Stress and poor sleep
Our adrenal glands make the hormone cortisol in response to stress. Excess levels of cortisol can cause fluid retention, bloating and weight gain around the neck, trunk and abdomen. If stress is severe or prolonged, it can cause chronic elevation of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline and this can result in weight gain.
Some people may get certain food cravings in times of stress, and this can impede weight loss, especially if you are cravings sugary or fatty foods.
If you are experiencing high levels of stress then a treatment program designed to balance the adrenal glands and help improve your ability to cope with stress will help to balance the cortisol levels and also reduce food cravings, therefore improving weight loss.
Poor sleep is a known risk factor for weight gain, can increase appetite and blood sugar metabolism problems.
Certain nutritional deficiencies can cause a reduction in metabolism and reduce your ability to burn fat, in particular Vitamin D.
If the pH (acid-akaline balance) of the body is too acidic, then this can cause problems with weight loss. Ideally our internal pH should be around 6.5 for healthy functioning. pH can be lowered (made acidic) by drinking soft drink or eating acidic foods such as too many grains or meats, or by stress.
If you have a food intolerance and you continue to eat it, this can cause all sorts of problems in the body, due to the way it upsets the immune system, causes stress on the nervous system and increases inflammation.
Most often food intolerances cause digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, or bloating. However food intolerances don’t always express the same way in everyone – some people may get mood swings, headaches, skin problems, immune problems, hormone imbalances, fluid retention or aches and pains as a result of eating it.
Eating foods which you are intolerant to will affect normal functioning in the body and can interfere with weight loss. It can also cause bloating and fluid retention, making your feel larger than you are as well. Most people who cut out food intolerances lose some fat mass after a few weeks.
Gut & Liver Toxicity
There are many toxins present in our environment, and some people can have difficulty detoxifying them normally. When we are presented with more toxins than we can process and eliminate, our body will store them in our fat cells. This presents a problem: our body has put these toxins away for a reason – it cannot cope with them, and therefore it will block weight loss until it can effectively detoxify through the gut and liver.
People with gut and liver toxicity may carry weight in a band around the bottom of their rib cage (Naturopaths refer to this as a ‘liver roll’) and they may also experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, bad breath, stomach upsets and a foggy mind.
A good detoxification program that supports gut, kidney and liver function will allow your body to release these toxins safely. Most people will lose a few kilos just from detoxifying, and find that weight loss can occur much more easily after the detox is finished as well.
How to find out if you have a physical barrier to weight loss:
If you feel like you have one or more of the above issues that is affecting your ability to lose weight, perhaps it’s time to see a naturopath. Blood tests can be done with your doctor or your naturopath (not claimable through Medicare if ordered via naturopath). Other tests can be ordered with your naturopath or performed in person.
– Insulin. This is tested via blood. If your insulin level is 10 or greater this is suggestive of insulin resistance.
– Nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin D deficiency can be identified by a blood test. Your Naturopath may be able to tell you if you are showing signs of mineral or vitamin deficiencies by asking symptoms and with some simple in clinic testing.
– Hormone testing. Hormones can be tested via blood or saliva. Saliva hormone testing is able to identify imbalances more easily than blood, however is more expensive than blood tests which can sometimes be covered by Medicare when ordered by a doctor. Hormone testing can help identify PCOS, Oestrogen dominance and testosterone deficiency in males.
– Thyroid imbalances. TSH, the main thyroid hormone tested in blood tests isn’t always a good indicator or how your thyroid is coping. Your symptoms, a basal body temperature chart and an iodine test can help to put the picture together of whether your thyroid is working as it should.
– Toxicity. The degree of digestive toxicity can be tested by a urine test known as Urinary Indicans (first morning sample only) which is performed by your naturopath. A VLA/bio-impedance analysis can also indicate if there may be toxicity present
– Acidity. This can be measured by a simple urine pH test.
– Food intolerances. These can be identified by an in clinic test called Food Detective via a finger prick, by a blood test in external laboratories, or with an elimination/challenge diet.
– Stress. Stress can be assessed not only by how you feel (evaluated with a questionnaire) and the stressful events that you have been through, but also by testing the function of your adrenal hormones by a saliva test.
Other helpful tests:
– Leptin. This can be tested by a blood test. Altered levels of leptin can cause problems with food cravings, over eating, hunger and difficulty losing weight.
– MTHFR. A cheek swab or blood test can be done to identify if you have this gene present. A blood test to assess for elevated levels of homocysteine could also be done.
– Inflammation. There are some markers that can be measured by a blood test to assess for inflammation. A VLA/bio-impedance analysis can also indicate if there may be inflammation present.