Hormones and Epically Working on a New Post

epically?  i think that’s a word….working in an epic way.  ok, i’m good.

glasses Sta - Kleen

A few weeks ago I decided to begin to tackle hormones for my Weekly Women’s Article.  I am now deep in to a bunch of research on these little, wonderful hormones.  I wanted to look specifically at the hormones which are associated with weight gain and weight loss.  When we eat, exercise, and rest, different hormones spring in to action to help us burn fat, build muscle, and store energy for future use.  Taking a bite of an apple, pork chop, or a cupcake opens the gates for so many amazing chemical messengers that work hard to keep up the homeostatic state of our body.

Initially I wanted to look at cortisol but then decided to tackle a big one and, after reading an insane amounts of research papers, drawing diagrams for my own comprehension, and rereading and questioning much of what is taken as ‘common sense’ diet advice, I am close to being ready to write a post about it.  Close meaning not quite yet.

The main hormones I plan on doing individual posts on in the body that respond to diet and exercise are:

  • Testosterone- yes girls, we have this too.  We don’t have it in as high levels as the guys but we do have it.  We don’t have enough to bulk up like one of the guys.  Those super ripped, squared chinned women we’ve all seen on the cover of muscle magazines are getting more testosterone than we are from “outside” sources.
  • Growth Hormone- an important hormone that stimulates growth (yeah, you knew this one by the name) and cell reproduction.  It is also considered to be a fat burning hormone.  I say “considered” because I’ve only read this but haven’t done research as to how and why.
  • Insulin- aahh, quickly becoming a love/hate hormone of mine.  It reacts to what we eat, is an amazing hormone that regulates so much related to fat storage, and shows just how intricate and complex our bodies are.
  • Cortisol- good?, bad?, ugly?  still working on this one.
  • Estrogen and Progestrone- good and bad- keeps us girlie but also is a pain in the uterus at times, right girls?
  • Others- I’m finding all of these other super cool hormones (adjust nerd glasses, straighten pocket protector from calling hormones super cool) that also help out burning/storing. (catecholamines, grehlin, glucogen)

I really do love researching this type of stuff.  Chemical and metabolic pathways make sense in my mind.  It get it. I’m a big science nerd and get excited when I understand how the beta cells of the pancreas are chemically stimulated to release insulin by glucose.  I’m fascinated by it all.   I understand and can visualize how things work and why when it comes to microscopic chemical relationships.  Tell me directions to the city dump 5 miles from my house however, and I’ll be lost for 40 minutes (true story).

I can’t wait to finish up my reading on insulin and hopefully snowball it into the other hormones.  Our bodies are such a magnificent symphony!

It is disheartening to me though that many of the relationships I’m finding between the chemical messengers and the real word result (i.e. fat thighs) were never taught in school.  In my “Advanced Biochemistry” class in graduate school, not once did the professor relate any of the processes to the overall body such as obesity.  I had the same professor a few hours later in my “Issues in Human Nutrition and Obesity” class and we never talked about the biochemistry of it all either, just if you eat too much, don’t move enough, you will be obese.  The pieces were never put together.  I’m having a fun time doing it now but I wonder if the overlap had been present in the academic halls, would we be questioning more of the accepted knowledge on issues such as weight and obesity?

( I’d be sad if I didn’t point out that the pocket protector picture I used came from the World’s Largest Pocket Protector Webseum, which is on the web page of an LSU chemistry prof- so if you have some free time and want some humor, check it out!)

(please also note that the pocket protector says “your wife’s BEST friend”!