Essentials for Lasting Weight Loss
Obesity and overweight are serious problems here in the United States. We see it and we know it, but sometimes I think it’s so pervasive that people are starting to ignore the problem. Due to its commonality, it’s almost becoming “normal” in our minds. More and more, I hear, “Yes, I’m overweight – who isn’t?” Or sometimes, “Yes,
I need to lose weight. I try … ”
If the problem of overweight was only one of aesthetics,
it wouldn’t be such a big deal, meaning the size of your jeans might bother you but it wouldn’t make you ill. Unfortunately, being overweight is directly tied into more than the size of your clothes. Obesity is directly linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and impotency.
Why? Obesity actually changes the character of fat cells, how they metabolize, and how they affect our genes. With obesity comes inflammation. It is inflammation of a chronic nature that leads to the changes in our bodies that create the degenerative diseases mentioned above.
Fat cells literally explode when they get too large.
This causes the release of toxins and creates disease. Unfortunately, even 10 pounds of extra fat located in the torso has a negative effect on your health. If you have fat located in your butt or thighs, you don’t have to worry. You might not like how it looks, but fat in that location is called “brown fat” and because it doesn’t infiltrate your organs it’s not a cause for concern.
Do you continue to feel hungry or not satisfied after eating an adequate amount of food? The explanation for this is actually quite simple. A hormone called leptin, a satiety hormone, signals to the brain that you are full. Of course, when you feel full and satisfied with a meal, there is no temptation to eat more. However, in the face of excessive calories and/or a high carbohydrate diet that has led to obesity, a resistance is created to the hormone, meaning the body stops listening to what leptin is trying to say. In other words, due to excessive fat, the body starts to ignore the message from leptin and you continue to feel hungry. It’s akin to hearing a car alarm going off incessantly. You start to ignore it once you’ve heard it for a while. Fortunately, adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can completely take care of this problem (as we’ll see in a minute).
In summary, excessive fat in the body:
-Creates “dulling” of brain function and potentially Alzheimers, called
Type 3 Diabetes. (In a study, the brains of obese people looked 16 years
older than their healthy counterparts.)
-Opposes insulin so that we gain more weight and develop diabetes
-Potentiates the stress hormone so that we deal less effectively with stress
-Weakens the immune system, leading to disease
-Disrupts appetite so you feel hungry all the time
-Increases risk of dying earlier
The good news is that these processes are entirely
reversible with a healthy lifestyle and diet!
Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle for Weight Management
-First of all, do not consume any fast food or highly processed foods, which
are literally engineered to be addictive. Sugar affects the reward center of
the brain in the same way as certain drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and
cocaine. Due to their effect on the brain, we become addicted to them.
Sugar is so addictive that in a study of rats already addicted to cocaine,
when they had the option of choosing between sugar and cocaine, 94
percent chose sugar!
-Don’t have a “junk” day or take weekends off from healthy eating. Sadly,
one day of poor eating changes the brain and how it signals. The pendulum
on food and the quality thereof swings from health to disease in this way: a
healthy diet beneficially modulates thousands of genes, enhances the function
of dozens of hormones, and regulates tens of thousands of protein networks
that can in turn prevent, cure, and even reverse most chronic diseases. A bad
diet? It does the exact opposite.
This is why a patient who just received a gastric bypass due to morbid
obesity can, within just a couple of days, no longer have diabetes. Have
they lost weight? No, not yet, but what they have done is drastically change
the quality and quantity of food they consume. In a very short time that results
in genetic and hormonal changes. Hard to believe, I know, but the power of
what you put on your fork cannot be overstated. I’m not saying gastric
bypass is the solution (far from it), but the signaling change that occurs in the
body is truly phenomenal when you change what you have on your fork.
Along that line, Coca Cola started a misinformation campaign several
months ago designed to confuse consumers and divert attention away from
the evidence that sweet beverages are a major contributor to obesity, heart
disease, and diabetes. Their message is that with exercise, you don’t need to
worry about calories and they thereby insinuate that Coke is “just fine” as
part of a healthy lifestyle. Wrong! Please don’t fall for this erroneous advice.
They go on to quote “studies” but come to find out they funded those studies
and have gifted millions to the universities where the leaders of their front
group, The Global Energy Balance, are employed. There is no place for
sugary sodas, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners in a healthy or
-Consider calorie restriction for part of your day. Intermittent fasting,
or avoiding food intake for a 14 to 16 hour period each day, has
many positive health benefits. Please note this is not for children,
women trying to get pregnant, or those who have unstable blood
sugar. Personally, I used to pass out from low blood sugar in my
teens and twenties, but once I fixed it, I now follow intermittent
fasting most days and feel fantastic.
-Exercise is critical. Find something you enjoy and do it five days
per week, totaling at least three hours of exercise per week.
Bodies need exercise and the more you do it, the more you’ll
grow to enjoy it.
-We’ve all heard that good probiotics are important. Did you know
that they affect your weight by changing your metabolism?
Did you know that skinny people have different gut flora from
obese people? It’s fascinating and this is a burgeoning field with
much yet to be discovered. But something you can do right now is
aim to consume nine servings of organic vegetables and fruits
each day to provide the prebiotics that feed your flora. Don’t ever
consume artificial sweeteners that destroy the good guys (and try
to avoid drugs and antibiotics as much as possible, for the same
reason). A strong plant-based diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts,
seeds, and beans will “seed” the population of your gut with good
bacteria. These good foods will “feed” the good bugs in your gut
and increase your longevity. A bad diet begets bad flora that
negatively affects metabolism and body composition.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Vikki Petersen, winner of the “Gluten-Free
Doctor of the Year” award, is a Doctor of
Chiropractic, Certified Clinical Nutritionist,
internationally published author, speaker, and
co-founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
(healthnowmedical.com). She is the author of
The Gluten Effect, a best-seller on gluten
sensitivity and celiac disease.