Starvation diets are self-defeating because they can slow the body's metabolism by suppressing the thyroid gland.
Sensible Weight Management
The most important thing we can do to achieve and maintain a healthy BMI is to control our insulin levels with our food choices, including how (or when) we eat. Below, we will explain exactly how to do that, but first we need to lay some groundwork. If we understand how our bodies work, we will better understand how to apply this principleand just as importantlyhow to explain the process to those we are helping:
The role of insulin
In the lesson on the glandular system, we saw that our blood sugar levels are largely controlled by the endocrine functions of the pancreas, which secretes insulin into the bloodstream when our blood sugar levels rise, and glucagon when our blood sugar levels fall.
When we eat, the carbohydrates in our food are broken down by the digestive process into simple sugars which are absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in a higher level of sugar in the blood. (This sugar in the blood is in the form of glucose, or blood sugar.) As the image above illustrates, insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to an increase in blood sugar. Our cells need sugar (glucose) for energy, but most of our cells can not take in sugar directly. Insulin is the "key" which unlocks the cell to allow sugar to enter. As the sugar enters our cells the amount in our bloodstream is reduced. This reduction causes the pancreas to secrete less insulin.
If we have more sugar than our body needs at the moment, insulin helps the liver takes in some of the excess for short-term storagefor when our blood sugar levels fall and you need more sugar, such as between meals or when we engage in physical activity. Another way that our bodies have to provide energy for the cells is through the process known as ketosis. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process of burning fat for energy when it doesn't have enough sugar (carbohydrates) from our food. As part of the process of burning fat for energy, the body makes ketones.
Here is the important thing to remember when it come to managing our weight: Again, as the illustration above shows:Insulin inhibits fat-burning and stimulates fat storage.
How do we use this knowledge to help us manage our weight?
We have been taught that the reason why people are so much fatter today than in times past is because of our prosperitythat for the first time, since who knows when, most people in the wealthy industrialized nations have all the food that they need to eat...and more (combined with the fact that we do not have to perform as much physical work.) While there is a lot of truth to this, it isn't the whole picture. The fact is, it isn't just because we have more to eat, its how this lifestyle has encouraged us to eat. Instead of eating meals with periods of fasting between them, as would have been natural for our ancestors, we tend to eat all the time! I'm talking about eating between meals or snacking throughout the day, including sipping on calorie-laden drinks throughout the day.
Remember, what happens when you take in food? Your pancreas secretes insulin. What does insulin do? In addition to providing the key the cells need to take in sugar...
Insulin inhibits the burning of fat for energy and causes the body to store more fat!
Is there any wonder why we have so much trouble maintaining a healthy weight?
The natural thing for humans to doand what humans did for thousands of yearswas to fast between meals. The type of fasting we are talking about here also means not drinking anything between meals other than water. (Tea, herbal teas or coffee are okay, if consumed without the added calories of sugar or milk.) This type of eating allows our insulin levels to fall naturally between meals, allowing our bodies to function normally, which means keeping our blood sugar levels regulated by using stored energy reserves, including burning fat!
There are other dangerous effects of having high levels of insulin in our bloodstreams throughout the day. Although we won't go into too much detail here, since this is a lesson on weight loss, we will be amiss if we don't also mention that insulin in pro-inflammatory. It keeps our cells in a constant state of inflammation, which can contribute to, and in most cases is even the cause of, the many chronic diseases which result from excess inflammation at the cellular level. These include ateriovascular disease such as arteriosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. This constant inflammation also shows up in the cell walls, making them less permeable to the things which the cells need to take inincluding sugar for energy. This leads to insulin-resistance and eventually to type 2 diabetesan epidemic in our modern world!
Why is insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity at epidemic proportions? Well now, you know why!
Therefore, second rule for effective weight management (which could just as easily be the first, even before our advice to "Don't Diet!") is also the second rule to Natural Health School's Dietary Guidelines: "2. Eat three meals and only three meals daily. Do not snack between meals..." (Do not snack between meals also includes any drinks that contain calories. Unsweetened teas or coffee without milk, are okay.)
But if you will check our dietary guidelines, you will notice that there is another part to this second rule: "...If you are hungry between meals, it means that you simply did not eat enough meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or cheese at your previous meal. A proper meal will suppress your appetite for at least 5 hours."
While sugars and simple carbohydrates (which are broken down into sugars) will cause spikes in our blood sugar levels, and in insulin secretion by the pancreas, which causes us to crave more sugar and carbohydrates, it also tends to slow down our metabolic rate (the rate at which we burn calories.) Protein, on the other hand, because it is broken down much more slowly by the body, has a tendency to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces insulin spikes, and has the added benefit of helping to speed up our metabolism.dietary guidelines are listed in order of importance, so it is essential that you adopt the first few rules on the list as your highest priority, then you may work on any subsequent rules over time. For our purpose here, (i.e., weight management) rules 1 and 2 are critically important; rules 3 through 5 are very important and should be given your next highest level of priority, after you have managed to implement rules 1 and 2. The remaining 6 rules are still important, and should eventually be worked on as you master the others. This approach will not only help you achieve your weight management goals, but also your goals for reaching and maintaining your optimal health.
There you have it, the key to weight management and better health. If you read no further, you have everything you need for the most effective and healthy weight management program you will find anywhere. But for those who are interested, there is more, including addressing some of the other aspects of weight management, including the mental or emotional. We will therefore continue with some additional common sense and supplementary things you can do:
The Role of Fiber
Another medical study, reported in the same issue of JAMA mentioned at the beginning of this lesson, found that one of the best ways to control weight is to increase dietary fiber intake. Fiber has been shown to help lower serum cholesterol, reduce risk for cancer, and help diabetics control their blood sugar levels better. And as if that wasn't enough, certain kinds of fiber, such as psyllium husks, have been shown to have the ability to absorb some of the fat from the foods we eat, carrying that fat out of the body before it is absorbed. That's how a popular weight management product called Fat Grabbers works.
Increasing our intake of fiber is an important and necessary step toward managing our weight. The five fundamentals of health, as discussed in a previous lesson, can also be thought of as the five fundamentals for effective and permanent weight management. The five fundamentals of health are Cleansing, Leisure (Meditation and Sleep), Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition. To help you remember these, remember the acronym CLEAN:
The Five Fundamentals of Weight ManagementCleansing
Leisure (Meditation and Sleep)
In our fastidious society, everyone understands the importance of keeping the outside clean. This is because we can see the outside. But it is just as important, if not more so, to keep the inside clean. I am reminded of a television commercial promoting a tooth paste that is purported to clean tar stains off the teeth of smokers. But what about the tar you can't seethe tar in the lungs?
The first step of any weight loss program should always be cleansing. Modern food processing has removed most of the enzymes and fiber from our foods. To add insult to injury we often eat too many foods that contain no fiber at all, such as meat, dairy products and foods made with processed "refined" or "enriched" flour and sugar. These slow the movement of the intestines and promote the build up of waste and toxins in the bowel, liver and blood. Everyone can benefit from a periodic cleanse to clear out these accumulations.
Cleansing should target the colon (large intestine) and liver. The liver is an important, yet often overlooked, organ for the management of weight. In our toxic world, it is also one of the organs most likely to need help. One of the hundreds of vital functions performed by the liver is the secretion of a hormone responsible for the burning of fat. The liver also plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels, another key to permanent weight loss. It is usually when our blood sugar level drops that we crave the high-calorie foods that are not good for us.
The liver and colon must be cleansed at the same time. This is because the colon constantly absorbs toxins that pass through the portal vein directly to the liver for detoxification. A toxic colon results in a toxic, overworked liver that cannot effectively perform its job.
The liver and colon can be safely and effectively cleansed with a good combination of herbal supplements and fiber. A cleanse should normally last for two weeks and is best done twice a year, in the Spring and again in the Fall. There are several good herbal cleansing combinations available. The one I recommend is CleanStart or CleanStart Mild. It is an easy and mild, yet complete, two-week cleansing program from Nature's Sunshine Products.
The second fundamental of health, and the second fundamental of weight management, is Leisure. By leisure I mean rest, relaxation, meditation, and sleep. Adequate Rest is necessary for physical and mental rejuvenation. Sleep is essential for our well-being, but it isn't just the quantity of sleep, it's the quality that's so important. There are four phases of sleep. Once the fourth or deepest phase is attained, the body goes through a sort of sleeping rhythm, alternating between dream sleep and non-dream sleep. Distinct types of emotional and physical healing and building take place during these two distinct types of sleep. Both are necessary to maintain our health. Researchers have shown that sleep deprivation, and even poor quality sleep, suppresses the immune system and is detrimental to mental and physical well-being.
People who have trouble sleeping often feel the need to resort to sleep-inducing drugs. Although these drugs may put you to sleep, they interfere with the natural rhythm of sleep and almost never result in quality sleep. Herbs like hops, valerian and passion flower help induce a more natural sleep and are better alternatives for most people who have trouble sleeping. (These three herbs are available in a sleep combination appropriately named Herbal Sleep.)
I also consider meditation to be an important facet of this fundamental of health. Over 600 medical studies have proven that the regular practice of meditation offers countless psychological and physical benefits including improved health, reduced effects of aging, reduced stress and anxiety, lowered blood pressure and risk of stroke, increased intelligence and creativity, improved memory and learning ability, increased energy and sense of well-being, and improved function of the immune system. One study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine (June, 2006) found that meditation improved insulin resistance components of metabolic syndrome. This offers promise to the many overweight individuals who suffer from this very common and dangerous condition. Many meditators have reported that they have found it easier to reduce alcohol use, stop smoking, and let go of unhealthy habits, such as junk food and binge eating, after being on a regular program of meditation. More about meditation, including how to do it, is available on this web site in our Lesson on Meditation.
One of the greatest contributors to our fat society is lack of exercise. We have become a nation of "couch potatoes" who would rather sit in front of the television than enjoy a brisk walk outdoors. It will come as no surprise that exercise is an essential key to weight loss and weight management. Our bodies burn calories at a faster rate when we exercise, but just as important is the fact that regular exercise speeds up the body's metabolism so we continue burning calories at a faster rate even when at rest. Exercise raises blood sugar levels giving us more energy and helping us feel better. It also promotes better sleep. When we feel better and have more energy we tend to be more active which also helps.
Vigorous exercise for at least 15 to 20 minutes, three times a week, is a fundamental of health and a fundamental of weight loss and lifetime maintenance. Our exercise programs do not necessarily have to include intense activities such as jogging or running. A brisk walk at a comfortable pace is an ideal exercise for most people. Since walking is less vigorous than running or jogging, we should ideally try to do it for at least 40 minutes at a time, if health permits it. Other activities such as bicycling are also excellent as long as they are done on a regular basispreferably every day, but at least three times a week.
Sometimes weight control problems are aggravated by a poor self-image or feelings of inadequacy. Many people are able to lose weight and keep it off once they have worked through these barriers and are able to envision themselves as having their ideal weight and deserving of being attractive. If you feel that your weight problem might have deep-seated emotional roots consider appropriate avenues, such as hypnosis, to resolve the problem.
Another common problem is having an unrealistic goal, or striving to have a body shape that is impossible to achieve with your genetic makeup. It is important to accept your basic body shape and realize that it is not normal nor possible for most people to look like a fashion model. Your weight-loss goals should be realistic and based upon what is normal for your body type.
We have already discussed the most important aspect of nutrition in this lesson, and that is managing our insulin levels by managing how we eat. The eleven rules of our dietary guidelines are the best nutritional advice we can give you regarding managing your weight, as well as achieving your maximum health potential. Below we will expand on these just a bit.
There are foods we can eat and foods we can avoid to help us in our quest for "girth control." Foods that are high in trans fats, such as fried foods, "junk foods," and most processed foods, slow down the metabolism making it harder for us to control our weight. The metabolism is also slowed down by the consumption of carbohydrates but not all carbohydrates are bad! The bad carbohydrates are refined carbohydrates (most bakery goods), fructose, sugar and fruit juice.
High quality animal proteins, eggs, dairy products such as cottage cheese, fruits and vegetables have the opposite effect, helping to increase the metabolic rate. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains also have the added benefit of being high in fiber which helps us feel "full" sooner so we have a tendency to eat less. Grains are hard to digest so they should be used sparingly, particularly by people who may be gluten intolerant. Wheat, in particular, has become so adulterated by Genetic Manipulation that it is hard for me to even consider it a food, unless of course non-GMO wheat can be found.
Most Americans need to eat far more fruits and vegetables and far fewer of the fatty or oily fried foods, refined carbohydrates and junk foods. As we have seen, we should also get out of the habit of eating between meals. If you are hungry between meals, it means that you did not get sufficient quality protein in your meals, or that you consumed too many carbohydrates. If you feel like you must have a dessert after your meals, eat a piece of whole fruit, like an apple. Avoid sugar like you would avoid the plague! (This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the occasional dessert or other treat. It isn't what we do on rare occasions, like holidays, that hurts us the most, it's what we do habitually on a daily basis.)
While most of us do consume too many trans fats, severe restriction of fats and oils is not recommended either. Such a diet is not very satisfying and can lead to cravings and even binge eating. Fats that are good for you are virgin olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and real butter. Saturated fats and cholesterol are necessary to maintain our health, and are far healthier than polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Cholesterol and saturated fats have undeservedly received a bad reputation, by those who promote unhealthy levels of serum cholesterol in an attempt to sell cholesterol-lowering drugs. Cholesterol is very important for brain function and for the production of hormones. Low cholesterol diets and particularly cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are the cause of the recent spike in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias Most overweight people can also benefit by supplementing their diets with flax seed oil or krill oil, which supplies the body with all the essential fatty acids. This will help reduce cravings, especially those for high-fat junk foods. (More on flax seed oil later.)
Click Here for the Dietary Guidelines Recommended by Natural Health School
Nutritional supplementation can be a great aid for people seeking to control their weight, especially for those who are properly eating, cleansing, exercising and who have realistic weight-loss goals. Following are the supplements I have found to be most beneficial:
Everyone, especially those who are trying to lose weight, should take a good-quality daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement like Super Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals. This will insure that your body gets the basic nutrition it needs to maintain optimal health and will reduce the cravings associated with an unbalanced or incomplete diet.
We have already discussed the importance of fiber. Since nearly all of us do not get enough fiber in the diet, fiber supplementation can be one of the most healthful things that we can do for ourselves and is a key to successful weight loss and management.
As we saw earlier, fiber helps us feel "full," It also helps us better regulate blood sugar levels and clear old toxic material out of the colon. Both of these can give us more energy, helping us increase our activity level and burn more calories. One fiber supplement in particular, Fat Grabbers, is an ideal blend of the different forms of fiber.
I consider the above two supplements, along with cleansing, to be an essential part of any effective weight loss program. In addition to these, many people can benefit by adding other herbal supplements, such as the popular "fat burners" that I will discuss next. First let me emphasize that these should only be used as part of a balanced weight loss program paying attention to all five of the fundamentals of weight management: Cleansing, Leisure, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition. If these fundamentals are ignored, results are likely to be temporary. You will probably put the weight back on.
_________ is essential for permanent weight loss and management.
B. Proper nutrition
D. A and C above
E. All of the above
(Select the best answer and click on the "Continue" button.)
Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.