We get a ton of requests to cover the topics not just in health and well-being, rather on the “HOW-TO’s” of staying in good health. As we are aging with each year, it is important to recognize the fact that we need to address different issues within our body differently as we age.
Keeping a healthy weight is one of the top priorities for a vibrant lifestyle and staying active through our entire life. We asked Dr. Robert Kachko, ND, LAc, a specialist in healthy aging, to address this issue in more details and explain the “why’s” and “HOW-TO’s” that support our efforts in maintaining an optimal for us weight. Please dive into this post and enjoy more facts and practical tips we all could live by.
There is mounting evidence that dieting, in the classic sense, simply does not work. Research shows that 95 percent of those who lose weight gain it back. This is disheartening, and a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that many overweight Americans have simply given up.
The focus of my medical practice, as a Naturopathic Doctor, is in healthy aging. This allows me to appreciate the scale of the long-term effects of excessive weight on chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
While it is certainly possible to sustainably lose weight and keep it off, most people fail at doing so because they don’t understand why they are overweight in the first place. Even worse, “crash diets” that fail to promote lasting lifestyle improvements can cause metabolic damage with long-term repercussions.
While every patient has a unique set of circumstances that may have caused them to carry more weight than is healthy for them, for most it is essential to discover and modulate their own eight key pillars of weight gain:
1. Know Your Genetic Susceptibility
Eat based on your body’s specific needs to maintain a healthy weight. Some people who eat a high-fat diet will find that their cholesterol skyrockets. For others, it won’t have any effect at all. Additionally, some people who eat a lot of carbs won’t do well at losing weight, while for others a carb heavy diet will help them lose weight. There is simply no one-size-fits-all.
2. Avoid Food Full of Hormones, Toxins and “Obesogens”
Today, much of the meat, produce and packaged goods include growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. Certain toxins in your food can contribute to weight issues and obesity.
“Obesogens” are chemicals that can disrupt normal development and balance of lipid metabolism. Obesogens include high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), chemicals such as atrazine and DDE, antibiotics and other foreign compounds. Eliminate chemicals from food whenever possible. Read labels and choose organic foods more often.
3. Choose Foods Full of Fiber, Protein, and Healthy Fats
The food you eat, in addition to providing key vitamins and minerals, must also be as close to its natural state as possible. A good example is the difference between a whole apple, with plenty of soluble fiber, and apple juice, devoid of fiber and leading to quick spikes in blood sugar. Foods devoid of the key macronutrients trick the body’s mechanisms of satiety into eating more than is necessary to sustain health.
4. Minimize Intake of Calorie-rich But Nutrient-Poor Foods
This point is closely related to point number three. For example, many refined or processed foods are low fat, but include added sugar, which signals the body to crave more calories. These foods provide “empty calories” that do not serve your body in any way.
5. Choose Exercise Aligned to Your Individual Needs
Some people need high-intensity exercise to lose weight, while others can engage in gentle, moderate exercise and lose weight. Learn what your body needs and do the type of exercise that works for you.
6. Pay Close Attention to Where, When and Why You Eat
Americans spend more on restaurants than groceries, consume more packaged food than fresh food and eat 20 percent of their meals in the car. Being present during meals, and taking care to chew your food slowly is essential. People often eat out of habit and when stressed, which leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.
7. Determine Whether You Have Excess Inflammation
People with excess inflammation tend to hold onto more weight as inflammation causes water retention. There are many potential causes of inflammation, and it is important to work with a medical professional to diagnose the root cause.
8. Get Enough Sleep and Manage Stress
Twenty-eight percent of adults report that they get six or fewer hours of sleep per night. Studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep consume extra calories. Additionally, stress can also lead people to overeat because it raises cortisol levels in the body, which in turn increases insulin levels and leads to cravings for sugary or fatty foods. By regulating both sleep and stress, people can avoid the hormonal imbalances that often lead to overeating.
While some of these concepts that may be covered in the latest best-selling diet book, the vast majority of diets fail to instill an understanding that long-term lifestyle change is essential. Losing weight too quickly – more then ½ to 1 pound per week – is rarely sustainable.
Discovering the root cause of weight gain, genetic or otherwise, often is. Partner with a qualified health professional, like a Naturopathic Doctor in your area, who can help you understand your body’s unique needs.