HORMONAL OR ENDOCRINE PROBLEMS? LET ME GIVE YOU A FEW MORE REASONS PALEO IS THE WAY TO GO
Dealing with endocrine issues (THYROID, DIABETES, FEMALE HORMONES, MALE HORMONES, DIGESTIVE ISSUES, ADRENAL FATIGUE, etc, etc, etc) can be extremely complex. Just remember that the first thing that must be taken care of with any chronic health issue is ANEMIA. When dealing with a chronically ill female patient, the questions are always, “are you anemic, how anemic are you, what kind of anemia is it, let me see your blood work, how long have you been bleeding every month, and what sort of AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE(S) do you have?” Fail to address underlying anemia and the rest of this post is essentially worthless.
Once any anemia has been addressed, there are four distinct metabolic areas that need to be discussed and addressed, blood sugar regulation, fatty acid metabolism, the liver’s detox pathways (Endocrine Disruptors live here as well), and of course, gut health. Today we are going to talk about the PALEO DIET for endocrine problems and why it is the cat’s meow for dealing with each and every one of these points.
When it comes to problems of the endocrine system, they are not only ultra-common, they almost always get worse grow over time. This is because changing one hormone’s ability to work properly can have adverse effects on all hormone’s ability to work properly. This is because hormones are almost all on negative feedback loops. What is a negative feedback loop? A thermostat keeps your house at 72 degrees because when the temp drops below 72 or climbs above 72, the furnace or air-conditioner kicks, whichever is needed, kicks on and regulates the temperature. When your thermostat goes out, it becomes difficult to regulate the temperature of your home.
Successfully addressing endocrine system dysfunction is all about correcting aberrant or dysfunctional feedback loops so that the body starts to regulate itself. Sure, your doctor can look at a blood test and prescribe the hormones that might be low. But what if the problem is not that there is not enough of said hormone, but that the receptors for said hormone are either saturated or have lost their sensitivity.
This is exactly what occurs in TYPE II DIABETES, including the earliest stages (Prediabetes aka CARDIOMETABOLIC SYNDROME). It’s also the reason that while giving these people DIABETES DRUGS or even insulin might normalize their blood sugar for the short term, without diet and lifestyle changes, it will never do what it claims over the long haul. Let’s take a brief moment to look at the Paleo Diet as related to these various aspects of endocrine support.
- BLOOD SUGAR REGULATION: We start here simply because a failure to control BLOOD SUGAR makes everything else impossible. Why? Show me a health-related issue that is not 100% GENETIC (Downs Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, etc), and I will show you studies — in many cases, hundreds of studies — linking it back to blood sugar dysregulation (HERE’S A KILLER EXAMPLE). Bear in mind that just because you are “NORMAL WEIGHT” or your blood sugar numbers fall within “normal” range, does not mean you aren’t losing glycemic control. To better understand what I mean, take a gander and the numerous posts filed under the first link in this bullet.
- FATTY ACID METABOLISM: As I showed you just the other day (HERE), the fats you consume are either driving inflammation or controlling inflammation. Also, it is critical to understand that CHOLESTEROL (a fat of sorts) is the precursor for many, if not most of, your hormones. STATIN DRUGS and TRANS FATS, along our national fear of fat (HERE), have at best, contributed to, and at worst, caused, untold amounts of hormonal dysregulation. The Paleo Diet helps regulate fatty acid metabolism in a number of ways, not the least of which is the fact that it skews metabolism away from inflammatory PGE2 and toward anti-inflammatory PGE1 & PGE3, particularly pushing the body toward Omega-3’s (see the first link in this bullet).
- LIVER DETOXIFICATION PATHWAYS: Although most of us (self included) refer to the body’s ability to clear junk (CHEMICALS, MEDICATIONS, METALS, etc, EXCESS HORMONES, XENOHORMONES, etc, etc, etc — most of which loosely fall into a category known as “ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS“) as detoxification, the scientific literature has a different name for the process — “Biotransformation”. Biotransformation includes the many various processes that “transform” these toxins into the biological forms that the body can excrete and get rid of in one way or another, most of which occur largely in the liver. While mopping up and getting rid of toxic chemicals is great, what’s even better is not having to deal with them in the first place. Once you understand this simple concept, it’s not hard to understand why avoiding said substances is a big deal. When you eat animals and animal products that were never given hormones or antibiotics to begin with, the end result is an endocrine system that is more capable of functioning as it was created and designed to from the beginning. Never forget that commercially-raised livestock are given estrogen-based hormones for the express purpose of making them fat (females carry far more body fat than males thanks to estrogen).
- GUT HEALTH: Understanding the two facets of GUT HEALTH (MICROBIOME and BARRIER INTEGRITY) is absolutely critical if you want to get your hormonal system under control. And no, I haven’t forgotten the whole FODMAPS / IBS / SIBO THING either. Because 4/5 of your immune system (HERE) and 90% OF YOUR SEROTONIN come from the Gut, you’ll have to get serious about Gut Health in order to solve problems in your hormonal system (BTW, serotonin is intimately related to melatonin — the sleep hormone). Commercially-raised animals or the animal-based foods that come from them, have the ability to foul Gut Health. For starters, these animals are regularly fed low-dose antibiotics with their GRAIN for the express purpose of making them gain weight (HERE). ANTIBIOTICS cause DYSBIOSIS, while sugar along with highly processed carbohydrates feeds it (HERE). Furthermore, you can effectively use an ELIMINATION DIET to figure out what foods might be creating INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES in your body.
Bottom line, Paleo or something similar, is critical for you to get your life back — so much so that I created a mega post on the Gut / Endocrine relationship called ENDOGUT. If you are struggling with hormonal issues and still eating a SAD (Standard American Diet), you’ve got to change that immediately. Use an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, PROTEIN-RICH, VEGETATION-BASED, I’M-NOT-SCARED-OF-HEALTHY-FATS, diet to curb SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION, allowing your body — endocrine system included — to start healing itself and regaining it’s normal feedback mechanisms.
Trying to solve your endocrine problems without restoring the integrity of these feedback loops (ie, simply and only taking supplemental hormones — see the list at the top of the page), while sometimes necessary short term, can be short-sighted, making you feel better and improving your blood work numbers for awhile, but never really restoring the body and hormonal systems to their natural state of balance and HOMEOSTASIS. While you certainly might require a FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE specialist to dig deeper, the Paleo Diet should help you get started on your journey (HERE).
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