Alice Russell, R.H.N

      HOLISTIC Nutritionist

"Helping you achieve your health goals, naturally."

Hormones like Leptin are Hugely Underestimated!

May 13, 2020 

Improving the actual health of your metabolism and leptin hormone function is the key to losing weight healthily and keeping it off.


Leptin is the master hormone controlling energy for the entire body.   It has daily patterns, meal related timing, and minute by minute tone in the circulatory system. It regulates immunity and reproduction.  Its complexity of function is mind boggling.


For most of us leptin is found in abundance making us prone to leptin resistance. Obese people have unusually high levels of leptin.  This is because in some obese people the brain does not respond to leptin, so they keep eating despite adequate (or excessive) fat stores which is a concept known as leptin resistance.  The absence of functional leptin or its receptors in the brain leads to increased food intake and reduced energy expenditure, this contributes to obesity and metabolic disorders.


Leptin and its receptors have been identified as key regulators of body weight and energy homeostasis. Complications affecting the development of leptin resistance include mutations in the genes encoding leptin and its receptors, proteins involved in self-regulation of leptin synthesis, and blood–brain barrier permeability. 


Leptin is produced and secreted primarily in fat cells, as well as the stomach, heart, placenta, and skeletal muscle.  Leptin is released into the blood from fat cells and circulates to the brain where it crosses the blood-brain barrier to act on receptors within the central nervous system.  In response appetite is suppressed and energy expenditure allowed.  Leptin also travels through the nervous system stimulating fatty tissue to burn off both fat and calories.  There, it binds to receptors that are responsible for making you feel hungry, reducing your desire to eat.


Some researchers believe that reducing diet-induced inflammation may help reverse leptin resistance.  A diet in simple carbohydrates, sugar and fructose is likely to lead to a drastic increase in your sugar levels once carbohydrates are converted to glucose leading to release of insulin, which assists in the absorption of glucose in the body cells. Considering that simple carbohydrates and sugars are quite high in calories, the body will use what it needs with the excess glucose being stored as fat.  


As the amount of leptin, is directly proportional to your fat deposits, the more fat you store, the more Leptin you produce.  As your cells are exposed to more leptin, you develop Leptin residence.  Low insulin sensitivity is a driving force behind insulin resistance and can include excess body weight, too much belly fat, and is worsened with a lack of exercise, smoking, and even skimping on sleep.  As insulin resistance develops, your body fights back by producing more insulin.


A higher level of insulin also prevents fat from being broken down for energy.  The diminished ability of cells to respond to the action of insulin in transporting glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into fat cells, muscle and other tissues.  Insulin resistance typically develops with obesity, excess fat is a leading contributor to Leptin resistance.


Being overweight can lead to Leptin resistance through inflammation.  Fat cells expand and are filled with more fat. As these cells become stretched, they may leak the fats.

Immune cells known as macrophages then come to clean the mess by releasing inflammatory chemicals in the fatty tissues.  Our bodies respond by releasing inflammatory chemicals, which then interfere with the functioning of Leptin.


Stress can contribute to Leptin resistance. Continued release of cortisol during stressful situations without allowing relaxation can lead to reduced thyroid function.  The Thyroid gland produces important hormones that affect metabolism.  High cortisol levels are related to increased fat which causes high levels of Leptin to be produced.


Another significant suspect in the foods we eat every day is grains. Grain lectins block Leptin.  Leptin, the hormone of satiety, which is meant to signal us to stop eating after a meal, is blocked by the lectin of wheat, rye, barley and rice.  Humans, or any other animal, for that matter, should experience satiety once physiological needs have been met.  But if grain lectins are in the vicinity, they block the signal to stop. Grains contain opiates that drive appetite, causing us to eat more.  Lectin is a carbohydrate binding protein found in plants, specifically in grains, legumes and dairy and the lectins that bind to carbohydrates do so in the small intestine and may therefore lead to damage, commonly known as leaky gut.


Frequent smaller meals increase insulin, stress general Leptin function, and disturb the 24-hour Leptin pattern.  Eating three meals and at specific times, an emphasis on smaller portions, snacking if needed and allowing 5 to 6 hours between meals with no eating after dinner allows for fat burning.  Three to four hours after a meal, blood sugar levels naturally begin to drop because insulin has done it’s job of transporting calories. The drop of insulin signals the pancreas to produce another hormone, glucagon. Glucagon’s job is to maintain the blood sugar level in the absence of food coming in from the diet.  Triglycerides are now broken down and used as fuel.


The liver converts stored sugar (glycogen) back into glucose to maintain blood sugar levels.  Your body's fat-burning ability peaks after you've been fasting for 12 to 14 hours; for the first 12 hours of fasting, your body burns glycogen.  Eating less often will affect the amount of Leptin that is released from the fat stores allowing your Leptin receptors time to clear and receive new information.


Over consumption of carbohydrates from all sources is the norm, leading to accumulation of fat stores and resulting hormone related diseases like diabetes and leptin resistance and diseases related to metabolic syndrome. Taking control and being mindful of eating and eating practices are effective ways to regaining health and wellness.  

The Paleolithic Diet

April 30, 2020 

The Paleolithic diet is a weight loss plan based upon the premise of consuming only those foods available during the Paleolithic era (also known as the Stone Age). People at this time were hunter-gatherers, meaning that all animals were hunted, and plants were gathered from nature.

The idea of a Paleolithic diet can be traced to a 1975 book by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin, which in 1985 was further developed by Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner and popularized by Loren Cordain in his 2002 book The Paleo Diet. A paleo diet typically includes meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils; foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains; eliminate all processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.

Also known as the paleo autoimmune protocol, the Autoimmune Diet is a much stricter version of the Paleo diet (which is based on meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds). It advises eliminating foods that may cause inflammation in the gut and eating nutrient-rich foods.

Use real dairy milk in place of almond, coconut or rice milk. You'll get 8 grams of protein compared to just 1 — along with calcium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. Plus, almonds and other nuts may get the Paleo stamp of approval, but almond milk typically contains added sugar and other processed ingredients.

Paleo-style eating has a lot of good qualities: It emphasizes whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. Incorporating more of these foods into your diet would likely be a big improvement.

People following the Paleo/Primal diet experience many of the below benefits including increased and more stable energy levels, improved sleep, clearer skin and healthier looking hair mental clarity, improved mood and attitude. Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties. Less or no bloating, decreased gas.

Sugar, dairy and grains feed the bad intestinal bacteria. Whole foods deliver real nutrients.