As the winter months are fading away with spring and summer right around the corner, many of us get in the mind of spring cleaning. While spring cleaning is good, what about cleaning our bodies? We often become more concerned about getting into the summer clothes and bathing suits as the sedentary winter months have led to some weight gain. If you are shopping for summer clothing and your size has increased, we need to talk about issues of weight control and spring cleaning for your body.
Weight control is a complex and difficult issue and is one of the most common complaints that I see in my metabolic and functional medical practice. Over 120 million Americans are overweight or obese. There are projections that over 75% of adults will be overweight within the next 2 to 3 years. Obesity is one of the major risk factors in 35 major diseases. There is also a direct and indirect cost of obesity which includes medical services that are needed and loss of productivity that accounts for over $100 billion a year in the American budget. Weight loss is a multi-factorial problem that involves allergies, hormones, neurotransmitters, detoxification and inflammation issues, sleep deprivation, proper nutrition, and adequate exercise.
Allergies are often responsible for an inflammatory condition which makes weight reduction very difficult. One common area that I often test is food allergies. These allergies are driven by IgG mediated immunity and often result in craving the very foods that we are allergic to. A simple to test for food allergies at home is within an allergy elimination diet. This diet is used to determine whether or not you have food allergies which may be causing inflammation and difficulty losing weight. Symptoms of food allergies are fatigue, muscle aches and pains, food cravings, insomnia, and intestinal complaints such as bloating. During a period of 2 to 3 weeks, eliminating certain foods in the diet and assessing your symptoms will allow you to determine which foods may be causing this heightened allergic response. I will be following up in the very near future with information outlining a detailed allergy elimination diet.
Hormones are also very important regarding weight gain and issues of weight loss. Adrenal hormones are certainly a leading causative factor in gaining weight as cortisol is a catabolic hormone. The body responds by building more fat at the sacrifice of muscle. When this happens there are shifts in insulin and the body has difficulty utilizing glucose and sugar properly. Thyroid hormones are also affected by cortisol imbalance. Excessive cortisol can block the body’s ability to make T3 from T4. Since T3 is the active form of thyroid that stimulates the receptor cell which affects our metabolic rate, deficiencies in T3 can certainly cause issues in weight management. Cortisol issues and toxicities in the body can produce reverse T3, which will block the receptor site and make thyroid hormone less effective. Both male and female sex hormones are also very important as these are anabolic hormones which allow the cells in our body to communicate effectively. Without hormonal balance, it is very difficult for the body’s metabolic process to function adequately.
Issues of neurotransmitter imbalances are also important in the management of weight. The main neurotransmitters in the brain consist of epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, GABA, glutamate, and histamine. Imbalanced neurotransmitters cause excitatory stress in the brain through microglial stimulation (Immunoexcitotoxicity) resulting in an imbalanced control of our bodies metabolism by the increase in inflammation. Since the brain is one of the most important organs of the body, neurotransmitter health and balance is essential in the control of our metabolism and bodily functions. Please refer to our recent video that I have recorded regarding the importance of various neurotransmitters and their function within the body. Certainly neurotransmitter imbalances have a large impact on the ability to sleep. Insomnia is very important in often responsible for metabolic breakdowns and overall health including weight control.
Detoxification is also important in weight loss. Exposure to multiple agents within our environment which are toxic to the body causes underlying chronic oxidative stress which results in inflammation. I have never seen anyone lose weight adequately with inflammatory markers present. Detoxification is a process that essentially cleanses the live, allowing it to be more effective in removing toxic substances. I often partner with my patients in a detoxification program twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Under proper guidance, a full detoxification program can help greatly in inflammatory conditions. Once inflammation is reduced, the body is able to metabolically repair and weight loss is more likely to be a success. One area that we can easily help in her detoxification process is with the proper ingestion of water. You should be drinking one half your body weight converted to ounces of water per day for your body to properly hydrate your cells and eliminate toxins.
Gut health is very important in the maintenance of our weight as the body must be able to eliminate toxins while at the same time assimilate and absorb nutrients. One common barrier to weight loss that I often see in my practice is intestinal candidiasis, or yeast overgrowth syndrome. Certainly if there are any pathogenic bacteria or fungi, the integrity of our intestinal mucosal will become compromised which has a direct effect on the absorption of nutrients and improper elimination of toxins. Someone with yeast overgrowth will often have chronic fatigue and crave sugar. They may feel bloated, have excessive gas, intestinal cramps, and often have alternating diarrhea and constipation. Yeast syndrome can also cause menstrual irregularities and decreased libido. Candidiasis will affect our allergic response, chemical sensitivity, and our resistance to infections. Friendly bacteria are needed for proper intestinal health and absorption of nutrients. These bacteria often combat underlying pathogens such as yeast. Regular bowel movements throughout the day is a good indication of your gut health.
Finally is the issue of exercise. Routine and consistent exercise is very important in the maintenance of muscle health and strength and proper metabolic functioning. Resistance training has been shown to increase growth hormone which is very important in the body’s maintenance and repair. Exercise releases natural neurotransmitters which greatly affects our caloric burn far after the exercise has been completed. In today’s sedentary lifestyle, we simply do not get the activity that is necessary to maintain our bone and muscle mass as well as our metabolic rate. I recommend that my patients go through a detoxification process after which time we often outline and exercise program that will best match their lifestyle. The combination of hormonal balance, proper nutrition, and routine exercise is foundational to the maintenance of health and control of weight. As you can see, there are multiple factors involved in weight control and weight loss. With proper guidance in assessing your metabolic and hormonal imbalances, utilizing the proper nutrients and hormones for repair, you will be able to spring into your summer with great confidence!