General Health & Well-beingWomen's Health

Fats, Carbs and Your Hormones



Fats, Carbs and Your Hormones

Over the past few years, hormones have received more and more attention as compounds that play an important role in your overall health. This is with good reason. Hormones represent a complex cascade of chemicals that are catalysts for actions in your body.

How Do Hormones Work?

Your glands secrete hormones to cells awaiting commands in your tissues and organs. When your hormones are out of sync, the commands get blocked or otherwise confused. Then mixed (or no) messages are sent to tissues and organs. This prevents your body from attaining homeostasis (balance), and disrupts the metabolic balancing of your body’s systems. Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, cortisol, insulin, and melatonin are responsible for this homeostasis.

So what do fats and carbs have to do with maintaining this balance? Everything.

You cannot have proper hormonal balance without adequate amounts of saturated fats.

Unfortunately, saturated fats have received a bad rep for the last 40 years and the general advice has been to avoid them and follow a low-fat diet. What ended up happening is that ALL fat was put together in the same category. Fat that is actually good and necessary for proper bodily functions was also shelved to be replaced by carbs and artificial trans-fats.

And so “fat makes you fat” became the mantra and the world stocked up on grains and processed foods, since, technically, they are fat free.

But what these carbs (bread, cereals, grains, sugar) do is interfere with the hormone leptin, which helps regulate appetite and metabolism.

When leptin resistance sets in, you suffer from cravings and your metabolism slows way down. When you suffer from cravings, you automatically want something sweet and what you reach for isn’t usually an apple—it’s cookies, breads, pasta, grains, cakes. Even seemingly “healthy” grains like breakfast muesli is a processed food that contains a lot of sugar.

And even if you don’t necessarily binge on these foods, you eat them regularly.

Most people have a cereal or sandwich for breakfast, maybe another kind of sandwich during the day and maybe pasta for dinner. And each time you eat these foods, you are consuming an incredible amount of sugar (yes sugar) that your body just doesn’t know what to do with. What ends up happening is that your body produces a lot of insulin to deal with the overflow of carbs and then this overflow of carbs is stored as fat because insulin is the fat storage hormone. And this is what makes you fat and disrupts your hormones. Not fat.


Here are a few simple things you can do to keep your hormones in balance:


  • Eat healthy saturated fats such as coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil and avocados.


  • Avoid refined grains, sugar, and processed foods: * White/whole grain breads * White/whole grain cereals * White/whole grain crackers * soy milk * tofu or “veggie burgers” (non-fermented soy can be harmful to your hormones) * margarine * pre-packaged ready made foods * gatorade or other sport drinks so-called “energy” drinks * protein bars (most are candy bars in disguise!) * overly processed meal replacements (with more junk than healthy ingredients) * rice cakes * pasta * low-fat foods * low-carb processed foods * soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil (adapted from the


  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excessive fat tissue (called adipose tissue) can act as an endocrine organ, producing more estrogen in your body. By maintaining a healthy weight, your body is not stimulated to overproduce certain hormones.


  • Eat thyroid supportive foods. These foods are rich in iodine and include: sea vegetables such as sea weed, sea salt; beans, organic cultured yogurt, and fresh strawberries.


  • Avoid Bispheonol-A and phthalates. Commonly found in plastics and can liners, these endocrine disruptors basically mimic actual hormones replacing the beneficial benefits with a toxic phony that provides nothing of value to the body.


  • Support your adrenal glands. The adrenals regulate the “stress hormone,” cortisol. To keep them in top shape, limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine, and commit to getting to bed by 10 pm. Your body creates growth hormones while you sleep, so prioritizing bedtime is an important step in staying balanced.
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Dana Dinnawi

Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.

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