The research behind natural approaches to weight loss is getting better and better.
Your integrative healthcare practitioner is the right person to ask for advice about losing either weight or fat or both and thereby improving health. But all who have lost weight successfully point to four critical elements, and there are lots of new developments:
- proper hydration at the right time;
- diet and nutrition (making healthy food choices);
- exercise (integrating physical activity into your lifestyle); and
- taking supplements to correct imbalances (especially important: a lot of new developments here).
Proper Hydration: The late internationally renowned researcher Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, MD, showed that drinking more water could help individuals lose weight naturally. This is best done between meals because too much water with food can dilute stomach acid and enzymes necessary for digestion.
Diet and Nutrition: The latest research has put to rest the myth that consuming fat makes a person fat. Studies show that raw nut consumption reduces weight and body fat compared to non-nut eaters, which shows that what matters most is the kind of fats we eat—relying on healthy Omega-3 fats from avocados, olives, and fatty fish like salmon, as well as the medium-chain fats from coconut oil we discussed in last week’s newsletter, together with the avoidance of harmful transfats. Good fats are proven to fight inflammation and help brain function, cell membranes, heart, nerves, lungs, eyes, digestion, internal organs, and a healthy immune system—and reduce weight and body fat. Eating nuts also reduces cholesterol.
Much research has also centered on the Glycemic Index, which ranks dietary carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs—the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels—may reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes and is, many believe, a key to sustainable weight loss.
According to author William Linz Wolcott and others, different foods have very different effects on different people. Wolcott believes that tailoring your diet to your body’s particular quirks—metabolic typing—will improve digestion, circulation, immunity, energy, and mood. To determine your type, he has you take a 65-question test (the questions range from nose moisture to how you feel about potatoes), then place yourself in one of three categories: protein type, carbo type, or mixed type.
Closely related to metabolic typing is oxidation typing. George Watson, PhD, found that your oxidation rate was directly related to metabolism and the production of stress hormones which cause weight gain, and that diet and supplements can control and correct imbalances.
Loren Cordain, PhD, is a world authority on the evolutionary basis of diet and disease. Dr. Cordain, whose work has been cited in recent articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and many other publications, has scientific evidence that we are evolutionarily designed to eat like our Paleolithic ancestors: lean meats, nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables; no grains, extra salt, sugar, legumes, or even dairy products. His Paleo Diet refers to the era before agriculture took hold, when a movement away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle resulted in settled societies, and, eventually, Twinkies and couch potatoes.
Exercise: Paleo dieters also believe in hunter-gatherer kinds of activity: lots of walking, intermittent bursts of running, periodically carrying heavy things and climbing tall things. The closest modern equivalent is probably interval training: getting your pulse up for a short time, then taking things at a slower pace, then ramping up again, with resistance training sprinkled throughout for variety. Some studies suggest this is the most effective exercise approach for weight control and cardiovascular health.
Supplementation: Julius Goepp, MD, wrote an extremely well-researched article in a recent issue of Life Extension Magazine on the obesity epidemic, and shows how curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, controls blood sugar levels and enhances insulin sensitivity, and restores balance across a range of systems normally ravaged by diabetes. Cinnamon is another well-known controller of blood sugar levels. Another article in the same issue discusses the role of serotonin in compulsive overeating, and looks at saffron as a natural control for between-meal snacking.
Minerals like magnesium and chromium, amino acids like carnitine and arginine, and common plants like green tea are all being heralded as important tools in the weight-loss battle.
And new natural supplements are being discovered all the time. Garcinia cambogia is a traditional Ayurveda supplement for weight loss derived from a fruit in southeast Asia. Hoodia gordonii, a type of cactus, and Aurantium, or bitter orange, are being investigated as appetite suppressants. Irvingia gabonensis is a West and Central African tree also known as the wild mango or bush mango. In a recent ten-week double-blind placebo-controlled study, individuals taking the Irvingia averaged 28 pounds in weight loss compared to just 1.5 pounds in the placebo group, and lowered their body fat by 6.3% compared to 1.9% in the placebo group. Total and LDL cholesterol levels dropped dramatically more in the Irvingia group (27%) than the placebo group (4.8%). Needless to say, no drug has equaled these results.
So, if you have not taken action to prevent the FDA from shutting down weight loss supplements, please do so now.
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