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The weight loss industry is now and forever will be alive and strong as individuals struggle to keep the pounds off. The majority of motivation may be aesthetics, but the need to shed the excess body weight goes well beyond simply feeling good about your counterpart staring back at you in the mirror.
I become discouraged with loud and large celebrities who look to spearhead the movement of embracing obesity as being comfortable in their own skin. Being comfortable and happy with yourself is no doubt a justifiable desire, but pushing personal acceptance of obesity is reckless to say the least.
This is not about looks or appearance either, although the message of “accepting you for you” will incorrectly cite this. This is about an outright unhealthy state for the body to be in, and the cascade of consequences that follow. Body fat is not a static or silent tissue; rather quite the contrary. Adipose tissue or body fat is actually a highly active metabolic tissue that when in excess disrupts hormonal signaling (including those responsible for appetite, blood sugar and sleep regulation).
It is also a pro-inflammatory tissue, meaning the more you have the more inflamed you will be throughout the body. This lends it’s hand not only to elevated pain levels, but it increases the common denominator behind virtually every condition known (from plantar fasciitis to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s); inflammation.
The bottom-line here is that it’s not about the looks from a quantity and quality of life standpoint. We are talking about a truly taxing state to ask a body to operate in, especially over time, with a list of concomitant issues that far exceeds the few listed above.
This brings us to today’s topic, which is not meant as a standalone solution to the issue, but rather another piece of the intelligently assembled, holistic puzzle.
If you’ve read any articles on this site before, you know we rightfully place an abundance of emphasis on intestinal health or “the gut.” The major player in this system and thus our overall health is our intestinal flora, or the “probiotic” good bacteria that populate our digestive tract.
Researchers have discovered that there is a certain type of bacterial organism (firmicutes) that is more prevalent in obese individuals as opposed to the majority of bacteroidetes found in their lean counterparts. This makes sense as firmicutes are notorious as “fat loving” bacteria with a higher propensity to digest complex carbs, extracting the energy from food and ultimately storing it as fat.
These bacteria communicate directly and indirectly with our brains, and if we are dominated with a strain of flora that thrives off of carbohydrates, the message is sent to our brains to crave and potentially overconsume these fat generating foods. What’s more, we’ve just learned that higher levels of these firmicutes actually turn on genes (epigenetics) that not only increase the risk for obesity, but diabetes, dementia, and cardiovascular disease.
In an individual’s personal war on obesity this serves as a powerful foundational weapon. As previously stated, obviously a variety of lifestyle strategies must be implemented to successfully attain and maintain a healthy weight. However, this piece of information should be universally utilized in order to better control cravings from within, optimize metabolism for the goal at hand, and further substantiate a quality probiotic (and a healthy intestinal tract for it to flourish within) as one of the cornerstones to optimal health and longevity.
As of the spring of 2014 one in four Americans over 45 were taking a cholesterol lowering drug known as a statin. Over 43 million Americans between the ages of 40-75, along with an increasing number of younger customers are now including a Lipitor or Crestor as part of their daily regimen.
As the lab values that serve as the criteria for prescribing a statin continue to change, the umbrella for those deemed in need of statin therapy continues to widen. Leaning on the outdated and now uneducated vilification of fats and cholesterol, the multibillion dollar statin industry continues to thrive. Sad thing is, cardiovascular disease and overall health have not improved despite the low fat, statin fueled culture we know find ourselves in.
So is this widening spread use of statins necessary? Is it safe? Here are some facts about statins and cholesterol that should at the very least provoke some individual concern and subsequent investigation.
In 2012 the FDA issued a statement declaring statin drugs can cause cognitive side effects such as memory lapses and confusion.
An AMA (American Medical Association) study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated a 48% increased risk of diabetes (a powerful risk factor for type III diabetes aka Alzheimer’s) among women taken statins.
It is well known that statins paralyze cells’ ability to make coenzyme Q10, a vitamin like substance found throughout the body, where it serves as an antioxidant and energy producer. Depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, mobility & balance problems, muscular pain & weakness. CoQ10 deficiency has also been linked to heart failure, hypertension & Parkinson’s. CoQ10 has actually been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. At the absolute very least, individuals currently undergoing statin therapy should consult with their physician about adding CoQ10 to their regimen.
How about Vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol in the skin. When statins lower cholesterol, the ability to generate Vitamin D is hampered leading to (amongst other things) a heightened risk for diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and ultimately dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Consider the fact that our sex hormones are also derived from cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol through use of statins and diet can lead to lower testosterone levels and subsequent decreased libido and ED (erectile dysfunction) which are common complaints amongst statin users.
LOWER levels of cholesterol have been linked to depression, dementia and even earlier death.
This type of information and suffering will hopefully continue to provoke reconsideration and remodeling of the current paradigm. As we learn more through research and prior failures, the appropriate response is to act on this newfound knowledge and improve. Unfortunately pride and profits appear to be standing in the way, so it is on us as individuals to educate and investigate when it comes to our health.
When it comes to evaluating cholesterol levels, they are usually included in a lipid panel. This entire process should be reevaluated as well, but there are ways to alter and more accurately measure your triglyceride and small LDL. Before resorting to a statin, why not attempt to uncover the reason for the unfavorable levels, and attempt to remedy it?
How about starting with rethinking the dietary approach?
No not the seemingly logical, oversimplified and outdated, disproven theory that dietary fats and cholesterol are the main culprits behind “bad” cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
You must once again look to carbohydrates and the subsequent release of insulin, which triggers fatty acid synthesis in the liver. This starts the chain that eventually leads to the rise of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol. It is no coincidence that diabetes (a disease which features erratic blood sugar and insulin levels) is associated with the lipid triad of low HDL or “good” cholesterol, and high triglycerides and small LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
(Calling HDL and LDL cholesterol is actually incorrect as the “L” actually stands for Lipoprotein, and the “HD” and “LD” stand for High or Low Density. These are carrier proteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body.)
The majority of type II diabetes can be reversed by reducing carb consumption, and the same holds true for naturally improving your lipid panel.
Another area to look at is thyroid function.
Patients with hypothyroid symptoms often display a lipid panel that includes high triglycerides and high LDL due to the body making fat much quicker than it can burn it. The slower metabolism seen with hypothyroidism leads to:
…a sluggish liver and gall bladder making fat less likely to be metabolized and cleared from the body.
…it causes cells to be less receptive to LDL circulating which sets the stage for the LDL to accumulate and be oxidized. This is actually when LDL becomes harmful, not merely its presence alone as it is actually necessary to deliver vital cholesterol to our body’s tissues.
…leaves an individual less able to burn fat as fuel as a healthy person would. This creates a reliance on glucose (carbs/sugar) for fuel and the subsequent insulin release, fat storage and higher triglycerides and small LDL.
Diet and hampered thyroid function are just two possible reasons for an unfavorable lipid profile, and in many cases can be improved with lifestyle changes and the application of functional medicine. Depending on the individual, cleaning up the menu, fortifying the digestive system, balancing the immune system, supporting the adrenal and thyroid glands and detoxification pathways can all be used to improve underlying function, which in turn creates a healthier human who can hopefully steer clear of statins and the accompanying baggage.
As always, consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. If you are interested in a unique, knowledgable approach based on the most current research, experience and understanding of the underlying function of the body and would like to learn more, call us today.
In the ever evolving world of nutrition a clear villain has emerged. It is a villain cloaked in mouth-watering and opioid receptor stimulating deliciousness. It is a villain that can be somewhat of a chameleon, hiding in large volumes in seemingly “healthy” foods. I am of course speaking of your favorite and mine: sugar.
(Unfortunately this sugar classification also includes high carb foods like grains. Translation: all that bread will eventually be broken down into the simple sugar: glucose.)
Mounting research implicates sugar (namely high fructose corn syrup and other processed/refined varieties) as a major culprit behind a plethora of diseases well beyond the obvious, but never understated obesity and diabetes. As a realist I realize that complete elimination of sugar is not much of a practical or desirable option, however a reduction in consumption would serve us all well, especially if you are having other seemingly unrelated health issues.
So other than coming to terms with the fact that you may be consuming way too much sugar, how do you know if you possibly are having issues with the way your body handles sugar? And why is this an issue anyway? Well, sit back, relax (dump your soda down the drain) and I’ll try to give it to you in a raw, unsalted nutshell.
We’ve heard the terms hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), but we will mainly be referring to dysglycemia and reactive hypoglycemia. These are conditions in which your blood sugar levels are not being handled properly and can be anywhere along the chain of dysfunction. Therefore addressing and correcting becomes imperative for health.
If you are someone who is consuming too many carbohydrates or sugar on a regular basis it is likely that your pancreas will become overactive in its secretion of insulin. This will lead to blood sugar levels rapidly swinging from high to low after a meal.
A clinical picture of this is marked by a drop in energy levels, mood swings, and overall cognition. This can be seen as spacing out easily, poor short term memory, becoming agitated if going too long without eating, and being prone to crashing in the later part of the afternoon. This is what’s known as reactive hypoglycemia, a form of insulin resistance which goes hand in hand with diabetes.
This person typically misses meals, eats foods high in sugar, craves sugar and salts throughout the day, depends on caffeine to function, and has a hard time waking up in the morning or sleeping through the night. Fatigue, brain fog, and headaches are also amongst the effects of this condition.
This could also lead to or be a contributing factor behind becoming hypoglycemic. This condition is marked by fatigue, mental confusion, lethargy and headaches and can also be caused by adrenal fatigue, poor diet, hypothyroidism or drug side effects.
A clinical picture of this would be someone who craves sweets throughout the day, is irritable if they miss a meal, eating can relieve fatigue, feeling shaky, jittery or having tremors, depending on coffee to get started or keep going, feeling lightheaded if meals are missed, getting agitated, easily upset or nervous or being forgetful.
Another possibility is to escalate from the reactive hypoglycemia to insulin resistance. The chronic release of insulin due to high carb/sugar loads eventually fatigues the cells to the point where they no longer want to accept the insulin or the glucose it is trying to deliver.
Clinically this entails feeling like you need a nap after every meal, craving sugar after every meal, being constantly hungry even after big meals, increased belly fat, insomnia, and facial hair or thinning hair in women (due to the fact insulin resistance promotes testosterone production in women), or breast and hip growth in men. It can also include frequent urination, migrating aches and pains, and overall difficulty losing weight.
Insulin resistance has also been linked to other coveted conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, obesity, hormone metabolism disorders and certain types of cancer.
A key factor to be aware of is that if you are dysglycemic in any way, your adrenal glands will also be activated in the body’s attempt to stabilize your blood sugar. The same holds true in reverse, as when your adrenal glands (stress glands) are on overdrive and they severely alter your body’s ability to effectively handle blood sugar.
Dysfunction on both fronts can be at the root or a main contributor to hypothyroidism, a weakened and inflamed digestive tract, a weakened immune barrier of the gut, lungs and brain, hormonal imbalances, clogging of the body’s attempts at detox and impairment of fatty acid metabolism.
So what to do? If any of these pictures we painted sounds like you it would be wise to investigate further and take action prior to escalation and emergency reactions. Rather than addressing each one of these symptoms separately with a potential side effect causing pill, imagine if you could clear up many issues simply be addressing your diet.
As we’ve said in the past, the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” holds true in a variety of venues, but never more so than with the diet. Outside of the obvious weight gain, the systemic effects can be devastating.
If you are ready to get serious and commit to investigating and potentially remedying your issues, please give us a call (321-848-0987) as it would be our pleasure to collaborate with you on your liberating journey towards optimal, all natural health.
It’s what we do.
Come join us.