The words “weight loss” and “diet” may cause many to cringe since they are usually associated with restricted eating programs and fad diets that promise rapid weight loss and other health benefits. The reality is that dieting is temporary and often leads to cyclical weight loss and weight gain, known as the "yo-yo" effect. Understanding what foods to eat can be challenging with so much information to sieve through on the internet. Let’s break down the word “diet” which comes the Greek diata which means ‘a way of life.’ The lifestyle approach of utilizing food as medicine can help optimize sustainable weight loss by supporting biochemical pathways and balancing the intestinal flora for improved digestion. Eating an unhealthy diet is one of the major risk factors for chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, asthma, cancer, and diabetes. Chronic diseases are often preventable though remains the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
Now let’s focus on using food for its intended purpose: nourishment. Seeing your food as medicine helps you make better decisions and pay attention to how different foods may compromise your health. When we eat food, we assume the digestive system will break down the food and convert it into energy. The small intestine digests food so that nutrients can be absorbed into the blood and transported to the liver. The liver filters toxins and aids the body in metabolizing fat, protein and carbohydrates. Poorly digested foods sit and ferment in the intestinal tract creating inflammatory substances which are absorbed into circulation. There is strong evidence that diet is a powerful approach for preventing chronic inflammation which is a big factor in diabetes, obesity and heart disease. A diet high in processed foods and added sugars leads to increased intestinal permeability, allowing more absorption of gut toxins and systemic inflammation, causing insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar by sending glucose into your cells to be used for energy. Insulin resistance occurs when your cells don’t respond well to insulin and therefore cannot easily take up glucose from your blood. This causes higher insulin and blood sugar levels which over time increases the risk for many diseases, including diabetes. Incorporating good lifestyle habits is necessary for the body to maintain good insulin sensitivity and reduce prolonged high blood sugar which can damage nerves and organs. Any type of physical activity has the potential to improve insulin sensitivity and therefore prevent complications of developing metabolic syndrome. In addition to eating well and keeping yourself active, you should pay attention to the way you breathe, and most importantly, get enough sleep.
What does sleep have to do with weight loss? Poor sleep has been linked to higher body mass index and weight gain. Not getting sufficient sleep has an effect on Leptin, a hormone made from adipose tissue that helps control satiety. Its main role is to regulate fat and how many calories you eat and burn. If you do not get enough sleep, Leptin levels decrease, resulting in loss of appetite control. Sleep deprivation also triggers an increase in Ghrelin, a hormone made in the stomach and small intestine, which increases your appetite and desire to eat carbohydrates. Lack of sleep causes the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol which signals the body to conserve energy making it difficult to lose weight. High levels of cortisol also interfere with thyroid hormone production, lowering one’s basic metabolism and making it easier for foods to cause more weight gain. Sleep is one of the first things you want to work on when addressing weight loss.
What about a Weight Loss Program?
Some weight loss programs can be very unhealthy, especially if they rely on heavily processed shakes, drinking only juices, or severely restricted Calories. One that we like, because it involves 3 solid weeks of super healthy eating, with supplementation to support liver, kidney function, and digestion to help eliminate fat and wastes from the body efficiently. It's called the Standard Process 21-Day Purification Diet, and you can read about it here. We see great weight loss from this program, it's easy to follow, and most patients feel so good afterwards, they want to stay on it - now that's change that will last a lifetime!
Before you start your journey on losing weight and feeling better, you should have some routine blood work done to check on your thyroid, cholesterol, liver and kidney functions. Conditions like thyroid disease, depression, fatigue, gallbladder disease, fatty liver and adrenal fatigue can interfere with weight loss. Nourishing yourself with nutrient-rich foods will provide the complex combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are needed to protect the body and promote optimal health. Try eating a variety of foods, while cutting down on processed or refined foods. Choose a rainbow of colors. Eat frequently throughout the day to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Use meat more as a condiment instead of a mainstay. Drink more water! One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is feeling tired. You might discover that a healthy glass of water eliminates fatigue, makes you feel better and helps you focus more sharply.
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