We are bombarded each and every day with a new weight loss solution or latest weight-loss supplements touted as being “miraculous” or “magical”. My patients frequently ask about the clinical effectiveness of such strategies including green coffee extract, raspberry ketones, PGX, Dr. Oz’s belly blasters, South Beach Diet, Atkins diet, HCG diet, etc.
Although these may help some people lose weight, they do not work for everyone and do not offer a long-term strategy.
If all these solutions were so miraculous, then why will there be a new one released next month?
Is a ‘one-size fits all’ strategy going to provide a weight loss solution for you individually?
The important piece of the weight-loss puzzle that we are missing is that as humans we are all unique and have different reasons why we cannot achieve optimal weight.
What works for some may not work for all, which is why I practice personalized medicine. At the Moncton Naturopathic Medical Clinic, we help you understand your unique imbalances that lead to your weight gain and disease. We focus on the ‘WHY’. Why are you gaining weight in the first place and why is it difficult for you to lose despite doing everything right? In regards to weight loss, we may investigate whether you have a hormone imbalance, low thyroid function, low serotonin levels leading to food cravings, inflammation, food sensitivities (e.g. “wheat belly”), or is it due to lack of movement, high stress and poor sleep (for more information about these factors please check out our previous Times & Transcript articles on our website: www.monctonnaturopathic.com).
For each person it is a unique combination, and therefore requires an individualized treatment.
What I am going to discuss today is another factor that may be impeding your ability to lose the weight. Mounting evidence points to a unique and unappreciated trigger for obesity -- the accumulation of small traces of environmental toxins in our body.
Are you toxic?
“The question is no longer if we are toxic, the question is how toxic are we”. That was the message from the Environmental Working Group after they investigated how many chemicals had accumulated in the body of individuals whose job did not have them exposed to chemicals. In these desk workers (e.g. teachers, lawyers, etc) they found an average of ninety-one different chemicals stored in their bodies; many of these substances had been banned for years. Hidden compounds that are used in thousands of consumer and industrial products linger as contaminants in our air, water, food, and soil. 83,000 man-made chemicals listed in 2012’s Toxic Substance Control Act inventory circulate in our environment without us even knowing. Even todays babies are contaminated. The average newborn has 287 chemicals in her umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are neurotoxic (poisonous to nerves or nerve cells). This is troubling to me as a new father and as doctor. If my goal is to treat my patients as if they were my own family, then I cannot turn a blind eye to this rising health concern.
Doesn’t the body have a way of removing these toxins?
Yes, luckily, the body has ways to remove and protect you from these toxins. The main organ performing this task of detoxification is the liver (although there are others too!). The liver does its best to convert the toxic substances into harmless molecules to be escorted out of the body via the feces or urine. However, if the liver is overworked or not getting enough nutritional support, then it has to find a place to safely store the toxins. Since most of the toxins are fat-soluble, the liver chooses a fat-rich tissue to store the chemicals. It can either choose your brain (composed of 60-70% fat) or it can choose your fat tissue. Fortunately, your body is intelligent and it chooses to preferentially store toxins in your fat tissue, to protect your brain and nervous system.
To put it in other words, imagine that the liver is like a street performing juggler putting on a show for the crowd. Juggling three balls is really easy for the juggler, just like handling a few toxins is easy for the liver. However, if the juggler tries to juggle to many items, then he risks dropping them and ending the show. In the same way, if the liver becomes overburdened, then it too can fumble the toxins, which then wreak havoc on your nervous and immune system. Therefore, the juggler might choose to put some of the items in his pocket to prevent them from spilling on the floor. The liver makes the same choice - to safely put some of the toxins in the fat-tissue instead of having it spill out and deposit in the brain.
Is this the reason why shedding pounds can remain difficult despite your best attempt to lose weight?
Since you have toxins stored in your fat tissue, when you burn fat and lose weight you re-release these stored chemicals throughout your body. If your liver is still unable to handle these circulating chemicals, then it has to once again choose to deposit them in the fat tissue or the brain tissue. Since you now have less fat, there is greater possibility of storing them in the brain. The body does not like this option, so to prevent this from happening, the body will do all it can to prevent you from losing further weight. Therefore, people may be able to lose some weight, but without addressing the toxins, it gets harder and harder to lose more weight. Not only does it get more difficult, it also gets more dangerous.
Furthermore, research is showing that certain chemicals in our environment are acting as “obesogens” and are actually slowing down a person’s metabolism and thyroid function, predisposing him or her to a plague of continued weight gain. For example, in a recent 2009 study, rats given toxic chemicals gained weight and increased their fat storage without increased caloric intake or decreased exercise. In 6 months, these rats were 20% heavier and had 36% more body fat than rats that had not been exposed to those chemicals.
Other research has recently uncovered that environmental toxins can also cause diabetes. Dr. Mark Hyman published in 2010 that “the increasing burden of environmental toxins, including persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals, can no longer be ignored as a key etiologic factor in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes, or what should be called “diabesity.”
So, what is the solution?
If you could safely remove the chemicals and toxins that are stored in your fat tissue, then the body would not put on the “brakes” to prevent you from losing weight. Naturopathic doctors are trained at safely removing the toxins that you have accumulated over the years. Naturopathic doctors also have access to advanced lab testing in order to determine your total body burden of stored toxins.
If your total body burden is high, the Moncton Naturopathic Medical Clinic determines the detoxification plan that is right for you and then utilizes specific remedies to:
1) optimize the function of the main organs of detoxification (liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and skin),
2) mobilize the stored toxins from your fat cells, and
3) move the toxins safely out of the body.
In summary, with an estimated two thousand new chemicals being added to our environment each year, our bodies are presented with the overwhelming task of removing chemicals it was never designed to deal with. Scientific evidence indicates that despite our body’s best attempts to protect us, accumulation of these toxins is occurring. Researchers are starting to link these stored toxins as the missing pieces to the cause of obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other health conditions. Therefore, in today’s world, and in regards to weight loss, it is becoming increasingly important to safely remove these toxins. In addition to detoxification, we also address all other obstacles that may be preventing you from losing weight (e.g. hormone imbalance, low thyroid function, food sensitivities, etc). With this combined approach, not only do we see people lose weight, but we also see patient’s health and energy improve. The choice is yours – you can choose the latest diet crazes and the miracle pills, or you can choose a comprehensive and individualized approach to lasting weight loss.
Dr. Nicholas Anhorn, BSc, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and is currently accepting new patients at the Moncton Naturopathic Medical Clinic located at 12 Fifth Street in Moncton (382-1329). Dr. Anhorn provides professional and personalized health care for the whole family. In addition to family medicine, he also has a special interest and advanced training in helping patients with pain management, detoxification and cancer. Additional information can be found on www.monctonnaturopathic.com.
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