There is an epidemic of preventable illness in our country. Currently, 64.5% of Americans are either obese or overweight (25% of Americans are obese). People are considered to be obese if they are more than 20% of their ideal weight. Ideal weight is determined with the following considerations: height, age, sex and build.
Amazingly, 6 of the top 10 causes of death are directly related to being overweight or obese. This means that almost 71% of all deaths in our country each year are related to a preventable problem. Here are some of the causes of weight gain:
Emotional factors such as guilt, depression, and anxiety.
Slower metabolism, which is normal with aging.
Endocrine disorders including Cushing’s syndrome or polycystic ovary syndrome.
Drugs such as corticosteroids, cyproheptadine, lithium, tranquilizers, phenothiazines, and tricyclic antidepressants.
Medications that increase fluid retention and cause edema (or the abnormal pooling of fluids in the tissues).
Americans have been deceived by food companies, advertisers, and even the government itself through the recommended food pyramid. Beyond this, urban and suburban living subject us to greater time constraints leaving less time for proper food selection and preparation; the technological age has made our tasks easier and our lives more sedentary; stresses of all kinds have increased, changing our internal chemistry and promoting fat storage rather than fat burning; and parents have passed bad habits down to their children – 1 out of 4 children are overweight or obese. You will compete against these and other obstacles as you travel on the road to health.
Having said all this, even with the cultural, social and environmental factors raised against you, you can take responsibility and act for your own good. You have a mind, an opportunity and a will. Use your mind to learn about that which is good and beneficial; use your opportunity to apply what you learn; use your will to act today and tomorrow in the wisdom that you are leading a healthy life.
Truthfully, it is not easy to take back control. You are, as most are, addicted to food. If you don’t believe think so, try avoiding sugar, bread or coffee. Food addictions can have as much power as drugs and alcohol. But the battle is not always uphill. Once you regain control, sometimes within a few weeks, you will not have the same desires you used to. If you make your entire body healthier with nutritional balancing, exercise and detoxification, you will develop a distaste for the sugar-filled foods you once enjoyed.
Healthy Weight Loss It is important to understand that not all weight loss programs are the same. My goal is to teach you to lose weight by building a healthy body. This means overcoming three specific obstacles – what I call metabolic stumbling blocks. This can be done with the information in this book. In some cases professional help is required (see: SECTION I: Health Questionnaire).
Healthy weight loss requires a change in metabolism - the processes within the body by which energy is made available. A healthy metabolism will optimize hormonal levels like insulin and cortisol (an adrenal gland hormone), detoxify unwanted chemicals, produce abundant energy, and burn fat as its primary fuel.
3 Steps to Healthy Weight Loss:
1.) Remove the 3 Metabolic Stumbling Blocks (H.I.T.) A. Hormonal imbalances B. Inflammatory reactions C. Toxic overload 2.) Exercise (see: Exercise) 3.) Diet (see: Diet & Foods)
Goals of Healthy Weight Loss :
1.) Improve overall health A. Maintain or increase muscle mass B. Develop a fat burning metabolism C. Reduce the risk of illness D. Increase energy E. Increase cognitive function (think better) 2.) Look good
Body Mass Index Simply reducing calories in not sufficient when H.I.T. is present and will result in unhealthy weight loss. Reducing calories may cause you to lose weight but it will overburden the body with toxins and promote muscle burning for fuel, leading to a poor Body Mass Index (BMI).
Muscle mass is perhaps the most important factor in determining how healthy we will be in our later years. You can continue to gain muscle mass well into your 60’s. Healthy weight loss means burning fat without losing muscle. 20% of “thin” Americans have an unhealthy body composition. This means that even though they are thin and look fine in their clothes, they have too much fat and not enough muscle. These people are just as likely to suffer from chronic illnesses as someone who is overweight.
There are ways to measure your body mass including, bio-electric impedance testing, waist-to-hip ratio, and skin fold thickness. Your body mass index can also be calculated with the following formula:
Weight ÷ (height)2 x 704.5
A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
Example: if you weighed 140lbs and were 5’2” then your BMI is
(140 ÷ 62*62) x 704.5 =25.7
In this case, 25.7, is just within the overweight range. However, calculating BMI is not always accurate. BMI is based on human averages. Muscular people may not calculate with a good score although their ratio of muscle to fat is quite healthy. Pregnant women will also not calculate a valid score.
Example: Someone who is 6’2” tall and weighs 195 lbs has a BMI of
(195 ÷ 74*74) x 704.5 = 25.1
This number is just inside the overweight range as well. However, this person is far from overweight. In fact, most people may think he is skinny. Your actual number does not matter that much, you can still use these calculations as a guide to judge improvements. If you lose fat and gain muscle your BMI will get lower. As you begin your weight loss program, use the tracking sheets in the back of this book to record your progress.
Metabolic Stumbling Blocks Some people have a very hard time losing weight. Even if their present emotional and lifestyle factors are good the weight just does not come off. Most likely these people are storing fat because of normal metabolic process forced out of control. This can happen because someone has incurred a great deal of stress over a short period of time or more likely, a moderate degree of stress over a long period of time. Both will produce altered metabolic function and potentially lead to weight gain.
Stress can refer to any type of stress: structural, chemical emotional, or environmental. Any of these will produce a chemical reaction within the body that is hormonal, inflammatory or toxic. In fact, any disease you can think of has a hormonal, inflammatory or toxic component – often they have all three. That is why I place such heavy emphasis on these particular stumbling blocks. If you can control H.I.T. you will not only help reduce your weight, you will also overcome illness.
Hormones Hormones are a very complicated set of substances. They are indirectly related to every action that takes place within the body. Hormonal imbalances can produce a number of symptoms including:
Depression / anxiety
Insulin is an important hormone. Imbalances in this hormone can be related to being overweight. Its job is to tell the cell that sugar is available for fuel in the blood stream. Under certain circumstances, this process stops working correctly resulting in a condition called Hyperinsulinemia. Hyperinsulinemia is one part of The Deadly Quartet a.k.a. Insulin Resistance Syndrome. The other parts are abnormal sugar (glucose) metabolism, abnormal fat (lipid) metabolism, and high blood pressure. The state of Hyperinsulinemia is directly related to the ingestion of large amounts of carbohydrates, especially the refined kind (white flour, white sugar, white rice etc.). Hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin), both in the fasting state and in response to glucose load or a meal, appears as one of the first major abnormalities of obesity.
Most obese people eat the same number of calories at meal times as non-obese people. However, obese people tend to snack on carbohydrate foods in the evening, adding an additional 800 calories to their otherwise normal diet. Since it takes approximately 3500 calories to make one pound of fat, eating an additional 800 calories at night could mean gaining 1 pound of body fat every 4 to 5 days, or as much as 90 pounds each year.
When insulin resistance exists, the body attempts to correct itself by secreting more insulin from the pancreas. Eventually, this compensatory action cannot continue and results in the development of Type II, or non-insulin dependent diabetes. It is not clear how insulin resistance contributes to the presence of high blood pressure, but it is clear that the high insulin levels resulting from insulin resistance contribute to abnormalities in blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
High insulin levels from refined food intake are also related to depression, though the mechanisms are not fully understood. A 2002 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center survey of six countries found that those populations with higher per capita refined sugar consumption corresponded with higher rates of depression.
The presence of any of the four factors of Insulin Resistance Syndrome creates a significant risk for chronic illness. In combination or with other risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, high stress, smoking, and genetic predisposition, the risk becomes exponential. For instance, the risk for heart attack is increased 2.5 times when diabetes or high blood pressure is present. When both diabetes and high blood pressure are present, the risk is increased 8 times. An abnormal lipid profile increases the risk 16 times; and when abnormal lipid levels were present with high blood pressure and/or diabetes, the risk for a heart attack increases 20 times.
Inflammation Inflammation is a bodily response to an injury or health condition that is characterized by pain, swelling, and a loss of mobility. The inflammatory process is quite complex and is characterized by (1) vasodilatation (enlargement) of the local blood vessels causing an increase in blood flow, (2) increased permeability of the small blood vessels (capillaries) resulting in large quantities of fluid leaky into the spaces between the tissues and cells, (3) clotting of the fluid in the inflamed area due to the presence of a substance called fibrinogen, (4) migration of large numbers of monocytes and granulocytes (white blood cells that help eliminate the damaged tissue), and (5) swelling of the injured tissue cells. These reactions are the result of chemical substances such as histamine, bradykinin, serotonin, and prostaglandins (see: COMMON CHRONIC CONDITIONS: Pain).
Inflammatory processes can be part of a number of conditions including:
Joint pain (arthritis)
Muscle pain (myositis)
Digestive irregularities (colitis, gastritis)
Auto-immune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis)
Weight loss or gain
When inflammation is present in a tissue for a long period of time another significant reaction can take place on a cellular level called the alarm state. The alarm state alters the normal function within every cell causing fat storage and the breakdown of protein for fuel (catabolism). Unless the alarm state is reversed, losing weight is nearly impossible. I discuss some natural anti-inflammatory substances in my book Choose Health under SECTION III: Health Cabinet.
Toxicity Toxicity is the “T” in H.I.T. and is the most prevalent of the metabolic stumbling blocks. Toxicity is an unhealthy state of toxic buildup. Toxins are found everywhere and can be almost anything. There is little chance of escape. Look at these statistics in the United States for example.
There are currently 400 different pesticides types available for use. 2.5 billion pounds of pesticides are used on croplands, forests, lawns, & fields. 24.6 million tons of antibiotics are fed to livestock. 750,000 dairy cows are injected with growth hormone. Over 80 million acres of genetically engineered crops are presently under cultivation. The long-term effects of these foods are as yet undetermined. Toxic Food These statistics have to do with what happens to food before it is prepared to eat. Food preparation - how it is cooked or processed – may produce toxins. Also, food additives such as monosodium glutamate (msg) may be toxic as well. The average American eats about 125 pounds of additives and 175 pounds of sugar per year.
Foods most contaminated with pesticides:
• Apples • Apricots • Bell peppers • Celery • Chilean grapes • Cucumbers • Green beans • Mexican cantaloupe • Peaches • Spinach • Strawberries • U.S. Cherries Figure XI
Toxic Water The Environmental Protection Agency monitors our drinking water for safe levels of microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfectant by-products, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides. In 2002, approximately 260 millions pounds of chemicals were released into surface waters. Since the EPA measures for safe levels and not merely for the presence of toxic substances, you know that the water you consume is already contaminated to some extent. Any water filter is a good idea.
Toxic Air Air quality has been improving in this country. Despite this positive trend, 170 million tons of air emissions are release into the atmosphere annually. These released agents are more potential toxins that must be processed by the body.
You may have heard the name, “free radicals.” These are chemicals produced under normal circumstances inside a cell every time oxygen is used for energy. The problem is not that they exist, rather that the neutralizing agents, called anti-oxidants, are no longer plentiful. Anti-oxidants can be any of a number of compounds including vitamins and minerals. When the body’s nutritional reserves cannot keep up with demand then damage from free radicals occurs - making even the air you breathe dangerous to your health. The average person breathes 3,400 gallons of air each day. Depending upon your current state of health, even clean air may be a source of harm.
Other Sources Other than the toxic sources from what we eat, drink and breathe, there are also other toxins that we voluntarily ingest such as medications, low quality supplements, birth control pills, recreational and illegal drugs.
Symptoms of Toxicity Toxins accumulate in the body either because of too much exposure, or because the body is not adequately processing and eliminating them. Here are only a few of the symptoms of toxicity:
Toxic Effects Toxins within the body create havoc in a number of ways. Many of the pesticides that are eventually dumped into our rivers have estrogenic effects. This means that they act like estrogen hormones in your body, preventing proper hormonal function and production. They also affect the receptor sites where hormones bind, further altering function. It is believed that these estrogenic compounds are responsible in part for the current explosion in hormone cancers, increased hypothyroidism, early female puberty; low sperm counts in males and the loss of libido of both sexes.
These estrogenic effects take their toll on animals as well. Lake Apopka in Florida, an intensely toxic lake full of pesticides, produced hermaphroditic fish and markedly de-masculinized male alligators. The next generation of alligators born at the lake was 100% female.
Besides affecting hormones, toxins also create inflammation and tissue fatigue. So we see that the metabolic stumbling blocks feed off of one another in a vicious cycle of regressive health.
To get an idea of your current level of toxicity please take the toxicity self test in the back of Dr. Monk's book Choose Health or visit our Toxicity Self Test.
Complicating Factors to Weight Loss As if the metabolic stumbling blocks were not enough, there are other immune system burdens that make weight loss difficult. Dr. Monk always checks patients for food allergies. When present, food allergies can lead to a number of digestive difficulties including leaky gut syndrome – an inflammatory condition of the gut where food and nutrients are not properly absorbed.
Food allergies can be either genetic or acquired. Most likely they are acquired; the result of a long-term bad diet and poor lifestyle factors. There is a direct relationship between the health of the digestive system and the prevalence of food allergies. There is also a direct relationship between the health of the digestive system and the health of the body. Food is the primary agent for microorganisms and poisons that could potentially harm the body. It is therefore not surprising to discover that up to 70% of the immune system is located in the linings of the intestines.
Correcting H.I.T. There are three steps to losing weight: control H.I.T., eat a proper diet, and exercise. Proper diet and exercise will themselves help correct H.I.T. and are discussed in their own respective sections. Beyond that I use a chronic illness protocol (see: Section I, Chronic Illness). This means that I desensitize discovered food allergens, aggressively prescribe healing nutrients, rebalance the body’s structure with hands-on therapies, remove or reduce neuro-emotional complexes, and generally support the patient through this important transformation. In other words, I use a whole person approach.
Therapeutic Supplementation I use a number of different nutritional supplements depending upon the patient’s individual needs. If applicable however, I like to use a product called MediClear® from Thorne Research. It is a rice-based protein powder that contains many agents in highly absorbable forms. On the label it says that it is designed to “reduce inflammation, aid in detoxification, and reduce the effects of allergies”. You can see why I like it. Generally I have the patient start slow (1/2 – 1 scoop at meal time) and increase it from there. The goal is to limit the adverse effects of aggressive detoxification. This will help with compliance and long-term success.