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Dr. Eric Braverman

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Weight Loss Resolutions Often Require More Than "Eat Less, Exercise More"

Posted: 01/13/09 05:40 PM ET

Last week's Wall Street Journal gave me the honor of including my new book Younger (Thinner) You Diet in their roundup of the top diet books for 2009. Yet at the same time they took me to task for my "peculiar" suggestion that losing weight is connected to boosting brain chemicals with supplements and bioidentical hormones like human-growth hormone and pregnenolone, a steroid.

In reality, there's nothing peculiar about it. My medical practice focuses on the brain because it is the primary organ in the body that controls health and aging. The brain regulates, translates, and interprets hormonal output from the various other organs of the body. But once you turn 30, the brain becomes less effective in sending messages to the other organs to produce their hormones. This forces the other organs to age, and we start to lose our health in small steps. For example, growth hormone production diminishes at age 30; by 40 women begin to lose estrogen and men testosterone; then we lose DHEA, progesterone, parathyroid hormone, and calcitonin.

The more we age, the more hormones we lose. Our organs get to a point where they can no longer produce a particular hormone on their own. Eventually, that organ will die and drag the others down with it, leading to a cascade of poor health and unnecessary aging. Worse, without the right levels of hormones, many women, and men as well, find that they just can't lose weight, no matter how hard they try.

The only thing that will stop this cascade and allow you to lose weight and keep it off is by supplementing your hormone loss with new hormones, and not any type of hormone will do. Like Suzanne Somers and so many people in the medical community, I only recommend following a hormone replacement therapy regimen that uses bioidentical hormones. I feel strongly about this because it has been proven in various studies that synthetic estrogens, as well as other hormone therapies, have been linked to cancer.

Natural, bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, are much safer and generally not linked to cancer at all. These are often plant-based hormone supplements with the exact same molecular structure as those that come from the human body, and have the same effect on our body as the ones we naturally produce.

Most of these bioidentical hormones are not new on the market: they have been available for over 20 years, and are so lacking in side effects that they are frequently sold over the counter as supplements, including Vitamin D2, 3, pregnenolone, progesterone, DHEA, and melatonin.

For Many Women, a Diet without Natural Hormone Supplementation is a Lie

In order to lose excess weight that is associated with aging, you may need to increase your hormone levels. This alone may provide the kick start you need to make my diet--or any diet you've chosen to follow--more effective. The good news is that a decline of any hormone is neither irreparable nor permanent. In fact, it's often an easy and painless fix.

The "bad" news is that hormones can't be reproduced through foods or nutrient supplementation. The only way to safely increase your hormones to younger levels is to take hormone supplements. These hormone supplements work as nutrients to feed your aging brain. Specific to weight loss, increased levels of hormones can boost your metabolism, so that you will burn more body fat as fuel, and create the caloric deficit you need to lose weight. Better still, these bioidentical hormones can help increase your memory and attention, decrease anxiety, and help you get a better night's sleep.

Discuss this option with your physician, and make sure to get proper medical testing to determine which hormones you may be lacking.


Lose Weight and Reverse Aging With These Bio-Identical Hormones
· DHEA: DHEA facilitates weight loss as it increases the body's metabolism, inhibits body fat storage, and reduces appetite for dietary fats.

· Estrone: A deficiency of this hormone can make women particularly choose the wrong foods and crave sugar.

· HGH: human growth hormone: Growth Hormone is critical for the conversion of body fat to muscle mass, and it reduces visceral and subcutaneous fats, and inhibits the formation of body fat.

· Incretin (at least 50% bioidentical): Helps to ensure an appropriate insulin response following ingestion of a meal, suppressing inappropriately elevated glucagon levels, promoting satiety and reducing food intake, and slowing the rate of gastric emptying.

· Insulin: It has effects on fat metabolism and it changes the liver's activity in storing or releasing glucose and in processing blood lipids, and in other tissues such as fat and muscle.

· Pregnenolone: Pregnenolone appears to block the effects of cortisol, preventing stress and abdominal fat buildup while producing a calming effect. I have found that pregnenolone supplementation is a very effective weight loss tool. It keeps the brain healthy, and metabolism stays high. It also increases testosterone levels for both men and women, which is important because testosterone helps to maintain an aggressive metabolism.

· Progesterone: Progesterone may be useful for treating excessive weight as it facilitates the utilization of stored body fat as energy. It is a sex hormone that when imbalanced makes women overeat. It is typically used as a part of traditional hormone replacement therapy in women.

· Testosterone: is a sex hormone produced by both men and women. Testosterone drops cause sugar cravings and can lead to insulin resistance. Testosterone is often used in weight management as it facilitates weight loss by inhibiting body fat storage, especially in the abdomen.

· Thyroid: T3, T4: Used for hypothyroidism. Often used to prevent or reverse obesity in individuals who are low in this particular hormone.

Stay Away from Non-Bioidentical Hormones:
· birth control pills

· cadaver growth hormones (cadaver-GH)

· conjugated estrogens (Prempro, Premarin)

· diethylstilbestrol (DES)

· medroxyprogesterone (Provera)

· methyl testosterone (such as Android, Testred, Virilon)