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by Peter Delaney.
Obesity is one of the biggest problems facing the health of the Australian population. One in two women is overweight or obese and 2 out of three men have the same problems. There are many reasons for weight gain, overeating is not the only reason.
So why is it that acupuncture, detoxification, massage and supplements make such a big difference in weight management and fat loss?
There are a number of things which lead us to put on the extra kilo’s and also make it hard to get rid of them when we do decided to try and shed them.
Looking at the diagram above we can see there are many reason for weight gain and I’m sure that most of us are affected by a least one and maybe more of them. However we don’t all put on weight, so why is it so? Using the heading in the diagram I’d like to put them into Chinese Medicine terms which may make it a little clearer.
Stress and Adrenal Dysfunction. From a Chinese perspective the Adrenals (kidney) deliver energy to the digestive system so that we can digest our food fully. If however the kidneys have been weakened by stress, then the digestion suffers and we end up with poorly digested food which we call ‘digestive residue’.
Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. The Chinese don’t talk about the pancreas where insulin comes from but they do talk about the Spleen managing both of these areas. The Spleen’s job in Chinese medicine is the ‘transformation and transportation of Qi and Blood from the food’ — a little like how much we get from the food we eat. The more energy from the food the higher our overall energy will be and it means less food is needed for the same amount of energy. So in some ways this covers also ‘Hypothyroid’. In Chinese medicine, we talk about eating warm, cooked food to support a weak digestion. Besides eating the foods listed below, if we have a weak digestion, eating cooked foods will give you more energy and help to increase fat loss.
Oestrogen Imbalances and Sleep and Melatonin. From a Chinese medicine point of view, these are controlled by the Liver. The Liver’s function in Chinese Medicine is the free flow of qi (energy) and as such regulates the hormonal system and sleep pattern. If liver qi is flowing smoothly all our systems are balanced and we feel happy and relaxed.
Inflammation and Toxicity. These are signs that the body is struggling. The energy is not flowing well and things are stagnating and building up. The Chinese say ‘if the Qi doesn’t flow there is pain’. This equate to inflammation and lack of toxic elimination.
Below are some of the reasons for weight gain.
6 Underlying Endocrine Factors
- Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes
- Hypothyroid (low thyroid function)
- Stress, Adrenal Fatigue and Depletion
- Oestrogen Excess or Depletion
- Chronic Inflammation
- Melatonin – altered sleep
Insulin resistance is a term that most people have heard of or they may have seen some of the indicators in their blood tests performed by their doctor. I have listed some of the indicators of insulin resistance below.
Indicators of Insulin Resistance
- Visceral obesity (fat around our organs) – Check waist measurements Men less than 100 cm, Women less than 90 cm waist
- Fasting blood glucose equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
- Decreased energy mid-afternoon or after meals
- No satisfaction from eating – feel the need to eat more
- Sugar cravings
- Fatigue, brain fog
Stress is something we don’t usually relate to weight gain but it can be major trigger and it needs to be managed. A hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress is cortisol. Stress increases cortisol. Chronic stress increases cortisol and eventually depletes adrenals, causing adrenal fatigue. Cortisol counteracts insulin which leads to hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) as glucose is unable to enter cells effectively.
Stress Reduces Thyroid Function
Elevated cortisol also reduces thyroid function and therefore basal metabolic rate, meaning your body slows down.
Checklist for Low Thyroid
- Low morning basal temperature
- Low resting heart rate needs to be greater than 60 beats per minute
- Cold intolerance
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair or hair loss
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Depression, irritability or poor memory
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
Lack of Sleep Increases Obesity
Melatonin Reduces Obesity: Animal studies have found melatonin can control weight gain without reducing food intake. It also improved blood lipid profile;
• Decreased triglyceride
• Decreased LDL cholesterol
• Increased HDL
Melatonin is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as almonds, sunflower seeds, cherries, coriander, cardamom and fennel.
Exercise and Obesity
30 minutes per day is the bare minimum of physical activity for healthy individuals. Increasing exercise alone can reduce body fat, improve cardiovascular health, reduce blood glucose, improve insulin resistance and reduce inflammation. No obesity management program should be without an exercise component.
Key Exercise Recommendations for Obesity
- Start with small achievable goals e.g. walk around the block
- Build up to a minimum of 30 minutes every day, preferably twice daily
- A combination of aerobic (dancing, skipping etc) & resistance training (sit ups, squats, therabands) is best for insulin resistance & obesity.
- Find an activity you ENJOY!
The number 1 food associated with weight gain is…….Potato!
Increasing Fat loss with food..
- Reduce Carbohydrates for Fat Loss
Compared to a low fat diet, those eating a moderately carb-restricted diet had a 4% greater loss of body fat 40% calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fat and 20% protein, whereas the standard diet contained 55% of calories from carbohydrates and 27% from fat.
Sample of Reduced Carbohydrate Daily Meals
- 3 tablespoons of oat bran upon rising
- 2 poached eggs with baby spinach, mushrooms & tomato
- Tuna or salmon with rocket, fetta, red onion, cucumber, asparagus & avocado
- Baked chicken breast with steamed broccolini, squash & asparagus
Foods to Eat – Reduced Carbs
- All green veg
- Red veg
- Lean red meat
Dietary Fibre & Visceral Fat Levels
For every 10 gram increase in soluble fibre eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 % over five years. In addition, increased moderate activity resulted in a 7.4 % decrease in the rate of visceral fat.
Having a health coach who can guide you with what to eat, what exercise is suitable for you and to help with stress reduction including acupuncture and massage makes the whole process of weight loss so much easier. It also keeps you motivated so that you can regain your health and vitality.