Dr. Nedic discusses the key factors that hinder weight loss…
Weight Wars: Why women can’t shed their excess baggage
While some women consider themselves fit and healthy (as they eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly), they still however cannot shake off the extra 5-7kg’s they carry. In this case, it’s advisable that they take a closer look at possible underlying health issues as to why they cannot lose weight. This is usually neglected – even when they are examined by professionals or receiving help from nutritionists.
In their quest to lose the excess flab, women most commonly try popular diets they’ve heard about via “word of mouth” – or follow recommended life-style changes and supplements that are suggested in various health related literature. In these cases, personalised assessment is missing. The following issues are the most common reasons why women struggle to shed the extra weight (stubborn fat) situated in her saddle bags, love handles, abdominal areas, bra bulge, etc.
An Estrogen Dominant State (altered estrogen/ progesterone ratio)
- Main reasons for estrogen dominance are influenced by environmental factors. POPS (persistent organic pollutants) such as pesticides, plastics, industrial waste products, car exhaust, meat, soaps, furniture and carpet, herbicide, nonorganic make-up and even the contraceptive pill, etc. Dubbed xenoestrogens (as they interact within your body); your own estrogens use the same metabolic pathway for detoxification – as well as the same receptors as your own estrogen.
- Peri-menopausal years are often estrogen dominant, and this is when women notice the in-ability to lose weight. Stress is another reason for estrogen dominance, as our organisms shift steroids into the production of excess cortisol.
Diet, environmental avoidance of xenoestrogens and taking supplements can boost your progesterone, while decreasing estrogen dominance – but more importantly, it needs to be documented in your blood results and clinical symptoms. Only then can it be treated by a medical practitioner.
Lack of Vitamin D Production
of the dangers of the sun (and hence wearing more sun block), our levels of Vitamin D are lower than they were decades ago. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in our bodies, and deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance, low immunity, allergies, asthma, weight gain, fatigue, food allergies and even cancer, (especially breast cancer). Vitamin D levels are found extremely low in about 80% of the South African population – and can be tested by your healthcare provider and supplemented according to your blood levels. Self-medication of Vitamin D is dangerous and should not be performed by an individual.
Insulin resistance is almost inevitably accompanied by abdominal obesity, which is almost impossible to remove with any kind of exercise and diet (unless it’s diagnosed and treated as insulin resistance). This condition is associated with visceral obesity (fat between the internal organs) which is metabolically active. A popular belief is that you will “remove” this abdominal fat by doing hundreds of sit-ups and stomach crunches.
Unfortunately though, no amount of stomach exercises will work in the case of insulin resistance. Self-medication with supplements (which claim to cure this condition) can also be dangerous. The reason? Insulin resistance can lead to a whole host of serious medical conditions such as: cardio-metabolic syndrome; heart attack; diabetes type-2; polycystic ovarian syndrome; sleep apnea and depression.
The Presence of High Cortisol.
A high level of cortisol (our “stress hormone”) is another big reason why we tend to keep the weight in our abdominal area. If you feel like you need to be on a caffeine drip at all times, it means you’re experiencing many highs and lows – with cortisol being the main culprit. Cortisol is linked with increased appetite, cravings for sugar and weight gain – and is associated with increased glucose release necessary for “fight or fight” response. Unwinding daily is recommended, with indulging in one of the following activities: yoga, meditation, acupuncture, walking your dog, having a long bath (even if only for 10 minutes a day) to decrease your cortisol level. Checking saliva cortisol, followed by treatment with the appropriate supplement can also assist. This is important as not only weight gain is associated with cortisol – but cancer and autoimmune diseases as well.
Consumption of Processed Food Labeled as “Healthy”
Excess sodium, GMO’s and sugar are all hidden ingredients which are inflammatory and the cause of excess weight gain. Just because the food is available at a health food store and is labeled “gluten free”, “low fat” or “natural”, DOES NOT mean that it’s good for you. It can also contain high sugar content or preservatives. Packaging with the words “natural” and “healthy” are very misleading. If in doubt, use organic fruit and vegetables (preferably of different colors) and organic eggs, free-range chicken and fish. All food should be low-glycemic.
Symptoms of Sub-Clinical Hypothyroidism
A low production of thyroid hormones is inevitable in the ageing process.
Women often mention that as they age, they notice their metabolism is sluggish – and thus excess weight is gained. This is usually accompanied by a variety of symptoms, such as hair loss, swollen eyelids, constipation, morning tiredness (that improves after movement), cold feet and hands, etc. This is also being experienced in the younger population due to the newly recognised thyroid resistance. However, once conventionally examined, thyroid blood tests can be considered “normal” – even despite these symptoms. Sub-clinical hypothyroidism can also be attributed to the inability to shed excess weight… but this needs to be addressed by an integrative, functional, medicine-trained medical practitioner who will check the optimal values of the thyroid hormones.