Healthy Weight-loss in 2012

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~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

Many of us believe that if we could just lose a few pounds, we’d be healthy. In fact, our body must be healthy before we can achieve long-lasting weight loss.

Studies suggest that starting a diet is one of the best predictors of weight gain. If you’ve been on at least 3 diets in your lifetime, you may know this fact too well. Many weight loss programs focus on reducing calorie intake and increasing calorie expenditure. In real life the math isn’t that simple, and I hear too often of people severely restricting their food intake, increasing their exercise routine, and not losing an inch.

The solution lies in understanding your body’s unique metabolic balance. For example, a sluggish thyroid gland can generate a slow metabolism and this condition may not be obvious through conventional blood testing. Current laboratory reference ranges for thyroid function are set to reveal thyroid disease, not optimal thyroid function. These current reference ranges are much wider than guidelines suggested by multiple research studies and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. This means that even if blood tests are considered normal by conventional laboratory standards, your thyroid function may still be contributing to stubborn weight gain and challenging weight loss.

Cortisol is another hormone frequently accused of undermining even the most avid attempts at weight loss. High cortisol levels may be a reaction to high stress levels, and may show up as increased “belly” fat. High stress lifestyles leading to increased cortisol include too little sleep, poor daily routines, diets low in fresh vegetables, job dissatisfaction, and too much high impact exercise.

If you find yourself more tired than usual, cortisol levels could be out of balance if your symptoms include low morning energy. These people take a couple of hours to “get going” without their morning coffee. People with cortisol imbalances may also find themselves craving sugar, and experiencing a “second-wind” of energy in the evening. If instead your thyroid gland is imbalanced, your energy might be highest in the morning and lowest at night. To complicate matters, high cortisol levels can inhibit thyroid function, so both conditions frequently exist at the same time.

How do you get metabolism back on track? An integrative approach that evaluates how all body systems are connected is crucial. Specialized laboratory testing and thorough physical exams are an important part of identifying thyroid and cortisol imbalance, blood sugar dysregulation, nutrient deficiencies, and sources of inflammation such as food allergies. These individualized assessments are common tools for Naturopathic Doctors, and can be integrated into almost any weight-loss program. Supporting your body’s struggling organs and glands with targeted treatments can lead to a healthier body, increased energy level, and long-lasting healthy weight loss.

For more information, please visit, review the book by Dr. Natasha Turner, ND, “The Hormone Diet”, or discuss hormone balance with your Naturopathic Doctor. A fresh perspective about food intolerances, your gut, and weight gain is available here, by Dr. Mark Hyman, a Functional Medicine MD. (Functional medicine is an integrative medical approach that views system imbalances as an underlying cause of illness.)


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