Hypopituitarism is defined as a deficiency of one or more hormones of the pituitary gland. The pituitary is a small gland located at the base of the brain. It produces a variety of hormones that play a role in regulating various processes in the body. These hormones include:
· Growth hormone: stimulates growth in children, and in adults it helps maintain healthy muscles and bones and impacts fat distribution.
· Thyroid stimulating hormone: triggers the release of hormones that control metabolism, energy, and the nervous system.
· Luteinizing hormone: stimulates ovulation and testosterone production.
· Follicular-stimulating hormone: stimulates sperm production as well as estrogen and egg development.
· Adrenocorticotropin hormone: triggers adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which maintains blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
· Prolactin: stimulates breast milk production.
· Antidiuretic hormone: regulates water balance and sodium.
· Oxytocin: facilitates childbirth.
Treatment for hypopituitarism includes lifelong hormone replacement for the missing hormones. A deficiency in one or more of these hormones, as well as the treatment to replace them, may have an impact on an individual’s weight and nutritional needs. Specifically, one form of treatment that may be required is the use of corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory medication. Long term use of corticosteroids can lead to a variety of side effects, including weight gain, osteoporosis, and loss of muscle mass.
There are a few nutritional considerations that will be important if you are being treated with corticosteroids and/or have been diagnosed with hypopituitarism:
1. Make sure to consume enough protein to prevent muscle breakdown. Focus on incorporating a variety of protein-rich foods, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and soybeans.
2. Support your bone health by getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Include foods such as dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, and oily fish.
3. Avoid excessive calorie restriction, as this will lead to further breakdown of bone and muscle mass. Focus on diet quality, and prioritize nutrient dense foods including fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy, and legumes.
With such a plethora of available information, it can be daunting and confusing to manage a health condition on your own. The Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at Nourish Family Nutrition & Therapy can assist you in supporting your health or managing a variety of health concerns through individualized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.