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Where does belly fat come from?

Call it a spare tire, a pooch, or even a beer belly; despite the cute names, it’s still frustrating. Abdominal fat is associated with aging-related shifts in fat deposition, drops in sex hormone levels, and especially with chronic stress.

Here’s how it works: high blood levels of the main stress hormone, cortisol, change the way your body handles fat. Belly fat cells have more cortisol receptors on their surface than fat cells in other places in the body. They are primed to take in fat when cortisol levels are elevated. If you combine that with high insulin levels from too much sugar, you get even more fat storage—and more carbohydrate cravings as well.

What’s more, high cortisol inhibits your body’s ability to use thyroid hormone effectively. This lowers your metabolic rate, thus lessens your ability to burn calories for energy. Low thyroid function has been associated with insulin resistance and increased sensitivity to cortisol. It can become a downward spiral of overeating, weight gain, and fatigue.

While diet and exercise will help to get rid of this stubborn fat, many people will need more help than that to lose weight and restore their body back to normal.

There are a few simple things you can do immediately to help. First, check your body temperature. (For instructions on how to do this correctly, see “How are body temperatures measured” on our website.) If your body temperature is consistently low—below 98.5 F., or 36.94 C, but typically lower than 97.8 F, or 36.56 C.— there’s a good chance that you have low metabolism and low thyroid hormone function.

You can often correct low metabolism and low thyroid function with a course of the natural, active form of thyroid hormone, T3. This is different than the usual prescription form of thyroid, T4 (Synthroid or levothyroxine) and for some people, it works better. Like T4, however, T3 requires a prescription and medical supervision.

If you put on stress-related belly fat, you may also experience symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands (there are two, one on top of each kidney) may have problems responding adequately to stress. There may be too much cortisol secretion, and over time, not enough.

Certain herbs can support the adrenals and how the body handles stress. These herbs include Holy Basil, Rhodiola, licorice, ashwagandha, Eleuthero, astragalus, and others. These herbs have a long history of use for increasing energy and restoring calm focus in the face of stress or fatigue. People may use them to support their adrenals and get them back to normal. Sometimes this is a necessary step before the thyroid can resume balance as well.

You can discuss using T3 and adrenal support with your doctor, with whom we will be happy to discuss your case. Your doctor can call 800.420.5801 to find out more about T3 therapy and treatment for adrenal fatigue. Our website can also help you locate a doctor closest to you who has been trained in thyroid and adrenal issues.

Resetting your body’s metabolic thermostat and helping you withstand stress are good steps to restore balance. It can often make it easier for you to follow through with the other things that will help you beat belly fat: a healthier diet, regular exercise and enough quality sleep.

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