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by Dr. Will Cole
Many of my patients tell me that a chief goal of theirs is to lose some excess weight. This is easier said than done (as evidenced by the multi-billion-dollar diet industry) because weight struggles are more complex than just overeating and under-exercising. Many lifestyle habits contribute to weight gain and weight loss resistance. Often, the inability to lose weight is a symptom of a bigger underlying health problem or seemingly unrelated issue. Here are five common weight loss distruptors I see frequently in my clinic:
1. Poor sleep.
Irregular sleep cycles can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone produced in your body’s fat cells that tells your brain to burn fat for energy and also signals your brain that you are full and can stop eating. If you become leptin resistant your hypothalamus doesn’t recognize leptin and goes into “hibernation mode,” storing fat unnecessarily. Eating less just makes the situation worse because your body already thinks you are starving, and this stressful state jacks up cortisol levels, causing adrenal fatigue. It’s a perfect storm for rapid weight gain and trouble with losing it.
2. Poor microbiome health.
What you eat can either feed your microbiome or destroy it. If you’re eating a diet full of processed foods and sugar, you are feeding the bad guys and starving the good ones. This can lead to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome) and can also increase fat around your organs and contribute to metabolic syndrome. Studies have shown that people who eat a wider variety of fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir on a regular basis generally have greater bacterial diversity (meaning more good bacterial in the gut), which has been correlated with lower weight.
3. High stress levels.
Mental health plays a significant part in healthy weight management and chronic stress in particular has been implicated in health issues ranging from adrenal fatigue, and autoimmune conditions to, digestive issues – all of which can impact your weight. Stress alone can actually slow down your metabolism and increase food cravings! Start combating stress with mindfulness tools like meditation, deep breathing, and gentle stretching, to start healing and jump-start the weight loss journey.
4. Toxin exposure.
We all come in contact with toxins on a daily basis, predisposing us to autoimmune, digestive, and hormonal problems that can contribute to weight-loss resistance. Some people have an even greater toxic burden than average due to workplace exposure (artists, hair stylists, people working in agriculture, etc.) If you aren’t sure about your exposure, ask your doctor about tests for toxin levels and reduce exposure when possible by using more natural personal care products and cleaning products.
5. Other underlying health problems.
Hormonal imbalances and gut issues easily discovered through basic lab tests could be playing a major role in weight loss resistance. Find out your levels so you know what to address. Here are some good tests to start with:
Cortisol: Your adrenal glands release cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. When there is too much or too little it can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Testosterone: When this hormone is too low for men and too high for women, it leads to weight gain.
Estrogen: Men and women can have estrogen imbalance. There are three types of estrogen in your body – estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3), and you need the proper ratio between each. Too much can lead to rapid weight gain.
Progesterone: This balances the effects of too much estrogen; without it, estrogen can cause more trouble.
Thyroid: Every cell in your body needs thyroid hormones to function. Autoimmune thyroid problems, thyroid resistance, and thyroid conversion problems are all possible thyroid issues.
Microbiome: Studies have shown that people who are overweight have less microbiome diversity and that people who have leaky-gut syndrome tend to be more overweight. This can lead to metabolic syndrome and can further perpetuate inflammation and hormone imbalance.
These labs can help determine your level of gut permeability:
- Zonulin and occludin antibodies: These proteins govern gut permeability. Antibodies could indicate damage to the tight junctions that seal the intestinal lining.
- Actomyosin antibodies: The presence of these could indicate gut lining destruction.
- Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) antibodies: These bacterial endotoxins could indicate leaky-gut syndrome.
Finally, remember that losing weight is only part of the journey. If you have an underlying issue and are restricting calories and exercising like mad, you could be exacerbating the problem, not solving it. When health is your priority, weight loss will follow as a natural result of healing your body from within.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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