Practitioners can help advise their patients about effective ways to lose and manage their weight.
For many people, losing and keeping their weight at a healthy level is one of life’s most daunting challenges. Despite a healthy lifestyle movement sweeping the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 70 percent of American adults 20 and over are overweight, which includes the 20 percent of all adults who are obese. Perhaps more startling is that more than 20 percent of children and adolescents between the ages of 12-19 fall into the obese category.
When that many adults and children are considered to be obese, it is no wonder that many experts agree that obesity is an epidemic.
Obesity is generally defined as being 20 percent over your ideal body weight, and an ideal body weight is generally calculated by using the adult body mass index, or BMI. If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, you are categorized as obese; these figures can be obtained by using an adult BMI calculator, which can be found on many sites on the Internet.
Weight management is about health and preventing such obesity-related conditions as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, but there are also psychological and social components to being significantly overweight. “Women suffer considerable sociocultural pressure to be thin,” pointed out Robin Rogosin, vice president of product development and corporate responsibility for LifeSeasons, a manufacturer based in Texas.
Behind the Widespread Epidemic
One of the reasons for this widespread epidemic could be a tendency toward a sedentary lifestyle combined with oversized meal portions that seems to be the norm in today’s society, said Terrence O. Tormey, CEO of Kibow Biotech, Inc., a manufacturer based in Pennsylvania. Others may have a genetic predisposition to putting on excess weight.
“Some have said that the main reason for obesity is that our lifestyles don’t allow for the daily exercise that helps maintain fitness, but most people agree it’s more about the kind of food we eat, and how we eat it,” said Rogosin, pointing out the typical American diet of highly processed and sugary foods, as well as convenience foods, with people having, or making, less time to sit down for a proper meal and often choosing to eat fast food on the run, which reflects today’s busy lifestyles.
“The heightened availability of TV and other electronic gadgets interfere with sleep, and obesity has been shown to coincide with a lack of sufficient, regular sleep,” added Rogosin.
There are another host of reasons why someone may be struggling to lose weight; if it’s not a physical reason, such as hormonally-based or thyroid, sometimes there is an underlying emotional reason, such as anxiety or poor stress management, said Serena Goldstein, ND, whose New York practice is focused on endocrinology and hormones. She said that sometimes, people assume that gaining weight is a natural part of aging that can’t be helped.
“Weight wise, factoring in drinking, poor sleep, drinking more coffee than water (or barely any water at all), poor relationships (unhappy in job or personal relationships), chemicals in beauty/cleaning products, consuming too much sugar and/or carbohydrates, or processed foods, in relation to how many vegetables and whole foods they could have room for in their nutritional intake, and medications such as (but not limited to) psych meds, birth control, statins, all which deplete important vitamins and minerals that can aid in achieving a healthy weight,” she said.
Natural Approaches to Weight Loss
For years, people have heard that diet and exercise is the key to losing weight. But the head-scratching questions are: Which diet? Which exercises? What should I eat or not eat? How frequently should I exercise and what types of exercises?
There is no magic bullet answer to those questions, as each patient has different weight goals; it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Not all food or exercise plans are going to produce the same results across the board, as everyone is biochemically unique. Age, gender and overall fitness levels also make a difference as to how to go about losing those excess pounds.
It’s like a broken record, but eating a variety of healthy, natural, fresh foods is touted time and time again as being the golden ticket to weight loss and a lifetime of weight management. Foods such as fruits and brightly colored vegetables, foods with fiber, such as legumes and lentils, nuts, seeds and healthy sources of protein, such as eggs, dairy and lean meats, but in moderation, are generally recommended.
“Intermittent fasting can be done in many ways and a popular strategy is eating all the meals within a 8 to 10-hour window, for example, between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., to give the digestive tract more time to process and detoxify: this is more like the way our ancestors ate,” said Rogosin.
Dr. Goldstein typically advises her patients seeking to lose weight to fill half of their plate with dark green leafy and cruciferous vegetables which help with detoxification, clean animal sources of protein, drinking at least half their body weight in ounces of water daily, and going to bed before 11. “This is where I typically start until they feel somewhat comfortable in this change, and then we can add on others,” she said.
“While many people attempt to lose weight by adjusting their diet, the biggest challenge is often the source of hidden calories in food and the body’s difficulty in digesting them. For example, many unexpected foods, like bottled tomato sauce, for example, often contain high levels of sugar that can be the culprit,” said Ryan Sensenbrenner, director of marketing at Enzyme Science, a division of Enzymedica, a manufacturer based in Florida.
Physical activity has always been linked to healthy weight levels. Some challenges with physical activity include finding just the right program as well as finding the time to fit in daily exercise. But, said Adam Killpartrick, DC, CNS, chief science officer with DaVinci Laboratories, a manufacturer based in Vermont, “Losing weight long term, without physical activity, is like defying gravity.” When he was in active practice as a chiropractor, his approach was to help patients find something that they loved to do so that it didn’t seem like a chore, as well as introduce them to interval training, which builds up in intensity over time.
An easy physical activity that almost anyone can engage in is simple walking.
“There is no equipment required, and it is not that strenuous. Then with an informed instructor that can come up with age-related strength conditioning is the next step. The ‘buddy-system,’ as defined here as a friend to accompany you to the gym, will increase the likelihood of a successful weight-loss/condition program,” said Tormey.
Rogosin agreed. “Moderate daily exercise, like a 20-minute walk or a swim, with more intense exercise a few times a week, is very helpful to stimulate the metabolism—consistency is the key!”
Beyond Food and Exercise
Some factors, however, are more universal when it comes to weight loss.
For example, the role of hormones in weight management cannot be overemphasized.
“Balancing stress and metabolic hormones is key to long-term weight management,” said Dr. Killpartrick. “Considering the stress people are under on a daily basis and looking at the elevation of cortisol, which has the capability to impair thyroid hormone from getting into its receptors, possibly block estrogen from its receptors, depletes our progesterone, and can be a contributing factor in insulin resistance, resulting in increased fat stores,” he said.
Another factor to be considered is inflammation levels. “When inflammatory responses are supported, this helps promote healthy hormone balance, specifically hormones that are essential to hunger and satiety. Healthy levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) are going to lay the groundwork for optimal weight management,” Dr. Killpartrick added.
Natural Products & Ingredients
Often, diet and exercise isn’t enough to keep those extra pounds at bay. If that is the case, people often turn to health professionals to check on blood sugar, food allergies, thyroid and hormone function, and even genetic testing, which might reveal factors that can make it more difficult to take off pounds.
In those instances, many consumers will turn to several natural products to support the systems that will help with weight loss and weight management over time.
Dr. Goldstein believes that supplements should be simply that—a supplement to an otherwise healthy lifestyle rather than a replacement for it. “Supplements are then given depending on their largest obstacle to cure. Supplement where the person needs the most help, and looking at the big picture. I always ask myself, to help make sure I’m not spot treating too much, ‘what’s the biggest factor that could be affecting their health, and what results would I like to see, plus, where do they need the most support?’”
Her choices of supplements are those that include a methylated B complex to manage blood sugar, hormone health and sleep health; magnesium, particularly with glycinate to address stress, as it is a natural relaxer; biotine EFA for sleep issues; and optimizing vitamin D levels, as that has been linked to weight loss.
Dr. Killpartrick said that a good multivitamin should contain bioactive forms of B vitamins. He also believes that CoQ10 is important as well as healthy fats. “There are also times I recommend tyrosine to support energy levels and healthy metabolic activity, as well as mango seed extract, brown seaweed and green tea. When it comes to inflammation, I rely heavily on curcumin phytosomes, boswellia and ginger.”
There have been advances in delivery systems of nutrients and botanicals in the past decade, he added, including phytosome technology, which, he explained, is a process by which certain nutrients or botanical compounds undergo in order to increase bioavailability.
His company, DaVinci Laboratories manufactures several products that natural practitioners can recommend to their patients to aid them in their weight loss efforts. Some of these products include MangoPlex, a mango seed extract and raspberry ketone products to support healthy weight management and hormonal balance; Mito Fuel, a d-ribose supplement to support healthy energy levels and mitochondrial health; and Metabolic Multi, a combination multivitamin and mineral supplement to support insulin sensitivity, glucose balance, healthy inflammatory response, lipid metabolism and more.
Another manufacturer, Enzyme Science has been manufacturing digestive enzyme supplements for about 20 years. “While we don’t specifically address weight loss, we do endeavor to support lifestyles that lead to healthy weight management. As one example, many individuals have difficulty digesting fat, and we offer a high-potency enzyme supplement called Lypo Optimize that supports this indication,” said Sensenbrenner. “Lypo Optimize can be a great booster for overall fat digestion.”
Another Enzyme Science product, Critical Digestion, supports the breakdown of the most common building blocks of food, including fats, fiber, proteins and carbohydrates, he added, while berberine supports sugar metabolism and helps individuals who may be taking in excess sugar. Sensenbrenner explained that berberine is a plant alkaloid that has been studied as a weight loss aid with encouraging results. He recommends looking for a berberine supplement sourced from barberry seed, as it is one of the most sustainable sources available. “Berberine influences the enzyme AMPK which has a significant impact on sugar metabolism. There have been over 27 published studies on this incredible ingredient,” said Sensenbrenner.
“For more general weight management support, there is growing research on apple cider vinegar,” he continued. “Because of the bad taste and potential for the liquid to damage tooth enamel, we recommend buying a high quality apple cider vinegar capsule.” His company’s apple cider product contains “the mother,” which is a blend of substances that many believe are responsible for the greatest benefits from this natural ingredient.
LifeSeasons manufactures many products and supplements that aim to restore balance to the various tissues of the body and are beneficial for weight management. For example, LifeSeasons Metabolism contains such powerhouse ingredients as chromium, green tea, green coffee bean, and cocoa seed extract. Rogosin elaborated about the efficacy of some of these ingredients.
“Chromium is useful for helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels by helping the body metabolize carbohydrates and fats and reducing insulin resistance; polyphenols found in green tea may promote thermogenesis and fat oxidation; green coffee bean is a natural source of chlorogenic acid and may support healthy blood glucose levels as well as provide antioxidant benefits; and cocoa seed extract also helps reduce oxidative stress, while promoting insulin sensitivity.”
Additional ingredients found in some of LifeSeasons’ other products that support weight management include kelp, a source of antioxidants and minerals, including iodine, which nourishes the thyroid gland and supports metabolism (found in LifeSeasons Thryo-T) and probiotics (found in LifeSeasons Digestivi-T), which overall, enhances the natural integrity of the small and large intestines and promotes digestion, detoxification and immunity.
Kibow Biotech manufactures several non-GMO (genetically modified organism) and gluten-free products to assist with weight loss. One major focus is on the addition of multi-fiber, or a “functional fiber” (one extracted from natural sources and added to supplements or fortified foods and drinks) to boost fiber content. One leading product is Kibow Fortis, comprised of seven prebiotic fibers. “Kibow Fortis is a prebiotic multi-fiber formulation with the ability to promote the formation of high amounts of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). SCFAs have been studied for their importance in regulating the immune system, along with other important metabolic activities,” said Tormey. Tormey further explained that the ingredients support a healthy immune system; help manage healthy cholesterol levels; keep weight in check; and help limit hunger cravings.
Tips for Practitioners
As overweight patients have their own unique reasons for their inability to lose weight, so should the solutions be customized. “When practitioners offer a holistic approach that include recommendations for food, dietary supplements, lifestyle and exercise, the chances of success are far greater than simply suggesting their patients lose weight,” said Rogosin.
Similarly, Dr. Goldstein believes that practitioners should help their patients identify the reasons that they can’t lose weight. She starts with analyzing the quality of her patients’ basic foundations of health, nutrition, sleep and stress management, because if anything is out of balance, that is a factor that can hinder weight loss. She also talks to them about strategies, what has worked, and what hasn’t worked. “They need to identify their intrinsic motivation, because that’s going to be the driving force in moving forward and making it part of a lifestyle change. If they don’t know their ‘why,’ then we work with them in the meantime and check in, as now we’re adding inner work plus physical healing to reaching optimal health and a weight/health status where patients truly feel their best,” said Dr. Goldstein.
If they so choose, some practitioners sell supplements at their offices.
“Practitioners have an opportunity to set up a foundational protocol for their patients which includes a core set of supplements that support overall health and wellness. A great starting point for this is an enzyme formula with probiotics, multivitamins and fish oil. Then, the practitioner can work with the patient to address specific needs, like fat or sugar metabolism,” said Sensenbrenner, adding that their company also provides merchandising support and literature for practitioners who stock their products in-house.
Added suggestions for practitioners from Rogosin include the addition of allied professionals in the practice, such as nutritionists, yoga and fitness trainers and therapists. Other recommendations for practitioners are to provide healthy shopping lists, meal planning suggestions, healthy restaurants in the area, exercise tips, seminars and group activities.
Healthy Take Aways
• First get to the root of why a patient is unable to lose weight or maintain weight loss before deciding on a game plan.
• Recognize that not all weight-loss solutions will work for all patients; they should be tailored to each individual.
• If supplements are recommended, they should be viewed as a way to augment, not resolve, weight-loss efforts.
For More Information:
DaVinci Laboratories of Vermont, www.davincilabs.com
Enzyme Science, https://enzymedica.com
Kibow Biotech, www.kibowbiotech.com