Obesity is a major health problem in the United States and, unfortunately, the numbers are on the rise. About 40% of adults and nearly 20% of children and adolescents are obese.2 However, there is good news! There is much we can do to help with this devastating condition. Keep reading!
Obesity- Clearing up the distinction from overweight:
Being overweight and obese are not the same. Obesity is diagnosed when a person’s BMI (body mass index) is 30 or higher. It is easy to calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kg by your height in meters squared… or you can use an online BMI calculator. It is important to have this classification, not for the sake of labeling people, but rather because those who fall into the obese category are at further risk for many diseases as well as a reduced life expectancy.3
Note: The BMI is not a perfect metric as it doesn’t account for body composition and therefore isn’t the most accurate for those with lots of muscle mass or those who are pregnant.3 If you are focused on adding muscle and losing fat, looking at your body composition is much better than using weight or BMI.
What’s going on in the body:
Obesity is both a condition/symptom as well as a disease.3 It is caused by a culmination of factors such as genetics, environment and nutrition. Stress is one specific environmental factor that can inform an obese condition.5
It would be wrong to assume that a person challenged with obesity is simply eating too much as there is much more coming into play in these cases. And, even if a person is overeating, that is a symptom on its own. After all, no other creature in nature overeats. There is a reason for every symptom and overeating is no different. Sometimes, the reason is obvious (didn’t eat enough at lunch so now you’re wanting to eat everything in sight all evening). Other times it’s more subtle (you’re not even hungry but everyone around you wants to grab snacks and watch a movie so you join in too). There are lots of both physical and non-physical reasons why people eat that can all play a part in the obesity condition.
With obesity, the excessive amount of adipose (fat) tissue starts to act as an endocrine (hormone) organ. It releases hormones and impacts other body systems.6 The result is a breakdown in the proper metabolism of foods, and often a loss of hope in the heart and mind of the person who is struggling with this difficult condition. It can start to feel like the body has a mind of its own. Keep reading … there is always hope!
Chemical Imbalances in Obesity:
Although there are several factors that contribute to this condition, here are a couple I’d like to highlight:
- High blood sugar is common among those with this diagnosis. When the blood sugar is consistently too high (due to both dietary intake and decreased pancreatic function) insulin stops helping glucose (carbohydrates) get into the cells. This results in a metabolic storm, impacting the liver, kidneys, hormones and every other part of the body.
- Gut dysbiosis (imbalance of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract) and digestive distress are also symptoms that go along with obesity. If the microbiome of the gut is distressed, proper digestion will be hindered. There is a cumulative negative effect over time when a person is unable to properly break down and assimilate nutrients from the foods they eat. This factor exists even if the diet is really great but will be even more of a factor if it’s not.
- Over-toxicity is another factor. Fat tissue holds on to toxins so in most cases, the more excess fat tissue that you have, the more toxins your body will have to contend with.7
Although there are lots of nutritional concerns when it comes to obesity, there are a few that often standout.
- Fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin D, can become trapped in adipose tissue and therefore not be available to be used by the body, having impact on glucose metabolism (blood sugar), lipids (cholesterol) and more.8
- A ton of other micronutrients, especially b vitamins, can be hindered because of the gut/digestive issues. Food isn’t broken down, the good microbes don’t get adequate food to help digest and create nutrients, and deficiencies can occur, despite an abundance of calories.
Take heart- A plant-based diet can help!
One of the best things about a primarily whole food, plant-based diet is that it does not only help reduce body fat, which is superior to just merely weight loss (you don’t want to lose bone density or muscle mass), but it also helps balance the dysregulation that is taking place in these circumstances. A plant-based diet is rich in fiber, macronutrients, micronutrients and other healing properties.9 It can improve blood sugar levels, digestion, dysbiosis, elimination, lipid levels10 and more!11
Some specific foods that can help:
Most whole fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds are great in their proper proportions when it comes to helping reduce the obese condition and improve overall health.12 Many of these foods help indirectly and subtly but still profoundly when consumed on a regular basis over time. Here are a few special ones that are some of my favorites!
- Spices that you can add to your meals:
- Cinnamon is helpful for obesity due to its blood sugar regulating effect.13 This can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, sprinkled on fruit or even added to hot water. (Cinnamon tea is fast and delicious on a cold morning!)
- Ginger can be helpful for improving digestion14 and also supporting proper liver function.15
- Cayenne and other hot peppers are helpful in a few ways. First, they help by improving metabolism (think, burning more calories!). Next, the active ingredient in hot peppers can increase brown fat (see my other blog post for more on this). 16 Also, hot peppers can help because they make you want to drink more water. Drinking more water is helpful for flushing toxins and for overall optimal health.
- Drinks that facilitate optimal health:
- Fresh lemon or lime juice in hot or cold water can be a great way to add a gentle cleansing effect and several minerals in a way that is refreshing and tasty. You can also add lemon or lime to salads or homemade salsas, bean dips or hummus.
- Green or black tea and black coffee (in moderation) both contain caffeine, which can prove helpful for weight loss.17 For most people, it is best to stay under 200 mg/day (about 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of green or black tea). Of course this will vary from person to person according to tolerance and genotype. I recommend consuming any caffeine in the first half of the day so it doesn’t interrupt your sleep.
- Foods that are delicious and nutritious:
- Dark leafy greens are low in calories but high in nutrients.18 They contain loads of vitamins and minerals and also chlorophyll, antioxidants and other special plant chemicals that support optimal health. You can consume a variety of dark leafy greens in the form of salads, smoothies and even finely chopped into rice and beans or other savory meals.
- Beans and lentils are loaded with fiber which keeps you fuller longer, improves the microbiome and is an inexpensive way to add protein to your diet.19 You can add these to soups, chilis, salads or use them to make hummus or bean dips.
- Fermented vegetables/sauerkraut can be an excellent way to improve your friendly flora of the gut while also adding lots of great flavor to your salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, etc.20
What about supplements?
The best quality, cell-resonant, whole-food based supplements can be helpful for various conditions. Obesity is no exception. However, I must first remind you, supplements are just that—they are meant to supplement and cannot take the place of a healthy diet, good sleep, exercise, etc. Think of conquering obesity as a puzzle. Supplements are just one piece of that puzzle.
Here are some great options for this issue:
- Probiotics can be helpful for restoring the healthy microbes in the gut. I recommend using probiotics twice daily, ideally on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning and again before bed. I commonly use either Probiotic Caps or MicroBiome from Premier Research Labs (one capsule twice daily).
- Digestive support such as digestive enzymes and betaine hydrochloride. I personally use, and recommend to clients, Digest and HCL from Premier Research Labs. For most adults, taking 2 capsules of Digest with each meal and 2 capsules of HCL after each meal with plenty of water works great.
- Premier Greens (PRL) or Vitamineral Green (Health Force) powder are great ways to dramatically increase your nutrition in one quick shot a day. You can add a tablespoon or two of these to a smoothie or water each day to help improve overall nutrient status, proper elimination (bowel movements), energy and your body’s ability to heal itself.
Stay in the battle!
One simple shift that can make it easier to stay in the battle is focusing on improving health rather than weight loss. As you do the things that you improve your health (drink more water, eat more fresh whole foods, reduce and manage stress, become more active, etc.), weight loss will normally result. The great thing about doing it this way is you get SO many “wins” that you weren’t even planning on. Maybe you just want to lose weight? You will! But the side benefit of focusing on health is that you will also get better energy, sleep, focus, skin, etc.
One more bonus hack:
Pre-meal water loading is a super easy and has some powerful effects on weight loss and obesity.21 All you need to do is drink 16 oz of water about 30 minutes before each meal. Easy, fast and inexpensive.
Wait…one more thing. For the sake of brevity, this post didn’t even talk about some other important aspects of this condition that are critical, including:
- Stress reduction and management
- Proper hydration
- Time restricted eating (i.e. intermittent fasting)
- Good quality and quantity of sleep
- Specific organ/gland issues (thyroid, liver, lymphatic issues, etc.)
- And perhaps most importantly your mindset/thinking
If you or someone that you love is challenged by this frustrating condition, please apply some of the information in this post. Also, check out my recently released book The Quantum Weight Loss Blueprint. If you still need to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to get you on my schedule for a consultation. Don’t wait… Your life is too important to put this on hold for even one more day!
- czu_czu_PL. Bridge over Tara Rock. https://pixabay.com/photos/bridge-river-tara-rock-the-abyss-2747511/. Accessed April 17, 2021.
- Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015-2016. NCHS Data Brief. 2017.
- De Lorenzo A, Gratteri S, Gualtieri P, Cammarano A, Bertucci P, Di Renzo L. Why primary obesity is a disease? J Transl Med. 2019. doi:10.1186/s12967-019-1919-y
- Nuttall FQ. Body mass index: Obesity, BMI, and health: A critical review. Nutr Today. 2015. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000092
- van der Valk ES, Savas M, van Rossum EFC. Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals? Curr Obes Rep. 2018. doi:10.1007/s13679-018-0306-y
- Sikaris KA. The clinical biochemistry of obesity. Clin Biochem Rev. 2004.
- Jackson E, Shoemaker R, Larian N, Cassis L. Adipose tissue as a site of toxin accumulation. Compr Physiol. 2017. doi:10.1002/cphy.c160038
- Asemi Z, Hashemi T, Karamali M, Samimi M, Esmaillzadeh A. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on glucose metabolism, lipid concentrations, inflammation, and oxidative stress in gestational diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial1-3. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.072785
- Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Adv Nutr. 2012. doi:10.3945/an.112.002154
- Yokoyama Y, Levin SM, Barnard ND. Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2017;75(9). doi:10.1093/nutrit/nux030
- Najjar RS, Feresin RG. Plant-based diets in the reduction of body fat: Physiological effects and biochemical insights. Nutrients. 2019. doi:10.3390/nu11112712
- Tuso PJ, Ismail MH, Ha BP, Bartolotto C. Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. Perm J. 2013. doi:10.7812/TPP/12-085
- Hasanzade F, Toliat M, Emami SA, Emamimoghaadam Z. The effect of cinnamon on glucose of type II diabetes patients. J Tradit Complement Med. 2013. doi:10.4103/2225-4110.114900
- Marciano M. The Naturopathic Herbalist. https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/herbs/v-z/zingiber-officinalis-ginger/. Accessed August 28, 2020.
- Rahimlou M, Yari Z, Hekmatdoost A, Alavian SM, Keshavarz SA. Ginger supplementation in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Hepat Mon. 2016. doi:10.5812/hepatmon.34897
- Saito M, Yoneshiro T. Capsinoids and related food ingredients activating brown fat thermogenesis and reducing body fat in humans. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013. doi:10.1097/MOL.0b013e32835a4f40
- Caffeine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519490/. Published 2020. Accessed November 29, 2020.
- Gene discovery reveals importance of eating your greens. Sci Dly. 2013.
- Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. In: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. ; 2014. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.071472
- Dimidi E, Cox SR, Rossi M, Whelan K. Fermented foods: Definitions and characteristics, impact on the gut microbiota and effects on gastrointestinal health and disease. Nutrients. 2019. doi:10.3390/nu11081806
- Pre-meal water consumption for weight loss. Aust Fam Physician. 2013.
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a health care practitioner. It is for educational purposes only.