39.6 percent of Americans are obese.
Overall, there are over 100 million obese people in this country. As these numbers continue to climb, experts estimate almost half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030. Obesity doesn’t discriminate among demographics: Studies show we have a global epidemic of obesity in all age groups for both developed and developing countries.
Researchers define obesity as a condition where fat accumulates in the body to become a risk factor or marker for many chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, as well as adversely impacting overall health.
The Conventional Approach to Weight Loss
Obesity presents a real problem, but experts are unsure exactly how to handle this condition. Every year new diet books appear, fad diets or “miracle cures” to melt away fat, the government tells us to not eat dietary fat, and gyms become packed with people determined to lose weight once and for all.
And yet, obesity rates continue to skyrocket.
Healthcare practitioners recognize obesity as a chronic illness with vast and potentially deadly consequences, but many seem at a loss about how to treat this condition. A conventional doctor might offer dietary advice including reducing calories, reducing dietary fat, or eating specific foods. He or she might also suggest increasing physical activity. Many conventional doctors lack the time and knowledge to effectively treat obesity. Seeing a patient for only 10 minutes doesn’t allow much opportunity to educate someone about how to eat healthily. Instead, conventional practitioners often outsource patients to dietitians or other healthcare professionals. They might also suggest a number of over-the-counter or pharmaceutical drugs that address various aspects of weight loss, including suppressing appetite or blocking fat absorption. As obesity rates continue to climb, pharmaceutical companies will likely develop new drugs that address this epidemic. What these drug companies and conventional healthcare practitioners often neglect to ask is why someone becomes obese to begin with.
A Functional Medicine Approach to Weight Loss
Why do obesity statistics continue to increase?
We eat fewer whole foods, more processed and inflammatory foods, and we’re taking in more environmental toxins. Many of us work sedentary jobs and don’t get enough exercise. We’re not eating enough foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics that support gut health.
At Integrative Health Matters, we take a different approach to obesity. We look at the whole person to determine the underlying root cause of you being overweight. Genetics is far from the whole story when it comes to obesity, but if obesity does “run in your family,” we can pinpoint the potential trigger mechanisms using Pure Genomics and target these therapeutically. Every patient is different and our providers take the time to really get to know our patients. We take a full medical history to understand why obesity became a problem, specialized testing is also performed to check for food sensitivities, triggers, heavy metal toxicity, and hormone imbalances. The process takes time and effort, but this comprehensive approach is able to help you reach your weight goal and maintain it and great health for your lifetime.
Losing weight starts with your diet, but lifestyle modifications are also crucial to lose weight and keep it off.
Following these 7 tips can drastically improve your weight as well as your overall health.
- Focus on whole, real, unprocessed foods – Most of your plate should ideally be plant-based foods including non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits like berries and avocado, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The rest should be wild-caught seafood, grass-fed beef, or another high-quality animal protein. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, focus on plant-based proteins including legumes and quinoa.
- Reduce or eliminate sugar and other food sensitivities – Researchers note that we consume up to 152 pounds of sugar each year, and that doesn’t include the starchy foods that convert to sugar in our bodies. It’s important to read food labels and check for added sugars. Food sensitivities including dairy and gluten, which trigger an immune system in overdrive and inflammation, can also keep you overweight or obese. A gluten-free diet with plenty of real, whole foods (not gluten-free junk foods) reduces inflammation, excess weight, and insulin resistance.
- Eat plenty of gut-supporting foods – When your gut microbiome—which consists of trillions of bacteria—becomes imbalanced, all sorts of problems including obesity, leaky gut, and a host of autoimmune diseases can occur. A high-quality probiotic supplement containing billions of microorganisms can really help here.
- Manage inflammation – Overall, we eat too many inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (in foods like vegetable oils and grain-fed beef) and too few anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Inflammation in the body causes a host of health problems. Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods.
- Get Quality Sleep – In our technology-heavy, work-into-late-hours society, sleep sometimes gets the short end of the stick. It’s so important to prioritize sleep. Turn off electronics a few hours before bedtime, find a sleep ritual that helps you unwind, and aim for 8 – 9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Manage stress levels – Our society is one that is highly stressed out. Chronic stress can contribute to obesity for several reasons including stress eating and cortisol contributing to fat storage. You can’t eliminate stress, but you can learn to reduce and manage it with strategies including exercise, meditation, walking, and yoga.
- Plan Ahead – Being prepared is huge when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Simple strategies like prepping ingredients, planning what to take to work for lunch, and stocking up on grocery essentials — are more likely to succeed at losing weight and keeping it off.
Maintaining whole body health is key to weight loss. Diet and stress management can seem overwhelming, but things don’t have to be that way. Combining real food with self-care, and (as needed) professional help, can get you feeling the best you have in years!
We’d love to partner with you in your pursuit of whole health, weight loss, and finally feeling better.