, SUCH AS EX­ER­CISE, MED­I­TA­TION & YOGA

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