Diet aims to address hormone imbalances

A month-long diet of jelly, supplemented by wine in the evenings, was UK television personality Lowri Turner's most ridiculous, desperate attempt at losing weight.

"I was skinny but completely mad," the former size 18 says.

"My struggles with weight go back to my teens when I was going up and down by three stone. It was only once I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome that I began to learn about food."

What the mother of three has since learned is that hormones not only influence brain function, but also the ability to maintain a healthy weight - happily.

An imbalance in the hormones serotonin, dopamine, leptin and adrenals can increase your appetite and cause the body's natural fat-burning process to dwindle.

Turner shares what she has learned in The S Factor Diet - The Happiest Way To Lose Weight, a diet and cookery book that draws on the latest research into how mood and hormones can affect weight loss.

"The problem with most diets is that they make you depressed," Turner says.

"The S Factor diet is about changing the biochemistry of your body, and of your brain in particular, by changing the food you eat so you feel happier and healthier."

Turner revels that over-eating is a psychological attempt to correct imbalances in what she calls the S Factor hormones - natural chemicals we are supposed to produce in abundance, but which some of us don't.

Certain foods stimulate the production of certain hormones (leptin and adrenal hormones such as cortisol) and neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine).

S Factor hormones control how hungry you feel and how satisfied you are after eating.

■ Serotonin is the good-mood hormone.

■ Dopamine is the high-motivation hormone.

■ Leptin is the "I'm not hungry" hormone.

■ Adrenals are the "stress" hormone.

Serotonin is produced from eating avocados, bananas, beans, chicken, eggs, fish, turkey.

Leptin is balanced by beans, eggs and lean protein, green bananas, nuts and seed, oats and oily fish.

Almonds, bananas, fish, soy and watermelon assist dopamine production. And adrenals are produced from dark berries, dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds, oily fish and sea vegetables like nori seaweed.

Turner has discovered that the S Factor hormone she needs to concentrate on balancing the most is dopamine.

"I'm an all or nothing person - classic for low dopamine," she says.

"I was a serious smoker from my early 20s to my mid-30s. I used to love ice cream and pasta, which was why I was a size 18.

"I still love caffeine and don't bar it completely; I am a great believer in not trying to be too perfect."

Turner has also seen how diet has made a difference to her hyperactive 12-year-old son.

"The S Factor Diet is a plan for life in that the basic guidelines to balancing and boosting your hormones will benefit your health in a whole range of ways.

"It's the only permanent way to silence cravings driven by hormonal imbalance."

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