How to Fight Fat If You’re Low in This Fat Cell Hormone - AdiponectinHormones
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I recently came across some funny quotes about hormones.
Here are a few:
“Hormonally challenged today even my socks are pissing me off.”
“My hormones called. They wanted to set an appointment to rip your head off.”
“I’m pretty sure they call it PMS because that’s way easier to say than estrogen produced manic depressive bipolar disorder prone to psychopathic rage.”
But hormones are more than those things in your body that make women moody or get hot flashes. They are chemicals secreted by your body’s endocrine system (a network of many glands and organs). They help your body function properly by playing a role in:
- Growth and development
- Homeostasis (the internal balance of body systems)
- Metabolism (body energy levels)
- Response to stimuli (stress and/or injury)
Basically, hormones are “...responsible for almost every cell, organ, and function in your body,” according to one source.
And, if your endocrine system isn't healthy, you might have problems with development during puberty, getting pregnant or managing stress. “You also might gain weight easily, have weak bones, or lack energy because too much sugar stays in your blood instead of moving into your cells where it's needed for energy.”
To make this all a bit easier to understand, the pituitary gland, for example, releases many different types of hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which plays a role in the production of sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen). To get a comprehensive “lay of the land” of your endocrine system, read here.
Now, what most people do not realize is that adipose tissue, which is fat, is known to be an endocrine organ as well.
“As an endocrine organ, adipose tissue is responsible for the synthesis and secretion of several hormones. These are active in a range of processes, such as control of nutritional intake (leptin, angiotensin), control of sensitivity to insulin and inflammatory process mediators (tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), resistin, visfatin, adiponectin, among others)...,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
I don’t want you to be overwhelmed and confused by all of these hormones (with their fancy scientific names) that adipose tissue secretes, but I think this gives you an overall idea how complex and important all of this is. There is also one fat-secreting hormone I would like to discuss in greater detail. And that hormone is adiponectin.
And after undergoing some DNA testing, I discovered that I have slightly low levels of this hormone.
Now I know all of this may sound weird and confusing, because when we talk about fat we tend to discuss it to the extent of it being something we just want to get rid of. We don’t really talk much about the role of fat tissue in the body.
“Researchers have recently learned that fat cells in the body don’t just sit around quietly. Fat cells actively release hormones that help control how your body makes, uses and stores energy,” according to one source.
“Adiponectin, one of the hormones released by fat cells, helps control how your body uses sugars and fats from foods you eat. Adiponectin also helps reduce inflammation in your body and the build-up of cholesterol in your arteries.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Decreased adiponectin levels are thought to play a central role in the development of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in humans. Research in humans and rodent models has consistently demonstrated the role of adiponectin as an important physiological regulator of insulin sensitivity, glucose, and lipid metabolism as well as cardiovascular homeostasis.”
So obviously, I was a bit concerned when I got my DNA tests results. But instead of staying in a state of worry, I decided to get proactive about it. People who are overweight or obese tend to have lower levels of adiponectin. I’m not exactly sure why my levels of this hormone are slightly low. I’m overall very good about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and watching my weight. But sometimes we are just genetically predisposed to certain deficiencies.
The good news is that this genetic factor contributes to about 20-30 percent of this trait causing me to have low adiponectin levels. As I’ve said before, your genes are not your healthy destiny, and I can control the other aspects of my environment to reduce or negate the consequences of this genetic trait!
So how can we be proactive about our adiponectin levels?
- Eat Healthily!
Research has shown that adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which stresses eating whole, natural foods and healthy fats, may help boost adiponectin levels. You want to consume plenty of nutrient-dense foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs, because they contain nutrients, including fiber, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc, that may help boost levels of adiponectin.
- Steer clear of the bad stuff or at least moderate.
Regularly consuming ultra-processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages is a sure way to pack on the pounds and possibly lower your adiponectin levels. Consuming too much sugar can actually lead to hormonal imbalance in general.
Moving your body is great for your overall health. It may even help with cognitive function and stress management. In general, exercise may help balance your hormones as well as increase adiponectin levels. Just make sure you know what nutrients you need to fuel your body before and after your workouts.
- Know your body composition.
There is so much more to our health than just the number on the scale. Take a body composition test. If you take this test, you’ll walk away knowing exactly how much fat you need to lose or gain, how much muscle you need, how many calories your body burns and how hydrated you are. Taking the steps to have as healthy as possible body composition will help you have adequate adiponectin levels.
- Know where you stand.
As I did, get your adiponectin levels tested. I did this through genetic testing, and there are other resources such as LabCorp. If anything, just ask your regular doctor how you can get tested. And if you discover your levels are low, you can develop a proactive plan.
- Maintain nutritional balance.
When it comes to the health of all our bodily systems, nutritional balance is key. Take regular comprehensive nutrient tests in order to determine if you have any nutrient imbalances or deficiencies. If you do, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements you can take if necessary.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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