Obesity

Obesity

 

Obesity is the single most common problem that doctors see in their practices. Unfortunately, its also a risk factor for a host of disorders. People who are more than

20 percent over the recommended weight for their height and sex are more vulnera- ble to degenerative diseases—heart problems, certain cancers, diabetes, arthritis, and so on—than the rest of the population is. High blood pressure, strokes, hemor- rhoids, hiatal hernias, varicose veins, kidney problems, infertility, gallstones, and liver disease are all more likely to strike the overweight. And since heavy people are likely to consume high quantities of toxic food, their immune systems are depressed, leav- ing them susceptible to any virus or bug that happens to be going around at home or in the office.

But most people with weight problems already know all that. Weight loss is prob- ably the most written-about subject in America, but despite all the diets, pills, spas, and programs, only a small percentage of people are able to lose weight and keep it off. In fact, the rising occurrence of obesity can be traced in part to our attempts to fight it. Take the low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet that in the early 1990s was uni- versally espoused as healthful: People filled up their plates with so much pasta, bread, and fat-free sweets that they actually ended up eating more calories—and, of course, gaining more weight. Other strategies, such as appetite suppressants, and extreme diets, do indeed help people lose weight in the short term. But theyre also too dan- gerous to use for long, so at some point those people have to return to a lifestyle that is healthful. Because many “diet gurus” havent taught people how to put healthful eating in the context of their daily routines, they soon put the weight right back on.



There are several reasons why a person is susceptible to obesity. Genetics is an obvious factor that makes it more difficult for some people to lose weight. One exam- ple is people who have syndrome X (see pages 498–502). This inherited condition makes some people more likely to put on weight from simple carbohydrate consump- tion than others are. Insulin levels spike upward and result in fat deposition. This prob- lem is compounded by the fact that the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar each year! In addition, some researchers feel that the body has a genetically pro- grammed “set point. This refers to the theory that the body tries to maintain a set metabolic rate at which calories are burned, especially the fat cells. For people with a genetic susceptibility, it is even more important to be diligent with the diet and lifestyle recommendations we make. Also, nutritional supplements can help to lessen genetic tendencies.

The amount of calories someone consumes is an obvious reason for weight gain. Consuming too many calories without burning them results in a simple mathemati- cal reality—weight gain. To stay within a certain parameter for your metabolism, it is helpful to grasp the concept of general calorie amounts of commonly consumed foods.

The second important concept, after calorie consumption, is the calories expended through movement and exercise. The more calories are utilized for energy, the less will go toward fat accumulation. In this technologically advanced and television- addicted society, people are expending many less calories than they used to.

Hormone balance is also important for the prevention and the treatment of obesity. Many hormones in the body have an effect on metabolism. The most notable are thy- roid hormones, which greatly influence the metabolic rate in our cells. However, sev- eral others hormones, such as DHEA, testosterone, and growth hormones, have powerful effects as well. We have also found that an estrogen and progesterone imbal- ance contributes to fat deposition and water retention, and thus to weight gain. This seems to be particularly true for women who use synthetic hormones. A hormone bal- ance also includes the level of the brain hormone serotonin. Low levels of this neu- rotransmitter contribute to feelings of hunger and to sugar/carbohydrate cravings. There are natural ways to optimize this neurotransmitter, as discussed in this section and in the section on Depression. Further research in this field will shed more light on the role of neurotransmitters and obesity.

Toxins in the body also pose a problem for people who are overweight. Many of the chemicals that people are exposed to interfere with normal cell function, includ- ing metabolism. Pesticides, heavy metals such as mercury, and others are a part of our polluted world. Interestingly, many of these toxins are stored in fat tissue in order to prevent damage to vital body organs, such as the brain and the heart.

In addition, a diet that is devoid of nutrients leads to nutritional deficiencies. The body does not burn fat by magic but requires several vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It appears that certain nutrients can help in the prevention and the treatment of obe- sity. While none should be considered “magic bullets, they can in some cases be quite helpful as part of a comprehensive weight or fat reduction protocol.

The mental and the emotional, as well as the spiritual, well-being of a person can- not be ignored in regard to obesity. Imbalances in these areas often supersede genetic and physical reasons for weight gain. For example, many people with depression and anxiety consume comfort foods as a way to feel a false sense of love or worth. Some patients with obesity first began to have problems with weight after experiencing an unresolved emotional trauma. Treating the whole person is of paramount importance with obesity.



 

Test #1: Body Mass Index (BMI)

 



The body mass index, or BMI, helps you deter- mine the appropriate weight for your frame. For most people,  the BMI test is more reliable than scales or height/weight charts are, but you should know that people  with very muscular  physiques may come up with a misleading  reading.  Because muscle  weighs more than fat, many professional athletes have high BMIs—although, clearly, they dont need to lose weight.

Heres how to calculate your BMI. After each step are sample  calculations, made for a person who is 5’8” and 150 pounds:

 

1. Write down your height in inches:

 

 

(5’8" = 68 inches)

 

2. Multiply the number  in Line 1 by .025:

 

 

(68 × .025 = 1.70)

 

3. Square the number  in Line 2:                        (1.70 × 1.70 = 2.89)

4. Write down your weight in pounds:

 

 

(150)

 

5. Multiply the number  in Line 4 by .45:

 

 

(150 × .45 = 67.50)

 

6. Divide the number  in Line 5 by the number in Line 3:                   

(67.50/2.89 = 23.36)

 

Interpreting the Results

If your BMI is between 18.9 and 24.9, you are considered to be of a healthy weight. Like everyone  else, you need to eat well and exercise, but if you take the second  test here and it doesnt indicate  a health risk, you dont need to lose pounds.

If your BMI is 25 or higher, theres a good chance that you need to lose weight. If you have any weight-related health problems  like heart

disease,  high blood pressure,  high cholesterol, joint or back pain, or diabetes,  you should make a concerted effort to burn more calories than

you take in. People who smoke, who drink heav- ily, or who have a family history of the diseases listed previously would also be wise to lose weight. If you dont have any of these concerns, its possible that you are simply a large but healthy person. Take the second  test to further assess your health risk.

If your BMI is below 18.9, you may be under- weight. If youre an otherwise  healthy adolescent who does not have an eating disorder,  youre probably  just going through a phase. When you get a little older, your metabolism will likely

right itself. Adults, however,  should talk to a doctor about  what a low BMI means for them

as individuals.  And anyone  who suffers from an eating disorder should get professional  help right away.

 

Test #2: Waist Circumference

Measure your waist circumference, using your navel as the defining point of your waist. For men, a waist circumference of more than forty inches is considered a health risk. Women  should not have a waist circumference of more than thirty-ve inches.

No one is quite sure why, but large waists are an indicator  of possible future health problems, especially  of cardiovascular conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure.  If you have a large waist circumference, you should read these pages for advice about  losing weight.

If you have a high BMI but have a normal waist circumference, are healthy,  have no family history of weight-related disease,  and dont drink exces- sively or smoke, your weight is probably  just fine. If it bothers you, or if you sense that your weight

is slowing you down or affecting your health,  see your doctor for an individual  assessment.  And remember: Even if you dont need to lose weight, you should still eat well and exercise on a regular basis.



SYMPTOMS

 

Weight gain and fat deposition

Increased sweating

 

 

Difficulty breathing

 

 

ROOT CAUSES

 

Obesity is almost always caused by a combination of the first two items listed here: taking in more calories than are expended. But, as we described, there can be many factors at work.



Poor diet (high in calories and sim- ple carbohydrates)

Inactivity

Hormone imbalance (particularly

thyroid)

Toxins

Neurotransmitter imbalance

(serotonin)

Mental, emotional, or spiritual issues

Preexisting medical conditions

(e.g., hypothyroidism)

Genetics

Side effects of pharmaceutical

medications (e.g., antidepressants)

 

 

TREATMENT Diet

Instead of counting calories or fat grams, your best bet for health and weight loss is

to focus on eating foods that are fresh, whole, and nutritionally dense.

 

Recommended Food

Dont rely on someone else: start cooking for yourself. Shop for a variety of basic, whole foods. You can eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds raw for their fiber and digestive enzymes; the rest of the time, use light cooking methods like broiling, steam- ing, roasting, or grilling.

Make sure you get enough protein every day. Otherwise, youll feel deprived and downright hungry. Fish is an excellent source of protein, but few of us can eat it every

 

 

Testing Techniques

 

The following tests help assess possible reasons for weight gain:

Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, insulin, progesterone)—saliva, blood,  or urine

Intestinal permeability—urine

Detoxification profile—urine

Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, l-carnitine, chromium, and CoQ10)—blood

Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool  analysis Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal Blood-sugar balance—blood

Toxic metals—hair  or urine



single day. Plan on having beans, lean poultry, soy products, nuts, or yogurt with every meal. High-quality protein drinks from whey, eggs, or rice are good choices.

Whole, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole-grain bread, and oats are necessary for a healthful eating plan. Theyre also high in fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps you free of toxins. Use common sense, though; carbohydrates are meant to be one part of your diet, not all of it. Have a small or moderately sized serving at each meal—no more.

Essential fatty acids are just what their name implies: fats that are good for you. Cold-water fish, flaxseeds, and cold-pressed oils like olive oil are necessary for proper functioning of almost every body system, and they help you feel satisfied after a meal. As with everything else, however, use EFAs in moderation. Extra helpings of anything, even of salmon fillets, contribute to your waistline but not to your health. Sauté your vegetables in a tablespoon, not a cup, of olive oil.

Low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, may increase your desire for refined and complex carbohydrates, including for sugar. Eat foods that are high in trypto- phan—turkey, chicken, tuna, soymilk, and live unsweetened yogurt. This chemical encourages the production of serotonin and may stave off cravings.

Vegetable juice is healthful and filling. Drink a glass a half hour before meals to keep your appetite in check.

Water also takes the edge off your hunger. Plan on drinking a glass of clean water every two waking hours.

Eat a balanced ratio of the major food groups. Many people do well on a diet that is 40 to 50 percent carbohydrates (mainly, complex carbs), 30 percent fats (mainly, good fats), and 30 percent protein. This is just a sample percentage. Some people do better with a slightly higher protein intake.

Eat more small, regular meals throughout the day to quench your appetite and bal- ance blood-sugar levels.

Do not skip meals, particularly breakfast. This puts the body into a starvation mode that can increase fat accumulation.

 

Food to Avoid

Americans are addicted to sugar. Sugar is high in calories and causes mood swings and blood-sugar crashes that may only increase your cravings. If youre trying to lose weight, your first priority should be to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate refined sugar from your diet. No cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream, sodas, white breads, pastas, and crackers, and especially no low-fat sweets, which contain extra sugar to make up for the missing richness. Its also wise to limit your intake of natural sug- ars. Fruit sugars, honey, and molasses are less damaging to your body than refined products are, but in large quantities, they can still lead to weight gain. Eat them only in moderation.

Avoid processed and junk food. Food made with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives offers you little in the way of real sustenance. Their toxins are also highly addictive. As most of us know, even one fast-food cheeseburger or a handful of greasy, salty potato chips is enough to derail your body from its natural sense of whats healthful.

Refined flours are another example of the proverbial “empty calories. Pasta, white bread, and white rice are stripped of most of their nutrients, leaving you with noth- ing but a plate full of calories.

Youve heard it a thousand times, and its still true: you must radically cut back on your consumption of “bad” fats. If you stop eating processed food (including



margarine and shortening), youll go a long way toward this goal. Naturally sweet- ened baked goods are also high in saturated fats. If you enjoy any of these items, reserve them for the occasional treat.

Detoxification

 

If youre overweight, chances are that youve been eating food thats highly toxic. A short juice fast will encourage your fat cells to release their waste products and tox- ins. A few days without solid food will also help you break your addictions, so that your body “remembers the healthful foods it needs and begins to crave those instead of junk. Consider beginning your diet with a one- to three-day juice fast.

People who are overweight may also suffer from frequent constipation. The best course of action is to follow the eating plan given here; with less fat and more fiber, youll soon find that youre regular again.

Identify your food sensitivities. Food sensitivities or allergies can contribute to weight gain. See the Food Allergies/Sensitivities section.

 

 

Super Seven Prescriptions—Obesity

 

Super Prescription #1    Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)

Take 3.4 grams daily. Studies show that this fatty acid reduces body fat composition.

Super Prescription #2    Green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract

Take 1,500 mg of green tea extract standardized to 80 to 90 percent polyphenols and 35 to 55 percent epigallocatechin gallate. Studies have shown that green tea extract increases thermogenesis, the bodys ability to burn energy. Note: Green tea

    contains caffeine, which may account for some of this benefit.

Super Prescription #3    5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

Take 100 to 300 mg three times daily; 5-HTP reduces carbohydrate cravings and improves satiety. Note: Do not take 5-HTP if you are currently using pharmaceu- tical antidepressants or antianxiety medications.

Super Prescription #4    Chromium

Take 500 mcg twice daily. Chromium helps with blood-sugar balance and sweet cravings.

Super Prescription #5    Pyruvate (pyruvate acid)

Take 25 grams daily. Studies show that pyruvate may aid weight loss when com- bined with a low fat diet and/or exercise.

Super Prescription #6    L-carnitine

Take 500 to 1,000 mg three times daily. L-carnitine is involved with burning fat

    as a fuel source for the cells.

Super Prescription #7    Essential fatty acids

Take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil or 3 grams of fish oil daily, along with 100 mg of GLA (gamma linoleic acid). Essential fatty acids are required to burn fat as fuel.

 

 

General Recommendations

 

A high-potency multivitamin provides a base of vitamins and minerals required for people on a restricted diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

randomized, double-blind

Text Box: A

study involving sixty overweight  and obese people  demonstrated that people  supple- menting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) had a significantly higher reduction in body fat mass, as compared to people taking a placebo.

 

 

 

 

double-blind study by the

Text Box: A

University of Rome included twenty obese people  for two phases of time. The first phase involved a nonrestrictive diet,

and the second  phase focused on a calorie- restricted  diet. During both phases,  people receiving 900 mg of

5-HTP had a reduc- tion in carbohydrate intake and the consis- tent presence of an early sensation  of fullness.



Supplementing 7-KETO (3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone) has been shown in a study of overweight people to help with weight and fat loss. Take 100 mg twice daily.

Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) improves liver metabolism and detoxifica- tion, which may support weight loss. Take 300 mg or 2 ml with each meal.

Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) supports thyroid function. Use it if you have sub- optimal thyroid activity. Take 100 mg or 1 ml twice daily.

 

 

Homeopathy

 

Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C,

12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Con- sultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.

Calcarea Carbonica for people who tend to be flabby and chilly. The palms, the feet, and the back of the head sweat easily. They have a strong craving for eggs, sweets, and dairy products. They tend to feel easily overwhelmed.

Ignatia (Ignatia amara) is for highly sensitive people who use food to make themselves feel better. There is often a recent history of acute grief or an emotional trauma.

Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is helpful when there is a strong craving for sweets. The person gets warm easily and strongly desires the windows to be open or wants to be outside. There is a sense of sadness, with a desire to be consoled.

Staphysagria is for people with a history of abuse, leading to overeating as a way to deal with suppressed anger. The anger tends to build over time. They have a craving for sweets.

 

 

Acupressure

 

See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.

Conception Vessel 6 stimulates digestion and increases your metabolism.

Use Spleen 16 to return an out-of-control appetite to a more normal state.

 

 

Bodywork

 

Reflexology

See pages 686–687 for information about reflexology areas and how to work them.

Work the liver to increase metabolism and stimulate detoxification. For additional cleansing, work the colon.

Instead of eating when youre nervous, work the diaphragm and the solar plexus areas to calm down.

 

 

Aromatherapy

Bergamot blunts hunger pangs. For an immediate effect, hold the vial of oil directly under your nose and inhale.

Support a cleansing fast by adding juniper oil to a bath. Juniper promotes the release of toxins from fatty tissue.



Try using essential oils, instead of sugar, to lift your mood. Lavender, rose, geranium, and orange will make you feel more cheerful.

 

 

Stress Reduction

 

General Stress-Reduction Therapies

Every day, take some time out for deep breathing and visualization. Imagine your- self making healthful food choices and turning down less-nutritious offers. See yourself doing the things youd like to do but cant because of your excess weight: run- ning a mile, playing with your grandkids, even climbing a mountain.

Yoga, a technique that encourages control of the senses, will help you learn to han- dle stress without turning to the refrigerator. Its also a good gentle exercise for peo- ple who havent been active for a while.

Stress can make you eat, but sticking to a weight-loss plan can be stressful itself. Find a couple of friends who will lend a sympathetic ear; it helps if theyre also try- ing to lose weight. Or you could join a support group.

 

 

Bach Flower Remedies

 

Consult the chart on pages 648–650 to determine the best remedy for your particu- lar needs. Following are some suggestions. Once youve chosen a remedy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.

If you think about food constantly, take White Chestnut to stop obsessive thoughts. Heather is for people who find it hard to be alone, even for a short length of time. People who are good-humored on the surface but who overeat as a means of han-

dling inner tension should take Agrimony.

Crab Apple, the cleansing remedy, will help people who feel ashamed about their weight.

 

 

Other Recommendations

 

Exercise. Its more effective than dieting alone. But you dont have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of activity; in fact, its far better for you to take a brisk walk every day than to engage in more strenuous activity once or twice a week. Overall, it is best to pick an exercise that you really enjoy. If youre very out of shape or have heart problems, contact your doctor before starting an exercise program. And whatever youre doing, ease into it gradually.

 

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