BBC Documentary about Hormones

Did anyone see this? It was an excellent historical review of progress in our understanding of the endocrine system.

One of the most recent discoveries was the role of leptin in weight-control. However, the professor focussed on the hereditary component, without really acknowledging that our 'food' affects our hormones. For instance, too much fructose impairs circulation by glycating haemoglobin, and contributing to fatty deposits that then inhibit receptors for cholesterol and insulin. This then sets up the state of 'insulin resistance' where more insulin is released to try and keep blood glucose within necessary parameters (exacerbated by high-glycaemic foods ).

Too much insulin then affects other hormones, including leptin.

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  • Hi Concerned,

    As I often point out on this board, weight loss is basically controlled by the body's hormones. And changes in hormone levels can, and do, impinge upon various processes such as fat burning, fat storage, feelings of satiation, feelings of hunger.

    And there are quite a lot of things that can change just how much of what hormones your body produces. Infections, sleeplessness, stress, body fat percentage are just some.

    But that is often why people experience some degree of 'blip' or 'spurt' in their weight loss journeys and also sometimes why they experience plateaux. It's not easy, in fact realistically it's impossible to know all the effects of every change of every hormone all the time.

    Being overweight itself causes changes in hormone production. (No, it's not an old wives' tale that overweight people tend to become increasingly overweight - there's science behind that). However, these are usually normalised by either losing the excess weight, or by exercise / increased activity. Thus the logic of upping the exercise / activity levels when you set off on a weight loss journey.

    This link may be of interest to those who don't want to go into it all too deeply, but would like to know a bit more:-

    There is loads of stuff on the internet for those who do want to go into more detail.

    It is also worth remembering that your body fat is, in effect, an organ with functions - for example, it secretes hormones and specialised proteins that can cause oxidation and inflammation - processes which can lead to certain types of cancer.

    So putting extra body fat on and off isn't quite as simple a thing as changing your hat, or deciding to wear a coat or not.

    That excess body fat changes the body's ballgame healthwise.

  • Thankyou thats interesting

  • Thanks Concerned, I will have to look for the program on the I Player.

    The book "Fat Chance" by Dr Robert Lustig also explains the role of hormones in the body and how they are affected by food. It's a very informative read.

  • Hi Concerned,

    I did manage to catch it on the iplayer and it was quite interesting - though it didn't really say that much about weight loss. Though it looks like there may be some very interesting stuff on the horizon in that field.

    However, the stuff about leptin was quite interesting. One of the things about leptin apparently is that some people develop a leptin intolerance, i.e. although they are significantly overweight and their leptin production is high, their bodies don't seem to register it in the way a less weighty person's body would. And of course leptin is only one of a range of hormones that impact upon body weight - epinephrine, cortisol, insulin, ghrelin, growth hormone, adiponectin, glucagon, cholecystokinin and various others all impact upon the weight gain / weight loss processes in some way according to various schools of thought.

    Realistically, most ordinary people cannot effectively assess how their bodies produce all these, or how they impact upon body weight (and other bodily functions) and are even less able to directly do very much about them.

    However, clinical experience has demonstrated that calorie reduction, increased exercise / activity and good nutrition does usually cause people to lose excess body weight if undertaken in a reasonably sensible way. I lost my own excess weight by doing just that.

    Basically, that process is about creating within the body the right environment for weight loss, and that does include trying to ensure you endocrine system does the right things to help the weight loss along. The main factors that lead to the correction of the hormone levels are the process of weight loss itself, and the increased exercise / activity. You body's reaction to those is to alter the levels of hormones it produces to burn more fat and store less fat. So, the weight loss process itself is kind of an indirect way of altering the hormone levels to create weight loss.

    As always, there are caveats. For one thing, anyone with an underlying endocrine system issue should really get specific medical advice for their specific needs - and I'd recommend that for anyone with any underlying medical conditions

  • Yup, agreed, especially with regard to seeing a health professional.

    There are some you-tube videos of Dr. Lustig, whom Penel mentioned, that include the biochemical roles that fructose and insulin play in hormonal disruption.

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