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Weight Loss and Anti-Aging

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.

The traditional 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 areas:

  1. Control of appetite
  2. Balancing the stress reaction in the body
  3. balancing blood sugar, normalizing insulin levels, and eliminating insulin resistance
  4. Gentle boosting of the metabolism

Fiber, appetite control, and weight loss

Scientific studies 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.

Glucomannan 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. Click here for a more detailed article on fiber and it's role in a weight loss program.

Stress, Blood Sugar Dysregulation, Insulin Resistance, and Weight Gain

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:

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Type II Diabetes
  4. Stroke
  5. Increased cholesterol levels
  6. 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

High cortisol 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.

Passion 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.

L-Theanine, 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.

 


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