Manage childhood obesity without dieting

313 childhood obesity

Although no one allows their child to become overweight or obese on purpose, being heavy is hard on children. It saps self-esteem, makes physical activity harder, and predisposes children to adult diseases earlier in life. Obesity doesn’t have to be a prison sentence for children—using newer understandings of obesity parents can help guide their children to a healthier weight. We know now it’s more than just calories in versus calories out. Food choices, inflammation, gut bacteria, and sleep are factors that influence obesity.

Balance blood sugar to manage childhood obesity

Low-fat diets have long been heralded as the antidote to excess body fat, but research increasingly shows it is excess sugars and refined carbohydrates that promote obesity. These foods negatively impact blood sugar handling and promote insulin resistance, a condition that often leads to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Many find the key to losing unwanted weight is to ditch the sodas, shakes, and fruit juices, substitute fruit for desserts, eat a protein-rich breakfast, and to eat a diet that includes vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Also, avoid meals that are heavy on high-glycemic foods, such as potatoes or rice.

Ditch junk foods to combat obesity in children

Food that is packaged, processed, or from fast food restaurants often contains hydrogenated oils, chemical additives, excess sugars and refined carbohydrates, and insufficient fiber. Hydrogenated oils skew cellular function and promote blood sugar imbalances and obesity. These foods are also designed to be addictive and promote overeating. It is best to limit these foods to special occasions, if at all.

Ferret out food intolerances to reduce obesity-promoting inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been associated with obesity. One of the most common causes of chronic inflammation is a sensitivity or intolerance to a food. Many people have food sensitivities and don’t realize it. The most common sensitivity is to gluten, the protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and oats (unless they’re gluten-free oats). A food sensitivity panel or elimination diet can tell you which foods are causing inflammation and possibly promoting childhood obesity. Many people lose weight simply by removing the offending food, gluten and dairy in particular.

Balance gut bacteria to manage childhood obesity

Researchers increasingly are finding imbalances in our gut bacteria are linked to many disorders, including obesity. These imbalances can have their roots in C-section deliveries, bottle feeding, and antibiotic use in childhood. Consuming cultured foods, such as brined pickles and water kefir, taking probiotics, and eating ample vegetables (the insoluble fiber promotes colonization of healthy bacteria) are ways to help balance gut flora.

Make sure your child sleeps enough to prevent obesity

Sleep deprivation has been solidly linked with weight gain. Chronic lack of sleep promotes fat storage, prevents fat burning, increases hunger and cravings for sweets, and lowers metabolism. Children should be getting plenty of sleep regardless—more than adults—to facilitate proper growth and development. But sufficient sleep is also critical to combating childhood obesity.

These are just a few strategies that incorporate new findings in childhood obesity and do not require your child to starve to lose weight. Of course, healthy portions and plenty of physical activity are still important, but by simply tweaking what’s on the menu you can help your child enjoy an active childhood in a slimmer body and reduce his or her risk of obesity-related diseases too early in life.

For more advice or support in managing your child’s obesity, contact my office.

Lack of sleep can make you fat

lack of sleep makes you fat

Finding it hard to lose weight? Although many factors can hinder weight loss, one of the sneakier is sleep deprivation. Research shows people who regularly sleep five hours or less a night can gain as much as two pounds in a week. One study showed women who slept five or fewer hours were more likely to gain about 30 pounds over time compared to women who slept at least seven hours per night. Poor sleepers are also more prone to obesity-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

Lack of sleep increases snacking on starchy foods

Lack of sleep increases cravings so people snack more frequently, particularly at night—eating on average an extra 300 calories a day. The sleep-deprived also tend to eat a small breakfast and choose high-carbohydrate snacks, undoubtedly for that quick energy fix, both of which lead to blood sugar imbalances and weight gain.

As one would expect, study subjects who sleep seven or more hours per night also exercise more, and thus burn more calories, while sleep deprivation prevents you from burning calories efficiently. One study of men showed sleep-deprivation reduced general energy expenditure by 5 percent, and reduced energy expenditure after meals by 20 percent. In other words, being tired slows your body’s metabolism down.

Sleep deprivation increases hunger and promotes fat storage

One of the more profound ways lack of sleep promotes weight gain is by influencing the hormones that control hunger and satiety. For instance, chronic sleep deprivation raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the body it needs more energy to meet the demands of stress, which causes an increase of hunger and cravings.

Lack of sleep also increases grehlin, a hormone that promotes hunger and fat storage. In fact, one study showed that although dieters could lose weight while sleep deprived, they lost about a third of the weight compared to the healthy sleepers. Researchers believe this is due to grehlin’s fat storing actions.

Sleep deprivation also decreases leptin, the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat. So in a double whammy, lack of sleep both increases hunger and inhibits the ability to feel full. The result is a natural inclination to eat more, and more frequently. Adding insult to injury is that the body burns most of its calories during REM, the deeply restful stage of sleep when you dream. Unfortunately, weight gain due to sleep deprivation doesn’t only happen slowly over time. Research shows just a few nights of sleep deprivation can pack on pounds.

Lack of sleep promotes insulin resistance

Sleep deprivation makes fat cells less sensitive to insulin, the hormone that ushers glucose into cells so they can produce energy. In effect, it makes a person more insulin resistant, which is a stepping-stone to obesity and diabetes. After depriving subjects in their twenties of sleep, researchers said their fat cells behaved like those of someone 20 years older.

Sleep deprivation promotes weight gain in people of all ages, including children. Although sleeping more may not necessarily cause you to lose unwanted pounds, getting adequate sleep is a vital component to any weight loss program.

Ask my office how we can help you promote better sleep to aid you on your weight loss journey.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . Leave a Comment »

Include cultured veggies on a leaky gut diet

cultured veggies for leaky gut

Embarking on a diet to repair leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, can be a daunting task. But with cultured vegetables on the gut-healing menu, the diet can also be fun and inventive. Culturing, or fermenting, is an ancient art of preserving various vegetables that not only imparts a zesty flavor but also creates beneficial enzymes, probiotics, and B vitamins, all of which enhance digestive health. Also, for such a restricted diet, fermented veggies add variety and convenience while capitalizing on in-season produce.

Why fermented vegetables on the leaky gut diet?

The intestines, considered the seat of the immune system, house trillions of bacteria that play a vital role in the health of the entire body and even the brain. Inflammation from bad diets, chronic stress, food intolerances, and other issues damage the lining of the intestine, causing it to become overly porous. This allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the sterile environment of the bloodstream. This is called leaky gut, or intestinal permeability. These pathogens trigger chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, skin conditions, obesity, and other chronic disorders.

leaky gut diet allows the gut to repair and regenerate by removing common inflammatory foods and focusing on nutrients and foods that help repair the intestinal lining. Cultured vegetables are an important component of a leaky gut diet because they act as powerful probiotics, helping to restore a healthy balance of bacteria, or flora, in your gut.

Our gut flora play very important roles in health, immunity, and even brain function. Beneficial gut bacteria help us absorb minerals and produce B vitamins and vitamin K2, which is necessary for optimal usage of vitamin D. They play a role in burning and storing fat and whether a person is prone to obesity. In recent years researchers have found gut bacteria play a significant role in mood and mental health.

How to make our own cultured vegetables

Health food stores carry one or more brands of genuinely fermented vegetables—they are cultured in a saltwater brine and do not contain vinegar, preservatives, or artificial colors. The most popular is Bubbies, which carries cultured cucumbers, cabbage (sauerkraut), and tomatoes. As awareness and popularity of cultured vegetables grows, new brands are popping up in the refrigerated section. You may find some made locally in your area.

However, it is easy and fun to make your own. You can find many recipes online, including at Cultures for Health, an online source for starters for many different types of cultured foods. You can culture almost any vegetable, and the process basically entails washing and chopping your vegetables, mixing with sea salt, covering in a saltwater brine, or mixing with a starter culture, placing in a large jar or fermenting crock, and letting time and natural bacteria do their magic during the next two days to three weeks, depending on the vegetable (the warmer the environment the quicker the process).

The result is a tart, tangy superfood for the gut. The finished product is ready to eat right out of the jar and can be stored for many months in a root cellar or refrigerator. Many people like to make large batches for grab-on-the-go veggies or as a condiment to their main dish.

For more information on how to make your own cultured vegetables, visit Cultures for Health, read Wild Fermentation, or simply Google for recipes and how-to videos.

Struggle with fatigue? Look for underlying causes

311 always tired

Do you feel like you’re tired all the time and depend on caffeine to function? Do you feel you always need extra sleep and never feel rested? Feeling tired all the time is a symptom of a larger problem, and a cue from your body you need to address an underlying health issue. A variety of factors can cause you to feel tired, however clinically we see some common ones pop up over and over.

Common causes of constant fatigue

Low thyroid activity. If you’re experiencing constant fatigue it’s important to rule out hypothyroidism, a condition of low thyroid activity that causes fatigue and many other symptoms. More than 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s can be identified by positive TPO and TGB antibodies and should be addressed by managing the immune system, although thyroid hormone medication may still be necessary. Low thyroid activity can also be a result of other things, such as chronic stress or excess estrogen. Testing for TSH alone is not enough to assess a thyroid condition. For more information, read the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian, and ask my office how we can help you manage low thyroid activity.

Blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar imbalances are largely overlooked yet are a common cause of fatigue. Many people struggle with low blood sugar, high blood sugar (insulin resistance), or a combination of both. People with low blood sugar frequently skip meals, eat too little, or consume excess sweets and processed carbohydrates that cause blood sugar to spike and then plummet. When blood sugar is low people experience fatigue, lightheadedness, shakiness, feeling spaced-out and other symptoms.

Consuming excess sweets and processed carbohydrates and overeating may also lead to high blood sugar, or insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance often have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping well and frequently feel fatigue as a result. They also feel tired after meals, particularly meals high in carbohydrates.

When struggling with fatigue, you should always evaluate your diet and eat foods that keep blood sugar stable, and eat frequently enough to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.

Anemia. There are many kinds of anemia, but iron-deficiency anemia is the most common. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a part of blood cells that carries oxygen. Low iron deprives the body of oxygen and hence energy, causing fatigue. A common cause of iron-deficiency anemia is poor nutrient absorption due to undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, so gluten intolerance should be ruled out in cases of anemia. Other common causes of anemia are B12 deficiency, inflammation, or an autoimmune disease. It’s important to know which form of anemia is causing your fatigue as supplementing with iron when you don’t need it may cause toxic levels of iron. Although the body needs iron to function, in excess it is damaging.

Adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete adrenal hormones to help us respond to stress. Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands produce insufficient stress hormones. Common symptoms are constant fatigue, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Poor adrenal function is always secondary to something else, such as chronic inflammation or poor diet. To support your adrenal health to combat fatigue, it’s important to find out what is stressing your body.

These are just a few causes of fatigue. Fatigue can be a sign of many different health disorders. Other things to consider are food intolerances, gut inflammation, hormonal imbalances, brain chemistry imbalances, dehydration, and of course lack of sleep.

Ask my office how we can help you manage fatigue.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , , . Leave a Comment »

Retirement may be bad for your health

309 retirement bad for health

Many people look forward to concluding a lifetime of work with retirement, but retirement can lead to a drastic decline in health. Research shows that although retirement may initially reduce stress, it significantly increases the chances of depression, physical illness, and the need for medication while reducing overall health. The longer one is in retirement the more the risks increase. Why? Turns out the body and brain need regular activity and social interaction to stay healthy, and retirement robs some people of those necessary influences.

Retirement can increase loneliness

Regular social interaction has been shown to be vital for health and vitality. In fact, social isolation has the same health risks as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, and regular social activity has been shown to prevent dementia.

If someone’s social life happened primarily at work, taking that away can suddenly launch them into isolation and loneliness, keeping company with the television. If someone is living alone because they lost a spouse through divorce or death, the risk of depression increases.

Retirement can decrease physical activity

Another risk with retirement is a sudden decrease of physical activity. Even if a person worked a fairly sedentary job, they were at least getting themselves to and from work and perhaps walking to lunch with coworkers.

When it comes to preventing disease and dementia and slowing the aging process, exercise is a magic bullet. Although a combination of strength training and high-intensity interval training are ideal ways to prevent disease and dementia, simply going for a walk every day is also highly preventive.

Retirement can decrease mental stimulation

The brain is like a muscle—use it or you lose it. Regular mental stimulation is vital to keeping the brain healthy and active, which helps lower the risk of depression, illness, and dementia. Working keeps the brain regularly engaged, especially if the job places higher demands on thinking skills. In retirement many are susceptible to spending days in front of the television, which does not stimulate the mind like reading, learning new things, and doing crossword puzzles and other games.

Stay healthy after retirement

The key to staying healthy after retirement is to maintain a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, mental stimulation, and social activity. Volunteering, learning something new, setting new goals and challenges for yourself, and working in some capacity are ways to avoid the increased risk of physical and mental decline after retirement.