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.

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Are gut bacteria making you depressed, anxious, and overweight?

3 03 gut bacteria obesity depression anxiety

We all carry trillions of bacteria in our guts, with as many as a thousand different strains. The composition of these strains, or our “bacterial fingerprint,” can influence whether we are prone to depression, anxiety, or obesity.

Some gut bacteria can make you fat

Studies have shown people (and mice) who are overweight have much higher levels of particular strains of bacteria than thinner subjects. When thin mice are inoculated with bacteria from heavy mice, they gain weight. This is because these fat-promoting bacteria have been shown to encourage overeating, promote weight gain, prevent the burning of fat, and make obese people better at deriving calories from food than thin people.

In a nutshell, your “bacterial fingerprint” plays a role in how much fat you carry and how easy or difficult it is for you to lose weight. Although diet and exercise are important, these findings help to explain why solely relying on the “eat less and exercise more” approach to weight loss is outdated.

Effect of gut bacteria on depression and anxiety

The composition of your gut bacteria can also play a role in whether you suffer from depression and anxiety. For instance, having plenty of beneficial bacteria, such as the Bifidobacteria strain, can promote production of serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical that prevents depression.

On the other hand, too much of “bad” bacterial strains can promote depression and anxiety. This is because the gut is linked to the brain by the vagus nerve, a large nerve that sends messages back and forth between the brain and digestive system. The effects of harmful bacteria in the gut travel to the brain, impacting brain function and mood.

In one study, subjects who took probiotics containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium reported less anxiety, depression, and anger and an improved ability to solve problems. In another study, mice given a Lactobacillus strain cruised through a maze that normally created high anxiety and showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to their probiotic-deprived counterparts.

Cultivating good gut bacteria

Although researchers are still unsure exactly how to banish obesity, depression, and anxiety with probiotics, it’s clear you need to enhance your bacterial fingerprint for optimal health.

Birthing and baby feeding affect gut bacteria

The balance of good and bad bacteria starts at birth—vaginal deliveries and breastfeeding have been shown to improve a child’s chances of starting off with a healthy bacterial colony compared to C-sections and bottle feeding.

Chronic stress and gut bacteria

Chronic stress can throw your bacterial harmony out of balance, as can diets filled with sweets and sugars, processed foods, and fast foods. These foods damage and inflame the intestinal walls, promoting overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts.

Cultured food and fiber promotes good gut bacteria

You can promote bacterial harmony by focusing on an anti-inflammatory, whole foods diet that includes cultured and fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented vegetables. If you use store-bought cultured foods, make sure they are the real deal and not simply made with vinegar, or pasteurized, which would kill good bacteria..

A healthy colony of good gut bacteria also relies on plenty of soluble fiber in the diet. Eating plenty of produce will give you just what you need in that respect.

Probiotics for obesity, depression, and anxiety

Fortunately, we have powerful probiotics today that can help you cultivate your inner garden. Probiotics should be stable enough to survive the hot and acidic environment of the stomach and contain ample amounts of beneficial strains. Ask my office for advice on a probiotic that’s right for you.

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Weight loss is bonus to anti-inflammatory diet

3 02 anti inflammatory diet is weight loss diet

Counting calories, avoiding fats, miniscule portions, living with hunger—dieting is a drag and the majority of people eventually gain back the pounds they fought so hard to lose. Newer research shows sloth and gluttony aren’t necessarily to blame for excess weight, but instead inflammation, leaky gut, stress, and other health imbalances.

Dieting slows the metabolism, influences hormones that control appetite so you may become hungrier, and can create a cycle of unhealthy yo-yo dieting.

You’ll have better success if you eat with a focus on lowering inflammation, detoxifying the system, and meeting your nutritional needs. Many people take on anti-inflammatory diets to manage constant pain, digestive complaints, skin rashes such as eczema or psoriasis, an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other chronic health problems.

People are surprised to find that not only do their symptoms fade but they also lose unwanted pounds. This is because excess weight can be a symptom of health imbalances, such as chronic inflammation, stress or leaky gut, a condition in which the lining of the gut becomes inflamed and porous, allowing inflammatory compounds into the bloodstream.

Weight loss through better health

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on whole foods and is free of inflammatory foods. Although it may cut out many of your favorite foods, it does not require you to be hungry. In fact, hunger can work against you by increasing stress and causing low blood sugar. Taking certain herbs and supplements that gently cleanse and detoxify the body can boost the anti-inflammatory and weight-loss benefits of the diet. Ask my office for more details on supporting your success with nutritional therapy.

Anti-inflammatory diet basics that can lead to weight loss

Although anti-inflammatory diets vary, there are some basics to follow:

  • Eliminate all processed foods, fast foods, desserts, coffee drinks, sodas, etc. These foods are designed to be addictive. Your anti-inflammatory diet should consist mainly of whole foods found in the produce and meat sections of the grocery store, with an emphasis on plenty of vegetables. Also eliminate processed vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils. Stick with natural oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.
     
  • Eliminate common inflammatory foods. The most common culprit is gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other wheat-like grains. Many people enjoy weight loss simply by going on a gluten-free diet. However, you may have developed an intolerance to other foods, including dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts. Eliminate these foods for about a month to see whether you react upon reintroducing them one at a time.
     
  • Eliminate sweets. Sugars and sweeteners are inflammatory and a major culprit in excess weight. On the anti-inflammatory diet you will avoid all sweeteners, including natural ones such as honey and maple syrup. This helps curb cravings, stabilize blood sugar, lower inflammation, and eliminate excess fat. Enjoy fruit instead, such as berries.
     
  • Some people may need to follow stricter versions of this diet, such as eliminating grains, foods with lectins, or nightshades. An anti-inflammatory diet can be tailored to individual needs, but the focus is on clearing out the junk and getting back to foods in their most natural state, with an emphasis on plenty of leafy green vegetables.
     
  • Eat to satisfaction, but do not overeat. Overeating even healthy foods stresses the system and causes blood sugar problems. If you have an eating disorder or food addiction, you may need additional support for that.
     
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep promotes hunger, stress, and inflammation and is linked with obesity in studies. Sufficient sleep is a major inflammation-buster. And, of course, get regular physical activity, not to burn calories but because it is vital to good health. Overtraining, however, can cause inflammation and actually counteract your weight loss efforts.

Boost success with gut repair and detoxification

I have found adding in nutritional compounds to help repair a damaged gut, lower inflammation, support the liver, and gently detoxify the system is a wonderful way to boost weight loss and the powerful effects of an anti-inflammatory diet. Ask my office for more information about a detoxification and gut-repair program.

Why you should start walking today, even if you already work out

walk even if you work out

We sit at desks, sit in traffic, and sit at home in front of the TV. Americans have lost touch with the human being’s most basic and unique design function: to walk. Walking daily not only wards off more diseases than you count on both hands, it also soothes the mind, inspires creativity, and heightens the mood. Even if you already work out regularly, walking can still deliver its ancient benefits.

Walking shaped the human brain and keeps it healthy

We departed from the rest of the animal kingdom when we evolved to walk upright on two legs. This adaptation freed our arms and allowed us to conserve energy while moving over long distances, giving us more endurance than any other animal on the planet. The ability to walk also stimulated the development of the human brain into the fascinating and complex organ it is today.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle was known to give his lectures while walking, and many great thinkers since—Henry David Thoreau, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and even Steve Jobs—were known to use long walks to clear the brain and generate new ideas.

Walking is good for those intimidated by exercise

You don’t have to be one of history’s great thinkers to derive the benefits of a daily walk. For Americans who are overworked and overly sedentary, committing to a weight lifting routine or a workout class at the local gym may seem intimidating, overwhelming, or too expensive at first. A daily walk can be an excellent and non-threatening way to embark on an exercise program and reap the many benefits it promises. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll quickly realize it doesn’t require the same level of motivation as something more arduous—walking is a great way to escape and renew yourself on a regular basis.

Health benefits of walking

Walking 30 to 45 minutes at least six days a week along with a healthy diet has been shown to offer the following benefits:

  • Shed excess fat
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve circulation
  • Strengthen bones
  • Reduce stress
  • Prevent depression
  • Prevent Type 2 diabetes
  • Improve mood and well-being
  • Reduce risk of colon and breast cancer
  • Prevent heart disease

Walking beneficial even if you work out

If you’re not walking because you already work out regularly, you may be short-changing yourself. For one thing, if you’re a runner, walking instead could save wear and tear on your joints. Newer research has even shown that training for marathons and long distance runs may even damage the heart and arteries.

Because walking has played such an integral role in the development of the human brain, it improves brain health in ways other exercises don’t. Research of adults in their mid 60s showed that an area of the brain called the hippocampus, the seat of learning and memory, grew in the subjects who walked regularly compared to subjects who did other forms of exercise. Walking regularly is an excellent way to lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Walking can also stimulate the creative juices that may be put on hold during a weight-training or high-intensity-interval cardiovascular session. For Americans on information overload and inundated with daily distractions, walking slows you down and invites you to soak in the world around you.

Walking also offers a great way to socialize with others. Socialization has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of many disorders, making a walk with friends or family members doubly good for you.

Chew more thoroughly for better health and weight loss

chew thoroughly for weight loss health

Gandhi’s advice to chew your drink and drink your food has stood the test of time. Although what you eat is important, how you eat deserves equal attention as research shows chewing thoroughly and eating slowly helps prevent weight gain and improves digestion.

Chewing more thoroughly suppresses appetite

A series of recent studies show chewing each bite thoroughly reduces appetite, lowers calorie intake, and can aid weight loss. That’s because the hormones that leave us feeling satiated don’t kick in until 20 to 40 minutes after you begin eating.

For instance, one study measured the release of gut hormones that suppress appetite in subjects five minutes and 30 minutes after they consumed a meal. The results showed eating the meal more slowly increased the secretion of appetite-reducing hormones.

In another study a group of both lean and obese men ate the exact same meal twice in one day. For the first meal they were instructed to chew each bite 15 times and for the second meal, 40 times. The results showed that whether lean or obese, the men consumed 12 percent less food when they had to chew each mouthful 40 times.

Another recent study showed lengthening the time of your meal can decrease hunger, something many European cultures practice regularly. Stretching a meal over two hours by taking breaks makes the food seem more rewarding, lowers grehlin, a hormone that induces hunger, and raises hormones that increase satiety.

Chewing thoroughly improves health

Digestion starts in the mouth, not the stomach. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Exposing food to saliva for longer periods of time in your mouth creates less stress on the rest of the digestive tract, which frees up more energy so you feel better.

Taking the time to eat slowly and consciously also gives the digestive tract ample notice to secrete stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, gallbladder bile, and other chemicals to completely digest your food for maximum nutrient absorption. By wolfing down your meal you throw improperly digested food into an unprepared digestive system, which is stressful and can create symptoms of bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain.

Because the immune system resides largely in the gut, chewing thoroughly is one way to promote better immune health.

Healthier foods require more chewing

You may have noticed that many processed and fast foods are so easy to chew you hardly need teeth. Whole foods, on the other hand, tend to require more chewing. Simply choosing a whole foods diet free of refined foods can encourage you to chew more thoroughly.

However, you may need some outside reinforcement to develop a better chewing habit. Here are some strategies:

  • Take the time to sit down and calmly eat a meal
  • Take small bites
  • Count so you chew each mouthful 20 or more times—until your food is completely liquid
  • Pay attention to the taste, texture, and flavor of your meals; avoid reading or watching TV while eating
  • Try to make meals into lengthy, relaxing occasions as often as possible

Why eating breakfast prevents weight gain and fatigue

importance of breakfast

Breakfast is the easiest meal to skip—mornings are rushed and many people don’t have an appetite when they wake up. Some people even feel nauseous in the morning (which indicates a blood sugar disorder). But if you skip breakfast you may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, increasing your risk of obesity and blood sugar disorders, and robbing your brain of energy.

Skipping breakfast associated with obesity

Numerous studies show skipping breakfast is associated with higher rates of obesity in both children and adults. Some people erroneously think that by skipping breakfast they consume fewer calories and thus aid weight loss. However, skipping breakfast can set into motion an unhealthy metabolic cascade that eventually leads to excess fat.

Breakfast is the first meal after a long night of fasting. In the absence of food, the body must release stored glucose to fuel the brain or create glucose by breaking down muscle tissue. This process is made possible by stress hormones.

Skipping breakfast when your brain and body are starved for energy exaggerates this stress response, forcing the body to continually pump out stress hormones to fuel the brain. These stress hormones also explain why some people wake up feeling nauseous. Although it seems counter-intuitive, eating can actually relieve that morning nausea by inhibiting the stress response.

The habitual stress response caused by skipping breakfast and other meals promotes weight gain, upsets hormonal balance, causes inflammation, hinders brain function, and can lead to symptoms such as migraines, depression, mood swings, shakiness, lightheadedness, brain fog, sleep disorders, and more. Eating meals high in sugar and carbohydrates also contributes to this problem by causing energy to continually spike and crash throughout the day.

Eating breakfast is an important strategy when it comes to preventing weight gain and fatigue.

Skipping breakfast makes you more prone to overeating or poor food choices

Skipping breakfast can increase your chances of overindulging or making poor food choices later in the day. When your energy is crashing and your brain is starving for fuel, downing a caramel latte or package of mini donuts suddenly seems unavoidable. A well-fueled brain is better equipped to make healthier choices and not succumb to a mad grab for the nearest source of quick energy (for which the American food industry seems to be designed).

A recent study validated this tendency, showing participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to seek out high-calorie junk foods and that dieters who skip meals are more prone to gain weight over the long run. Their brain scans showed skipping meals stimulated the brain in a way that made high-calorie foods seem more appealing. Those who skipped breakfast also ate about 20 percent more at lunch.

Breakfast keeps body and brain on an even keel

Breakfast should emphasize healthy proteins and fat (avoid sugary, starchy breakfasts) to start the day on an even keel and maximize brain function. Eat frequently enough to avoid blood sugar crashes, and include protein, healthy fat, and fiber (vegetables) with every meal to sustain energy and prevent fatigue throughout the day.

The importance of keeping a food diary

food diary weight loss food intolerances

Whether you want to lose weight or manage an autoimmune disease, studies show keeping a food diary is one of the best ways to ensure success. For instance, diet research shows those who keep a food diary lose 30 to 50 percent more weight than those who don’t.

Keeping a food diary keeps you honest

It’s easy to think you are eating or behaving one way when the reality is strikingly different. Keeping track of everything you eat, portion sizes, and when you eat lifts the veil on bad habits you have managed to hide from yourself, such as how much sugar you really eat, how big your portions are, how frequently (or infrequently) you eat, or how often you eat a food you know causes problems for you.

Keeping a food diary for weight loss

One of the most popular reasons to keep a food diary is for weight loss. Most people underestimate portion sizes or how often they eat. Measuring the peanut butter or mayonnaise may show you’re eating much more than you thought.

Knowing you have to record everything is also great motivation to stick to your plan. That tantalizing dessert loses appeal when you see how those extra calories or grams of carbohydrates are going to kill your numbers at the end of the day. On the other hand, jotting down your exercise feels great.

It’s also good to tie in timing, location, and emotions with your meals. You may notice waiting too long between meals predisposes you to a binge, or that a particular person or situation increases your sugar cravings.

Keeping a food diary for health changes

Food diaries aren’t just for weight loss. Many people must make dramatic dietary changes to manage a chronic health condition. Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis all respond positively to changes in diet. Tracking both what you eat and your symptoms not only helps with compliance, but also can show you if any foods flare up your condition. For instance, you may be following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet but notice your health worsens when you eat eggs.

Keeping a food diary to find food intolerances

In fact, a food diary is an excellent tool for an elimination-provocation diet. These diets involve eliminating common dietary immune triggers such as grains (gluten in particular), dairy, eggs, soy, and sweeteners for a number of weeks. After the elimination period you add in each food one at a time every 48 to 72 hours and monitor your reactions.

Most people don’t realize they have a food intolerance because either they eat the food all the time or because reactions can happen up to 72 hours later. By removing the foods for a period of time and then introducing them singly, the immune system will typically produce a noticeable reaction if that food is an issue. It’s important to record symptoms as they appear. They can be very diverse and affect the skin, digestive tract, respiratory system, mood, mental function, joints, and more.

Ask my office about tips for keeping a food journal, weight loss, and implementing an elimination-provocation diet.