Weight and Nutrition Management

Weight and Nutrition Management

Practitioners: Alison Mitchell

The Naturopathic Approach to Weight Loss

It is well known that the most effective method of losing weight is exercise and diet. However there are an overwhelming amount of diets available that are often contradicting and confusing, and often ineffective.

A good weight loss diet should aim to increase your metabolism which can help to prevent weight gain occuring after the diet has stopped. To do this, one must ensure that they maintain/increase their muscle mass and address any internal barriers to weight loss.

Dealing with Internal Barriers to Weight Loss

Insulin resistance
Insulin resistance, also known as Syndrome X is a metabolic disorder which affects insulin and blood sugar level metabolism. In individuals with insulin resistance your body cells’ insulin receptors have become resistant, which leads to high levels of circulating insulin. If left unmanaged, this syndrome can develop into diabetes.

People with insulin resistance tend to carry weight around the abdomen (visceral fat).

Insulin resistance makes it very difficult for you to lose weight successfully. The best way to tackle insulin resistance is a combination of exercise, diet modification and nutritional supplementation.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a very common condition in women and presents with several symptoms such as excess hair growth (hirsuitism), acne, irregular periods, and difficulty losing weight. This condition is usually caused by a combination of insulin resistance, excess androgens and low levels of progesterone.

Naturopathic treatment can help to treat PCOS by regulating hormone levels and treating insulin resistance. Once the insulin resistance and hormonal levels are improved, weight loss can occur more easily.

Oestrogen Dominance
High levels of the hormone oestrogen can cause several health complaints such as endometriosis, breast tenderness, pre-menstrual syndrome and period pain, however it can affect your weight. Excessive oestrogen encourages fat and cellulite deposition around the highs, thighs and buttocks. In women with oestrogen dominance, herbs and nutrients that boost progesterone and support liver function can help fat loss to occur more effectively from areas that you want, instead of the face and breast area (which women usually don’t want to lose).

Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid imbalance can strongly affect metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight. People with an underactive thyroid may experience weight gain, fluid retention, bloating, fatigue, low body temperature, hair loss, dry skin, constipation and muscle weakness. An overactive thyroid usually causes weight loss, oily skin and an increase in irritability. In some cases the symptoms can be the opposite.

Thyroid imbalance is very common in post-menopausal women and often goes unnoticed. A blood test by your doctor can assess your thyroid levels. If you have an imbalance in your thyroid function, consult a naturopath for a treatment plan to correct its functioning.

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.

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 still 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.

If you are struggling to lose weight with the normal methods, it may be that you have an internal barrier to weight loss. There are several hormonal and chemical issues that can stop you from losing weight more effectively.

If you believe that you have an internal barrier to weight loss, consult a naturopath for an individualised treatment plan to help you lose weight more effectively.

Where do I start?
In the initial naturopathic consultation your weight loss goals, diet and case history will be discussed. A bio-impedance analysis test and a urinary indican test will be performed and you may be referred for certain blood tests.

After reviewing the results of this test a weight loss and treatment program will be formulated for you that aims to:

  1. Switch on the body's natural ability to burn fat
  2. Address any internal barriers to weight loss
  3. Balance body composition
  4. Gain a greater understanding of nutrition
  5. Increase your metabolism, therefore helping to prevent the weight you lose over this period from returning.
The frequency of consultations will depend on your needs. Most commonly follow-up consultations are spaced every 3-4 weeks. In these appointments your weight loss will be tracked using the bio-impedance analysis testing and any difficulties you are experiencing can be dealt with.

After your goal weight has been reached you will be eased into a 'transition' diet which helps your body to reset it's normal body weight- this is very important in preventing all that weight from returning.

Health Care Rebates
Private health care provides rebates on naturopathic consultations (does not include supplements).
For extra information on health care rebates click here.

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