As women, we are constantly drilled about our bodies – by the media, society, peers, and even our own damn selves.
And if we’re being honest – it’s physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing to be a woman.
We are taught that if we gain weight, we need to lose it. FAST.
Quick! Before anyone notices… grab that new Insta filter or body changing app!!
(That’s society talking, not me by the way…)
Instead, what I’ve learned is this:
- Thighs are beautiful even when they don’t look like hot dogs.
- Faces that plump up and form double chins when you laugh are absolutely stunning.
- And stretch marks in any form or fashion should be worn with pride.
You are fierce.
But the best version of yourself is your HEALTHIEST version – and your body will naturally shed the weight by regulating one simple aspect (that is too often overlooked).
What I’m referring to is your gut health and hormone imbalances – factors that are often not discussed in typical diet programs, but too vital to your success journey to not acknowledge and address.
Hang with me and I’ll show you:
- The importance of gut health for weight loss
- The relationship between gut health and hormone imbalances
- How to restore your digestive health to thrive, lose weight, and be the best YOU
What Is Gut Health and Why Do We Care?
This was a new term to me when I stumbled upon it, but after discovering how many bodily processes (including our weight) that the gut controls – I genuinely felt like I had uncovered one of life’s greatest secrets.
Simply put, your gut health is your everything – your ticket to losing weight, healing your mental health, and feeling the same energy as when you were a kid again.
See, your gut – the part of the digestive tract that contains the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine – helps to regulate your metabolism, increase nutrient absorption, and aid with weight management.
And while normally the word “bacteria” is something we grab the Lysol wipes for, there are actually beneficial strains of bacteria that make up our bodies, specifically, our digestive tract.
I’m talking trillions of strains of bacteria.
And it’s these beneficial gut microbes that perform certain helpful tasks regulate countless processes in your body.
For instance, our gut health alone controls:
- Healthy Digestion
- Weight management (and weight loss)
- Skin Health
- Nutrient Absorption
- Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels
- Brain Clarity and Mental Health
- Hunger and Appetite
- Bloating and Inflammation
- Chronic Illness
But for the sake of this article, we’re going to keep the focus to losing weight – even though when you improve your gut health, you’ll reap benefits from each of the bulleted points above!
How Does a Healthy Gut Help You to Lose Weight?
Now there’s no such thing as “skinny” bacteria, but there are good bacterial strains that specialize in:
- Creating lean body mass
- Reducing fat storage
- Regulating appetite
- Curbing hunger
- Stabilizing metabolic rates
- Aiding with digestion
Beneficial gut microbes also can:
- Produce important nutrients and certain vitamins
- Fight infections and inflammation
- Reduce bloating and gas
- Digest food that otherwise would have been unable to break down
- Produce chemical balances that help you to feel full
- Regulate metabolic rates and energy levels
So, if our gut is unhealthy (which unfortunately most people’s are due to the modern western diet), our digestive tract is filled with harmful gut bacteria that craves company (causing you to crave unhealthy, sugary foods).
Good news is – by regulating your gut health, you can and will reap all the benefits of a healthy digestive tract, including weight loss.
Gut Health and Hormone Imbalances: The Real Game Changer
Let’s chat hormones – chemical messengers that regulate our body’s processes.
When we look in the mirror and grab that bloating pudge on our stomachs, very rarely do we go – “My hormones caused this. Yep. That’s what did me in.”
But the underlying truth is – as a woman, our hormones are so incredibly important when it comes to regulating our body functions, including the ability to control our appetite, regulate weight, stimulate metabolic rates and fat loss, and so many other functions.
So how in the world do we try to heal ONE more thing in our bodies??
We don’t. We just establish a healthy gut.
Yep – see, you’re already in the right place!
Regulating your hormonal balance is incredibly simple, and goes hand in hand with healing your digestive system.
See, our gut helps our bodies to produce and regulate so many of our hormones.
So you can probably connect that if our gut health is failing = so are our hormonal balances.
But by improving our gut health, we regulate our hormones.
They truly do go together like peanut butter and jelly. Together, they make a delectable combination.
So to quickly recap: By improving your gut health, your hormonal balance will quickly regulate – putting you in the best position to kick off those stubborn pounds fast!
The Hormones Involved In Weight Loss for Women Are:
Your thyroid produces hormones T3, T4, and calcitonin.
They regulate metabolism, sleep, heart rate, brain development, growth, and other various functions.
But as far as weight goes – your metabolic rate is key.
The faster our body is able to break down and digest our foods, the less chance they have of being stored as unwanted fat.
High metabolisms also help to burn off unwanted fat as well.
Leptin is the chemical messenger that signals to your brain that you are full and do not need to continue eating.
Diet plays a huge part in this since most of the unhealthy, processed foods that make up most of the Western diet consist of glucose (sugar).
This sugar is what makes you fat.
That’s another misconception – eating foods high in fat (especially healthy fat) does not make you fat. Carbohydrates like sugar make you gain weight.
Because this sugar then gets stored on the body as fat cells. It’s your body’s way of keeping it for later just in case of starvation, when in reality, very few people today actually rely on this fat storage for survival.
You can see how our bodies were designed this way back in the day when food was not so readily available, but today, our bodies still function the same – we just don’t need that fat on our bodies the same way as we did in the past.
Our foods have also become increasingly unhealthier as well, consistently supplying this sugar to our typical diets – which raises the issue.
Not just the issue of stored fat, but the issue with leptin.
See, fat cells get deposited on the body and secrete leptin, which causes our body to become desensitized to it.
So when we eat, our brain ignores this message of “hey, I’m full” because it has become a constant source of repetitive stimuli.
But this nasty cycle can be stopped by changing our diets, and reducing the release of leptin from the stored fat cells.
We must retrain our bodies to then help heal our minds.
Insulin is a similar story to leptin in regards to our body creating a level of tolerance. Insulin is a hormone that gets secreted by the pancreas in response to increasing blood sugar levels.
This hormone works hard to counter the effects of our body’s response to sugar (aka the underlying issue to most problems in the body).
But when we over consume foods that are high in sugar, our body creates what is known as insulin resistance, when your cells begin to work against the insulin, thus leaving the glucose to roam freely throughout your bloodstream, skyrocketing your blood sugar levels.
This sugar then gets stored as fat cells. So by the amount of processed sugar in our diets, our insulin levels can rebalance to properly counter glucose.
Cortisol is the hormone released by the adrenal glands when you are stressed- physically, mentally, or emotionally.
This hormone has been known to create unstable blood sugar levels, which make you crave certain foods – easily convincing your mind that you want a certain food – when you may not even be hungry at all.
Increasing levels of cortisol also can result in fat cell deposition on the body.
5. Estrogen and Progesterone
Have you ever heard or experienced weight gain when it comes to birth control?
This is due to the increasing estrogen and progesterone levels. Levels of these hormones that are too high or too low can lead to weight gain.
The higher levels can trigger the body’s cells to produce insulin, again developing insulin resistance, and causing weight gain.Lower levels usually result during menopause.
During this time, the ovarian cells in your body no longer produce estrogen – but estrogen can be found in fat cells.
So ever so conveniently your body begins to produce more fat cells in order to have a reservoir of estrogen, which then causes unwanted weight gain.
Grehlin is the hormone that regulates your hunger and appetite.
Secreted by the small intestine, pancreas, and the brain, ghrelin can cause you to easily overeat by making it seem that you are hungry even when your body does not need food.
This excess food raises your caloric intake, and typically gets stored as fat.
Women produce small amounts of testosterone which help to burn fat and build muscle.
When these levels decrease in the body, the ability to reap these benefits also decline.
Melatonin is the sleep hormone which regulates circadian rhythms – which helps to establish sleep and wake cycles, as well as REM sleep.
During this time, the body provides rest and releases the growth hormone – allowing the body to restore itself, build lean muscle, and improve bone density.
Remember when you scraped your knee as a kid and your leg became a bit red and puffy?
This is visible inflammation, and is a normal part of the healing process. But if inflammation in the body occurs over a long period of time (chronic), it can result in weight gain.
Glucocorticoids help to reduce inflammation, as well as regulate sugars, fats, and proteins in the body.
So now we are better able to understand the vast realm of control our hormone balances have on our health – specifically, our weight.
And as mentioned previously, by improving digestive health – you are able to regulate your hormone levels.
How to Restore Gut Health to Balance Hormones and Lose Weight
1. Consume healthy, wholesome, real ingredients
Foods can either hurt or heal our digestive tract.
And frankly, it’s up to us and what we decide to eat for how our bodies will feel.
So what I emphasize is filling your diets with anti-inflammatory foods.
These are real ingredients that the digestive system is easily able to identity as food – because guess what?
That’s ALL it is!
No processing, hybridizing, or manufacturing.
Just real food made from fresh ingredients to create simple meals and healthy lifestyles.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water is incredibly important since keeps your body hydrated, energized, and detoxed.
A detox is nothing more than a “natural flush” but it essentially “flushes” the waste and inflammatory toxins from your system – keeping you feeling fresh and shooting your energy levels through the roof.
3. Maximize Nutrient Absorption
The primary job of the small intestine is to absorb nutrients from our foods; however, when our gut is unhealthy, we are unable to properly do this.
This means that even though you could be eating healthy foods, your body is not able to uptake the nutrients, and therefore, your energy levels will remain low.
So what’s a great life hack is to incorporate superfood powders into your daily routine.
The key is in the powder.
These powders are composed of foods that are rich in anti-oxidants and countless health benefits, but the most important thing is this – since they’re a powder, they absorb directly into your blood stream and do not even have to wait to be processed through the digestive tract.
If you’re interested, I personally love and adore Your Super.
I’ve found I get the most bang for my buck, and trust me, I’m never one to throw money at supplements. I did that for too many years trying to find solutions that ACTUALLY work.
But Your Super is the easiest way to maximize energy levels while also working to repair digestive health
Win – Win.
They now have Moon Balance which is meant to specifically address and heal hormone health!
To get 15% off your first order, use the key “HAPPYNESSISKEY” at checkout. You know I got your back.
4. Choose the Right Probiotic for You
Selecting a probiotic can be tricky because you never want to waste your money or your time.
But probiotics can be a great way to support your digestive health since they are beneficial strains of healthy bacteria that are able to get into your gut and work their magic.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a probiotic:
- You want LIVE strains of bacteria (many probiotics have “dead” strains, which when added to your digestive system do absolutely nothing. You need live strains that can continue to flourish your digestive tract with incredible benefits and more beneficial bacteria)
- Expect to pay anywhere from $25-$60/month for a good probiotic
- Read the reviews – it can be really helpful in deciding if the probiotic is right for you.
- Probiotics are measured in CFUs (colony forming units)
- The probiotic should have at least 10 Billion CFUs – less strains will simply not be as potent and beneficial (again, you want LIVE strains)
- Become familiar with the nutrition label – it tells you everything you need!
5. Reduce Stress Levels
This one was almost laughable to me for years – up until the time when I realized how much reducing my stress helped both my mind and body.
You know you. What really relaxes you?
Don’t contort yourself into a pretzel if it doesn’t bring you Zen. Or do if it does.
I know that I relieve my bloating and digestive distress with this short ten minute free Youtube video: Yoga with Sarah Beth
Walking, meditating, spending less time on social media, enjoying time with loved ones… all great ideas!
So think about it… what works for you?
6. Get Enough Rest
When we sleep, our body restores itself. Therefore, taking the time to relax our mind and body before bed helps us to achieve a deeper, more restful sleep.
I know I’ve been bad in the past about being on my phone too much before bed, and even the night-time mode keeps my brain awake as I’m scrolling through social media feeds and taking in that much content.
So, what I try to do is to make a habit of no phones in bed.
Sure, it can be hard.
But I sleep so much better and wake up feeling more refreshed – because that is what sleep is designed for when it comes to our bodies.
7. Perform Gentle Exercises
See, most people think that pushing the body to it’s greatest limit creates the most effective workout.
But during this time, you want to be gentle and forgiving towards your body.
This means doing simple exercises like yoga, pilates, or walking. You don’t have to push your body to the max when you are healing yourself.
So remember patience and forgiveness in the meantime.
You deserve it – you really do!
Take With You When You Go...
Your body communicates to you and it’s up to us to recognize these signs and signals.
If we treat the symptom, it will likely return. But if you treat the problem – you fix the issue.
This is the great thing about your gut health. I felt that discovering this central command center for the body was like discovering one of life’s greatest hacks.
By simply restoring ONE aspect of your body, you THRIVE in so many various fashions.
If you’re interested, I’ve created a challenge to help you to restore your gut health in 21 Days.
Be sure to check out Happyness Is Key’s 21 Day Gut Health Challenge HERE!