Our nation clearly has a weight problem and the majority of people are unsuccessfully struggling to lose weight. There are many people out there putting in tremendous effort by eating well and exercising, yet still not getting the results they want. The common advice to simply “eat less and move more” or the popular philosophy of “a calorie is a calorie”, is incomplete at best.
Holding onto unwanted weight is a message from the body saying there is something that needs attention; something is off and the body is trying to be heard.
Here are 4 potential contributors to the nation’s seemingly never-ending battle with weight (in no particular order).
Nutrient Deficiencies: Food provides essential nutrients needed to effectively run and support metabolism. The food we eat speaks to our cells… for better or for worse. Eating a nutrient rich balanced diet provides the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that keep our metabolism firing and our hormones in harmony. Then of course, there is the opposite…
It is hard to lose weight when the body isn’t given the nutrients (like B vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3 fats. and chromium) needed to run the metabolic pathways smoothly.
Overall, we are a nation that is overfed, yet undernourished. This sets the stage for nutritional deficiencies and puts the body in a chronic state of confusion. The result is sluggish digestion, a slow metabolism, inadequate elimination, and carrying extra weight.
Gut Health: Any gut dysfunction can sabotage weight loss in a few major ways. When there are digestion and absorption issues present, the body is unable to properly breakdown and assimilate the food you eat. This can create nutrient deficiencies leading to depressed metabolism, fatigue, cravings, and altered hormones.
The immune system, 80% of which is in the gut, is negatively impacted when there are gut imbalances present. This causes inflammation and stress which halts weight loss and contributes to weight gain.
The presence of too much bad (vs. good) bacteria, infection, and/or yeast overgrowth also impacts the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients and disrupts functioning of the endocrine system, such as the thyroid gland.
Food Intolerances: Inflammation is a key player in our struggle with weight. The presence of unknown food intolerances results in an inflammatory response every time that food is ingested. This ongoing inflammation causes internal damage and ends up slowing down our metabolism leading to weight gain.
To identify food intolerances, ask your health practitioner for an IgG lab test or go on an elimination diet for at least three weeks. (note: gluten and dairy are the two most common food intolerances related to weight.)
Stress: Stress has detrimental effects on the body regardless of the source — emotions, inflammation, infection, food allergies, or poor diet. The body responds the same.
Stress causes the body to go into survival mode, resulting in digestive system shutdown. Therefore, the body isn’t able to properly assimilate and utilize nutrients. This confuses the body into feeling malnourished.
Stress depletes vital vitamins and minerals, contributing to heightened hunger, leading to cravings and overeating. The body responds to stress by releasing cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol inhibits weight loss and puts the body into fat storage mode, causing fat gain in the belly specifically.
Cortisol triggers an increase in appetite and cravings as the body thinks it needs energy. Cortisol also depletes serotonin, making the situation worse. Alternations in cortisol have a direct effect on all of the endocrine hormones. So stress is a major contributor to imbalances that make losing weight an impossible feat. Stress must be a top priority for managing weight and overall health. Ask your health care practitioner for an adrenal index test to see if/how stress is impacting you.
If you are struggling with your weight despite doing all the right things, consider the barriers discussed here. And stay tuned for a few more next week. One, or possibly a combination of a few, could be the hidden cause of your frustration.