One of the most common questions people ask is, “how do I lose weight?” Indeed, most of us are carrying around a few extra pounds. If you are, you’re not alone; two-thirds of the population is now officially overweight.
There is good news and bad news. The good news is, the problem can usually be solved. The bad news is, it’s not a simple answer. If it were, we wouldn’t all be struggling like we do!
Weight gain is a symptom of an underlying problem, and as with any healthcare dilemma, it’s extremely important to get to the bottom of what’s causing the extra weight to accumulate. There are lots of causes of extra weight gain, too many to explore completely in one article, but I will touch on the most common causes and perhaps write a continuation in the future.
Cause #1: Low Thyroid Function – your thyroid gland makes thyroid hormone, which is a biochemical gas pedal for your cells. It tells your cells how fast their metabolism should be. It keeps you going, but also eases back on the throttle when necessary so that you don’t burn out. If your cells aren’t getting enough thyroid hormone, their metabolic activity slows down. When this happens, your cells don’t burn fuel (blood sugar, oxygen, etc) like they should and the extra fuel gets stored in the fat cells.
Now, consider this: there are literally 22 different causes that fit into 7 different categories of thyroid dysfunction. And it may not even be an actual problem with the thyroid gland at all! The real culprit may be coming from any one of several other body systems, and the thyroid gland could be the victim, not the suspect. This is why it’s extremely important to have a *complete* thyroid function panel done, and to have it interpreted correctly. There are two problems that most people encounter; one is, most conventionally-trained doctors will only run TSH and maybe T4 or if you’re lucky, they’ll add T3 Uptake. The second problem is, the lab results aren’t interpreted in a way that evaluate for proper function, so many conventional doctors miss an underlying thyroid problem.
Cause #2: Overactive Adrenal glands – your adrenal glands are small triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys. Their main function is to help us deal with stress. They produce and release cortisol, our “stress hormone” whose job it is to raise blood sugar and heart rate so that we have more energy to handle the stress we face.
The catch is this: we’re only designed to handle immediate stressors that quickly pass. If we’re under too much stress for too long, our bodies pay the price. If cortisol levels are consistently too high, they will promote weight gain, especially around the lower abdomen and hips. If the problem worsens, a person’s face can become rounder and slightly more pale. It is important to have your cortisol hormone levels checked. The best test for this is actually not a blood test; it’s a saliva test. The cortisol found in saliva is the amount of active hormone readily available for your body to use, so it’s a more relevant test.
Cause #3: Liver Congestion – the liver is a large organ under the right side of your rib cage that basically acts as a garbage disposal or water treatment plant. It has more than 500 jobs, and detoxification is at the top of the list. Every toxic chemical we breathe, eat, or drink (air pollution, food additives), and every metabolic waste product from all your cells passes through the liver to be cleansed and converted to a less- or non-toxic substance. The result is that the wastes go to the kidneys and the circulating blood is clean.
If your liver gets bogged down with too many toxins (poor diet, polluted area, or excess hormones), then it creates a traffic jam and all the toxins waiting in line to be detoxified start to back up. As a defense mechanism, your body will try to pick the safest spot to store the excess toxins, where they will do the least amount of damage. That would be (drumroll, please): the fat cells. There are excellent tests that evaluate true liver detoxification function that go much further beyond the basic blood tests your conventional doctor is familiar with. The functional tests are usually part of a much larger panel designed to evaluate a wide variety of body functions.
Please see Part 2 for more!