Overcoming Weight Loss Resistance

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It comes as no surprise to menopausal women (no matter where you fall in the spectrum of pre to post), that once your hormones loose their balance you pack on the pounds, and they don’t want to budge.

Weight loss resistance can be a attributed to a number of factors that interfere with the body’s ability to maintain a healthy metabolism, or to drop body fat.

Here are some common causes of weight loss resistance:

Female Hormone imbalance  

Stress

Inflammation

Toxins

Damaged Metabolism

* Female Hormone imbalance can occur at any age, but in peri-menopause when progesterone levels drop, women find themselves on that slippery slope of hormone imbalance.  Initially progesterone drops more quickly and to a greater degree than estrogen, which sets you up for estrogen dominance. 

Add to that the chemicals that mimic estrogen found in plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, the environment and hormones in animal products and you will soon be feeling the effects of estrogen dominance.   

This includes weight gain around the middle and lower body, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, bloating, headaches and weight loss resistance.

Further, excess sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol all elevate estrogen levels, suppress thyroid function and lower serotonin levels.  Hello tired, sad and chubby.

Adding insult to injury, those extra fat cells you are carrying around make their own estrogen, compounding the problem.

* Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which signals the body to raise blood sugar levels resulting in elevated insulin.  

Prolonged stress and high cortisol results in adrenal exhaustion, a slower metabolism, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol, while simultaneously causing you to put on fat around the belly. 

As insulin is constantly being secreted to deal with the elevated blood sugar brought on by stress (cortisol), your cells become insulin resistant, which leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.  

High levels of insulin, (also caused by high levels of estrogen) will also promote fat storage, and can damage the brain, heart and gut.

Remember, stress can be real or imagined, your body reacts to it with the same cascade of hormones.

* Inflammation is often hidden in the form of a damaged gut, which could be caused by a poor diet of processed foods full of sugar and trans fats.  Gluten has also been found to damage the lining of the gut.

Food intolerances or sensitivities also drive inflammation as the body mounts an immune response to what it perceives as a foreign object.  Toxins, chronic infections, or over-exercise also cause inflammation.  

No matter what the cause, in an attempt to quell the inflammation, the adrenal glands react to this physical stress the same way they react to emotional and mental stress, by secreting cortisol, which causes elevated blood sugar, which leads to high insulin, which can lead to further inflammation.  Quite a weight loss resistance cycle.

* Toxins in general are a real block to dropping body fat.  We are exposed to toxins everyday from our foods, the environment, cosmetics, municipal water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, household cleaners and heavy metals, (as a short list).

To keep such toxins from circulating in our blood stream, they are trapped in our fat cells.  Thus the body resists burning fat because that would release the toxins into the blood stream, causing damage to the tissues.

Also, fat cells produce the hormone leptin, which signals the brain when we have taken in enough calories and are “satiated”.  The more fat, the more leptin, which leads to leptin resistance in the brain, so you never get the signal that you are full and to stop eating.  

Believing that you are starving, the brain actually sends signals to take in more food, and to slow the metabolism to maintain the fat stores you have.

As well as your body fat, heavy metals like mercury and lead can hide in your bones, brain and kidneys, damaging these organs.

* A damaged metabolism  occurs when your metabolism is breaking down more than it is building up.

All of the conditions above contribute to a damaged metabolism.  You are basically burning yourself out without doing what is necessary to recover and rebuild.

A poor diet of excess sugars, refined and processed foods, along with stress be it mental, physical or imagined,  over-exercise, food intolerances and toxins will all cause inflammation, and damage your metabolism.

How do you heal your metabolism, gently detox, lower inflammation, reduce stress, and balance your hormones?

  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet of whole foods, heavy on the plants.  The high mineral content and fiber of plants keep the gut healthy and aid in the elimination of toxins.  Include a clean protein, animals raised to range free and are not given growth hormones, antibiotics or fed grain laden with toxins. Add some healthy fats, and you have a balanced meal providing you with the nutrients you need to build a healthy metabolism.
  2. Cut down on your toxic load by eating organic when possible, choosing organic personal care products and cleaning products, and filter your water.
  3. Add green drinks to your daily routine to help with detoxification and supercharge with valuable nutrients.
  4. Add probiotics to our daily regime to help build a healthy gut.
  5. Exercise appropriately for your level of fitness and stress.  Do not over-exercise.  (Start easy and build slowly).
  6. De-stress throughout the day.  Deep breathing, visualizations, meditations, yoga, qi gong, or taking a nap will all help reduce inflammation.
  7. Include supplements like a multi-vitamin, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, and omega 3 essential fatty acids, as a very short list to provide your body with missing nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.
  8. Get your beauty sleep.  Aim for 7-8 hours.
  9. Turn negative self-talk into positive affirmations.
  10. Don’t rule out bioidentical hormones to replenish what your body is no longer producing on its own.

As always, it is best to have a personalized program designed for your specific needs based on your specific metabolism.

For guidance and support on your journey to hormone balance, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

Essential Fatty Acids, It's A Balancing Act

Essential fatty acids or EFA’s are essential to good health and it is essential that you get them in your diet because your body cannot make them. 

EFA’s come in the form of omega-3 fatty acids, found mainly in fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin and hemp seeds, and omega-6 fatty acids found mainly in vegetable oils.

These two EFA’s are both necessary for good health, but they have opposite effects on the body and must be kept in balance to promote health.  

An ideal ratio would be from 1:1 up to 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3.  However, because processed vegetable oils are in the majority of foods Americans consume, and because we are not big fish eaters, the typical American's ratio hovers around 20:1 omega-6 to omega-3.  Way out of the ideal range. 

This becomes a health concern because the omega-6 EFAs in your diet from vegetable oils promote inflammation, increased blood pressure and immune suppression.  Conditions which could lead to heart disease and cancer.

I recommend getting your Omega-3s from the fat of cold water fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel rather than from nuts and seeds because many people lack the enzymes needed to make the conversion from vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids to the more usable form found in fish oils.  Therefore, it is perhaps best to enjoy cold water fish along with your vegetable sources of omega-3's. 

The Omega-3 EFA’s “claim to fame” is that they are anti-inflammatory.  This is HUGE for Americans whose diet and lifestyle is pro-inflammatory.  Especially when you consider most, if not all disease processes start with inflammation. 

Omega-3's also feed bio-chemicals that lower triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation, enhance immune function, and keep rapid cell growth in check.  

They protect the heart, are needed for proper brain functioning and even help with weight loss by reducing insulin levels and increasing your metabolic rate.

Besides the less desirable Omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils, there are two other omega-6 EFAs that are beneficial to your health.  Gamma linolenic acid, GLA, is found in borage oil, evening primrose oil, and black current seed oil. 

GLA helps reduce inflammation and aids in brain development, skin and hair growth and healthy bones.  It also raises levels of serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter and, it helps burn body fat. 

Conjugated linoleic acid, CLA is also an omega-6 fatty acid.  It is found in the beef and dairy products of organically raised free-range cows that graze on early spring and fall grasses.  

It is also found in wild game.  CLA packs a double punch; it helps maintain lean muscle while increasing the rate at which you burn body fat.  Not a bad combination.

Less vegetable oil, more fresh wild fish, flax seeds or oil, borage oil and organic free range meats will help lower inflammation and keep your heart, brain, nervous and immune systems young and healthy while keeping you strong and lean.

*  Animal sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: herring, sardines, salmon, mackerel, swordfish, mussels, tilapia, halibut, flounder, and pollock.

*  Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, pecans, and hazelnuts.

*  Sources of omega-6 fatty acids include: safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil.

For guidance and support in your journey to better nutrition, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

 

Your Immune System On "Auto"

The occurrence of auto-immune diseases is on the rise.  But why does the immune system attack healthy tissues?  

Auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis and lupus all occur in an environment of inflammation.  

Inflammation has become a chronic condition due to the Standard American Diet (SAD), of processed foods, and our unhealthy lifestyle of high stress, lack of exercise and sleep deprivation. 

This toxic combination leads to a damaged gut, setting the stage for 1) inflammation, 2) an over active immune system and 3) auto-immune disorders.  

With a damaged, or “leaky gut”, (already causing local inflammation), undigested food particles leak into the blood stream and are marked as foreign invaders by your immune system.  

The immune response that follows, (undigested food particles) leaking into the blood stream goes on day after day, keeping your immune system in a constant state of alert.  

Through a process known as molecular mimicry, the immune system becomes confused by the similarities of certain compounds in the target antigen (undigested food particle) with compounds in healthy tissues, and attacks them both.

Those on the fence about gluten should know that it has been linked to leaky gut, and therefore associated with auto-immune conditions.

Genetic tendencies are also involved, as well as adrenal stress, blood sugar stability, insulin and cortisol balance, infections, bacteria and heavy metals. 

However, the bottom line is inflammation, which is the end result of all these variables. 

Steps you can take to lower your risk of developing an auto-immune disorder or improve your condition if suffering from one now, is to reduce your inflammation and heal your gut.

Step 1:  Get yourself on an anti-inflammatory diet.  This would consist of organic whole foods, (nothing processed) including organic fruits and vegetables, (berries are high in anti-oxidants), organic grass fed meats and eggs, wild caught fish, organic nuts and seeds, organic beans and legumes, and lots of clean filtered water while eliminating vegetable oils, sugar, caffeine, and common allergens like gluten, corn, dairy and soy, which are all pro-inflammatory.

Step 2: Increasing the number and diversity of your gut bacteria known as the microbiome, can help keep your gut bacteria in a healthy balance, enhance your immune system and reduce inflammation.  FYI, the popular brands of yogurt are little more than a sugar slush since the pasteurization process killed anything beneficial or living.  It is best to get probiotics in their pure form or from lacto-fermented foods like kefir and kimchi   

Step 3:  Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory as well, and close to a magic pill If  there ever was one.  This is just a first line of defense, your nutritionist can put you on a comprehensive nutritional plan. 

Step 4:  Get eight hours of sleep a night. 

Step 5:  Manage your stress. 

Step 6:  Enjoy regular moderate exercise.

I can help you incorporate these preventative measures into your lifestyle to reduce inflammation and climb out of the dark hole of auto-immune disorders, step by step.

Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.