Weight Loss - Part 1
What Experts Suggest
There is one precept in weight reduction to which most experts seem to agree: crush diets do not work. They lead to slower metabolic rate and fat depositing in tissues, which are part of an evolutionary adaptation to intermittent starvation. They also cause other physiological disruptions that occur from nutrient deficiency.
Diuretics in excess, causing serious salt and potassium imbalance, can be simply fatal. A lack of any important nutrient in the diet, sooner or later will cause health problems. In his book Omega-3 Oils - A Practical Guide, Dr. Donald Rudin M.D. describes the case of a woman who became schizophrenic at age 17, as she grew totally depleted of Omega-3 fatty acids following several crush diets. She spent ten years in various psychiatric wards, before she was treated with this essential nutrient by Dr. Rudin.
Rapid weight loss from a diet too low in fat and calories, as explained by Jean Carper in her book Food-Your Miracle Medicine, may lead to the formation of gallstones (in 50 percent of cases). Fasting for longer periods may also bring about gallstone attacks, as the liver needs a certain amount of fat intake to produce bile and expel gall stones if they form.
The Basics of Weight Loss
Caloric restriction is essential for weight loss, however , statistics show that the great majority of people who reduce weight through caloric restriction only, put the weight back within a year.
A rational and effective strategy against excess weight entails a holistic approach, enhancing the metabolic rate, and those organs which turn food into energy.
The organs primarily involved in fat and sugar metabolism are the liver and the pancreas, however the chief executives are the hormones. Thus it is obvious that, as Linda Rector Page, N.D., Ph.D. writes in her book Herbal Pharmacist, “There are as many different weight loss problems as there are people who have them.”
How to Increase Energy Instead of Fat Deposits
Proper fat handling by the liver and the pancreas is enhanced by a diet which is high in antioxidants, digestive enzymes, a variety of raw foods, low carbohydrate intake, avoidance of rancid fats and the so-called trans fats, and a smaller -- but extremely important -- amount of polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils from fish and vegetable sources) . Some lipid experts recently have attempted to rehabilitate the saturated fats in the diet, however, the reality may be that many people, including even children, do not tolerate these fats well, as they have fatty livers and diminished pancreatic function on account of a diet high in rancid fats, trans fats and excess sugar.
The monounsaturatated fatty acids (in olive and canola oils) seem to be the best bets to date. This type of fats does not oxidize easily, and population and clinical studies have shown its benefits in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD). (For more information about arterial plaque, fat metabolism and antioxidants, please see article “Got Cholesterol ? on this site). The importance of antioxidants cannot be emphasized enough. Biotin, a B vitamin, essential in food digestion, and vitamin C, a primary antioxidant in fat metabolism are not to be missed from one’s diet.
Taurine and organic sulfur (MSM) are two micronutrients that enhance and protect the antioxidant vitamins. A study in
The optimal capacity of the liver is obtained through the presence of liver protecting substances and the so-called lipotropic factors. The pancreas strives on low fat intake, raw foods, and a normal blood sugar level. Raw foods are the only foods that deliver enzymes as these substances are killed in the cooking process. Enzymes are needed in all metabolic processes, not only digestion, and if ingested, the pancreas and the liver are spared the effort of manufacturing them.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) every taste favors an organ and the bitter taste is beneficial to the liver. Too much of one flavor will detriment other organs. All flavors have to be ingested and not one at the expense of the other. In Western medicine, bitter herbs and foods are also known to be good for the liver.
Here is one simple folk test to check if one’s intake of fat is more than the liver and the pancreas can handle: scrub your face thoroughly with a fistful of wet wheat bran until the skin feels completely smooth when rubbed gently with one’s fingers (this is called exfoliation). If too much fat is being ingested and not burned out, in a few days one can feel tiny fatty bumps in various places on the face such as the grove of the chin and the base and top of the nose.
The liver protectors help the liver in its detoxifying role, while the lipotropic factors “hasten the removal or decrease the deposits of fat in the liver through their interaction with fat,” as Cynthia Watson M.D. writes. Watson uses the following lipotropic vitamins and other compounds to treat and prevent liver diseases: choline, methionine (an amino acid) betaine (an enzyme), niacin, cysteine (amino acid) inositol, folic acid and vitamin-B12. Vitamin B-12 sublingually may be the best choice, as this vitamin is not absorbed if the digestion function is imperfect. Vitamin B-12, found primarily in animal protein, is stored in the liver and becomes available when needed. Stress uses it up quickly, and other vitamins and enzymes depend on it. Watson additionally uses cholagogues and choleretics herbs, herbs that enhance the production and excretion of bile and improve sugar metabolism. Perhaps the most researched liver-protecting herb is milk thistle (silybum marianum).
Here are some of the plants cited by Watson to improve and protect liver and gall bladder function: angelica sinensis (by other names: radix angelica sinensis, don kwai, tang-kuei), artemisia capillaris (a bitter herb related to wormwood), bupleurum chinense root, canna indica, curcuma longa (from the spice turmeric), cynara scolimus (the vegetable artichoke), gentiana root/rhizome, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) , lycium chinense, schizandra chinensis, scutellaria baicalensis (skullap), silybum marianum (milk thistle, sometimes called wild artichoke), taraxacum officinale (dandelion root).
These plants were found to help digest fats, improve bile flow, detoxify the liver and even help the liver regenerate after destruction by disease, toxic pharmaceuticals, and environmental pollutants. Fortunately, the liver has very high regeneration capability. In the former
One micronutrient found to assists in turning fats into energy is carnitine. According to Watson, carnitine reverses the condition of fatty liver present in excess alcohol consumption.
In his book Herbal Tonic Therapies, Daniel Mowrey, Ph.D., aloe vera and licorice root “help to maintain the liver, gall bladder, adrenal glands and other organs in good shape…”
Herbs are powerful medicinals and should always be used in moderation. Many herbalists advise the use of the whole herb. Numerous individuals compounds from herbs have been synthesized and proven to have outstanding therapeutic value in themselves, however, one should consider that an herb has dozens of compounds and the historical record of its benefits, is based on the use of the whole herb.
For calorie burning, Rector Page suggests the use of the so called thermogenic herbs,and enzyme therapy. Some of the thermogenic herbs cited by her are: kola nut, white willow bark, kelp and other sea vegetables, nettles, parsley root, sarsaparilla root, Garcinia gambogia. Some authors advise consumers to avoid Ephedra, a well known thermogenic herb.
The item, from the Chinese natural pharmacopeia, may cause high blood pressure and heart troubles. The traditional Chinese folk medicine has a tradition of using herbal compounds rather than individual herbs. In these compounds, herbs are selected to work synergistically and complement each other.
Several studies presented in an overview by Preuss H.G. and his colleagues from Georgetown University found that another thermogenic plant, citrus aurantium (bitter melon), also used by the Chinese, can be as effective in decreasing fat mass as ephedra without the dangers.
Exercise burns fat, yet, according to Durk Pearson a burst of intense exercise is more effective in burning fat than lengthy less intense efforts. Apparently, a 30 seconds burst of maximum effort releases noradrenaline in the body, which speeds up metabolism for several hours.
For suppressing appetite, Rector Page suggests the following: Chickweed, barley grass, spirulina, fenugreek seed, oats, oatstraw, kelp and other sea vegetables, chlorella, fennel seed, alfaalfa, and flax seed.
Besides their antioxidant properties, the phenols and flavonoids in green tea are said to improve metabolism and assist in weight loss.
For sugar craving, please see Part 2 of this article.