Overweight and Obesity

Many patients are attracted to our programs for weight management in addition to obtaining better health and energy. Either being overweight or obese are risk factors for heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. In addition, subcutaneous fat (pinchable) is also associated with hormone disorders and increased risk for cancers (thirteen at last count).  Visceral fat (inside the abdomen) is associated with inflammation and chronic disease.

Some people have given up on their weight, frustrated into thinking that their weight problem is due to their genetics and untreatable.  Over 75% of Americans are overweight or obese, and this is only a recent phenomenon.  The fact is that over the last 2 decades a whole new branch of medicine known as genomics has emerged, which has taught us that, with few exceptions, our lifestyle and especially the food we eat, plays with our DNA like a piano, turning genes (enzymes etc.) on and off.  People trying to lose weight and finding they are on a plateau may find several medical problems that may be playing a significant role, and once rectified, weight loss continues.

A recent study done in Southern California looked at life expectancy and zip codes and found that they varied from 53 years to 73 years. They suggested that zip codes may have more impact on your health than your genetic code.

Factors that may impair weight loss attempts include: sleep apnea, estrogen dominance in women, leptin resistance and an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the intestines (known as dysbiosis).  All four of these can easily be assessed in our clinic and treated.

Sleep apnea is discussed in more detail under its own section on this site, but in the context of weight loss, it is a huge player.  When a person stops breathing at night, a huge tornado erupts in their metabolism known as “fight or flight.”  This is a reaction to real or perceived danger to the body and takes control over your metabolism as if it declared Martial Law by releasing adrenaline and increasing the person’s heart rates (can lead to heart arrhythmias), increasing blood pressure, redistributing blood flow from the intestines to the muscles (leading to intestinal distress like heartburn, bloating, dysbiosis, and irritable bowel syndrome), causing night sweats and arousing the brain out of the deeper restorative phases of sleep, which results in fatigue.  Adrenaline’s sister hormone, called cortisol, releases fuel that is stored during the day for emergencies, resulting in elevated sugars and cholesterol.  The problem here is that we are not burning off these fuels because we are not fighting or running – we are sleeping!  Instead, the fuel is sent into the abdomen as visceral fat by a third hormone called insulin.  This cycle is repeated in some people hundreds of times a night.  We are presently studying the impact of apnea on weight loss and metabolism with the aim of publishing our observation that people with sleep apnea struggle when trying to lose weight, if not treated, often any weight they have lost springs right back when they release their dietary reins.

In a woman’s life, the last few years before natural menopause, progesterone falls off and estrogens increase.  Estrogen stimulates the growth of several tissues including breasts (cancer), uterus (cancer) and fat.  This phase in a women’s life is often associated with an 8 to 10 lb. weight gain per year, especially in the thighs and buttocks.  Alternatively, women placed on estrogen alone after surgical menopause experience similar weight gains.  Progesterone taken in natural form prevents these growth effects of estrogen.