Saturday, November 28, 2015

A hidden cause of weight gain that starts in your gut

Did you know that you have something called a microbiome?  You may not have heard about it, but it is a very important part of you.  In our digestive tract, we have trillions of microbes - in fact we have more bacterial DNA in our bodies than human DNA!  These microbes are called your "microbiome" and they play a very important role in your health, and in your weight.

A healthy microbiome has lots of different types of micro-organisms  - lots of diversity.   Overweight people tend to have different bacteria in their guts than lean people.

Things that can affect the types of organisms in a negative way include:

- antibiotic use
- birth control pills
- stress
- pain medications
- steroid pills like prednisone
- pesticide residues in our food

Poor quality foods (fried foods, trans fats, sugar, processed food and artificial sweeteners) tend to feed and promote the less desirable type of microbes in your gut.  These organisms affect the lining of your digestive tract, causing inflammation and promoting weight gain.

Some bacteria affect our digestive tract to increase the number of calories we extract from food. Evolutionarily this may have helped us survive in times of food scarcity, but in our modern times of readily available, high caloric foods it helps to promote weight gain.

The gut microbes can also cause food cravings.  Having excess amounts of yeast, in particular, causes sugar cravings, because yeast thrive on sugar and they literally highjack your brain so you feed it to them.  Weight gain is not just dependent on what you are eating, but what your gut bugs are eating!

We know that certain probiotics (the healthy kind of bacteria) and prebiotics (natural fiber that feeds the probiotics) can reduce inflammation and improve the makeup of the gut microbes.  For example, a bacteria called Akkermansia helps with weight loss and improves metabolic function. Oligofructose (a prebiotic) increases Akkermansia by 100 fold.   Oligofructose is found in foods like onion, artichoke, leek, and garlic.

A nutrition program that helps to balance gut microbes is an important part of a healthy weight loss program (and weight loss maintenance).    Once again we can demonstrate that "calories in and calories out" is only part of the overall equation for weight loss!

If you are looking for help with your weight, please let us know!  Our medical weight loss programs address the microbiome, as well as the other underlying causes of weight gain including hormone imbalance, hidden food sensitivities, inflammation, environmental toxins.  and blood sugar metabolism.

Yours in health,


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Do you want to lose belly fat? 10 reasons you are not losing weight

For many years we have been told that weight loss is straight forward - eat less and exercise more.  Unfortunately it is just not that easy!  For some people, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard in our modern world.  Many of our patients are already eating a reasonably healthy diet, exercising somewhat regularly and yet STILL continue to struggle with their weight.  Clearly there are other factors at play.  Here are some factors that can interfere with weight loss success:


As you may expect, there are quite a few hormones that affect your weight.
1.  Sex hormone imbalances.  Problems with estrogen, progesterone or testosterone may result in weight gain.  
2.  Stress hormones imbalances.  Cortisol and DHEA are made in our adrenal glands (along with adrenaline) and they regulate weight, especially around the waist.  
3.  Low thyroid function  Thyroid hormone regulates our metabolic rate, how many calories we burn and whether or not we are burning fat for fuel.  Low thyroid makes weight loss very unlikely.  An overactive thyroid gland is the only thyroid problem that can result in weight loss, but it also causes anxiety, heart palpitations, jitteriness and other problems.
4.  Insulin problems.  Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar.  If insulin is not working properly it takes more and more insulin to maintain blood sugar in the normal range.  The problem is that insulin is a fat storing hormone.  The more insulin, the more belly fat.  
5.  Leptin problems.  Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite signals.  If Leptin is not working properly, your brain will always think that you are starving and will cause more hunger.  

As you can see, proper hormone balance is critical to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.  Lifestyle factors are also very important - quality of sleep, stress levels, physical activity, nutrient intake, healthy social connections.  Hormone imbalances can make it harder to maintain good lifestyle habits due to fatigue, insomnia, mood symptoms, poor stress tolerance, food cravings as well as directly affecting metabolism and whether you are burning or storing fat.


These factors are often root causes of the hormone problems above.
6.  Food sensitivities.   It is very common to develop sensitivities to common foods.  A sensitivity causes low grade inflammation which promotes weight gain.  Changing nutrition to avoid the foods you are sensitive to can help with mood, energy, memory, joint pains, digestive symptoms, menstrual problems as well as weight gain.
7.  Toxins.  There are tens of thousands of chemicals that we are exposed to on a regular basis.  Many of these are “hormone disrupters” - meaning that they interfere with metabolic processes and hormonal  balance.  We know that people with higher levels of toxins tend to be more overweight and more likely to have diabetes, as well as many other hormonally related problems.  Avoidance of toxins and learning how to help optimize your natural detoxification pathways can be a very important step in weight loss.
8.  Dysbiosis.  This is a word that means there is an imbalance in your “micro biome” - the trillions of micro-organisms that live in your digestive tract.  If you have too many of the wrong bacteria and not enough of the good health-promoting bacteria (the probiotics) this is associated with weight gain.  In some cases the bacteria literally cause us to extract more calories from the same amount of food.
9. Candida.  Overgrowth of digestive yeast (candida) is another common problem that we see that promotes weight gain.  Candida causes sugar cravings that can be quite severe, making it much more difficult to avoid the sugary junk.  Candida also causes bloating, brain fog, fatigue, and hormonal imbalances
10.  Inflammation.  If there are too many inflammatory chemicals circulating in the blood stream, these directly cause problems with insulin and cortisol, resulting in weight gain.  Insulin and cortisol can contribute to more inflammation - so a cycle is created where all things being equal, your body wants to store more fat.  

Solutions are available!

As you can see, the "calories in vs calories out" equation is not the whole story.  A medical weight loss program that addresses ALL of these issues is much more likely to result in successful longterm weight loss.  If you have been struggling with your weight, please know that there are good options and that we can help!  Please click here for more information on our Optimal Wellness Program