Difficulty maintaining or achieving an ideal body weight is an increasingly common complaint.
We are led to believe that weight loss is a simple case of eating less and exercising more. The balance of calories we consume versus calories we burn is important, but it’s affected by many other factors. Even when we seem to be doing everything right on paper, sometimes the pounds just won’t budge.
So what could it be that’s hindering our weight loss efforts?
One of the most common culprits is reduced thyroid activity. The thyroid gland is responsible for running our metabolism. If it’s not producing enough thyroid hormones or they’re not working properly our metabolism can slow making it difficult to lose weight
Female hormone imbalances can also be a factor. An excess of oestrogen can cause women to store more fat in areas such as the thighs, hips and buttocks. Oestrogen levels can become imbalanced for lots of different reasons including stress, poor diet, poor liver functions, constipation and use of hormonal medications.
Stress can also be responsible for difficulty losing weight directly. During long-term stress, high levels of the hormone cortisol can contribute to cravings for salty, fatty and sweet foods and a tendency to gaining weight around the middle.
Another common factor in central weight gain is insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that helps cells to use sugar. If we eat sweet things or processed foods too often our cells can become resistant to the effect of insulin. This results in sugar levels in the blood rising and in sugar being more likely to be stored as fat.
Even though calories are important, the calories in an apple affect the body very differently to the calories in a candy bar! The quality of types of food you eat can affect your metabolism, blood sugar and hormones, influencing your body weight.
Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is also important. Deficiencies can compromise metabolism either directly or by affecting other things that influence body weight.
Eating foods that your sensitive to can also make losing weight hard. When foods are consumed that we are intolerant too it creates inflammation in the gut. This can interfere with appetite signals triggering craving and compulsive eating. Inflammation can also cause water retention and worsen insulin resistance.
Lots of new research has linked imbalances in friendly bacteria in the gut with changes in body weight. In animals it’s possible to transfer obesity from one animal to another simply by transferring their gut flora. Far from just hitching a ride, the bacteria that live in our intestines affects all sorts of aspects of our biochemistry. Everything from metabolism and fat storage through to appetite can be influenced by our microflora
Liver health and detoxification are also important. The liver is responsible for getting rid of toxins, balancing hormones and assisting with fat burning, along with many other jobs. If it’s overburdened this will have an impact on metabolism and our ability to lose weight.
In functional medicine, we look at the whole person. Taking a thorough case history, and where indicated doing functional tests, can help to identify which of the many imbalances are contributing to your weight. This allows us to develop a personalised and targeted approach that will work for you.
Functional medicine takes out the guesswork. Identifying the hormonal imbalance, dietary issues and digestive imbalances key to restoring your metabolism. Weight management isn’t one size fits all. For maximum results, it needs to be tailored to the individual. That’s why functional medicine gets results where other diets and exercise plans have failed.