Insulin resistance is a common condition that affects 1 in 3 Americans and frequently results in type 2 Diabetes.
What food we consume is converted into its simplest form. The most common element in our diet is fats and carbohydrates, also called sugars. Dietary sugars are converted into energy with the aid of insulin.
Nutrients in our body are present in a delicate balance; anything that upsets this balance can cause the body to react in ways that contribute to ill health. When we eat and drink too much sugar, our body begins to lose the ability to respond to the insulin in our blood. The pancreas produces more insulin in an effort to lower blood sugar levels, but as insulin resistance increases, a vicious loop is set up that, over time, can cause dangerously high blood sugar and blood insulin levels.
Insulin resistance leads to less processing of sugars, which contributes to weight gain through belly fat deposits. Additional sugar in the blood that cannot be used as energy is deposited as belly fat. This leads to the formation of subcutaneous fat deposits that, over time, can become hardened fatty tissue.
The feelings of hunger and satiation are governed by two hormones, leptin and ghrelin. These hormones regulate how satisfied we feel after eating and how intensely we crave food. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce too much leptin, which tells your body that you don’t feel full and should eat more. It’s a downward spiral! Below we explore how various dysfunction of organs can cause hormone imbalance.
Your thyroid controls your metabolism, which controls how quickly you burn calories. Maintaining your weight when your thyroid is underperforming can be challenging since it can lead to fluid retention, weight gain, constipation, and other problems. The statistics are startling: in the US, 5 out of every 100 persons have poor thyroid function.
Having too much estrogen compared to progesterone can cause many unfavourable symptoms in the body.
Stress is also a significant contributing factor to weight gain and stubborn weight loss resistance. But first, we need to understand the relationship between stress and weight gain.
Our adrenal glands are responsible for maintaining stress levels within the body along with water retention and metabolism. Adrenal glands produce two main hormones:
Its primary function is to control the body’s water and salt balance, which impacts blood pressure.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that raises blood sugar levels (glucose), improves how well your brain uses it and increases the number of compounds that can be used to repair cells. Additionally, cortisol suppresses bodily processes that, in a fight-or-flight scenario, would be unnecessary or detrimental.
Excess stress can cause the overproduction of cortisol. Your body experiences a rush of energy due to cortisol stimulating your fat and carbohydrate metabolism. While necessary for survival conditions, this procedure also makes you more hungry. In addition, high cortisol levels can make you crave salty, fatty, and sweet foods. Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to fluctuate drastically, which promotes weight gain and water retention.
Genetics has a significant role in weight gain and a predisposition towards gaining excess weight. Family history and genetic testing may offer some answers for those who have tried everything to keep the weight off and have faced minimal success.
Many researchers have been focussed on the FTO gene, also known as the human fat-mass and obesity-linked gene. It affects the satiation hormones leptin, ghrelin, and adiponectin (which regulate glucose levels). Other genes also influence how our bodies metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.
Weight management is greatly influenced by genes that affect stress, especially if you are a stress eater. These genes affect the reward circuits, which may change how you utilize food as a reward.
Functional medicine explores all facets of possible disease causation, which includes testing for potential toxin build-up. Toxins are present nearly everywhere in the modern world, from preservatives and fertilizers in food production to auxiliary chemicals in medicines. These toxins have eventually found their way into our environment, gradually building up to toxic concentrations.
Because environmental toxins are documented to be harmful, our bodies must shield us from them by “walling them off” in a layer of fat. We need more fat cells to store toxins as our body produces more. Eliminate those toxins, and perhaps the extra weight will follow.
Other concerns besides the current exposure to poisons like heavy metals and pesticides exist. Microplastics have recently made their way into the food-water chain; these are microscopic particles of plastic left over from plastic and cloth processing.
Microplastics have been found in the placentas of certain women, and research indicates that even early-life exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a component in most conventional plastics, can increase fat levels. Therefore, the link between weight gain and microplastic contamination is valid.
The takeaway is this: the weight loss journey is not as black and white as conventional medicine and methods dictate. While embarking on a weight loss regime, some nuances need to be considered, and that is exactly what functional medicine does. At Mar360 Wellness, we take an integrated approach to addressing the underlying processes that cause stubborn weight gain in the first place.
Are you considering getting off the diet and fluctuating weight roller coaster? Make a call to us! Your genes, thyroid, stress response, insulin, and toxin load can all be evaluated. Together, we may create a personalized treatment plan that includes
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