Hormones may provide an explanation for why women store fat around the hips and men store it around their stomach. Fat around the hips, to some degree, is actually advantageous for women because it provides resources for nourishing pregnancy. However, abdominal fat is an adverse health condition that increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance. Gender-related hormone differences and stress responses may help explain patterns of body fat storage in men and women.
Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. Storing fat around the thighs and hips is associated with estrogen production. Although men and women both produce estrogen, women are more likely to store fat around the hips, because a woman’s body produces significantly higher levels of estrogen, particularly during reproductive years. Estrogen increases the size of individual fat cells, which increases the overall percentage of body fat. Estrogen helps women develop a wider pelvic bone for giving birth and encourages fat storage around the hips to accommodate pregnancy.
Too much estrogen can result in problems like acne, irregular or heavy menstrual periods, infertility, polycystic ovaries, fibroids, endometriosis, also uterine cancer. Likely causes of estrogen dominance can occur because of environmental toxins that mimic estrogen (Xenoestrogens), plant derived estrogens (phytoestrogens), sugar and refined carbohydrates, poor detoxification, poor bowel function and fat tissues. That’s right as you gain fat because of estrogen dominance your body will release more estrogen and the problem can snowball as well as your symptoms.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, produced in both men and women. Higher concentrations of testosterone increase metabolic rate, reducing overall body fat and helping to maintain muscle tissue. Men are less likely to store fat around the hips, because men can produce up to 40 times more testosterone than women. Testosterone offsets the effects of estrogen, particularly fat storage around the hips. Normal testosterone levels for men range between 300 and 1,200 ng/dL, whereas normal testosterone levels for women range between 30 and 95 ng/dL.
The hormone production in your body is dependent on your lifestyle, nature of diet, disposition, and day-to-day activities. Eating too much meat or processed foods that have added preservatives or chemicals, or living a sedentary lifestyle, drinking and smoking excessively, or even not having enough sex, can all lead to testosterone imbalance and early andropause.
In women, too much testosterone can cause acne, irritability and aggressiveness, loss of hair where you want it and hair growth where you don’t want it.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that promotes abdominal fat storage by moving fat from other parts of your body to abdominal fat cell deposits. Men and women may store fat around the abdomen because they respond to stress with a fight-or-flight reaction. During the fight-or-flight response, your adrenal gland releases adrenaline to give you the energy required for fighting or fleeing from the stressor. If the perception of stress lasts longer than a few minutes, the adrenal gland releases cortisol.
Women and men are affected by too much cortisol production when they are over-stressed and tired, by gaining weight, feeling fatigued, craving caffeine and carbs/sugars in the mid-afternoon, not feeling refreshed upon waking up in the morning, troubles falling asleep and staying asleep, having dark circles under the eyes and experiencing frequent headaches.
We at Integrative Wellness Centers specialize in hormone imbalances and provide affordable testing to show you just how your hormones are affecting your health. Call our office today to learn how you can qualify for a free consultation, 734-779-1650.
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