Chemical Imbalances Preventing Weight Loss
It is now well recognized that obesity can increase the risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, gout, osteoarthritis and gall bladder disease. Many people find it very difficult to lose weight even though they exercise, eat right and having had tried every diet pill on the market. This is because most treatments do not address the underlying cause of excess weight. Quite often a number of chemical imbalances are present that makes you gain weight and prevents you from losing weight. One such imbalance was first described by Professor Gerald Reaven in 1988 which he called Syndrome X but is now commonly referred to as metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome is characterised by:
(1) Insulin resistance – the body is resistant to the effects of insulin as it is unable to transfer glucose from the blood stream into cells very efficiently. The glucose that does not enter cells is then transferred into fat deposits making you fatter.
(2) High hormone Insulin levels – the pancreas has to secrete more insulin to make up for the lack of sensitivity.
(3) Abnormal blood fats – High insulin levels cause increased triglycerides, decreases HDL’s (good) and increases LDL (bad) cholesterol.
(4) Blood glucose abnormalities – Blood glucose levels are unstable and can swing from too low to too high.
(5) Sex, adrenal and thyroid hormone imbalances – estrogen dominance, adrenal exhaustion and/or hypothyroidism can cause weight gain and make it very difficult to lose weight.
Diagnosis Of Metabolic Syndrome:
(1) Fasting level of blood fats – Triglycerides, HDL and LDL cholesterol should all be within the normal range.
(2) Fasting Blood Glucose – If your fasting blood glucose is over 6.1mmol/L it is a sign of insulin resistance.
(3) Glucose Tolerance Test – measures the tolerance of an individual for an extra load of administered glucose. If your tolerance for the extra load of glucose is normal then your blood glucose levels will remain within the normal range. If your tolerance is impaired then your glucose levels become higher than the normal range (Normal levels: Fasting 3.6 – 6.1mmol/L;One hour after glucose load < 9mmol/L; TWO hours after glucose load < 7.1mmol/L).
(4) Serum Insulin Levels – Normal insulin levels during a glucose tolerance test should be: Fasting < 1, One hour 9 to 60, 2 hours 5 to 50, Three hours 1 to 24 mU/L.
(5) Liver Function test – Elevated liver enzymes may indicate fatty liver which is common in Syndrome X
(6) Hormone levels – Low progesterone and thyroid hormones as well as high estrogen and cortisol levels can be responsible for weight gain and make it nearly impossible to lose weight. All these need to be tested – for more information click here.
Treatment for weight loss involves:
(1) Reducing Insulin Levels – involves reducing insulin levels by reducing simple sugars and refined carbohydrate intake by avoiding foods with a high glycemic index such as sugar and white flour which causes an escalation in glucose and insulin levels. Replace refined carbohydrates with quality protein and fresh vegetables – click here for details.
(2) Increase Insulin Sensitivity – by making insulin work better by taking supplements such as chromium, lipoic acid, vandium, selenium and omega 3 & 6’s essential fatty acids.
(3) Improve Liver Function – Liver is the major fat burning organ of the body and regulates fat metabolism. It controls carbohydrate metabolism and blood glucose control. A dysfunctional liver can cause a whole range of symptoms from weight gain, irritable bowl syndrome, sugar cravings, depression, foggy thinking, fatigue, excessive sweating, brown spots, recurrent infections, toxic overload. By cleansing the liver you will detoxify it and improved its fat burning functions. A liver cleanse involves using a low reactive diet for 14 days or longer if required. This briefly involves eating vegetable juices and eating raw foods especially salads and vegetables. Limit raw fruits as they are high in sugar and thus increase insulin levels. Stop intake of any dairy, gluten, yeast, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, meats, etc. Take sulphur containing foods such as cabbage, onions, garlic shallots or supplement with MSM. Use a liver tonic with milk thistle, dandelion, globe artichoke, antioxidants, cysteine, glycine and glutamine which will stimulate phase I and II liver detoxification reactions. We recommend using Metagenics Thermophase Detox to provide all these nutrients and to use it while on this diet.
4) Balance Thyroid Hormones – low levels of thyroid hormones or a thyroid hormone imbalance such as reverse T3 dominance slows down your metabolism and can be the hidden problem that prevents you from losing weight. If you have low thyroid activity you may experience weight gain, fluid retention, bloating, constipation, hair loss, dry skin, low body temperature and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms refer to the information on treating Hypothyroidism.
(5) Balance Adrenal Hormones – prolonged periods of stress can initially cause the adrenal glands to produce excessive amounts of cortisol which can cause moon face, weight gain, fluid retention and bloating. This is known as stage 1 adrenal exhaustion. As adrenal exhaustion proceeds a reduction in metabolism occurs and thus low energy will result causing further weight gain. Refer to adrenal section for details on how to resolve this issue.
(6) Balance Sex Hormones – Estrogen dominance is a condition where an excess of estrogen is not appropriately balanced with progesterone. This usually occurs somewhere in your late 30’s to early 40’s as a result of perimenopause. This condition promotes weight gain and makes it very difficult to lose weight because estrogen converts calories into fat instead of burning it off. Excess estrogens may also reduce thyroid function creating a further drop in metabolism levels.
(7) Reduce Leptin Resistance – The hormone leptin has been found to be a major regulator of body weight and metabolism. Leptin is secreted by fat cells and the levels of leptin increase with the accumulation of fat. The increased leptin secretion that occurs with increased weight normally feeds-back to the hypothalamus as a signal that there are adequate energy (fat) stores. This stimulates the body to burn fat rather than continue to store excess fat, and stimulates thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) to increase thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid production. Studies suggest that the majority of overweight individuals who are having difficulty losing weight have varying degrees of leptin resistance, where leptin has a diminished ability to affect the hypothalamus and regulate metabolism. This leptin resistance results in the hypothalamus sensing starvation, so multiple mechanisms are activated to increase fat stores, as the body tries to reverse the perceived state of starvation. The mechanisms that are activated include diminished TSH secretion, a suppressed T4 to T3 conversion, an increase in reverse T3, an increase in appetite, an increase in insulin resistance and an inhibition of lipolysis (fat breakdown). The result? Once you are overweight for an extended period of time, it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight. Most underweight or normal weight individuals will have leptin levels below 10, although most major labs will use a reference range of 1 to 9.5 for men and 4 to 25 for women. (It must be remembered that this range includes 95% of so-called normal people and includes many who are overweight.) There are several treatments available which usually include drugs that control insulin resistance. This may also be achieved through diet and supplements. Leptin resistance may also be the result of inflammation so some form of anti-inflammatory may be useful to reduce leptin resistance. Dr. Jeffrey Flier and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School have led these efforts. They have discovered that a group of molecules involved in reducing inflammation also interfere with leptin signaling on the cell surface and inside the cell. These molecules are known as SOCS, which stands for suppressors of cytokine signaling. Two specific SOCS molecules, SOCS-1 and SOCS-3, have been shown in many animal studies, first by Flier’s group and later by other research teams, to jam the signals that leptin is supposed to deliver to brain cells and muscle cells.
Other Treatments Available
Lipotropics – Lipotropic nutrients are a class of natural ingredients that play important roles in the body’s use of fat. These compounds enhance liver and gallbladder’s role by decreasing fat deposits and speeding up metabolism of fat and its removal. The main nutrients used in lipotropic formulas include: Methione, Inositol, Choline and B12.