By Shaun Adams, DC, DABCI
When you think of mold, rarely does weight gain pop into your mind. Normally we think allergies or lung infections but fat deposition is not one of them. Don’t be upset, your doctor probably hasn’t connected the dots either. That is because mold effects everyone differently but can be a driving factor in your inability to lose weight. Hold tight as we review a very specific hormone and how it is influenced by our spore forming buddies.
Leptin is a hormone released from the fat cells located in adipose tissues. It sends signals to the hypothalamus in the brain. This particular hormone helps regulate and alter long-term food intake and energy expenditure, not just from one meal to the next. The primary function of leptin is to help the body maintain its weight, but because it comes from fat cells, the amount of leptin in your system is directly connected to the amount of body fat you carry. This can create a conundrum. If you add fat to your frame, leptin levels will increase. If you lower body fat percentage, then leptin will decrease.
Why is this a problem?
Well, leptin is sometimes called the satiety hormone. It helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger hunger responses when it does not need energy. However, when levels of the hormone fall, which happens when an individual loses weight, the lower levels can trigger huge increases in appetite and food cravings. This, in turn, can make weight loss more difficult.
When the body is functioning properly, excess fat cells will produce leptin, which will trigger the hypothalamus to lower the appetite, allowing the body to dip into the fat stores to feed itself. Unfortunately, when someone is obese, that individual will have too much leptin in the blood. This can cause a lack of sensitivity to the hormone, a condition known as leptin resistance. Because the individual keeps eating, the fat cells produce more leptin to signal the feeling of satiety, leading to increased leptin levels. This is a similar mechanism seen in diabetes with sugar and a hormone called insulin. Low levels of leptin are rare, but can occasionally occur. Without leptin, the body thinks it has no body fat, and this signals intense, uncontrolled hunger and food intake. This often manifests in severe childhood obesity and delayed puberty.
Recent research has shared something interesting. Leptin is susceptible to the balance of the gut microbiome and toxins. When the gut microbiome is altered from dysbiotic flora, we see an increase in leptin resistance, potentially making it much harder to lose weight. The question may arise, “What came first? The obesity or the poor gut health?” Poor diet and increased calories can cause a person to become obese and over time alter the gut microbiome to make it harder to lose weight, so really they happen almost simultaneously and seemingly synergistically, in most cases, to amplify leptin resistance.
Another recent finding is that mold toxicity can induce leptin resistance. This occurs when toxic levels of mold enter your body and either alter your gut microbiome or alter your leptin receptors. Either of these have can have the same effect and hinder weight loss. This one is more of the patient being an innocent bystander to the toxic effects of the environment and gaining weight or not losing weight because of it.
So, what can we do about these setbacks? Well first and foremost, with any problem involving toxins or the gut, we have to address the diet and lifestyle. Avoid inflammatory foods, and increase anti-inflammatory foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and taking certain supplements can help overcome leptin resistance. There is also testing available that can show your doctor if mold is elevated in your body, from there we can work at supporting the body to get rid of the mold, which in turn may help leptin resistance. Lastly, having your doctor run a stool profile. This shows us all of the bacteria, good and bad, in your gut microbiome, as well as other markers, so we can see exactly what we’re dealing with and which helps guide us how to get rid of the problem.
At Gateway Natural Medicine and Diagnostic Center, we can help look into these things if necessary. Maybe you know someone that has leptin resistance or maybe just trouble losing weight, either way we can help. Schedule your free 15 minute consult with one of our doctors today!