Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tired, Bloated and Gaining Weight?

Fatigue and tiredness are considered a normal part of motherhood. However, if you are feeling tired, bloated and maintaining a healthy body weight seems a thing of the past; it’s time to get to the cause.


Fatigue can be caused from simple nutritional deficiencies such as low iron or vitamin B12, or by more complex causes such as depression. Three major influences to energy levels that are often overlooked in routine testing are hormonal, digestive and metabolic disturbances.

Hormonal Disturbances
Healthy hormones are the key to feeling fantastic and maintaining a healthy body weight as they directly influence energy metabolism.  However, identifying an underlying imbalance can often prove challenging. This can be due to the fluctuating nature of many reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone and also “hormone resistance” within the cells. This means your body may be producing the right levels, however your uptake is below par, leaving you ‘hormonally depleted’.  This is often the case with thyroid hormones that are influenced by autoimmune disorders triggered by pregnancy, surgery, medications or giving up smoking.

Digestive Disturbances
Digestive disturbances such as irritable bowel syndrome, candida over growths, digestive dysbiosis (toxicity) or infections such as the Helicobacter pylori bacteria can place further strain on your energy levels, primarily due to their influence on the adrenals. In addition, the adrenal and thyroid glands work together, meaning decreased adrenal function can interfere with thyroid function, leaving you experiencing symptoms such as weight gain, bloating, fatigue and mood changes.

Metabolic Disturbances
Hormone resistance is a broad term often associated with thyroid disorders; the major regulator of fat metabolism and energy production.  Although it is a complicated process, the interaction of the four main hormones produced by your thyroid gland, (thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine/levo-thyroxin (T4), and calcitonin) directly influence body fat storage and conversion especially around the tummy.

Although your thyroid gland secretes and regulates these hormones, about 80% of the body's T3 is produced outside the thyroid gland, in the liver, by chemical modification of T4. Hypothyroid women gain weight and find it difficult to lose weight because (i) their T4 is not being converted by the liver to the metabolically active form of T3 or (ii) the converted T3 hormones is not getting to the cellular level of the body - meaning that they are producing it, but their body can't use it. So you are sentenced to a life of weight gain, chronic fatigue and feeling plain unwell.

If you are doing everything right but are still felling unwell and suffering from fatigue and weight gain, there is definitely something that needs to be addressed. Getting to the cause is not as easy as just doing routine blood tests. An interconnected approach to the review of your signs and symptoms encourages a multidimensional treatment strategy that will make a difference. So explore your options and strive for a better, healthy life!

Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in restorative endocrinology for women, with over 14 year’s clinical experience.  She is an accomplished writer, editor and technical training advisor for the natural health industry. A recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award, Narelle adopts an integrated approach of both medical science and traditional complementary health care principles.