The New Year often brings with it the resolution to lose weight. Weight loss is an interesting topic. The global figure seems to be changing. Being overweight is primarily an issue of health. If you don't believe me carry around a ten-kilo bag of potatoes for a day and you will soon realise the strain this places on your heart.
Excess weight in terms of complementary medicine is seen as an excess condition of toxicity that needs to be eliminated. Did you know that central obesity is as much linked to cardiovascular disease as cigarette smoking? However there is no add campaign telling us that fast food will lead to gangrene, although it can. Obesity is associated with complications in pregnancy, heart disease, late onset diabetes and certain cancers, in particular those related to oestrogen and the gastrointestinal tract.
Alarmingly I find that women of a healthy weight are now described as skinny and overweight women are accepted as the norm because they are the majority. I call this skinny bashing. People often have an excuse as to why they are overweight. Age, menopause, slow metabolism, child bearing, convenience and my favourite, big bones, are some excuses people use. Most importantly though, people need to change these unhealthy attitudes.
Why Diets Don't Work
- We feel deprived.
- Diets perpetuate an unhealthy obsession with food.
- We go on them to go off them, why not just find a good one.
- Diets don't identify trigger foods.
- Diets often provide inadequate nutrition.
- Diets treat the symptom and not the causes.
- Diets upset the bodies' metabolism, slowing down our Basal Metabolic Rate BMR.
- Diets don't address cravings.
- Diets don't work alone, often needed in combination with counselling and ongoing support networks.
The good news is, is that there is good news.
A healthy weight is the basis for good health. There are certain reasons that can lead to weight gain including nutritional deficiencies and sluggish metabolism.
Hypochlorhydria is low stomach acid. People who have symptoms of indigestion such as bloating, burping, flatulence and constipation may have low stomach acid. Cold food in Chinese Medicine terms weakens the Spleen Yang, which is responsible for transforming and transporting nutrients from our food into our blood streams. Anything eaten cold must first be warmed before it is absorbed. Why waist your bodies' energy heating foods? Provide them already warm, especially in winter. Avoid cold foods, drinking with meals (as this dilutes stomach acid), cold fruit and excess salads. Tonifying the digestion will help you lose weight. Zinc is the most important nutrient to increase stomach acid.
Fat is not a dirtyword. In fact not having enough essential fatty acids can result in weight gain. Did you know there are two types of fats cells?
- White fat cells primarily store fat.
- Brown fat cells produce heat
Stimulating brown fat metabolism stimulates weight loss. We cannot alter the amount of fat cells in our body. We can only make them smaller. One thing we can focus on is stimulating thermogenesis, that is, the burning of the brown fat cells. Believe it or not getting cold will help you lose weight. If you don't feel like moving away from the heater though there are nutrients to stimulate the burning of the brown fat cells. The following nutrients stimulate thermogenesis to promote weight loss.
Essential fatty acids including omega 3,6 and 9 the amino acids carnitine and tyrosine, spicy foods, brindleberry and green tea all stimulate thermogenesis.
Basal Metabolic Rate
The thyroid gland, situated in the base of the neck, controls metabolism. Sluggish function of this gland can lead to weight gain. Sometimes a woman may have thyroid hormones within the normal range but still be experiencing symptoms of hypothyroid i.e. weight gain, constipation, depression. Even though the thyroid hormones are within normal range they may still be on the low end of it and can produce symptoms. A naturopath calls this Functional Hypothyroid. Like all things in the body the thyroid also requires nutrients to function properly. Nutrients to improve thyroid function are; Iodine: Involved with thyroid hormone thyroxine that stimulates the burning of brown fat cells. Iodine is found in seaweed products like carrageen and dilsk, kombu and wakame all available from the green grocer or Galway market. Use these instead of flour to thicken stews, soups and gravies. Tyrosine and vitamin C: Improves thyroid function and metabolism and can suppress appetite
Balance The Blood Sugar
A whole foods diet high in fibre and rich in complex carbohydrates can regulate the blood sugar by slowing the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. I am not talking about breakfast cereals and protein bars. Instead eat porridge, legumes and grains, soup mixes, nuts and seeds, brown rice and brown bread. If the blood sugar is stabilised there will be less cravings for sugary treats.
B Complex: Balances blood sugar
Zinc and chromium and magnesium: Involved with Glucose Tolerance Factor and balancing blood sugar and decrease sugar cravings.
Fibre: Slows the absorption of glucose to stabalise blood sugar
Effective Weight Loss Measures
1. Have reasonable expectations i.e. 1kg /week.
2. Include a realistic intake of energy.
3. Ensure diet is nutritionally adequate.
4. Reduce meal portions or have five small meals per day.
5. Eat complex carbohydrates, nuts and seeds, legumes and grains to give satiety.
6. Eat food high in fibre to slow digestion and increase satiety.
7. Relax, take a deep breath, and eat slowly.
8. Select food low in saturated fats i.e. red meat, milk and cheese.
9. Limit sugar, supermarket foods low in fat are high in sugar.
10. Drink 6-8 glasses of room temperature water a day
11. Exercise, exercise, exercise to increase your BMR. Buy that wet weather gear.
12. Follow the rules of healthy eating for life and not a diet for weeks/months.
Herbal medicine for weight loss
See also Carahealth Weight Loss
PLease see also The Zone Diet For Weight Loss
Carina is available to lecture for your group or institution on this subject
Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu. is a practitioner of 10 years, complementary medicine lecturer of 4 years and mother of six in Galway, Ireland who practices what she teaches.
For an appointment call Carina directly on 083 34 66 333.
All products are available through www.carahealth.ie. Remember, we are here for a good time not a long time, enjoy your food life!
Carahealth Galway, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Herbal Medicine, Nutrition, Nutritional therapy, Flower essences, Iridology, Short Courses