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Losing Weight Episode 2 – Diet

by Dr. Randy

whole foods

In a previous article I talked about the metabolic factors involved with difficulty losing weight. Those include factors like thyroid function, leptin, insulin, and other hormonal balance issues that can all make it difficult to lose weight. Those interacting factors can be complicated and require a holistic medical evaluation. Dietary issues, however, are pretty simple. There are some basic principles to maintaining a diet that prevents weight gain.

What to eat

  1. Do not restrict calories. Eating a low calorie diet and skipping meals will just lower your metabolism. That will cause your body to burn less calories, exactly what you don’t want.
  2. Eat relatively low glycemic index foods. Some foods will stimulate more insulin production that encourages a cascade of factors that will store excess fat in your fat cells. Foods with a high glycemic index include, grains (especially wheat), potatoes, tropical fruits or dried fruits that are higher in sugar, and processed products with refined sugar. Eat all of these sparingly.
  3. Eat foods as they grow in nature. That includes fresh fruits and vegetables (raw or cooked), nuts and beans, and animal products (eggs, dairy, chicken, fish). Try to avoid packaged foods that contain with a long list of ingredients.
  4. Don’t avoid fats. Your body needs fats and cholesterol to make hormones. The best fats are butter, coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, avocados, and fish oil supplements. Try to avoid vegetable oils. Remember fats do not make you fat, excess carbohydrates make you fat.

How to eat

  1. Eat protein in the morning.
  2. Eat three meals a day. Don’t skip meals and leave space between meals. Try to avoid snacking on carbohydrates. If your blood sugar gets low and you start to feel tired or light-headed, then eat protein snacks.
  3. Don’t eat late at night. Leave 2-3 hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime. If you eat before sleeping when your metabolism slows down, that food will turn to fat. And often those late night snacks are also high in carbohydrates, making the problem even worse.

Attitudes

  1. Be kind to yourself. If you crave sugar and carbohydrates, there is a reason that needs to be addressed. It may be a problem with glucose metabolism, thyroid dysfunction, or insulin or leptin resistance. There are specific supplement programs that can help all of these issues. Don’t blame yourself for having weak will power.
  2. Be consistent. Establishing good eating habits will reinforce and establish healthy behaviors. Every day that you continue on a program will reinforce your confidence and determination.
  3. Don’t expect quick results. Fad diets and restricted diets will cause loss of fluid retention and some quick weight loss, but you will gain back that weight again and become frustrated. Do not attempt extreme diets (like the ketogenic diet). If you maintain these for a while you may lose weight, but if you go off the diet the rebound effect may leave you with more weight than when you began.
  4. Stay positive. Losing weight is a gradual process. But once you are more healthy and fit, you will feel better and your cravings will decrease.

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Losing Weight (Metabolism)

by Dr. Randy

Losing Weight

Shedding pounds and losing fat is not simple. It requires a holistic view of an individual’s needs. First, let’s dispel the most frustrating myth. Reducing calories will not result in persistent weight loss. Here’s the reason. A reduction in caloric intake gives your body the message that food is scarce. The natural response to this situation is to slow down the metabolism to conserve energy. That is exactly what you don’t want. The slower your metabolism, the harder it is to lose weight. And if you are having trouble losing weight, your metabolism is probably already slow for other reasons.

There are three components necessary to lose weight and remain fit: eat a healthy diet, increase metabolism, and develop a regular exercise program. All three of these components are intimately linked and affect each other. The bottom line is to solve the problem of a slow metabolism and maintain a healthy diet that does not encourage weight gain.

Metabolism

Thyroid hormone

Let’s talk about metabolic issues first. The most common cause of weight gain (besides eating too many carbs) is a medical problem that slows metabolism. Hormone imbalances can contribute to a slow metabolism. The most common of these is low thyroid function. Doctors will do a blood test for thyroid function, but the most common screening tests (TSH and T4) are often normal despite a low thyroid condition. It is important to obtain a full range of thyroid function tests, especially a reverse T3 test and thyroid antibodies. Here’s the issue. T4 is converted to active T3, but it can also be converted to reverse T3, which is inactive. It does this especially when the body is under stress. High levels of reverse T3 indicate a slow metabolism with relatively low active thyroid hormone production. It’s important to get that level as low as possible. If you feel tired and gain weight easily, then low thyroid is a likely culprit, despite a doctor’s assurance that your thyroid hormone (T4) level is normal. Chronic inflammation, infection, and stress can all cause low thyroid function too, and that means a slower metabolism.

The other common metabolic problems associated with weight gain are insulin resistance and leptin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when people eat too many carbohydrates for too long a time. Carbohydrates (sugars) stimulate insulin production, and that triggers storage of sugar in fat cells for energy reserves. But when the body’s cells say they don’t need more sugar, the insulin receptors shut down. This is insulin resistance. Insulin is still produced in response to carbohydrates in the diet, and insulin levels remain high. One effect of elevated insulin levels is an increase in the size of fat cells.

The second problem is leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that increases metabolism and decreases appetite. When the fat cell has enough potential energy storage as fat, leptin tells the brain to stop eating and to increase the use of fat stores for energy use. But as the full fat cells continue to produce leptin, the brain stops listening. That’s leptin resistance. As a result metobolism slows down and we continue to eat, both of which lead to more fat storage.

Other hormonal systems that are out of balance can also slow metabolism. Adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, low cortisol levels, and low sex hormones can all affect metabolic rate. Understanding all of these problems can help determine an appropriate treatment program for weight loss. And all of these medical problems can be treated with specific nutritional supplements and herbs.

Supplements

Taking supplements that suppress appetite and speed up metabolism can be helpful, but addressing the hormonal issues we discussed is a key factor to designing an individualized treatment plan. For example, depleted adrenal or thyroid function will respond to herbs that tonify those glands, as well as supplements that provide building blocks for those hormones. Specific nutrients can help resolve insulin and leptin resistance, including chromium, berberine, zinc, selenium and others. Treating underlying and persistent inflammatory processes with turmeric (curcumin), anti-inflammatory herbal formulas can address the causes of thyroid problems. And immune system disorders including autoimmune thyroid problems can be treated with adaptogens that balance immune function (especially medicinal mushrooms). And of course maintaining adequate vitamin D levels with vitamin D supplementation is essential.

(To be continued)

 

Strengths and Talents in Teens

by Dr. Randy

Teenage girls doing homework

In this article I will focus on personal strengths (and weaknesses) particularly in teens. At this age, it’s important for teens to have an awareness of their personal strengths so that they can choose paths that foster their interests, talents, and areas of expertise. This knowledge will lead to success in school, extracurricular activities, jobs, and future careers.

To identify our strengths, and relative areas of weakness, we can look at specific areas of functions known as intelligences. The theory of multiple intelligences holds that we have different areas of personal talent that we can identify.

Some areas of mental functions seem more natural to us as individuals. These are tasks that we perform better than others. Some people are more proficient at language tasks like reading and writing and crafting words. Others have a special talent for mathematical thinking or for music. And some people are gifted in the realm of physicality, sports, and athletic achievement.

The theory of multiple intelligences has identified at least eight realms of innate talent. Identifying these in ourselves allows us to realize our natural gifts and develop our potential with more careful attention. We can form a path of study and future goals that fit our own natures.  Everyone has some degree of talent in each of the identified areas, but some will be more predominant than others. And many fields of study will tap more than one type of skill. For example, an engineer will need talent in the realm of visual processing as well as mathematical skill.

Language or verbal/linguistic intelligence is highly valued by our culture, as opposed to a village culture or agrarian culture that might place more value in other traits, like physical prowess. We all have an innate ability to learn language. Some of us are more proficient and love to read, appreciating the flow of words and the sound of written language. A gift for language processing will serve people well in many different careers that require writing reports in business or science and of course in the academic realms of literature, linguistics, or the study of foreign languages.

Mathematical and logical intelligence is a natural ability to think in abstract terms about numbers and math. It also includes the areas of logical sequences and programming. Obviously, this is a huge field of study for many people in our highly technological culture, a field that is still blossoming and requiring more and more minds. The world of careers that require math skills includes engineers, teachers, architects, and computer programmers and designers.

Visual-spatial intelligence involves the ability to visualize tasks and the world in three dimensions. Natural fields for individuals with a talent in this realm include art and sculpture, engineering, architecture, and choreography. But a talent for visual processing also leads to an appreciation of the world around us and some of the most profound expressions of human culture.

These three (language, math, and visual processing) may lead to valued careers that have a clear path, but other factors of intelligence have their own important place and contribution.

Musical intelligence is very specific. It has little crossover with other careers. But musical talent is easily overlooked because of lack of opportunity. It may take a perceptive parent to notice and encourage musical ability in a child. And often teens discover their musical interest later in life than some other areas, and begin a musical career with guitar or membership in a musical group without any previous musical training.

Interpersonal intelligence includes the ability to communicate easily with others. It may take the form of a natural empathy or compassion towards others that leads students to pursue the fields of medicine, nursing, psychology, anthropology, religion, or other helping professions. This natural tendency to be social and interactive with a group of friends or a larger community can be very fulfilling, and the natural desire to be involved with others can translate into rewarding careers.

Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to be self-aware and introspective, mindful of what our minds are doing, our thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. Anyone will benefit from the ability to kiow themselves. But those with a special interest or skills in this area may gravitate to the fields of philosophy, religion, and therapy as professions.

Kinesthetic or motor intelligence includes abilities in physicality, sports, connection to the body in space. Many people feel most comfortable learning by doing rather than by thinking. Athletes have a strong motor intelligence. Fields where this skill is especially important include athletic coaching, physical therapies, work with horses, mechanics, gardening, farming, and careers in the world of sports.

Naturalistic intelligence is a connection to the natural world. Astronomers, biologists, zoologists, botanists, explorers, nature photographers, hikers, outdoor guides, camp leaders, and park rangers all have a passion for the outdoors and nature, and for understanding our interconnectedness with the natural world. And of course the real

Everyone has all of these traits, talents, and intelligences. Some are much more innately present and some are developed over a lifetime because of interests, environment, encouragement, and training. We all have strengths in particular areas, and these need to be recognized and fostered because we are happier and more fulfilled when doing those things that feel closer to our hearts and passions.

 

 

 

The Flu is Here

by Dr. Randy

Father Checking Son's Forehead for Fever ca. 2003

A significant flu epidemic has arrived again this winter. It is characterized by fevers, chills, stomach symptoms including vomiting, and a cough that can become severe and persistent. If you need help managing the different stages of the flu or finding the right homeopathic medicine for your symptoms, I am happy to consult by phone.

The first thing to consider about this flu is prevention. The flu vaccine has once again proven to be ineffective. Instead fortify your immune system with daily vitamin D and elderberry, and consider taking a medicinal mushroom formula. Using a xylitol nasal spray (Xlear) can prevent viruses from multiplying in the nasal membranes if you are exposed.

Then keep a Chinese herbal antiviral formula on hand to treat any symptoms that arise. Any Yin Chiao formula is good, (including Lonicera “honesuckle” and Forsythia). Many manufacturers produce these, for example Cold Away tablets or Yin Chiao junior liquid by Health Concerns, Children’s Clear and Release liquid by Golden Flower, and other formulations. Another Chinese herbal formula for flu is Gan Mao Ling. Use these at any onset of colds or fevers.

A western herbal formula of Echinacea and elderberry can be used at the same time. Examples of these are Wellness Formula by Source Naturals or Viracid by OrthoMolecular.

Finally, treat all flus with the appropriate homeopathic medicine as well.

The two most frequently indicated homeopathic flu medicines over the past 100 years have been Gelsemium and Bryonia. There are significant differences in the symptom pictures of these two medicines that make it easy to decide which is the better fit. They are not the only medicines used to treat the flu, but between them they will probably fit the majority of cases.

Bryonia and Gelsemium type flus both come on slowly over a 6-12 hour period. You begin to feel gradually worse over that time. By the second day you have aching muscles, feel pretty bad, and usually have a headache. Bryonia has more pain in the front of the head, which is definitely made worse by moving the head, or moving the eyes, and feels better from pressing the hand on the head. Gelsemium has pain in the back of the head with stiffness and aching in the neck and across the shoulders. Gelsemium does not want to move much either, and you may feel worse from moving around, but you avoid movement primarily because you are so tired. The characteristic state of Gelsemium is lethargy and fatigue. By contrast, Bryonia is tired but also restless. Bryonia discomfort is worse from motion, but at the same time you feel the urge to move about restlessly in the bed. No position seems comfortable. Bryonia is thirsty, Gelsemium is not. In fact Bryonia is generally warmer and drier. Bryonia wants air and cool temperatures to calm the heat. Gelsemium is chilly and sensitive to cold; cold shivers go down the spine. At the same time Gelsemium is clammy with the fever, and feelings of heat and cold may alternate. Bryonia has more coughing and chest symptoms, a painful cough that aggravates the sore throat. The Bryonia cough will also cause chest pains, and the inevitable reaction to this situation is to press the palm to the chest to minimize the movement caused by coughing.

Gelsemium does not have the energy to be emotional. Bryonia is irritable, worried, and fretful. Bryonia wants to be left alone, Gelsemium is too exhausted to respond.

Contrasting Gelsemium and Bryonia

Gelsemium                                    Bryonia

Chilly with chills down spine      Warm with desire for cool air

Thirstless                                        Thirsty

Dull, sleepy, heavy                        Dull, but irritable, worried

Worse from movement                All symptoms worse from movement, but restless

Headache at back of head,          Headache in forehead, better from pressure, worse motion

with stiff neck

 

New Year’s Resolve

by Dr. Randy

Many of us take time to set some resolutions for the coming year. Resolutions are always well-intentioned. At this time of year we may have the opportunity to reflect on our lives, and resolve to do some things differently. Or we may seek to begin some new directions and forge new paths. Whether we keep these resolutions during the year or not, this kind of reflection itself is beneficial.

In general, resolutions have something to do with changing ourselves, becoming a better person – an admirable pursuit. This may take the form of activities that improve our health, eating better, losing weight, getting more exercise, or resolving health problems.  Or resolutions may involve improving our mental well-being, getting out into nature, meditating, reading a book, or studying more. Or they may relate to how we interact with other people in our lives. We may wish to act more kindly, or express more concern and care for others.

Resolutions can arise from self-reflection, self-criticism, or even self-compassion. We all have a tendency to be hard on ourselves (and others). We may want to also consider self-acceptance. Everyone is actually trying their best. We can always muster greater effort, but in the spirit of kindness we may want to also consider what a good job we do. In the midst of resolutions, don’t forget to give yourself credit for your accomplishments and admirable qualities. Just the fact that you want to make a resolution says a lot about your good intentions.

The year ahead will undoubtedly contain opportunities to apply our resolutions and also contain challenges for us to face and overcome. Our resolve will help us face those challenges.

One way to help maintain our resolve is to set an intention for the day. Ask yourself, What is it that I highly value? What do I wish for myself, my loved ones, and the world? Take a few deep breaths and spend a moment thinking about these questions in the morning or during the workday. Then at night review them as well. Just asking these questions can help to maintain your resolve.