Obesity is serious and often overlooked, disabling chronic condition that now affects over one-third of the U.S. population. Its most detrimental and costly health effects include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In extreme cases, morbid obesity can become a life-threatening illness known as end-stage obesity syndrome. Those who suffer from obesity (or who have a propensity to become obese due to genetic factors), need to pursue a lifelong commitment to weight management that includes a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and proper nutrition.6
The typical Standard American Diet actually promotes obesity, in many cases, because it encourages adhesion to a low-fat, high-carb diet. The truth is that fat does not cause fat; excessive consumption of high-carb, nutrient-void, high-calorie foods has contributed greatly to the nation’s obesity epidemic. Read more about good carbs and bad carbs.
Obesity: Common Symptoms
If you are obese, you may experience these symptoms:
- Joint pain and reduced mobility
- Osteoarthritis, a disease in which the joints deteriorate
- Loss of flexibility and increased incidence of musculoskeletal injuries
- Pulmonary (breathing) problems, including sleep apnea
- Back pain and inadequate posture
- Ankle and foot problems
- Gallbladder disease and/or gallstones
- Liver disease
- Gout, a buildup of uric acid in the joints that causes inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
- Reproductive problems in women, including menstrual irregularities and infertility
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome (or Syndrome X)
- Type 2 diabetes and/or insulin resistance
Obesity: Common Causes
Obesity may be caused by:
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Poor lifestyle habits
- Medication side effects – certain medications cause weight gain as a side effect, in particular antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Mental illness – binge eating disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression
- Psychological factors: Emotional eating
- Cushing’s Syndrome
- Heavy Metal Toxicity
Obesity: Natural and Alternative Treatments, Recommendations
As part of the comprehensive program of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle modification, you may want to consider some of the products listed below to help support your body.
- Probiotic Supplements – Help restore beneficial intestinal flora to balance the gut and help deal with any underlying yeast problems that may be a cause of weight gain.
- Digestive Enzyme Supplements – Helps break down hard-to-digest foods and ease indigestion, bloating, and gas. With the Standard American Diet, the body needs help digesting and processing what we eat in order to allow the body to utilize the nutrients in the food.
- 5-HTP Supplements – Naturally increases the production of serotonin in the brain. Some studies have shown that supplementing with 5-HTP can reduce hunger because serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps us feel satisfied. Also helps reduce stress and anxiety.
- Vitamin C Supplements– Vitamin C helps increase metabolism, promote weight loss, and boost energy production by making carnitine, the amino acid responsible for transporting fat to mitochondria for conversion to energy.
- Magnesium Supplements– Magnesium plays a major role in maintaining healthy blood sugar/glucose levels.
- Complete Daily Mineral Vitamin Supplements
- Melatonin Supplements – Helps regulate your sleep cycle for better, more restful sleep, which increases day-time energy for exercise and regular activity.
- Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Adds healthy fats back into your diet and helps speed metabolism. Highly recommended for weight management problems.
- Amino Acid Supplements – Boosts energy and reduces muscle fatigue—with powerful essential and non-essential amino acids.
- B-12 Methylcobalamin – Replenish vitamin B-12 and promote healthy energy with the fast-absorbing, active form of B-12.
Obesity: Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations to improve symptoms
The quality of your health depends upon many pieces that not only include the health of your bodily systems, but also include a healthy diet, exercise, and spirituality.
Diet. Treatment of obesity centers on developing general healthy dietary guidelines, in addition to making some key adjustments in your relationship with food.
Dietary tips for combating obesity:
- Eat more fiber. Fiber gives you a satiated feeling, helping you to curb food cravings. It also keeps your colon healthy, and aids in proper digestion. Research has shown that obesity puts you at higher risk for colorectal cancer, primarily due to a low-fiber, high-calorie, processed food diet. Incorporate ground flaxseed in smoothies, soups, and favorite cereals to increase your fiber intake.
- Skip the low-fat food products. Most of the low-fat, processed foods in grocery stores are typically high-carb foods that are loaded with sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners, and synthetic fat substitutes. Many of these ingredients cause weight gain, rather than reduce it. Read more about food ingredients.
- Add virgin coconut oil to your diet. The natural saturated fat in virgin coconut oil can help stabilize blood sugar levels, facilitate proper thyroid function, and aid in weight loss.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits. Not only are they a good source of fiber, but they contain many naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and amino acids necessary for maintaining optimal health and weight. Watch out for fruit juices, they often contain added sugars that can increase your calorie intake dramatically. Opt for water, or diluted fruit juice (three-quarters water and one-quarter juice).
- Don’t skip breakfast. Fasting activates the starvation response, slowing your metabolism and increasing the chances that excess fat will be stored to fuel your nutrient-depleted body. Studies now show that women who eat cereal for breakfast maintained their weight better than those who skipped breakfast. The plus of whole-grain cereal is that it is a low-calorie, fiber-rich food.3 Obese people tend to lack the necessary fiber in their diets.
- Eat frequent meals. Eating five to six small meals throughout the day helps to speed up your metabolism. On the other hand, eating large meals only once or twice a day will actually slow down your metabolism.
Other dietary recommendations:
- Choose high-quality, organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free “grass-fed” meats.
- Increase your omega-3 essential fatty acids by selecting wild-caught salmon, minimal-mercury tuna, and fish oil.
- Choose organic, cage-free eggs.
- Choose unpasteurized, raw dairy items that have live, active cultures (probiotics), such as yogurt and kefir.
- Choose sprouted foods such as sprouted whole-grain bread and sprouted nuts and seeds.
- Drink plenty of purified water throughout the day. Chronic dehydration can slow down metabolism.
Foods to AVOID when treating obesity:
- All simple or refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, processed snack foods, etc.). Read more about good carbs and bad carbs.
- All foods containing refined sugar or synthetic sugar-substitutes such as aspartame, Splenda®, etc. These may actually contribute to weight gain, rather than aid in weight loss. Studies now show that artificial sweeteners trick the body into associating sweetness with zero calories. As a result, there’s a tendency to splurge on the “real thing,” because the body loses its ability to associate sweetness with a sense of fullness. Choose a natural sweetener like Xylosweet instead.
- Alcoholic beverages in excess since they hinder the functioning of the immune and digestive systems
- Carbonated soft drinks that cause blood pH levels to become acidic
- Bottom crawlers such as oysters, clams, and lobster may contain toxic levels of mercury.
- Deep-sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish may contain toxic levels of mercury. Choose minimal-mercury tuna instead.
- Farm-raised fish that contain PCBs and not enough omega-3 essential fatty acids, due to their land-based diets. Choose wild-caught salmon instead.
- Sodium nitrite found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in many foods as a flavor enhancer
- Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) found in many processed foods, deep-fried foods, fast foods, and junk food. Read more about trans fats.
- Excessive caffeine intake. While moderate amounts of caffeine may be beneficial in boosting metabolism, excessive caffeine consumption can disrupt the body’s systems, causing insomnia and digestive irregularity (constipation or diarrhea).
Exercise. The basic rule of weight loss is “Calories in. Calories out.” In order to effectively lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Therefore, exercise—and portion control when eating—are essential components in combating obesity.
If you suffer from obesity, you may have a difficult time keeping up with exercise programs that require flexibility and harsh movements. Fortunately, studies show that long, brisk walks are very effective in losing weight. Once you get to a point where you’re losing weight, you can take on more strenuous or more demanding aerobic exercises. The point is to start exercising, no matter how small your effort may seem in the beginning.
Also, try to incorporate some strength training into your exercise routine. Building muscle mass will help you to burn more calories throughout the day.
Other Tips for Treating Obesity
- Get proper sleep. Sleep deprivation slows metabolism. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try fast-acting melatonin. If sleeping problems are resistant to a quick fix, then see your healthcare professional to rule out any chronic conditions that may be causing insomnia.
- Try light therapy. Circadian Rhythm Disorder can cause hormone imbalances and disrupt your body’s natural hormone production schedule. This may hinder your ability to control your weight effectively. Read more about the Apollo Health goLite P1™.
- Consider removing mercury dental fillings. If you have silver fillings, get an evaluation from a mercury-free dentist who specializes in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Mercury in the body damages immune cells, which can be a contributing factor for weight gain and obesity-related chronic conditions. Find a mercury-free dentist in your area now!
Obesity: Conventional and Prescription Medications
Prescription medications are not generally recommended for treating obesity, since their risks and side effects outweigh their benefits in most cases. In cases where extreme obesity causes life-threatening health effects, prescription appetite suppressant medications may be utilized. In these cases, the risks of extreme obesity may outweigh the risks of taking appetite suppressant medications. The most common prescription appetite suppressants are:
- Diethylpropion (Brand names: Tenuate®, Tenuate Dospan®)
- Fenfluramine (Brand name: Pondimin® (withdrawn due to the risk of severe heart damage with extended use.)
- Mazindol (Brand names: Sanorex®, Mazanor®)
- Phendimetrazine (Brand names: Bontril®, Plegine®, Prelu-2®, X-Trozine®)
- Phentermine (Brand names: Adipex-P®, Fastin®, Ionamin®, Oby-trim®)7
Bariatric surgery and gastric banding. These invasive procedures are becoming increasingly common to combat morbid obesity. Bariatric surgery involves stapling the stomach to reduce its size and creating a gastric bypass to connect the newly formed smaller stomach with the small intestine. With gastric banding, a ring is placed around the upper end of the stomach to reduce its size. The risks of surgery include lifelong nutritional deficiencies, chronic malnutrition, weight regain, emotional and mental disorders (due to prior unresolved emotional ties to eating), and death (a risk inherent with any type of major surgery).
Weight loss pills and supplements. Many people who are frustrated with extra pounds try weight loss supplements to get a handle on their weight. Some of these supplements may be falsely advertised, or can even be extremely damaging to your health. In particular, consider the following:
- Fen-Phen and all supplements containing ephedra, also known as (Ma huang): Fen-Phen and other ephedra supplements quickly became a popular weight loss supplement—until the FDA banned their use when ephedra was implicated in causing heart attacks and strokes. Interestingly, ma huang has been used in China for over 5000 years as a medicinal herb for treating an array of health conditions. However, reputable Chinese herbalists will probably be the first to tell you that ma huang was never intended for long-term use for weight loss. Ephedra-based weight loss supplements are not considered safe by the FDA because of the dangerous misuse of a very powerful ingredient.
- CortiSlim: The FDA has issued a warning to the manufacturer that it has seriously violated the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by making unsubstantiated, false, and misleading claims about its product.
Note: Losing more than 2 pounds per week can be very detrimental to your health. It’s important to realize that obesity is a chronic condition that requires a multi-faceted, long-term solution, along with a lifelong plan for weight management. While weight loss supplements might help you lose weight in the short term, they don’t address the underlying causes of obesity, and won’t resolve unhealthy lifestyle habits.