Pesky little things, yet so necessary…Those of us over 40 want to blame them for the little “pouch” between the belly button and the hips…and there is a good chance that the body’s natural slowdown of progesterone production does have something to do with it…
According to Dr. C.W. Randolph and Genie James, authors of From Belly Fat to Belly Flat, there is a strong relationship between progesterone decline and ab flab, which is often just one symptom in a cluster of others: hot flashes, mood swings, loss of sex drive and bloating. Adequate levels of progesterone are needed to maintain bones, regulate sleep, sustain libido, and prevent depression. Progesterone also helps temper estrogen – the hormone responsible for puberty and reproductive function. This causes the body to store fat around the abdomen, but it makes it harder to burn off extra pounds and lower the metabolism in general.
But the answer doesn’t automatically lay in medication against depression or any of the other symptoms… A natural plan can do so much for us. Belly Flat outlines a three-part plan to stop estrogen from locking in those extra pounds and causing other bodily mischief. Here are the basics:
1. Eat Foods that Reduce ‘Bad’ Estrogen
Load up on healthful vegetables. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, radishes, turnips, parsley, asparagus, and spinach top the list of plants that contain indole-3-carbinol. This substance helps decrease the “bad” estrogens estrone and estradiol, both of which can accelerate excessive cell growth. “Good” estrogen, called estriol, is produced in large amounts during pregnancy and may reduce the threat of breast cancer. The only other way to get estriol is through compounding pharmacies. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any estriol-containing compounds.
Next on the menu come citrus fruits, which contain d-Limonene, a substance that detoxifies bad estrogen. Insoluble fiber – found in barley, couscous, brown rice, carrots, celery and zucchini – is also important because it attaches to extra estrogen in the digestive tract, making it easier to excrete the pesky hormone. To weaken estrogen activity in the body’s cells, Belly Flat recommends lignans, naturally occurring chemicals found in sesame seeds and ground or milled flaxseed, which can be added to salads, yogurt and smoothies. Lignans put the brakes on estrogen activity by blocking the body’s estrogen receptors.
Include non-fatty proteins, such as fish, in your diet to promote lean muscle tissue, another vital link in the dietary equation.
Avoid foods high in saturated fat, such as lard, cream, sausage and pork, which are associated with higher levels of estrogen circulating in the blood. Cut back on caffeinated beverages such as colas and coffee – also linked to elevated estrogen levels – as well as alcohol, which weakens the liver’s ability to break down estrogen. And eliminate refined foods, such as white bread and white rice because they trigger a release of insulin that throws hormones off balance. Doesn’t that sound like NEWAY?
2. Boost Progesterone with Bio-Identical Hormones
As the ovaries age, they produce less progesterone – the hormone that prevents estrogen from storing too many fat cells, acts as a diuretic to quell bloating and moderates the release of insulin, which lessens food cravings. Many doctors prescribe synthetic-hormone therapy to meet women’s need for supplemental progesterone. The problem, say Randolph and James, is synthetic hormones don’t interact properly with the body’s hormone receptors. Bio-identical hormones, on the other hand, are made only from plant material, which means they create progesterone identical to what the body produces naturally. In scientific terms, bio-identical hormones offer 100% “relative binding affinity” (RBA). They come as pills, drops, lotions and creams.
3. Supplement Balance Hormones
There is a select group of nutritional supplements that work well to help defeat estrogen dominance. Among them are vitamins E and B (including folate), which reduce estrogen levels in the blood; chitosan, a substance made from crustacean shells that suppresses the appetite and inhibits absorption of fat molecules; and calcium D-glucarate, which banishes estrogen-like toxins from the bloodstream. Be sure to talk to you doctor before adding supplements to your diet, and stick closely to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of each supplement.
On the other hand, be aware of xenoestrogen, a chemical form of estrogen that enters the human body from the outside environment: pesticides, plastics and petrochemicals found in hairspray and nail polish removers are sources of xenoestrogen, as are meat and dairy products that come from farm animals injected with steroids.
So, we can’t blame it all on hormones, but they do play a part in that little layer of fat around the tummy. We can work against the trend by what we eat and the supplements we take, and continue to work with the lifestyle change offered in NEWAY, and we will be on our way for a great “old age!” By the way, this simple plan seems to also reduce extra fat on women’s thighs and hips—all our “problem” areas!