It is common
knowledge that the developed western world is dealing with a severe
weight problem; obesity levels have risen 123% in the last 10 years,
morbid obesity is at an all time high, type II diabetes is reaching
epidemic proportions, and the age group most affected is young people.
We are facing a major health-care crisis, and it is clear that something
drastic be done to reverse this situation.
method of losing weight is to make changes to the diet. It is clear
from some of the latest research that this is not getting at the
main cause of weight gain.
What is not
well known is that excess weight and obesity are the number one
causes of aging in the body. As such, weight loss is a very important
part of any anti-aging program. The weight loss section of this
site will focus on some very specific ways to aid the body in losing
weight. In my opinion a weight loss program must focus on 4 primary
the stress reaction in the body
blood sugar, normalizing insulin levels, and eliminating insulin
boosting of the metabolism
appetite control, and weight loss
consistently document the ability of certain types of fibre to inhibit
carbohydrate absorption, reduce cholesterol, and induce weight loss.
When taken before meals these fibres bind with water and swell in
the stomach and small intestine. The net benefit is a decrease in
absorbed calories and a stronger sense of fullness or satiety.
One of the most effective fibres is Glucomannan. Four to five grams
of glucomannan can slow carbohydrate absorption into the blood stream
and decrease the output of insulin.
can promote a sense of satiety and induce weight loss. A double
blind study showed that compared to a placebo, obese subjects taking
glucomannan before each meal lost 5.5 pounds after only 8 weeks.
This was accomplished with no changes in eating or exercise patterns.
for a more detailed article on fiber and it's role in a weight loss
Stress, Blood Sugar Dysregulation, Insulin Resistance, and Weight
One of the main
causes of weight gain is stress and increased levels of the stress
hormone cortisol, which cause problems with blood sugar control
and high insulin levels. It is well known that excess insulin levels
have a fat-inducing effect on the body. Combine that with a sedentary
lifestyle, poor food choices, and carbohydrate cravings and you
have a recipe for disaster.
Humans evolved to deal with stress using what is called our "Fight
or Flight" system, which allowed our paleolithic ancestors
to out run the sabre-toothed tiger. This system was designed to
deal with infrequent episodes of stress and not the daily barrage
of stressful events that most people are faced with nowadays. We
still have threats, real or perceived, that have the same effect
on our body. It is as if we are confronted with the sabre-toothed
tiger 100 times a day. This has a very strong physiological effect
on the body and studies have confirmed that stress, along with weight
gain, speeds the aging process in the body.
Chronic stress leads to the increased secretion of a stress hormone
called cortisol from the adrenal glands. High levels of cortisol
increases food cravings especially carbohydrates. This also causes
the increase in output of another hormone called insulin from the
pancreas. Insulin's role is to lower your blood glucose levels and
it does this by increasing the uptake of glucose into the cells.
Unfortunately there is only a limited amount of glucose that the
cells can take. The rest of the blood glucose is converted into
fat, which is readily taken up by the fat cells of the body leading
to increased fat storage.
Increased insulin levels eventually leads to a condition called
insulin resistance, which occurs when the insulin receptors on the
cells in the body are no longer responsive to insulin. The effect
of this is gradually increasing blood sugar levels and the development
of what is called metabolic syndreom (also known as syndrome X).
The health consequences of metabolic syndrome are large:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Type II Diabetes
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
It is very important
to work on the high cortisol and insulin associated with weight
gain. There are a number of ways to do this. Focusing on lifestyle,
dietary, and execise changes is very important (see the articles
on these topics in the articles
section). There has also been some revolutionary research
on some breakthrough nutritional and botanical supplements to deal
with the 4 main causes of weight gain (increased appetitie, stress,
blood sugar dysregulation, and slow metabolism). This next section
will summarize the research.
Cortisol and Stress Reduction
levels are associated with food cravings, especially for carbohydrates.
Passion flower extract and a nutrient called L-Theanine have a strong
effect on cortisol and cuts down the stress related cravings and
helps keep appetite under control.
Flower lowers anxiety symptoms, reduces irritability and
nervousness. These effects have been compared to the drug Oxazapam
in a randomized double blind placebo study reported in the Journal
of Clinical Pharmaceutical Therapy (2001 Oct; 26(5):363-7) The effects
of passion flower are usually noted within 30 minutes of consumption.
in the form of a patented molecule called Suntheanine, is a major
amino acid found in green tree and in various medicinal mushrooms.
It has a tranquilizing effect on the brain in ways that have been
seen with meditation, massage, and aromatherapy. L-theanine increases
the levels of the neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine, and Serotonin.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that induces relaxation and
produces an increased sense of wellbeing. Dopamine is an essential
brain neurotransmitter that appears to be depleted by stress and
sleep deprivation. Serotonin plays a role in appetite suppression.
Suntheanine has been used for years for anxiety reductiona and relaxation.