OBESITY, DEPRESSION, LOSS OF LIBIDO, AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO POOR GUT HEALTH Image by J. Delanoy
The word "libido
" not only entails one's sex drive or desire to engage in sexual activity, but includes things like sexual thoughts and responsiveness as well. Here in America, loss of libido (formally referred to as HSDD or Hypo-Sexual Desire Disorder
) is said to affect approximately 1 in 5 males. But according to 2006's giant PRESIDE study, almost 45% of America's females have a sexual dysfunction, with 'lack of interest
' coming out on top at almost 40% of these (nearly double what was seen in the NHSLS Survey of 1999).
When you look at lists of what most commonly affect one's sex drive in an adverse manner (whether male or female), two things seem to come up over and over and over again; Depression
If you follow my blog, you'll see that I have written about both topics extensively. My goal is to help those of you dealing with this unhappy triad of OBESITY
(it's possible to fall into this category even if you are 'SKINNY
, and Low Libido, get your lives back without feeling the need to resort to dangerous and addictive drugs. The truth is, if you want a good marriage, you need to be having sex. Period --- end of story. Buying into the myth that, "as long as both parties agree, even once a year is fine," is missing the point on many different levels. Not only is sex going to deeply connect you to your spouse, the peer-reviewed scientific literature is absolutely chocked full of its known benefits including things like.....
- Relieving Stress / Lowering Stress
- Immune System Booster / Less Illness / Less Cancer
- Increased levels of Oxytocin / Increased Intimacy / Increased Connectedness
- Endorphin Release / Natural Pain Relief
- Look Younger / Live Longer
- Strengthens Pelvic Floor and Core Muscles / Can Act as a form of Exercise
In fact, the Bible itself speaks to healthy sexual relationships. Just check out Pastor Tommy Nelson's study on the Song of Solomon
. And if you look at First Corinthians 7: 3-5, you'll see several reasons that married couples are commanded by God to have sexual relations. But unfortunately, not only are increasing numbers of couples not having much sex, many are actually in marriages that are, by definition, "sexless" (less than once a month or less than 10 times per year). This begs the question as to how much sex is "normal"? Although every couple is different, over the past twelve years, the average for married couples has dropped from 132 times per year to 103 times per year (22%).
IF SEX IS SO GOOD FOR PEOPLE, WHY IS THE FREQUENCY DROPPING SO DRAMATICALLY?
There a whole host of reasons that either men or women would not desire sex --- many of which are emotional or spiritual. However, it is no coincidence that during the same twelve years mentioned above, the incidence of Diabetes, Uncontrolled Blood Sugar, Syndrome X (Metabolic Syndrome), Obesity, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Endocrine Problems, and LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
have all skyrocketed --- all of which are associated with diminished libido. As far as men are concerned, the number one reason (other than serious illness) that they do not desire sex would be Low Testosterone. And guess what? Both Blood Sugar Dysregulation and Depression are intimately associated with "Low Testosterone", which is itself intimately tied to Obesity --- particularly CENTRAL OBESITY
. Although this is also an issue with women, women usually tend to be a bit more complicated than men.
| || | Obesity is associated with depression.... Persons with severe obesity may represent an “at-risk” population...... This association between severe obesity and depression is also of interest to clinicians, since depression is associated with poorer treatment outcomes [for their Depression]
. Is Obesity Associated with Major Depression? Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Johns Hopkins University, from the 2003 issue of The American Journal of EpidimiologyOverall, poor health has a negative impact on sexual function. Illnesses that interfere with ENDOCRINE SYSTEMS are particularly important in the impairment of female sexual desire. Several lines of evidence have revealed a link between sexual desire and levels of androgens [Too little or too much testosterone --- PCOS] in women. Consequently, disorders of ovarian function and of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis have been associated with decreased sexual desire and arousal..... Some drugs (especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and antipsychotics) have also been linked to orgasm disorders...... Untreated depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders have been linked to problems with sexual desire and arousal. Excerpted from From Hence Comes HSDD? Sharon J. Parish, MD Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Director of Psychosocial Training, Department of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, from the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Family Practice.
The numbers speak for themselves. 12% of American women and nearly 7% percent of American men aged 18 and older (over 12 million and 6 million respectively) deal with Chronic Depression. Depression is a disturbance in one's mood, which is characterized by feelings of sadness, anger, low self-esteem, loss, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. The scientific-medical literature on the subject also strongly associates it with a PATHOLOGICAL CRAVING
for processed carbohydrates. When you look at the fact that the vast majority (90 - 95%) of the body's serotonin (a 'feel-good' neurotransmitter) is manufactured in the Gut (HERE
), some of this starts making more sense. Let's see why.A 1995 study that was done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and published in the medical journal Obesity Research, called Brain Serotonin, Carbohydrate-Craving, Obesity and Depression
, had this to say, "Serotonin-releasing brain neurons are unique in that the amount of neurotransmitter they release is normally controlled by food intake: Carbohydrate consumption. Serotonin release is also involved in such functions as sleep onset, pain sensitivity, blood pressure regulation, and control of the mood. Hence many patients learn to overeat carbohydrates (particularly snack foods, like potato chips or pastries, which are rich in carbohydrates and fats) to make themselves feel better. This tendency to use certain foods as though they were drugs is a frequent cause of weight gain, and can also be seen in patients who become fat when exposed to stress, or in women with premenstrual syndrome........
"I would think that we would all agree with the statement that Depression needs to be treated. The problem though is that treating Depression with anti-depressant medications can be a double-edged sword that often produces a vicious (and sexless) cycle.
This is because not only is Depression a libido destroyer in and of itself, but so are the medications used to treat it.Depression is a double-edged sword because it saps sex drive while the antidepressants prescribed to treat it do do the same thing.
The conclusion of a large meta-analysis of studies on this topic was published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry
in 2010. The study called, Overweight, Obesity, and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies
, said that, "This meta-analysis confirms a reciprocal link between depression and obesity. Obesity was found to increase the risk of depression, most pronounced among Americans and for clinically diagnosed depression. In addition, depression was found to be predictive of developing obesity.
" And the kicker is that despite most drug's warning labels saying that somewhere between 2 and 16% of those on antidepressants (SSRI's) will develop sexual side effects, many experts say that 40% of those on anti-depressants develop diminished libido. Both groups might be significantly underestimating the problem.The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
published a study clear back in 2001 that looked at the medical records of 1,000 individuals who were being treated for Depression at the University Hospital of Salamanca (Spain). A whopping 57% of the women reported sexual side effects (most common were loss of libido and orgasm dysfunctions such as inability to orgasm or painful orgasm). And while the women's side effects were considered to be more severe, men were affected at a rate that was actually 5% higher than the women. This is similar to a South Korean study that was published in a 2010 issue of the medical journal Psychiatry Investigations
. After looking again at the effects of SSRI's on sexual health, the authors concluded that, "The incidence of sexual dysfunction was substantially high during antidepressant treatment..... Our study suggests the need for clinicians to consider the impact of pharmacotherapy on patients' sexual functioning in the course of treatment with antidepressants.
Could dealing with one's obesity have positive effects in the bedroom? In 2009 one of the true experts in the field, Dr. Mitu Shah, an OB / GYN professor at the University of Missouri Saint Louis Medical School, weighed in on the matter in the conclusion of a study published in a 2009 edition of Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America
. This expert in the field of Menopause and Female Sexual Disorders stated that, "The treatment of obesity will have a positive effect on a woman's sexual health, with a likely improvement in FSD (Female Sexual Dysfunction) and a decrease in risk factors related to contraception, pregnancy, infertility, and menopause
". Did you catch that? Not only is dealing with one's weight going to help boost libido, it is going to help a wide variety of female reproductive issues. This should not come as a surprise for those who read THIS POST
a couple of weeks ago.The bottom line is that I could quote the scientific research all day long, as there are literally hundreds --- probably thousands of studies on the topic.
Instead of doing that, I want to leave you with a few things that you can do to boost your sex drive naturally. These are not sex-specific and unless otherwise noted, will work equally well for both men and women. They are in no particular order.
BOOSTING LIBIDO NATURALLY
- KILL STRESS: I get it. Getting rid of stress is not as easy as simply wishing it away. But remember this. Prolonged stress leads to ADRENAL FATIGUE (the older name for Fibromyalgia). If you cannot get the stressors in your life under control (family, relationships, job, diet, etc), it will be difficult to deal with the underlying causes of diminished libido. By the way, there are lots of studies saying that sex itself is a great stress reliever. Think about this treatment cycle for a moment; more sex, less stress, increased libido, more sex, less stress, increased libido. I realize it's not that easy, but it is definitely a noble goal.
- WORK ON THE RELATIONSHIP: I do not claim to be some sort of 'Relationship Sherpa'. However, my wife is --- she's a marriage counselor, and some of her wisdom has rubbed off on me. You'll need to communicate well, spend quality time with your spouse (can anyone say "Date Nite"?), along with MANY OTHERS. Remember though that even though the emotional side of diminished libido gets a lot of play, you cannot neglect the physical side and hope to solve your problem(s).
- CONTROL YOUR BLOOD SUGAR: One of the single most important things that you can do for your sexual health and libido is to deal with UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR. Listen up men. Your pot belly is feminizing you! You are not only causing Depression, lethargy, and diminished physical performance, you are essentially castrating / neutering yourself with high blood sugar, high insulin levels, and the subsequent weight gain which, sooner or later, is sure to follow. By the way, if you are a woman who is struggling with female issues in general, please take a few minutes to read my piece called BEATING INFERTILITY NATURALLY (it is not just about fertility). Oh, and what is the best way to control your blood sugar...............?
- EAT A LOW CARB DIET: Have you picked up on the fact that the scientific literature is showing that both depressed and obese individuals lean heavily toward sugar / carb addictions? HERE is the information on using a Low Carb Diet to break the cycle. These individuals are looking for a serotonin boost. As I stated earlier, over 90% of the "feel good" neurotransmitter Serotonin is found in the gut. Thus, it only makes sense to........
- FIX YOUR GUT: I have already shown you that Gut Health is intimately tied to Depression. My blog also happens to be full of posts on the relationship between Gut Health and Obesity. But did you know that POOR GUT HEALTH is being tied as a root cause of nearly every health issue you can imagine (MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU READ THIS)? One of the best ways to positively affect Gut Health is to....
- GO GLUTEN FREE: In case you have not been reading my blog on a regular basis, let me just remind you that almost every health problem you can name is being linked back to GLUTEN. Just a few short years ago (2010), a study published in The Journal of Reproductive Health showed how Gluten was directly involved with a plethora "Reproductive Symptoms" seen in prior studies on sexual health. The bottom line is that sick people usually see incredible improvement when they go GLUTEN FREE. Oh, and if you do not understand GLUTEN CROSS REACTIVITY, read the link.
- EXERCISE: Do I even need to talk about this? There are about a jillion studies linking moderate exercise to lower incidence of Depression, Stress, and Obesity. There are probably almost as many showing the link between exercise and improved sex drive (I Googled 'exercise sexual health' and got nearly 17 million hits). I am not going to belabor this point, but you should value yourself / your spouse enough to EXERCISE 20-30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week. If you are discouraged about exercising, READ THIS.
- BEWARE OF MEDICATIONS: Have you seen the list of meds that can ruin one's sex drive? It is downright freaky. There are a host of meds (including birth control pills, high blood pressure medications, ANTIBIOTICS that all destroy Gut Health, and STATINS) that diminish sex drive. It is critical to remember that the number one class of medication for fouling up libido is anti-depressants. Of these, SSRI's lead the way. Interestingly enough, another leading class of drugs known for messing up one's sex drive are meant to affect the Gut (anti-nausea and anti-ulcer drugs).
- UNDERSTAND INFLAMMATION: Although everyone has heard the term "INFLAMMATION" used about a million times, few people really have any idea of what it is. And since Obesity, Depression, and Diabetes are all considered to be "Inflammatory Diseases", it would behoove you to understand a little bit more about Inflammation, what drives it, and how to squelch it.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR THYROID: If you Google "Thyroid Low Libido", you get over three quarters of a million hits. I would suggest you take the time to visit the THYROID EPIDEMIC site for a better understanding of how this all works. The really cool thing is that many thyroid problems can be effectively dealt with by following the bullet points on this list.
- TAKE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS: What do I recommend? Firstly, I recommend WHOLE FOOD SUPPLEMENTS as just that ---- a "supplement" to a healthy diet. The problem is that most people want a Viagra-like supplement that allows them to keep on destroying themselves with their diets and self-destructive lifestyles (INTERESTED IN FEMALE VIAGRA?). The best natural Testosterone booster is Tribulus Terrestris. A great general libido booster is Ginkgo Biloba (both by Medi-Herb). I am also sold on Symplex M and Symplex F by Standard Process (for men and women respectively). Again, it is far more about your diet (what you are eating or not eating) than it is about spending a lot of money on supplements.
- GIVE UP THE SMOKES AND DRINK ONLY IN MODERATION: One of the biggest problems with smoking is that it hinders blood flow. Without good blood flow, both men and women are going to struggle with satisfactory sex. Too much alcohol not only does the same thing, it is metabolized very similarly to sugar.
- BALANCE YOUR HORMONES: The big driver of libido for both men and women is Testosterone. That's right ladies, the very substance that drives your husband's libido, also drives yours. However, more is not always better as it is heavily associated with PCOS --- the most common female hormonal problem in America. Although I have a lot of information on balancing hormones on ENDOGUT, the best thing you can do for yourself (other than following these bullet points) is to make sure you are getting just a little bit of high quality protein every two hours. Also make sure to visit our post on XENOHORMONES as well (toward the end). Understanding this concept is critical to those of you who are in a state of Estrogen Dominance (possibly the majority of you, both women and men). Remember just a few points back when I accused overweight men of feminizing themselves? Estrogen causes weight gain, while fat cells (along with the female organs) manufacture Estrogen. Repeat. See the vicious cycle setting up?
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ADHD IN CHILDREN LINKED TO OBESITY LATER IN LIFE
A new study from the medical journal Pediatrics
has determined that men who were diagnosed with ADHD
as children, were twice
as likely to be OBESE
in later life. For more information on the best ways to deal with both problems, please follow the links. Just be aware that the authors declared support from Eli Lilly, Shire Pharmaceuticals, GLAXOSMITHKLINE
, and Genopharm. This means that soon, these companies will be coming out with new drugs for the problems,
WHY IS BELLY FAT PARTICULARLY BAD, WHAT DOES IT MEAN, AND WHY IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT ---- TODAY
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Faced with these risks, it’s no wonder that you want to know how much you should weigh. But this common and important question is actually the wrong question. For health, the issue is not how much you weigh, but how much abdominal fat you have. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
A mirror or photograph is a far better gauge than a scale of whether or not you are at a healthy weight. Doctor Russell Schierling
The picture above is a depiction of the various female body types as seen thru the eyes of Georges Hébert --- an early pioneer in Physical Education. The pictures come from a French book called L'éducation Physique Féminine, which was written almost a century ago. My how things have changed. The picture on the right is a woman chowing down on fast food and a monster-sized soda at one of the local fast food joints.
It was not that long ago that women hardly ever had "Central Obesity
" (aka Abdominal Obesity). Yes, we men have always tended to accumulate fat stores around our waists (the proverbial 'spare tire' ---- apple shaped), but women have always tended to put weight on in the hip / butt area (pear shaped). Now it is not only common to see women with Central Obesity, it is shockingly
common --- even in women of "normal" weight. These women are often referred to today as "SKINNY FAT
" --- the topic of yesterday's post. The point of this post is not to issue an indictment against those of you who are struggling with this particular problem, but to help you understand why Abdominal Fat is so bad, and why it leads to so many other health problems. The cool thing is that if you understand what is actually causing
you to put weight on around your waist, you can formulate a plan to conquer it.
Abdominal Obesity means that you have too much "Viceral Fat". Don't get me wrong; we all require some fat around our Vicera in order to be healthy. But once you understand that the word "Vicera" means organs, and that Viceral Fat is the fat that surrounds (and potentially entombs) your organs, you will begin to understand why Central Obesity is such a serious problem --- a killer.
When a person has large amounts of fat engulfing their organs, that fat tends to create responses in the rest of the body (particularly the ENDOCRINE SYSTEM
) that can never really keep up with what is being demanded of it. Although the organs (pancreas, liver, ADRENAL GLANDS
, etc) are scrambling to CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
, they eventually fall behind. As the organs fail to keep up, weight gain can end up like a snowball rolling downhill --- picking up momentum and feeding itself as it goes. But be warned.... not all weight gain is equal. Some is worse than others.
WHY ABDOMINAL OBESITY IS WORSE
THAN GENERALIZED OBESITY
In the early 1980's, researchers began noticing that there was an important distinction between abdominal fat and the subcutaneous fat that all of us have underneath our skin. They realized that the more abdominal fat a person carried, the more likely they were to have diabetes (decreased sensitivity to insulin), heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. They began to realize that Abdominal Obesity was a different kind of animal than General Obesity.As the American diet has gotten worse ----- based more and more on processed grains, TRANS FATS, chemicals, and sugar ---- rates of Central Obesity have skyrocketed. Yesterday's blog proved that at least 7 of 10 American adults are overweight, with about half of those being obese. It gets worse. For the over-50 crowd, 50% of the men and 70% of the women are not only obese, they meet the criteria for Central Obesity. What are those criteria?
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In the picture on the left, we see a woman with normal sized hips and waist. If we take the ratio of the waist to the hips (WHR -- Waist Hip Ratio), we should see about a .6 or .7 for women, and about .9 for men. Anything over .85 for women and .9 for men is considered to be Central Obesity. There is another way to determine Central Obesity without having to do any math. All it requires is a sewing tape.
WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE RISK FACTORS FOR ABDOMINAL OBESITY
LESS THAN 37"
37 - 40"
31.5" to 35"
A high WHR is associated with all of the risk factors / health problems I listed off earlier. And If you were reading my blog last week, you could probably guess that a high WHR is heavily associated with INFERTILITY
as well. What is shocking, however, is that recent research is linking things like lower cognitive ability with a high WHR. My best guess is that as time goes on, you will see more and more health problems associated with a high waist to hip ratio. But the real question is what does it all mean?
WHAT DOES CENTRAL OBESITY
(A HIGH WHR) REALLY MEAN?
If you are a male with Central Obesity --- the proverbial pot belly --- odds are that you simply need to get back on the wagon and lose some weight. If you are a female with Abdominal Obesity, you need to make some serious changes to your life. For one, it is important to realize that you are probably stressed out. Adrenally stressed out that is.
Cortisol (aka Hydrocortisone) is your body's chief stress hormone, and is made by by your adrenal glands in response to stress. Bear in mind that this stress can come in many forms; emotional, physical, dietary, etc. According to a popular online encyclopedia, the chief functions of Cortisol are to, "increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; [and] suppress the immune system....
" Did you catch that? Cortisol is an Immune System Suppressor that raises blood sugar via gluconeogenesis (creating sugar from muscle tissue or fat stores). Although creating sugar from fat might sound like a wonderful thing, in many cases it is not.If a person already has high blood sugar levels and gets a subsequent boost in blood sugar, they are going right back into storage mode unless they burn it for energy. This is unlikely. Since these folks are already fighting Central Obesity, the new sugar they create from metabolizing fat is simply re-stored as fat. Only this time it will be stored as belly fat. If occurring on a regular basis, this process will literally exhaust your body. This is why it is called Adrenal Fatigue and is intimately related to
Fibromyalgia (ADRENAL FATIGUE OR FIBROMYALGIA?
). Also be aware that HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
---- the sweetener most commonly used for practically all modern processed foods ----- is more associated with Belly Fat than other sugars --- far
OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH ABDOMINAL OBESITY
Of course there are the health problems I listed earlier in the post. However, it don't stop there. There are a host of physical ailments that are being directly tied to Central Obesity. Some of them include......
- ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: Although a number of studies have linked Abdominal Obesity to Alzheimer's, a study from Dr. George Razzy's team of Launceston General Hospital, University of Tasmania, Australia showed that older people with Central Obesity had a 10 times greater chance of developing Alzheimer's than the general population.
- LOW / HIGH TESTOSTERONE: If you are a male who is struggling to hit home runs in the bedroom, odds are that you have some degree of Central Obesity. Clear back in 1990, a Dutch study showed that men with Abdominal Obesity were much more likely to have high insulin and blood sugar levels, while having low testosterone. However, if you are a female, listen to what Drs. Rasa Kazlauskaite (Endocrinologist) and Sheila Dugan (Physical Medicine Specialist) of Rush University Medical Center have to say about testosterone. "When that delicate balance of estrogen to testosterone shifts toward testosterone during the menopausal transition, the distribution of fat also shifts and women tend to accumulate more belly fat. In men, we know that when their testosterone decreases naturally as they age, they tend to accumulate belly fat, but in women it isn’t really about having more testosterone, it’s about upsetting the estrogen-testosterone balance. We used to think estrogen protected premenopausal women against cardiovascular disease and that the increased cardiovascular risk after menopause was related only to the loss of estrogen’s protective effect. But now we know that it’s actually the change in hormonal balance that’s largely responsible for visceral fat. So if you’re a woman in your 30s or early 40s and you aren’t already eating healthy and exercising regularly, you should get started now and work hard to maintain these healthy behaviors throughout the menopausal transition."
- PCOS: Strongly related to the above, if you have PCOS, you are much more likely not only to be INFERTILE, but to have Central Obesity as well. Women with Central Obesity are more likely to deal with a wide range of hormonal issues.
- INFLAMMATION: People with Central Obesity are much more likely to have high systemic levels of INFLAMMATION in their bodies. Inflammation is strongly associated with nearly every health problem you can mention.
- LOW BACK PROBLEMS / ARTHRITIS: Do you think it might be hard on your joints carrying 50, 100, or 150 extra pounds of weight around for years, or even decades? It's a no-brainer.
- GALLBLADDER DISEASE: Who is likely to get GB Disease? People with Central Obesity. The moniker we learned in school was "fat, fertile, female, and forty".
- METABOLIC SYNDROME: What is Metabolic Syndrome? It is essentially a pre-diabetic condition that is in play if a person has at least three of the following ----- a blood pressure of 130/85 or higher, a triglyceride level above 150, a fasting blood sugar level of 100 or greater, low HDL levels, or high LDL levels. By the way, if you were paying attention to yesterday's post, you realize that large numbers of people of "normal" weight have at least one of these.
- FATTY LIVER: Although a Fatty Liver is usually thought of as being a problem of alcoholism, the largest class of people who develop this problem are those with Central Obesity.
- CERTAIN KINDS OF CANCER: The truth is that many kinds of cancer --- particularly the ones that originate in the abdominal area such as colon cancer.
- SLEEP APNEA / BREATHING DIFFICULTIES: Show me a person with Central Obesity who breathes just fine, and I will show you 100 that do not. And if it is bad enough to affect sleep, I promise it will affect your health in other ways.
Although Obesity is bad, Central Obesity is doubly bad.
- BLOOD CLOTS: Enough said.
If you want to live a long, enjoyable, life, and be there for your children and grandchildren, you need to do what it takes to get this problem under control. Fortunately I have created a plan for you. All you have to do is follow the information on THIS LINK
. Granted, it's a ton of information. But there is no way to effectively lose weight, get healthy, and stay that way for life unless you know what made you fat in the first place. Knowledge is power, and if you will follow the advice on my blog, virtually everyone reading this post will know what it takes to get a handle on your Central Obesity. Just remember; the choice is yours.
Photo by Tibor Végh
Photo by David Shankbone
Photo by Sampix
Photo by Russ Anderson
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WHAT IS "SKINNY FAT"? PH Kenny
I remember the first time I heard the term "Skinny Fat
". I was reading a post on the PALEO DIET
, which was talking about the epidemic of young women of normal weight, who had spindly arms & legs ---- and big bellies. Believe it or not, there is actually a medical term for this ---- MONW
. It stands for Metabolically Obese -- Normal Weight
. These people do not carry enough lean body mass (muscle), but have too much Viceral Fat (deep abdominal fat surrounding their organs). And although these folks might fit into the perfect spot on a height / weight chart, they are not healthy ---- and they are certainly not "skinny". Don't believe me? Let's take a look at a couple of recent studies from the peer-reviewed medical literature.
Not quite a year ago, the August 2012 issue of JAMA
(Journal of the American Medical Association
) published a study done at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. The study concluded that almost a quarter
of the "normal weight" population would fall in to the MONW category. Think of it another way. According to government statistics, nearly 70% of the adult American population is currently overweight or obese. This latest study brings the total closer to 80%. And here is the real kick in the teeth. These MONW individuals die off at twice the rate of visibly fat people if they have diabetes. But forget the adults for a minute, lets look at the younger generation. If you pay attention, you will notice that a lot of today's teens could be classified as MONW.
A study published one year ago this week in the medical journal Pediatrics
shows us that things are even worse than we thought. Yes, they admitted that teen obesity was a huge problem that is related to a host of serious health problems. But they also admitted that nearly one in four teens of normal weight had at least one of the signs of Metabolic Syndrome (pre-diabetes), such as high BP, HIGH CHOLESTEROL
, UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR
, etc. In fact, many experts are saying that when the rubber meets the road, only about one in five US children could truly be categorized as healthy. This is one of the biggest reasons that our government school's OBESITY PREVENTION PROGRAMS are failing so miserably.
They fall into the trap of modern medicine; always trying to tie one's health to one's weight. The so-called "skinny" people feel they are justified in eating whatever they want since they fall into the proper spot on the Height / Weight Chart. The problem is that they are not only undermining their health with these bad habits, sooner or later they will end up visibly undermining their weight. We all know that skinny guy who is constantly scrounging for food ---- loading up on fast foods, junk foods, and deserts. Trust me. He won't be the "skinny guy" forever. If you think your body will perpetually be able to keep up with the steady barrage of SUGAR
, junk carbs, and TRANS FATS
, and still maintain a normal weight, just show up at your next High School Reunion. You will be in for a rude awakening!
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SKINNY FAT
OK; so you realize that you likely fall into the MONW (Skinny Fat) category. What can you do about it? Actually you can totally reverse it and
get healthy in the process. And the cool thing is, you are ahead of the game since you do not have lots and lots of weight to lose. For you it will be more about redistributing the weight you currently carry. Make the proper changes to your diet and lifestyle, and let your weight take care of itself. What are these changes you ask? Although I have immense amounts of detailed information on my website, it can be broken down to three simple steps.
- EAT A WHOLE FOOD-BASED DIET: It is imperative that you eat a diet based on WHOLE FOODS and Whole Food Supplements. As you might imagine, this will likewise help you to.........
- AVOID PROCESSED FOODS AND SUGAR: Eating low on the Glycemic Index (LOW CARB or PALEO) will help you CONTROL YOUR BLOOD SUGAR. These first two steps will help get rid of the "fat" part of Skinny Fat. The third step will help you gain some lean body mass (muscle) and change your body's shape as well as boost your metabolism.
- LIFT WEIGHTS / DO SOME SORT OF RESISTANCE TRAINING: Although I am in no ways against things like walking or biking, it is imperative that you add some sort of resistance training to your exercise regimen. In case you need some more information on this topic, go HERE.
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CHILDHOOD OBESITY IS
OFF THE CHARTS
Image by Dirty29er
Seven of ten American adults are overweight. Half of these are obese. Is this a health crisis? You better believe it is! Just ask the politicians who are trying to figure out how we going to raise enough revenue (i.e. increase taxes enough) to pay for the crazy amount of healthcare required to take care of a largely overweight population and their vast array of diseases? The government's answer? Utterly stupid ideas like PSA'S
and soda bans. Unfortunately, the problem continues to get worse. One of the biggest differences in yesterday and today? A large percentage of today's oversized adults were normal sized children. Think about your
childhood for a moment. Back in the day it was rare to have an overweight classmate. But as you look at forty years worth of statistics, you find that this is becoming the norm.My son recently attended a grade school "Track Meet" at a Midwest suburban public school. His comment to me was, "I have never seen so many overweight little kids in my entire life!".
According to government stats (the CDC), one in four children in the 2-5 age group is overweight, while about one in three school aged children is overweight. These stats are much worse if you are a minority or if you live in the South. It all begs the question of what you should do as a parent to combat childhood obesity and help your child get to and maintain a healthy weight.
- REALIZE THAT YOUR CHILD'S WEIGHT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: That's right, your child's weight is up to you. This might mean no more SCHOOL LUNCHES. It might also mean that you will actually have to revive your role as the parent and decide what your child will and won't eat. I routinely get parents in my office make excuses for their children like this. "I realize what you are saying is true, but little Johnny simply hates vegetables". Or, "little Johnny won't eat anything other than chocolate cake and Cheetos". Or here is one I heard the other day. "Little Johnny would not eat his lunch so I gave him cookies. He had to eat something didn't he?". Take a deep breath and repeat to yourself. I am the parent and they are the child --- I am the parent and they are the child. You will also have to...............
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN WEIGHT: Have you ever gone to an overweight doctor? Or a doctor who smokes cigarettes? When someone in authority tells you to do as they say and not as they do, there is a huge loss of credibility. If you are overweight and trying to get your kids to eat healthy while eating junk yourself, you have no credibility with your kids. As a parent, make sure you are leading from the front. Period. Leadership means that you must........
The first thing you need to do in order to lose weight and get healthier in the process is CONTROL YOUR BLOOD SUGAR. Fail to do this and you are wasting your time.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT HEALTH, DIET, AND EXERCISE: There is all sorts of advice on getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. It is up to you to educate yourself and then pass it along to your family (children included). The problem is that there is lots of conflicting advice out there. This is why I have simplified the process for you and given you some great links to follow. They are found in the paragraph below.
Next, you need to take a look at some of the things I have written on this topic of OBESITY
. The great thing is that working with children is easy compared to working with adults. In most cases, they have not had their problem long enough to set up the diseases of obesity. Do not wait another day to get started on this project. Oh, and one more thing. If you think that feeding your child a steady diet of crap is OK because they are of a normal weight (or even underweight), you are mistaken. Not only are you setting them up for a future of overweight / obesity, you are setting them up for a lifetime of CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASES
OBESE PETS EMULATE OBESE OWNERS
OBESITY RULES THE DAY
America is the fattest nation on earth ---- and it's not even close. Almost 3/4 of our population is overweight while nearly half of those are obese (according to the CDC, over 30% of adult Missourians are obese). As you may have imagined from the title and pictures above, this obesity has carried over to our pets. DR. ERNIE WARD
, a Veterinarian from Calabash North Carolina, recently published the results of a survey for his organization, APOP.
Here are some cherry-picked quotes from the brand new study posted on his website.
| || |
The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers.... Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets..... The causes of pet and childhood obesity are largely the same: too many high-calorie foods and snacks combined with too little physical activity. Parents need to encourage children to put down their video games and pick up the dog leash to go for a walk. Instead of snacking on sugary treats, share crunchy vegetables with your dog. Eat more whole foods instead of highly processed fast food...... The soaring rate of feline and canine obesity is taking a terrible toll on our animals’ health. There is a vast population of overweight cats and dogs facing an epidemic of diabetes. The best preventive measure a pet owner can make is to keep their dog or cat at a healthy weight. Diabetes is far easier to prevent than treat, especially when twice daily insulin injections are needed...... This is a war veterinarians, pet owners and parents must win. Obesity is the number one preventable medical condition seen in veterinary hospitals today and is the fastest growing health threat of our nation’s children. Our goal is to help pets and people live longer, healthier, and pain-free lives by maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The most important decision a pet owner makes each day is what they choose to feed their pet. Choose wisely. Your pet’s life depends on it.
| |What do you think?
If you changed just a little bit of the language, Dr. Ward and his colleagues could be speaking of the owners instead of their pets. According to an article on the National Institute of Health's / National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's website (What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?
), the health risks of obesity / overweight are as follows.....
- Heart Attack / Heart Failure
- Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)
- Degenerative Arthritis (DJD)
It seems that these risks are similar whether you are a dog, a cat, or a human. The truth is, if you care to dig into the peer-reviewed scientific literature, virtually every conceivable health issue you can name is being tied to
- Female Problems / Hormonal Problems / PCOS / Infertility
Obesity's twin sister --- UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR
. Knowing all of this, we could easily have changed the last sentence in the red quote above to read, "The most important decision a person / parent makes each day is what they choose to feed their children / family / selves. Choose wisely. Your life and the life of your family depends on it.
HOW GOOD IS MUCH OF TODAY'S MEDICAL ADVICE?
IT'S GREAT ---- IF YOU ARE A DOCTOR, PHARMACIST, OR MORTICIAN
Photo by Christian Bickel
| || |If there is a more prestigious medical institution on the planet than Johns Hopkins Medical School and Hospital of Baltimore Maryland, I am not quite sure what it would be. Unfortunately, the sort of advice they are dispensing these days is going to kill people --- most particularly women.
In a February 17 column (Another Reason to Watch Your Waistline in the New Year!
) by a Johns Hopkins "Health Expert" (Lillie Shockney, R.N.), women were given some truly terrible dietary advice. In discussing a recent study from the Cancer Research Journal
, Shockney, speaking specifically to women stated, "Ladies, a low-fat diet is key
". She was discussing the fact that breast cancer rates are higher in overweight rats, and eating a "low-fat diet
" is her idea of the best way do address this particular issue. Let's take a moment and dissect her advice in light of what the scientific literature says about breast cancer, obesity, and weight loss.The first thing to understand is that most breast cancers
(about 75%) are fed by Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. Secondly, Estrogen is made in two very different areas of a woman's body. We all know that Estrogen is made by the female sex organs (ovaries). But few people realize that the other primary producer of Estrogen is fat cells. I wrote about this in my massive DESTROY OBESITY
post, and there are plenty of peer-reviewed medical studies touting this fact. Not only can this be problematic in and of itself, but it has the potential to end up in the middle of a vicious cycle. Think about it this way. Estrogen helps fuel obesity, and fat cells manufacture Estrogen. Repeat cycle ad infinitum. According to many experts in the field, many if not most American women are Estrogen Dominant. Expert in the filed, Dr. Bruce Rind (M.D.) says this on his website, "Estrogen Dominance (ED) affects about half the women in the United States.
" Estrogen Dominance is so common, it is known as female "E.D." Due to things like Xeno-Estrogens (Estorgen-like compounds found in most chemicals or petroleum products), and exogenous sources of dietary estrogen such as the hormones that are found in most commercially-raised animals
(yeah, farmers want fat cattle; Estrogen is the hormone that makes their cattle fat), both the women and the men
of this country are swimming in a sea of the female hormone. What you really need to do is to click on the link above and scroll down to the end of the post and read up on Estrogens, Xeno-Estrogens, and their relationship to obesity. Oh, and ladies (and men); if you value your health as well as the health of your family, do not take nurse Shockney's dietary advice
. Are you old enough to remember the low-fat / fat-free craze of the late 1980's and 1990's? How'd that work out for everyone? I'll tell you how. People are fatter now than they have ever been in the history of the world, and many got that way following a low-fat lifestyle. Low fat (or no fat) diets are incredibly destructive to your health. If you want to understand why, all you need to do is take a moment to read my blog's NUMBER ONE POST
of all time.
MYTHS AND TRUTHS
Photo by ParentingPatch
The New England Journal of Medicine
recently published a study from a team of doctors working at the University of Alabama Birmingham called "Myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity"
. The gist of the article is that when it comes to the "scientific" literature, there are more myths and half truths concerning obesity than you can shake a stick at. I would love to tell you that I am shocked by this, but I have been exposing many of these myths for years. In fact, I write so much about this general topic
that sometimes I feel like Adam & Jamie of MYTHBUSTERS
should be calling me
. In this study, "myths" were defined as, "claims that persist despite contradicting evidence
| || |
"When the public, mass media, government agencies, and even academic scientists espouse unsupported beliefs, the result may be ineffective policy, unhelpful or unsafe clinical and public health recommendations, and an unproductive allocation of resources." Dr. David Allison and his team, from the latest issue of NEJM
Before I show you the list of some of the myths that Allison's team of doctors came up with, I want you to take a look at their Disclosure Statement
. Take just a moment and look at who is sponsoring / has sponsored these doctor's various projects. This is particularly relevant in light of the study that came out of the British Medical Journal
on Thursday --- a topic for another day. As you'll quickly notice, it seems that almost e
veryone is trying to help the doctors on Dr. Allison's team scrape by to the end of the month. This study is so conflicted, it's almost impossible to know where to begin. But this is nothing new in the field of medical research (HERE
). If you really think that individuals being paid good money by Big Pharma
, Eli Lilly & Company
, and several others others
), Big Mac
), Big Sugar
, Red Bull
, World Sugar Research Organization
, and Mars
), Big Dairy
(Global Dairy Platform / European Dairy Foundation
/ International Dairy Foundation
), Big Beef
(The American Cattleman's Association
), Big GRAIN
(General Mills / ADM
/ United Soybean Board
/ Northarvest Bean Growers Association
), Big Brew
(The Knowledge Institute for Beer
), Big Insurance
), and Big People trying to get smaller
), can be trusted to provide unbiased conclusions, I have some ocean front property in Arizona that I would just looooooove to sell you ---- cheap!
The truth is, these doctors should be embarrassed to put their name on something this conflicted. And NEJM should be embarrassed to publish something this conflicted as 'research'. But hey; even embarrassment has its price. Here is the actual Disclosure Statement from NEJM
. It's incomplete --- the complete version only comes if you pay for the full version of the study.
THE DISCLOSURE STATEMENT
| || |
- Dr. Astrup reports receiving payment for board membership from the Global Dairy Platform, Kraft Foods, Knowledge Institute for Beer, McDonald's Global Advisory Council, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Basic Research, Novo Nordisk, Pathway Genomics, Jenny Craig, and Vivus; receiving lecture fees from the Global Dairy Platform, Novo Nordisk, Danish Brewers Association, GlaxoSmithKline, Danish Dairy Association, International Dairy Foundation, European Dairy Foundation, and AstraZeneca; owning stock in Mobile Fitness; holding patents regarding the use of flaxseed mucilage or its active component for suppression of hunger and reduction of prospective consumption (patents EP1744772, WO2009033483-A1, EP2190303-A1, US2010261661-A1, and priority applications DK001319, DK001320, S971798P, and US971827P); holding patents regarding the use of an alginate for the preparation of an aqueous dietary product for the treatment or prevention of overweight and obesity (patent WO2011063809-A1 and priority application DK070227); and holding a patent regarding a method for regulating energy balance for body-weight management (patent WO2007062663-A1 and priority application DK001710).
- Drs. Brown and Bohan Brown report receiving grant support from the Coca-Cola Foundation through their institution.
- Dr. Mehta reports receiving grant support from Kraft Foods.
- Dr. Newby reports receiving grant support from General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.
- Dr. Pate reports receiving consulting fees from Kraft Foods.
- Dr. Rolls reports having a licensing agreement for the Volumetrics trademark with Jenny Craig.
- Dr. Thomas reports receiving consulting fees from Jenny Craig.
- Lead Author Dr. Allison reports serving as an unpaid board member for the International Life Sciences Institute of North America; receiving payment for board membership from Kraft Foods; receiving consulting fees from Vivus, Ulmer and Berne, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, Garrison, Chandler Chicco, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, National Cattlemen's Association, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Frontiers Foundation, Orexigen Therapeutics, and Jason Pharmaceuticals; receiving lecture fees from Porter Novelli and the Almond Board of California; receiving payment for manuscript preparation from Vivus; receiving travel reimbursement from International Life Sciences Institute of North America; receiving other support from the United Soybean Board and the Northarvest Bean Growers Association; receiving grant support through his institution from Wrigley, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Vivus, Jason Pharmaceuticals, Aetna Foundation, and McNeil Nutritionals; and receiving other funding through his institution from the Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Red Bull, World Sugar Research Organisation, Archer Daniels Midland, Mars, Eli Lilly and Company, and Merck.
TOP TEN OBESITY MYTHS LIST
- GENETIC FACTORS ARE THE BE ALL, END ALL CONCERNING ONE'S WEIGHT: Who would deny that genes are not a significant factor in this whole issue of body weight and body types. However, we have learned from the field of Epigenetics that there are any number of factors that have the ability to turn genes off or on. In other words, we are not defined solely by our genome to nearly the extent we have been led to believe. However, the 'my-genes-made-me-do-it' excuse became quite popular over the past few decades. Because it is so easily used and is shrouded in a form of scientific mystique that few people really understand, it tends to be the major cop out for those who are unwilling to radically change their lifestyles. In fact, it's become a convenient excuse for just about anything and everything.
- IF YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT, JUST RESTRICT YOUR CALORIES: Listen up folks. I busted this myth just a couple weeks ago with a blog post called, OBESITY AND YOUR ENDOCRINE SYSTEM. Just prior to that, I dealt with SUGAR & CARB ADDICTIONS and their effect on weight. If you want to get serious about losing weight, you had better understand that restricting calories (or even counting calories), is going to get you nowhere fast. If you are serious about losing weight and getting in great physical condition, HERE is the way to do it.
- EXERCISE IS A HUGE FACTOR IN ONE'S WEIGHT: While I believe that there is certainly merit in looking into the "mythology" of this statement, just YESTERDAY I told you that getting in shape and staying in shape (maintaining your optimal weight) is probably 90% diet and 10% exercise. Many people, however, seem to have these numbers reversed in their heads. The truth is, many people train themselves to death, causing undue ADRENAL STRESS and elevating their Cortisol in the process. How do you avoid this issue? You simply TRAIN SMARTER. I am getting ready to do a blog post on this very topic from a recent article in Outdoors Magazine on the training methods of Brian Mackenzie of CrossFit Endurance called The Agony and the Heresy.
- SEX BURNS BETWEEN 100 and 300 CALORIES: All I can say is what a way to train! Unfortunately, it is a shame that this is a myth. The average sexual encounter is going to burn far fewer calories than this. But then again; who wants to be average?
- GETTING PARENTS INVOLVED CAN HELP A CHILD LOSE WEIGHT OR MAINTAIN A NORMAL WEIGHT: I am not sure I am buying that this is necessarily a myth --- especially if people are parenting like they ought to be parenting. However, in too many households, the inmates are running the asylum, choosing to eat a diet of whatever they can con mom into buying for them. Unfortunately, most children don't yet see the wisdom in choosing Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli over Big Macs, Twinkies, and Coca Cola. Too many parents are unknowingly promoting unhealthy foods as healthy foods --- or simply giving there kids whatever they want. There is no doubt in my mind that lots of parents are MAKING THEIR KIDS FAT and AUTOIMMUNE.
- SCHOOL P.E. LEADS TO WEIGHT LOSS: Although it has been a long time since I was in PE, I must admit that PE was rarely physically taxing. But even if it were, trying to overcome SCHOOL LUNCHES can be a real challenge. Parents, get your kids active from the time they are little. Seriously limit screen time and whatever is necessary to move --- and no; I am not promoting Michelle here.
- MEAL REPLACEMENTS OR SPECIFIC FOODS WILL HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT: Oh, they'll help you lose weight all right. Just not for the long haul. Not to pick on the woman, but Oprah can personally vouch that this is a myth. Look ,for instance, at the meal replacement drink Ensure. It is a 10 oz bottle with enough sugar in it to start an ant farm ---- 40 grams. Not only will this stuff not help you lose weight over the long haul, it is only a short matter of time before the folks who FAIL TO CONTROL THEIR BLOOD SUGAR have gained it all back ---- and then some.
- STOMACH STAPLING / REDUCING SURGERIES HELP PEOPLE LOSE WEIGHT FOR THE LONG TERM, WHILE LOWERING THE DEATH RATE AND PREVENTING DIABETES: These surgeries are a risky endeavor. I personally know people who have had their lives messed up by this surgery. Think long and hard before going under the knife in the hopes of losing weight. Despite that fact that doctors are using "research" to promote it, the internet is full of websites and message boards warning against it. Hopefully, this post gave you a taste of how conflicted some of these research projects are.
- WEIGHT LOSS DRUGS ARE A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT: This is a no-brainer that I have addressed before (HERE). Many of these drugs are similar to the Methamphetamine-like drugs used to treat ADHD such as Ritalin or Adderall.
- BREAST FEEDING PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS: I do not hear this one floating around as much as I used to. I would assume though, that there is probably some degree of truth to this statement if a woman is eating a healthy diet.
- RAPID WEIGHT LOSS IS UNHEALTHY: It does not really depend on how rapidly you lose the weight, it depends on how you lose weight rapidly. HERE is a safe and effective way to lose 100 lbs in 100 days. No; I have never used it myself. No; not everyone is going to lose 100 lbs in 100 days on this protocol. But the concept is simple, and I endorse it wholeheartedly.
- THE STUDY'S CONCLUSIONS? "False and scientifically unsupported beliefs about obesity are pervasive in both scientific literature and the popular press." Yes it's true; and it's not just true about this particular study. The scientific literature is chocked full of BS that cannot be trusted under the best of circumstances. And under the worst of circumstances.......? How do you call science, science, when it is as obviously bought and paid for as this study is? I'm a capitalist. I do not want to take away anyone's right to earn a good living. However, despite the fact that I believe most of this study is right on the money, the obvious Conflicts of Interest that were present, should, at the very least, raise some red flags concerning its validity.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBESITY AND YOUR ENDOCRINE SYSTEM
Photo by Rico Heil (User:Silmaril)
PORTRAIT OF A GENTLEMAN
The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei
THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM IS LIKE COMPOUND INTEREST;
YOU CAN EITHER MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU OR IT WILL WORK AGAINST YOU
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
If you look at ancient art, you will notice that obesity is not a new phenomenon. Although a very slight amount of obesity is due to genetic factors, this is much rarer than we are led to believe. But hey ---- it makes for a great excuse. Most people think of weight gain in terms of eating more calories than we burn; and weight loss in terms of eating fewer calories than we burn. This is why counting calories is such an important part of most diet plans. But once you understand the Endocrine System, how its hormones function, and their relationship to metabolism, you'll start to see how ridiculous our dietary concept of calories really is.WHAT IS A CALORIE?
By definition, a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one cubic centimeter (CC) of water, one degree Celsius. There are three essential macro-nutrients (four if you count water). They are carbohydrates, fats (aka lipids) and proteins. The "Holy Grail" of weight loss is calorie counting. As far as counting calories is concerned, science tells us that.......
- CARBOHYDRATES CONTAIN 4 CALORIES PER GRAM
- PROTEINS CONTAIN 4 CALORIES PER GRAM
- FATS CONTAIN 9 CALORIES PER GRAM
- WATER CONTAINS NO CALORIES
As you'll notice in the map below, about half the world's population is living on fewer than 2,500 calories a day, while about half are consuming over 3,000 calories per day. Looking at this calorie distribution map raises a question. If caloric intake is the sole cause of Obesity, why is 70% of the adult American population overweight or obese, while European obesity rates are a small fraction of ours, even though we are eating similar numbers of calories (HERE
)? As a side note: The Russians used to be lean, but the past decade has seen skyrocketing Soviet obesity due to processed foods and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. It seems like we won the Cold War and are now in the process of "Westernizing" the rest of the planet in regards to health and weight.
Image by Interchange88
COMMON MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DIET, EXERCISE, AND OBESITY
- Calories in, calories out, is the best way to understand the relationship between diet and weight.
- All calories are alike (HERE).
- If you want to lose weight, just eat less and exercise more (HERE).
- Overweight people consume far more calories than people of normal weight.
- Low calorie diets are a great way to lose weight.
- You need at least 130 grams of carbs a day to fuel your brain (HERE).
- Starvation diets are good for short-term weight loss.
- We all have a "set point" as far as our weight is concerned.
- Dietary fat causes obesity.
- Carbs are not addictive (HERE).
WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR WEIGHT,
THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM RULES
I want to briefly show you why your weight is all about your ENDOCRINE SYSTEM
and not simply how much or how little you eat (how many calories you consume). In order to understand that it is hormonal factors and not dietary fat that makes you fat, you will need a cursory understanding of the part of the Endocrine System that very specifically deals with digestion and metabolism. The Endocrine organs that I want to touch on today are the Pancreas, Adrenal Glands, Sex Glands (Ovaries and Testes) and Thyroid.
PANCREASThe Pancreas makes two very important hormones as far as weight is concerned; Insulin and Glucagon. Insulin is a storage hormone, which, in significant amounts can not only cause all sorts of sickness and disease, it can cause weight gain in the form of fat. Glucagon is its opposite. It causes the body to burn fat stores for energy. Think about it for a moment........ what if you knew how to control these two hormones? It's easier than you might think. Because I have written extensively about these hormones, I will send you to a previous blog post on the topic (HERE).
Just understand that as far as weight gain / obesity, dietary fat is essentially an inert substance. You''ll soon see that not only is it carbs that largely drive the Endocrine System, but that dietary fat actually has the effect of blunting
the effects of carbs and insulin. No; dietary fat does not make one fat. If this were true, farmers would be feeding their cattle bacon instead of corn.ADRENAL GLANDS
By now everyone knows that excess amounts of the body's chief stress hormone (Cortisol) causes obesity. When stress triggers the Sympathetic Nervous System, Cortisol is released into the blood stream. This immediately signals the body's "Fight or Flight" mechanism. The body needs glucose (blood sugar) and it needs it right now. Besides going after the glucose found in muscle glycogen, it actually starts breaking down its own muscle mass. Because the excess sugar is not needed for most of our modern stress responses (we are not having to run from a saber tooth tiger), the body starts storing this excess blood sugar as fat ---- belly fat. To learn about the relationship between Fibromyalgia and Adrenal Fatigue, just visit THIS PAGE
SEX HORMONES; TESTOSTERONE & ESTROGEN
Interestingly enough, your sex hormones play a huge part in your weight. For any number of reasons that can be seen HERE
, our population faces an almost totally ignored health epidemic --- Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen Dominance is exactly what it sounds like --- a dominance or over-abundance of the sex hormone Estrogen in relationship to other sex hormones. Estrogen is the hormone that makes women women. It gives them soft skin, brings forth secondary sex characteristics, and it makes women naturally carry more body fat than men --- on average about 10% more.
Estrogen is made in two different places in your body; the ovaries and the fat cells. As women get heavier, fat cells increase, and as they increase, they make more Estrogen. The Estrogen causes women to be fatter, which causes them to make more Estrogen. Repeat the cycle indefinitely. Oh, and understand that on some level, this cycle happens in men too. Why do you think that overweight men are much more prone to having what looks like female breasts, impotence, and even more weight gain? Testosterone, the male hormone, is also important
in the weight department. Without proper amounts of testosterone, men cease acting and functioning like men. Some of the signs of low Testosterone include....
- Mental Fogginess / Difficulty Concentrating
- Inability to get Motivated
- Loss of Libido / Impotence
- Muscle Loss / Weight Gain
If the problem gets bad enough, men can end up functionally a eunuch. Notice what Web M.D. says about this topic, "Obesity and low testosterone are tightly linked.... Fat cells metabolize testosterone to estrogen, lowering testosterone levels
". Not surprising considering what we just learned about Estrogen in females. High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Obesity, High Cholesterol, High Triglycerides, and Metabolic Syndrome (all of these are caused by UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR
) are also heavily linked to Low-T. THYROIDYour Thyroid is the seat of your metabolism
. When it does not function properly, weight gain is one of the most common consequences. Because I have a huge Blog Post on the thyroid, you can see how this all works by going HERE
.So, despite what you have been told, dietary fat does not make you fat.
Obesity is largely a function of your Endocrine System, and is driven (or controlled) by one's blood sugar. For more information on the Endocrine System and its relationship to Gut Health, visit ENDOGUT
. I would also strongly suggest the book, GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES
by Gary Taubes.
ARE YOU MAKING YOUR KIDS FAT?
Photo by Guido "random" Alvarez / derivative work James Heilman, MD
Photo by Robert Lawton
Ouch! It's a brutal question. Are you making your child(ren) fat
? Well; are you? Don't act like it's not your responsibility. Kids eat what they are taught to eat. Picky eaters eh? It's a product of the way you raise them. It's time to own up and make the necessary changes. With 7 out of 10 adults either overweight or obese, and CDC stats telling us that childhood obesity has increased 300% in the last 3 decades, it's time to get serious about this problem. Otherwise you are condemning your children to live your
life. According to the American Heart Association
, childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among United States parents --- coming in ahead of old standbys such as bullying, drug, and cigarette use. The latest statistics (2008) from the CDC say that
- Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
- In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
- For whites, 31.9 percent of males and 29.5 percent of females are overweight or obese.
- For blacks, 30.8 percent of males and 39.2 percent of females are overweight or obese.
- For Hispanics, 40.8 percent of males and 35.0 percent of females are overweight or obese.
Unfortunately, these 'latest' statistics from the CDC are 5 years old. It's now 2013. Do you think they have improved in the past half decade? What has
happened to American children in the last five years? Statistics tell us that childhood obesity has absolutely exploded. And what's worse is that the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
(AACAP) along with other organizations has published research showing that children who are obese children have an 80% chance of ending up obese adults. Yep; if you raise fat children, they are likely to grow up to be fat adults. Furthermore, there are all sorts of studies saying that obese children are at the forefront of a new explosion of "adult" diseases such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and Type II Diabetes. These are diseases that were previously seen only in adult populations.
HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILDREN GET TO AND MAINTAIN THEIR IDEAL WEIGHT
Here's the thing. This is not rocket science. If you simply sit down and think about it, you already know how to do this. Just go back in time. When I think back to my school days, there were very few overweight kids (or teachers for that matter). Lets look back at some of the things that they were doing and emulate them. Again, you may have to repeat to yourself that you are the parent. But it's true. You are
the parent. Your children will do what you train them to do.
This issue reminds me of a young patient that I saw years ago. The child was about five or six years old, and mom brought him in because of a wide variety of health problems (skin, BREATHING
, EAR INFECTIONS
, etc). The little guy was already significantly overweight, and when I asked her what she fed him, I could tell this was a question she would rather I had not asked. The answer I finally got out of her? "The only thing he'll eat is chocolate cake and Cheetos
". People; we can do better than that. It's our children's lives. We have
to do better than that.
- DO THINGS RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING: If your plan is to wait until your child is 6 or 8 years old before introducing vegetables, you will have a war on your hands. Have a plan and work that plan from the very beginning. This involves......
- BREASTFEED YOUR BABY FOR AT LEAST A YEAR: You would have to have been living under a rock not to realize how important breast feeding is. Make sure that you are breast feeding your babies for at least one year. Then....
- WHEN YOU BEGIN INTRODUCING FOOD, INTRODUCE HEALTHY FOODS; NAMELY VEGETABLES: Kids will eat what you teach them to eat --- especially if they get hungry. This idea that children should be able to pick and choose what they eat ---- pure poppycock. Most kids will not like every single thing you feed them. But truthfully, if you do this right from the beginning, they will like most them. Again; make sure that your children develop a taste for healthy foods from the beginning. One way of doing this is to make sure that......
- IT'S NOT 'CUTE' TO GIVE YOUR BABIES SODA AND JUNK FOOD: How many parents think it's 'cute' to give their little tykes soda or junkfoods? Lots of them. This may be a great move if you are a low IQ individual who is trying to get their kids their own reality show (i.e. Honey Boo Boo). But really; why give your kids a taste for things that you do not really want them eating? And when it's time to ship them off to school........
- SCHOOL LUNCHES? BE CAREFUL: I have written about school lunches (HERE). Back in the day, school lunches used to be made from scratch. Now everything is "open the package / can, heat, and serve". The amount of starch and processed flour that is being pawned off on our children in the name of "government sponsored nutrition" is appalling. And when kids are finished with their school day, make sure that you.....
- LIMIT SCREENS / GET KIDS OFF THE COUCH AND OUTDOORS: Although large numbers of today's children are terribly unfit, they have incredible thumb strength. This is because if you'll let them do it, most kids (boys in particular) will play video games for hours on end. If you are going to have television and / or video games in your house, you have to strictly limit the time your kids sit in front of the screen. Get your kids outdoors and teach them to make some adventure on their own. Make sure you are doing this with them. If you want your kids to listen to what you have to say, you have to......
- LEAD BY EXAMPLE: You want your kids to eat healthy, but you are making regular trips to the Burger Barn? How does that work again? Listen folks; this issue is no different than any other. You are the parent; lead from the front. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, keep your weight under control, and.......
- EDUCATE YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE REASONS FOODS ARE EITHER GOOD OR BAD: I know, I know, I know. The government says we should never label foods as 'good' or 'bad'. Instead they say that, "All foods in moderation can be part of a healthy diet." Isn't that special. This is the same sort of politically-correct gobblety gook espoused by those who would ban dodge ball from gym class. The truth is, there is a wide spectrum of foods that range from healthy to unhealthy, and everything in between. There are foods you and your family should be eating regularly, and there are foods you and your family should be avoiding at all costs. One of the biggest of these is.......
- AVOID HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP: HFCS is everywhere. In case you are not up to speed, just understand that this stuff is bad ---- really bad. Do your own research and prepare to be freaked out. Avoiding heavily processed sugars such as HFCS goes a long way towards......
- LEARN ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR: If there is one link on this entire post that I truly believe you should click on, it's THIS ONE. Almost every conceivable health problem you can imagine (including obesity) is being tied back to uncontrolled blood sugar. Nowhere is this more evident than with kids. Just click on the link. And while you are at it.........
- SCRAP THE FOOD PYRAMID: How do you fatten a beef? That's right. You feed them grain. The more grain you feed them, the fatter they will get. Now look at the FOOD PYRAMID. For the past three decades, our own government has been telling us to eat 8-11 servings of grains a day ---- the foundation of the pyramid. Hey, I wonder if it is a coincidence that during these same thirty years, the incidence of obesity has gone through the proverbial roof?
Oh, there are plenty more things you can do to help your children (and yourself) get to and maintain an optimal weight ----- for the rest of their life. This list is simply a starting point. As always, do your own research and formulate your own plan. OK, so your kids aren't toddlers any more. If you love them, you'll make the changes you need to make. No; I never said it would be easy. But the longer you eat in a healthy manner, the easier it gets. Stick with it and the day will come when it will seem easy.
- HAVE A FAMILY MEAL TIME / DON'T EAT IN FRONT OF THE TV: Enjoy your mealtime. Teach your children to cook. Get everyone to pitch in with meals and clean up. Everyone sits together around the table and eats as a family. Invite the neighbors over. This is how Americans have always eaten ---- until very recently.