Your body releases stress hormones from your adrenal glands (that sit just above the kidneys). When you are in a
stressful situation, this primes your system ready to fight or flee from an attack. These hormones increase
glucose in the bloodstream, relax the intestines and decrease blood flow to certain organs. After the stressful event
has passed, the hormones should go back in balance. However, if you are in a chronically stressed state, your stress
hormones go up and stay elevated. This causes the body to go into defence mode, storing fat and moving fat to
the abdominal area. Too much belly fat then creates a vicious cycle where the fat cells make more stress
hormones. Excess abdominal fat has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease
and increased inflammation (which increases pain).
What to do: Limit caffeine, caffeine is a known stimulant and increases the stress response. Replace coffee
with liquorice tea. Liquorice is a lovely stress tonic that helps balance blood sugars and gives you a nice afternoon
pick-me-up. Avoid simple carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, white rice and pasta. Include a protein source with
every meal such as nuts, seeds, chicken or fish. Herbs like Withania somnifera, and Rhodiola rosea work well to
down regulating the stress response. Practices such as walking in nature, meditation or yoga are a great way
to reduce stress.
2. Ovary /Gonadal Hormones
High oestrogen levels causes an increase in abdominal fat and can be a factor at play in both men and women.
Symptoms of too much oestrogen include PMS, excess body fat around the hips, difficulty losing weight, low libido,
memory loss, lack of motivation, difficulty maintaining muscle mass and increased belly fat. Testosterone can be
lacking as belly fat converts testosterone to more oestrogen. Low testosterone in both men and women can occur
when there is increased stress, as the adrenals uses up all of its energy pumping out cortisol (Remember them
from point 1?). Testosterone is required for lean muscle growth and assists in boosting metabolic rate.
What to do: Eat lots of broccoli, broccoli has a compound that assists the liver to clear excess oestrogen from the
blood. Increase good fibre in the diet to bind to the cleared hormones to stop them recirculating into the
bloodstream. Herbal treatments can work very well in helping to balance hormones. One well known herb for
increasing testosterone is Tribulus terrestris. Some supportive liver herbs such as Dandelion or Milk thistle are
helpful to assist the clearance of unwanted hormones.
The thyroid gland regulates your body temperature, your metabolism and your heartbeat. An over active thyroid
is hyperthyroidism and an under active thyroid is hypothyroidism. Many people suffer from sub-clinical thyroid
function, which is they have a dysfunction that is not detected by blood tests. The thyroid can be unbalanced by
elevated stress hormones (remember them from number 1?). An out of balance thyroid will also cause the
ovary/gonads to go out of whack (remember from point 2?). Signs that your thyroid could be out of whack
include feeling tired, low energy, depression, excessive weight gain despite not eating much, foggy brain, low libido,
dry skin, sluggish bowel function, dry brittle hair and excessive hair loss, low tolerance to the cold and menstrual
abnormalities. If you suspect that you have a thyroid problem, see your doctor. If you suffer from some of the
above symptoms and you have been given the all clear with the Doctor, then you may have sub-clinical hypothyroid.
What to do: First address point number 1, the thyroid health and stress go hand in hand. Make sure that you
are getting enough nutrients to make thyroid hormones: selenium, zinc and iodine are the major ones.
Herbs such as Coleus and Kelp can assist with stimulating thyroid function.
Recent scientific study is emerging to show that digestive health is paramount in determining weight loss.
It has actually been found that overweight people have different gut bacteria than thin people. An imbalance
of healthy flora in the gut drives carbohydrate cravings and creates inflammation in the gut. Inflammation
causes pain and IBS symptoms and impedes your body in absorbing the nutrition from the food you eat. If you
have problems with constipation you are going to find it very hard to lose weight, as the body’s processes are
slowed. It could be your thyroid (as discussed in point 2) or it could be a sluggish liver not producing enough bile.
What to do: Eat plenty of good fibre such as linseed meal, chia seeds or psyllium husk. Introduce as much fermented
food as you can into your daily diet, take a good quality probiotic and address any constipation. You may
want to be assessed for a Candida infection. Slippery elm bark is a lovely soothing herb for the digestive system
that can help with reflux, inflammation, IBS symptoms, and constipation.
The liver is the ultimate multi-tasker. It filters and metabolises all toxins; it produces bile (which metabolises fats
and fat soluble vitamins); it assists with regulating blood sugar, blood pressure and regulates the production
of hormones like insulin, oestrogen and testosterone (remember them from point 2?). The liver also governs
the production of proteins that are part of our immune system and cholesterol production. Symptoms of liver
problems can include fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, skin issues such as rashes or acne, digestive troubles
(constipation, acid reflux, indigestion, bloating), high cholesterol, and blood sugar and insulin imbalances. Our
bodies are constantly bombarded with chemicals and pollution, from our cosmetics, the pesticides from the food
we eat to the pollution in the air and water. Think of the liver as the busy office worker who is constantly having
more work piled on the desk. When the liver can’t deal with its workload, it files away the incoming toxins in a fat
cells in order to deal with at a later date. However if the work load continues to grow, the liver has no choice but
to continue storing the toxins. This can create fatty deposits in unwanted places causing clogged arteries, fatty liver
and fat storage in and around the intestines. It also makes your body resistant to losing fat as the liver can’t cope
with the incoming toxic load that is stored in the fat.
What to do: Take the load off the liver, reduce caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and reduce alcohol consumption
and inflammatory foods such as red meat, wheat and sugar. Herbs such as Milk Thistle and Dandelion provide
good liver support, as well as eating plenty of bitter foods such as lettuce, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.
It is important to cleanse in the correct way. As a Naturopath, I shudder when I hear about some quick cleanses
or detox teas that are basically strong laxatives that just dehydrate your body or water based drinks or shakes
that starve the body of vital nutrition. These type of “quick fixes” do not work and should not be the basis of
any detox plan. As you can see losing weight is not just a matter of calories in verses calories out. At Wholistic
Health & Nutrition, I look at the whole body and assess all the symptoms to make sure that you not only lose weight,
but that you have more vitality and increased energy. I am not about giving you a quick fix or replacing
your pharmaceutical medication with a herb or supplement.
If you would like to take advantage of a tailor made plan to help you get your organs primed for weight loss,
please contact me at my clinic, email or via Skype.
Melanie Turner at Wholistic Health & Nutrition
Clinic location: Go Vita Batemans Bay 5 North St Batemans Bay Australia
Skype consultations are available by request
Melanie Turner is a Naturopath based at Go Vita Batemans Bay, South Coast of New South
Wales, Australia. She is a long-time lover of home grown, organic and whole foods. She has been
working in the Health field for over 20 years. She works with Herbal Medicine, Australian Bush
Flower Essences, Bach Flowers, Homeopathy, Iridology and down to earth Nourishing Nutrition
to bring about well-being for her clients.