“Is the life you are living worth the life you are giving up?”
Health issues can rob us of our natural well-being and keep us from living and enjoying life to the fullest. It’s important to realize that the symptoms of poor health serve as signals that something is out of balance in the body. Weight gain is no exception.
Weight gain starts because of a cause and continues because the cause remains. As with many health issues, the underlying cause of the weight gain must be addressed to halt excess weight gain and allow the body to return to its healthy, ideal weight.
Examining the cause
Increased fat doesn’t just show up overnight, although it can sure seem that way. There are many reasons why your midsection expands. Whether your extra inches are merely annoying or a sign of more serious health problems, scientifically backed methods can be used to document and address the cause(s) of weight gain.
Low-fat diets have long been touted as the key to a healthy weight and good health, but the evidence just isn’t there. In the past 30 years, the percentage of calories from fat in people’s diets has gone down, but obesity rates have skyrocketed in the U.S.
Part of the problem with low-fat diets is they are often high in carbohydrates, especially from rapidly digested sources, such as white bread and white rice. Such foods increase the risk of weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Alternatively, diets rich in healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil, are significantly more likely to lead to lasting weight loss, according to a 2015 Harvard study.
Sugar, corn syrup and additives
Did you know sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine or heroin? Simple sugars, like those found in diet sodas, not only add pounds, but they also trigger food cravings, causing you to eat more.
High fructose corn syrup, which is 20 times sweeter than sugar, should also be avoided. Check the labels, as high fructose corn syrup can be found in cereal bars, ketchup and so many other prepackaged foods. Additives like Olean decrease vitamin absorption, and while banned in Canada, China and the European Union, are promoted as “healthy food” in the U.S. Avoid fake health foods and added preservatives, all of which add unwanted pounds.
Remember when you could eat whatever you wanted and not gain weight? Then the years piled on pounds, despite dieting and exercise. Excess visceral fat sends chemical signals throughout the body that can slow metabolism and increase insulin: high insulin levels can cause inflammation and prompt the body to convert calories to fat. When your liver processes that fat, it deposits it right next to where the organ is located: your midsection.
Hidden food allergies, gluten sensitivity, low beneficial bacteria and gastrointestinal infections like Candida can slow digestion and affect health. Obesity lowered total brain volume in healthy, middle-aged individuals in a recent study published in the Annuals of Neurology. What’s more, the study found visceral abdominal fat was significantly linked to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s!
Balanced neurotransmitters and hormones are key to healthy weight management. Chronic stress causes high levels of insulin and cortisol in the blood, and low thyroid and adrenal function contribute to excess weight.
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, which has a huge impact on weight, energy level and mood. Thyroid-induced symptoms include weight gain, constipation, hair loss, sluggishness, fatigue, depression and mood swings.
And when stress hormones are unbalanced, the thyroid is often affected, which in turn triggers other issues like PMS, menstrual and perimenopausal symptoms. Controlling stress is key: women burned 104 fewer calories after eating a high-fat meal on days they experienced high levels of stress.
Low levels of dopamine increase cravings, while low serotonin creates carbohydrate cravings and low epinephrine makes it hard to shed pounds. Normal levels of testosterone support lean muscle mass.
Losing weight starts with finding the cause(s) of your weight gain.
• Eat healthy whole foods and move your body.
• Get your hormones and neurotransmitters tested and balanced.
• Remove toxins.
• Explore natural options clinically proven to support healthy weight loss.
• Supplement with medical foods and a Swiss cell nutrition supplement.
You deserve to be healthy, happy and energetic.
Dr. Sharon Norling practices Advanced Functional Medicine in Westlake Village. Call 818.707.9355 or visit DrSharonNorling.com.