Dieting – The Herbs Place

Dieting, Weight Loss and Lifetime Weight Management
Used With Permission From A Better Way Newsletter by Dr. Duane Weed

A study published in the October 17, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that Americans are fatter than ever and are getting fatter at an alarming rate. The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1991 to 1998, shows that one in five American adults is now considered obese. This is a drastic increase from just 10 years ago when one in eight Americans were obese.

This development has prompted the Centers for Disease Control to classify obesity in the U.S. as an epidemic. Being overweight increases risks for a number of serious health problems including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and gallbladder disease. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are the three biggest killers of American men and women, so the problem is not just a cosmetic one! According to the JAMA study, 300,000 deaths in the United States each year can be attributed to being overweight. Compare this to the 430,000 deaths each year caused by smoking and you will see that, with the exception of quitting smoking, there is probably no single preventative measure that can guarantee your health more than maintaining your ideal weight.

Obesity is determined by a formula called the body mass index (BMI), defined as your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared (BMI = kg/m2). A BMI of 19 to 24.9 is considered a “normal” weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and 30 or above is considered obese.

If you are overweight, you may have already discovered that starvation diets are not the answer. Weight may be lost initially but they rarely help in the long run. Starvation slows the body’s metabolism as it learns to expend energy more efficiently to conserve calories for the next “famine.” After a starvation diet we have a tendency to gain even more weight than we took off, and we may find it even harder to lose weight the next time we try. The first rule in sensible weight control is therefore, no starvation diets!

Another medical study, reported in the same issue of JAMA mentioned above, found that one of the best ways to control weight is to increase dietary fiber intake. Fiber has been shown to help lower serum cholesterol, reduce risk for cancer, and help diabetics control their blood sugar levels better. And as if that wasn’t enough, certain kinds of fiber, such as psyllium husks, have been shown to have the ability to absorb some of the fat from the foods we eat, carrying that fat out of the body before it is absorbed. That’s how a popular weight management product called Fat Grabbers works.

Increasing our intake of fiber is an important and necessary first step toward managing our weight, but most obese people will need to do more. The five fundamentals of health, as discussed in a previous newsletter, are also the five fundamentals for effective and permanent weight management.

The five fundamentals of health are Cleansing, Leisure (Sleep), Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition. To help you remember these, remember the acronym CLEAN: Cleansing – Leisure (Rest and Sleep) – Exercise – Attitude – Nutrition

In our fastidious society, everyone understands the importance of keeping the outside clean. This is because we can see the outside. But it is just as important, if not more so, to keep the inside clean. I am reminded of a television commercial promoting a tooth paste that is purported to clean tar stains off the teeth of smokers. But what about the tar you can’t see — the tar in the lungs?

The first step of any weight loss program should always be cleansing. Modern food processing has removed most of the enzymes and fiber from our foods. To add insult to injury we often eat too many foods that contain no fiber at all, such as meat and dairy products. These slow the movement of the intestines and promote the build up of waste and toxins in the bowel, liver and blood. Everyone can benefit from a periodic cleanse to clear out these accumulations.

Cleansing should target the colon (large intestine) and liver. The liver is an important, yet often overlooked, organ for the management of weight. In our toxic world, it is also one of the organs most likely to need help. One of the hundreds of vital functions performed by the liver is the secretion of a hormone responsible for the burning of fat. The liver also plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels, another key to permanent weight loss. It is usually when our blood sugar level drops that we crave the high-calorie foods that are not good for us.

The liver and colon must be cleansed at the same time. This is because the colon constantly absorbs toxins that pass through the portal vein directly to the liver for detoxification. A toxic colon results in a toxic, overworked liver that cannot effectively perform its job. The liver and colon can be safely and effectively cleansed with a good combination of herbal supplements and fiber. A cleanse should normally last for two weeks and is best done twice a year, in the Spring and again in the Fall. There are several good herbal cleansing combinations available.

The one I recommend is CleanStart. It is an easy and mild, yet complete, two-week cleansing program from Nature’s Sunshine Products.

The second fundamental of health, and the second fundamental of weight management, is Leisure. By leisure I mean rest and sleep. Adequate Rest is necessary for physical and mental rejuvenation. Sleep is essential for our well-being, but it isn’t just the quantity of sleep that is important, it’s the quality. There are four phases of sleep. Once the fourth or deepest phase is attained, the body goes through a sort of sleeping rhythm, alternating between dream sleep and non-dream sleep. Distinct types of emotional and physical healing and building take place during these two distinct types of sleep. Both are necessary to maintain our health. Researchers have shown that sleep deprivation, and even poor quality sleep, suppresses the immune system and is detrimental to mental and physical well-being.

People who have trouble sleeping often feel the need to resort to sleep-inducing drugs. Although these drugs may put you to sleep, they interfere with the natural rhythm of sleep and almost never result in quality sleep. Herbs like hops, valerian and passion flower help induce a more natural sleep and are better alternatives for most people who have trouble sleeping. These three herbs are available in a sleep combination appropriately named Herbal Sleep.

One of the greatest contributors to our fat society is lack of exercise. We have become a nation of “couch potatoes” who would rather sit in front of the television set than enjoy a brisk walk outdoors. It will come as no surprise that exercise is an essential key to weight loss and weight management. Our bodies burn calories at a faster rate when we exercise, but just as important is the fact that regular exercise speeds up the body’s metabolism so we continue burning calories at a faster rate even when at rest. Exercise raises blood sugar levels giving us more energy and helping us feel better. It also promotes better sleep. When we feel better and have more energy we tend to be more active which also helps.

Vigorous exercise for at least 15 to 20 minutes, three times a week, is a fundamental of health and a fundamental of weight loss and lifetime maintenance. Our exercise programs do not necessarily have to include intense activities such as jogging or running. A brisk walk at a comfortable pace is an ideal exercise for most people. However, since walking is less vigorous, we should try to do it for at least 40 minutes at a time. Other activities such as bicycling are also excellent as long as they are done on a regular basis — preferably every day, but at least three times a week.

Sometimes weight control problems can be aggravated by a poor self-image or feelings of inadequacy. Many people are able to lose weight and keep it off once they have worked through these barriers and are able to envision themselves as having their ideal weight and deserving of being attractive. If you feel that your weight problem might have deep-seated emotional roots, consider appropriate avenues to resolve the problem. Another common problem is having an unrealistic goal, or striving to have a body shape that is impossible to achieve with your genetic makeup. It is important to accept your basic body shape and realize that it is not normal nor possible for most people to look like a fashion model. Your weight-loss goals should be realistic and based upon what is normal for your body type.

There are foods we can eat and foods we can avoid to help us in our quest for “girth control.” Foods that are high in fats, such as fried foods, “junk foods,” most processed foods, and many meats and dairy products, slow down the metabolism making it harder for us to control our weight. Remember, “fat goes to fat.”

Lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and whole grains have the opposite effect, helping to increase the metabolic rate. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains also have the added benefit of being high in fiber which helps us feel “full” sooner so we have a tendency to eat less. Most Americans need to eat far more fruits and vegetables and far fewer of the fatty fried foods. It will also be a great help if we will get into the habit of choosing healthier snacks. Instead of the usual cookies or chips, choose raw carrots or celery instead; or have an apple instead of the dessert before bedtime.

Nutritional supplementation can be a great aid for people seeking to control their weight, especially for those who are properly cleansing, exercising, watching the kinds of foods they eat, and who have realistic weight-loss goals. Following are the supplements I have found to be most beneficial: Everyone, especially those who are trying to lose weight, should take a good-quality daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement like Super Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals. This will insure that your body gets the basic nutrition it needs to maintain health. It will also reduce the cravings often associated with an unbalanced or incomplete diet.

We have already discussed the importance of fiber. Since nearly all of us do not get enough fiber in the diet, fiber supplementation can be one of the most healthful things that we can do for ourselves and is a key to successful weight loss and management. As we saw earlier, fiber not only helps us feel “full,” it binds with some of the fats in our digestive tract helping carry them out of the body without being absorbed. Fiber also helps us better regulate blood sugar levels and clear old material out of the colon. Both of these can give us more energy, increasing our activity level and helping us burn more calories. One fiber supplement in particular, Fat Grabbers, is an ideal blend designed to “grab the fat” so it is passed out of the body before being absorbed.

I consider the above two supplements, along with cleansing, to be an essential part of any effective weight loss program. In addition to these, some people may choose to add other herbal supplements, such as the popular “fat burners” that I will discuss below. First let me emphasize that these should only be used as part of a balanced weight loss program paying attention to all five of the fundamentals of weight management: Cleansing, Leisure, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition. If these fundamentals are ignored, results are likely to be temporary. You will probably put the weight back on.

Another “fat burning” herb is Garcinia, which is indigenous to Thailand and India. It is a popular condiment used in many foods prepared in those countries. Studies report that garcinia inhibits the body’s ability to turn excess carbohydrates into fats. It enables the liver to more effectively produce glucose which is used for energy. This process may result in decreased hunger and increased energy. Furthermore, garcinia can be taken by individuals in whom ma huang is contraindicated, including those with high blood pressure. Garcinia is the key ingredient in Garcinia Combination.

Finally, although it is not an herb, hydrolyzed collagen, the fibrous protein in bones, tendons, and connective tissues is considered by many to be a “fat burner.” Hydrolyzed collagen contains high concentrations of the amino acids, arginine, proline and glycine. When taken at bedtime on an empty stomach, it strengthens lean muscle tissue and stimulates the burning of fat. It also supports the integrity of the joints, skin and connective tissues and is an excellent supplement for those suffering from osteoarthritis or similar conditions. Hydrolyzed collagen is the key ingredient in a product known as Collatrim.

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States, with one in five Americans currently considered obese. Starvation diets and fad supplements are contributing to the problem rather than helping it. Effective and lasting weight loss comes only when we consider the five fundamentals of weight loss, which are also the five fundamentals of health: Cleansing, Leisure (Sleep), Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition.

If like many people you are working diligently on the five fundamentals and still need help, excellent nutritional supplements are available that may benefit you. With the prudent use of supplements as part of a balanced program, you may be able to reach and maintain your desired weight for life.

Wishing you the best of health, Dr. Duane Weed

Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Check with your health professional before beginning any weight-loss or exercise program if you suffer from a medical condition or take prescription drugs.

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