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General characteristics

General characteristics

Obesity is used to describe the individual who is overweight and has a high degree of body fat. This is often measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI) which calculates the proportion of body fat according to age, sex, weight and height of an individual. The measurement of the waist and the hips are also taken into account.

Obesity occurs when more calories are consumed than are burned off during activities and exercise. It has various contributory factors, the most common being overeating, poor dietary choices and lack of exercise but others include a lack of beneficial bacteria in the bowel, poor digestion, under-active thyroid, polycystic ovaries, excessive oestrogen, Cushing's disease, certain prescription drugs (such as steroids and antidepressants), insomnia, ageing, prolonged stress, chronic dehydration and also environmental toxins (such as pesticides and many other 'hormone disruptors' like Biphosphenol A or BPA, that actively encourage the production of fat cells).

According to the principles of Chinese medicine, excessive sweetness in the diet (such as from sugar and carbohydrates) damages the kidneys and leads to premature ageing.

Long term obesity can cause many other disease states as added weight complicates health and fat cells themselves secrete chemicals that, in excess, are harmful to general health. Complications arising from obesity include poor circulation, high blood pressure, blood clots and cardiovascular disease, breathlessness, fatigue, depression, diabetes, fatty liver disease, water retention, arthritis and other joint problems (due to excess weight and degeneration of the joints), cancers, depression and low self esteem, gallstones and asthma.

Natural healing solutions are to make sure the elimination channels are working. The bowel must not be allowed to get constipated as wastes in the system will only add to the problem. The body must move regularly to encourage blood flow, cardiovascular fitness and calorie burning. Herbal cleanses and diet changes will be needed as well as treating any underlying contributory factor such as adrenal gland imbalance or hormone problems.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Generally, good advice is to eat fewer carbohydrates and more fat and protein.

A commonly promoted belief is that eating excess fat causes a person to become fat. Fat (unprocessed and unadulterated fat such as in cold pressed coconut oil, organic meat and dairy etc) is absolutely essential to life and for the healthy functioning of the nervous system and metabolism generally. When good quality fat is low or absent in the diet, the liver begins to convert stored sugars into fat that become stuck in the liver causing a condition known as fatty liver. Over time, this can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and many other health problems, obesity being one of them. Good quality dietary fat effectively regulates blood sugar, metabolism, appetite (fat fills you up quickly and for longer than carbs) and cholesterol levels. Avoid all processed fats such as (trans or hydrogenated fats) those added to processed foods like margarine and low or reduced fat foods, fats that have already been cooked such as in ready made baked foods like pasties, pies etc. Use oils for heating/cooking very sparingly, even plant oils.

Good and positively useful fats and oils include coconut oil and milk, olives and olive oil (raw), nuts and seeds, organic grass fed meat, poultry, dairy and eggs, wild fish like salmon and trout.

It is carbohydrates - sugars - which are stored as fat in the body when eaten in excess of the body's needs. This is very common in so called developed countries where the average modern diet is extremely high in carbohydrates. A meal high in carbohydrates will cause a sharp rise in blood sugar and, to avoid the dangers of this situation, the body turns the excess sugar into glycogen to be stored in the muscles and liver. When these are full, the excess is stored as fat in the fat cells for more long term needs. If carbohydrates are continuously eaten in excess then body fat stores will increase accordingly. A meal rich in carbohydrates but low in fat will stimulate the hunger pangs soon after the meal, leading to more and more carbohydrate consumption in order to satiate the hunger.

Fructose (such as in fruit juices and fizzy drinks, anything containing 'High Fructose Corn Syrup' or HFCS) is arguably the most harmful form of sugar. It may taste sweet but it cannot be used by the body as fuel. Instead it goes straight to the liver to be broken down and is turned into various forms of fat and very low density cholesterol.

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables (butternut squash helps reduce body fat), seeds, nuts, organic grass fed beef, other meats, poultry and wild river fish where possible. Obviously grains can be included, particularly in their more natural and nutritional form, such as oats, quinoa, rye, barley, wheat and the like. The grains could be taken in muesli form with dried fruits and nuts and seeds added to make a more balanced meal. Include fruits such as apples daily and any other nutritious fruits such as berries, seeded grapes and citrus (especially grapefruit) as snacks or desserts.

Eat organic vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy as much as possible to avoid the fat promoting properties of pesticides and growth hormones and steroids in non organic meats and animal products.

Eating nuts regularly seems to protect the body from gaining excess weight.

Eat a teaspoon or so daily of organic cold pressed coconut oil which has shown to reduce weight effectively.

Low vitamin D levels are found in many obese people so include oily fish such as swordfish, tuna, salmon and mackerel and smaller amounts in egg yolk and cows liver.

Include plenty of fibre in the diet by leaving skins on vegetables, eating plenty of them and eating whole or lightly milled grains, nuts and seeds and fruits such as apples.

Include fermented foods with cabbage as a main ingredient such as sauerkraut or Korean kimchi (or make your own). It is unclear why but eating even a small portion of these foods daily (a tablespoon full perhaps) helps to reduce body fat.

Eat foods rich in B vitamins.

Avoid or drastically reduce all processed foods where possible, especially those containing processed oils and processed meat products and refined carbohydrates.

Avoid any food or drink containing High Fructose Corn Syrup, including so called 'energy' and sports drinks.

Avoid foods containing mono sodium glutamate (MSG) as this has been shown to increase the likelihood of becoming obese when consumed regularly.

Chew your food thoroughly to ensure maximum digestion.

Try eating smaller meals more often rather than 3 big meals a day and don't eat late into the evening. Remember that the word 'breakfast' evolved due to the fact that our ancestors stopped eating in the early evening and then 'broke fast' the next morning.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Bitter herbs such as dandelion root, artemesia plants (such as wormwood), barberry root, artichoke leaf, gentian, holy thistle and the like can be very helpful as part of a weight loss regime. They help improve digestion and improve elimination from the bowels. Use equal parts of a few of the bitter tinctures and take a teaspoon of the mix in a little water after meals, up to 3 times daily.

Adding a few drops of blue flag tincture to each individual dose of the above formula may help further.

Diuretic herbs will increase the excretion of water from the body via the kidneys and can help if fluid retention accompanies the obesity. Fatty tissue tends to store excess water so losing excess fluid can bring welcome relief. Dandelion leaf is the safest and can be used long term as it does not exhaust the kidneys. Take a teaspoon as a herbal tea 3 times daily. Other diuretic herbs that can be used in tea form include cornsilk, parsley leaf, nettle, chickweed and cleavers (the latter 3 herbs work on cleansing the lymph system also). Combine in equal parts and drink 1 cup in the morning and 1 cup in the afternoon/early evening.

Turmeric along with other herbs such as  garlic, ginger and cinnamon have shown good results in reducing body fat so include in cooking or add a pinch of each to herbal teas.

Kelp, bladderwrack and other seaweeds help to increase metabolism and therefore reduce body fat if an underactive thyroid gland is a factor in obesity. Use sparingly in soups and casseroles or sprinkled dried over meals and for a few weeks at a time only. Watch for signs of over stimulating the thyroid gland such as racing heart, restlessness etc.

Rosemary leaf, sage leaf, raspberry leaf, astragalus root, green tea, fennel seeds, yerba mate tea and bitter melon have all shown to help reduce body fat when coupled with proper eating and regular exercise.

Fenugreek seeds can help with weight loss.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Exercise more regularly. If you exercise regularly and are still putting on weight or cannot shift excess weight, then ask a professional fitness trainer for advise on the kind of exercises you need to do. Some exercise regimes will build more body mass whilst others, such as stamina training, will reduce it.

Re-populate your bowels with friendly and useful bacteria by taking a course of probiotics. Dysbiosis, or an unhealthy ratio of 'bad' to 'good' bacteria is thought to contribute to weight gain.

Take a teaspoon of cider vinegar in water up to 3 times daily with meals.

Avoid the use of antibiotics unless really needed as their overuse has been linked with obesity.

Acupuncture can help with weight reduction.

Avoid using foods and drinks that have been stored in plastics and never cook in plastic. BPA is a suspected hormone disruptor (or hormone 'modifier' as the plastics industry prefer) that has long been suspected of increasing the production of fat cells, especially abdominal fat cells. Even the lining of some tins, plastic cups and cutlery etc will leak tiny amounts into the body.

Try taking a capsule of activated charcoal powder, or half a teaspoon of powder in water, between meals (2 hours before/after) as it can help to bind and dispose of harmful chemicals that may be stored in fat cells when you are losing weight.

Chelation therapy is a technique aimed at de-toxifying the body of harmful man made additives such as heavy metals, pesticide and hormone disrupting chemicals. These substances are often stored in fat cells and can make a person feel quite unwell when attempting to loose weight, as they are released from the fat cells into the bloodstream.

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