An A-Z Woman's Guide to Vibrant Health
Overweight and Obesity
Obesity and being overweight constitute the second leading cause of preventable
death, after smoking, and are considered to be the most common nutritional disorders
in the industrialized world today. More than 60 percent of the U.S. population has
a weight problem. The picture is much the same in Canada with data provided by the
Canadian Community Health Survey between 1990 and 2001 showing that 48 percent of
the Canadian population is packing too much poundage and 15 percent is classified
Pharmaceutical companies are pumping billions of dollars into new weightloss
drugs to fight the war against fat. Geneticists try to unlock and manipulate the
genes that make us fat - one day hoping for a vaccine that will keep us thin. Yet
the secret, as you will discover in this section, may be more complicated than reducing
calories and exercising more often - our hormones may be the culprits contributing
to our fatness.
Old theories about weight loss were based on the "calories in, calories out" rhetoric.
Simply put, if you ate less food and exercised more, weight loss would occur. Those
who exercise daily, eat salad and carrot sticks, drink glass after glass of water
and still don't lose weight can vouch that weight loss is not that simple. And we
all know the person who can eat whatever they wish, has never set foot on a treadmill
and doesn't put on a pound. There is a complex interplay of hormonal, biochemical,
genetic, physical and lifestyle factors that are causing our battle of the bulge.
You know you have to exercise but you have no "get up and go." Low thyroid function
and exhausted adrenals are two other reasons why we gain weight and have no desire
to work out. See
Adrenal Exhaustion and
Thyroid for more information.
Basal Metabolic Rate: Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the rate at which your
body burns calories when you are at rest. Thyroid hormones and how much you exercise
are two factors, among many, that have an effect on what your metabolic rate is
when you are doing nothing. Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that take
place inside our cells to create energy. All the fuel, which includes carbohydrates,
fats, essential fats and proteins, in the food we eat is broken down to produce
the energy the body needs to maintain our body temperature, help us breathe, move
our muscles and more. A peak operating metabolism can burn up a lot of fuel (food)
and create plenty of energy or conversely a slow metabolism will store the fuel
as fat. Thermogenesis is the process that burns stored fat.
Liver Function: If you have been dieting for years and were never
told a healthy liver is essential for fat loss it isn't any wonder you may not have
reached your fat-loss goals. The liver is the most important organ in the body,
filtering blood, processing and packaging hormones, removing toxins, metabolizing
proteins and carbohydrates into energy, manufacturing cholesterol and breaking down
fats, among hundreds of other vital functions.
Excess weight around the middle, whites of the eyes that are dotted with fatty yellow
bumps, fatty cysts and skin mottled with "age spots" are all signs of a congested
liver, more commonly called a "fatty liver." Clogged bile ducts, inadequate secretion
of bile, not enough bile, or an overwhelmed or congested liver from too many prescription
drugs, toxins or alcohol can all contribute to a fatty liver. These factors cause
our liver to inadequately break down or emulsify fats, and our fat cells to store
too much fat, promoting weight gain or resistance to fat loss.
Hormones That Make Us Fat: Any disruption of the liver detoxification
pathway contributes to excesses or imbalances in hormones, toxins and our ability
to lose weight. The liver is also responsible for conjugating or combining estrogens
and other steroid hormones, certain drugs and chemical compounds. Too much estrogen
(also called estrogen dominance) is one reason why women have a difficult time losing
fat around the abdominal area. A decreased rate of estrogen excretion via liver
detoxification contributes to what we commonly call "estrogen belly," which is simply
too much fat around the middle, promoted by too much estrogen due to faulty excretion
of excess estrogens.
Too much fat on our body also increases our estrogen levels as fat cells are a storage
site for estrogen. Contributing to our fatness is the fact that fat cells also manufacture
estrogen. This sets up a vicious cycle of too many fat cells manufacturing and storing
too much estrogen which creates high levels of estrogen which maintains our increased
Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, may be the main culprit contributing
to our "fatness." The standard excessively high carbohydrate, low protein diet is
disrupting our body's ability to regulate blood sugar adequately. When we have too
much insulin being pumped out to reduce abnormally high blood sugar, we inevitably
gain weight, become fat and our cells become very resistant to insulin and fat loss.
Everyone who is overweight has insulin resistance and insulin resistance puts us
at higher risk of heart disease, cancers and diabetes.
Another deadly aspect of high insulin is that it increases the secretion of cortisol,
our stress hormone. High cortisol causes a corresponding drop in the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone
(DHEA). DHEA helps to increase muscle mass, improve immune function, is a precursor
to other hormones and has been called our anti-aging hormone. Most importantly for
fat loss, we know that more muscle mass causes increased fat burning and a reduction
in insulin. As we can see, high insulin promotes a very negative cascade of effects.
Leptin, a hormone produced by body fat, is critical in telling the body when to
eat and when we are satisfied. We know that in some people the message of satiety
is not heard and the fat cells send out more and more leptin, causing resistance
to leptin, increased food cravings and the desire to continue eating. In other people,
leptin levels are low due to zinc deficiency.
Unrelenting chronic stress is another factor that promotes weight gain. New research
performed at Laval University in Quebec shows that chronic stress causes our fat
cells to become resistant to fat loss, especially fat cells around our abdomens.
Cortisol activates fat cells - all fat cells - to store fat! But those that are
called central fat cells, found mainly deep in the abdominal wall, have four times
the cortisol receptors on their cell membranes.
Each time you are stressed the cortisol-fat mechanism turns on and your body stores
more fat to handle all the stress you are experiencing.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain made from the amino acids found in proteins,
is also involved in notifying your brain that you are satisfied and can put down
your fork. Neurotransmitters are messengers that communicate between cells. Low
serotonin causes depression, obesity, lethargy and a preference for refined carbohydrates
and overeating because the brain senses it is starving. Those that are hyper-secretors
of cortisol exhibit suppressed serotonin levels, which may lead to problems managing
weight. We know that in vulnerable persons depression promotes weight gain. When
we diet and restrict protein-rich calories, our serotonin levels also plummet. The
connection between serotonin, cortisol and weight gain is currently being heavily
researched. Simply by lowering cortisol levels through stress management and the
use of specific serotonin-enhancing nutritional supplements, including 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan),
you can begin to regain control over your weight.
PRESCRIPTION FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH
Multivitamins with minerals; (contains no iron)
As directed. For complete formula recommendations see
For optimal nutrient status. To aid proper thyroid function and support adrenals
Contains zinc, known to normalize leptin
1-2 capsules daily containing:
ChirositolTM 600-1200 mg
Normalizes insulin, balances serotonin to reduce food cravings, helps control blood
glucose levels, beneficial for building muscles, reduces belly fat
if you suspect low thyroid is contributing to your weight problem
2 capsules at breakfast. Ensure your total daily iodine from all sources does not
exceed 300 to 400 mcg.
Important for enhancing metabolic rate for proper weight loss Support for the thyroid
50-100 mg three times daily taken at breakfast, supper and bedtime
Stops carbohydrate cravings. Improves mood
Revs up fat burning. Contains amino acids including tyrosine which binds with iodine
to make thyroid hormones
HEALTH TIPS TO ENHANCE HEALING
- In addition, I recommend you look for my book
A Smart Woman's Guide to Weight Loss (2010).
- To rev up your fat-burning furnace, eat protein for breakfast. This will increase
your metabolism by 25 percent and that increase lasts for several hours.
- Quantity of food is given most of the credit for our weight woes; the quality of
the food we eat plays an equally important role. Saturated fats, trans-fats, fake
fats, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, processed
meats and cheese, diet foods and sodas conspire to make us fat and disrupt our hormones.
Eliminate all of these toxic foods.
- Have your thyroid checked. See
- Keep insulin levels normal by eating small, protein-rich meals throughout the day
and eliminating the white foods (white sugar, white flour, white rice, white pasta,
white potatoes). See
- Allergies and sensitivities to food also contribute to increased bloating, poor
digestion, weight gain, water retention and an overall puffy appearance. Leaky gut
syndrome is caused by years of food allergies, bacterial overgrowth in the gut,
Candida and stress (high cortisol). The name "leaky gut" refers to when waste, bacteria,
and partially digested food are allowed to pass into the bloodstream from a damaged
or leaky gut. The foreign substances should have stayed in our digestive system
are now floating in the blood stream, causing additional stress on the liver and
fluid retention, with individuals packing around 10 to 15 pounds of extra fluids.
Our body approximately two-thirds water, found in all our cells and tissues (where
it is essential for all bodily functions). But when water becomes trapped tissues
and around cells, detoxification and proper cell function, including the movement
of fat into and out of cells is inhibited.
- Exercise for 10 minutes with weights every day.
- The dinner plate is too big. The amount of food we should be eating at a meal fits
on the side plate.