Weight gain has been a bane of our existence in our current society. It’s frustrating, especially when you’re trying to follow all the rules and do everything right. Well, sometimes it’s not as simple as counting your calories or spending hours in the gym. In the last post, I mentioned three major reasons why someone would gain extra weight. Here are three more:
Cause #4: Gastrointestinal problems – many of us have major disruptions in our digestive system without realizing it. More than 75% of all my patients have some kind of digestive dysfunction, whether it’s a parasite, a yeast, a bacterial infection, or a combination. Much like a nice patch of grass that becomes infested with weeds, these “critters” take up residence along the walls of your intestines, keeping us from digesting and absorbing of many nutrients that help us burn fuel efficiently. Without these nutrients, we end up with a scenario similar to the thyroid dysfunction, storing the unburned fuel in our fat cells.
Gastrointestinal bugs can also produce wastes that bog down the liver, causing the traffic jam I described above. A comprehensive digestive analysis is a crucial tool that reveals a lot of information about how well you’re digesting and absorbing nutrients, as well as whether or not you have a parasite, yeast, or bacterial infection in your intestinal tract.
Cause #5: Excess Estrogen (both sexes) and/or Uterine Fibroids (women) – with all the hubbub surrounding hormone replacement therapy and its touted benefits, it may surprise you to learn that many women (and men) actually have too MUCH estrogen! This is a condition known as Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen in the proper amounts is normal and healthy, but too much estrogen can wreak havoc on the body. In men, excess estrogen starts to compete with testosterone, which shifts a man’s metabolism more toward fat storage. In women, there is less testosterone, but the outcome is similar: easier fat storage.
In addition, estrogen can promote abnormal uterine growth, called a uterine fibroid. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus, and with excess estrogen driving them, they can grow very large–the size of a grapefruit, or even bigger. These can contribute toward significant (and sometimes rapid) weight gain. This is especially true if your body has shifted toward making a more powerful form of estrogen rather than its normal, healthy mild form. Often, a blood test for estrogen levels doesn’t go far enough; it’s good to test for the actual ratio between the milder and more powerful forms of estrogen. This test is simple and can possibly save your life by alerting you to a possible risk of certain hormone-driven cancers such as breast cancer.
Cause #6: Excess Insulin – estrogen isn’t the only hormone that promotes fat storage. When we eat a meal, especially one high in sugar or carbohydrates (even complex carbs), our blood sugar levels rise. To counteract this, the pancreas will release insulin, whose job it is to take that blood sugar and bring it inside the cells for fuel. However, if there is too much insulin over time, the cells become stuffed with blood sugar and they don’t need anymore. So they stop responding to insulin when it comes knocking with more blood sugar in hand. Now the blood sugar has nowhere else to go except–you guessed it–right into the fat cells. Most doctors will test fasting glucose (a very simple and routine blood test) but may not run another very important test that measures how well your body has handled its blood sugar over the long-term, a period of about 4 months.
As you can see, there are several possible reasons why a person might gain weight, none of which have much to do with calorie-cutting or spending time on the treadmill. When the body functions inefficiently or there’s a breakdown in body function, one of the most common ways this shows up is weight gain. The important part is finding out which cause or causes are actually happening, because each of these causes requires a different approach in order to be effective and get results. This is why comprehensive testing is so important. Remember: for every test not run, the practitioner is only guessing, and you may not see the results you’d like. It’s best to know for sure – it saves time and money in the long run.