Part I: You Can Lose The Weight—Forever
It’s a frustrating and common experience: once you put on even a little weight, it can be impossible to get rid of. You know the story: you spend years being careful about what you eat, but the reflection in the mirror stays the same no matter what you do. I’m going to explain exactly how and why this happens, and spell out the solutions for you in step by step detail. Dropping excess pounds and getting your life back is surprisingly easy once you stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things. What are the right and wrong things? This series of posts explores them in detail, and gives you the insights needed to understand exactly what to change and why. These are highly informative posts. They contain some techie stuff, but I’ve built in explanations along the way to keep it from getting overly complicated. Happy reading, and here’s to a new you!
Let’s Get A Bit Of Perspective First
If you’re dealing with weight issues, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of the majority. Most adults have weight issues, and weight issues are synonymous with health issues. Extra weight equals health issues, period. There are many reasons that weight loss programs fail miserably, and the main reason is that they focus on weight loss, not on improving your overall health. To lose weight once and for all, you’ve got to address your underlying health issues, because it’s your health issues that are causing your weight issues—it’s not the other way around.
If you’ve read my other posts, you’ve probably noticed that I harp on the point that focusing on problems instead of solutions only leads to more problems. Problem-focused consciousness rarely solves anything, and usually makes things worse. And when it comes to weight and health issues, problem-centered thinking has proven to be disastrous. Instead of focusing on losing weight, we’ve got to address the underlying health issues that cause weight issues. Once your health is elevated to a whole new level of function, weight issues can become a thing of the past.
But wait a minute. If I lose weight, aren’t I automatically healthy? In a word, no. There are lots of ways to lose weight, but just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Starving yourself may make you thin, but it can destroy your health in the process. What’s more, the longer you starve yourself, the more likely it becomes that you’ll eventually put on more weight than ever before. Why? Because starvation and diets don’t address the underlying causes of our health and weight issues: they just make them worse. We’re going to look at what those underlying issues are, and once and for all free ourselves from the trap of making the wrong choices which keep us locked in the vicious cycle of weight and health issues.
- Weight issues stem from underlying health issues
- To resolve weight issues, resolve your underlying health issues
Before we get into what you need to do to resolve your underlying health issues, let’s have a look at the present state of the world’s health:
- 35% (77 million) of Americans are obese (CDC, NIH)
- Childhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980 (CDC, NIH)
- Obesity leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other conditions (CDC, NIH)
- Obesity is the leading cause of preventable death (CDC, NIH)
- 37.9% of adults age 20 and over are obese (2013-2014 CDC, NIH)
- 70.7% of adults age 20 and over are overweight and/or obese (JAMA, CDC)
- 20.5% of adolescents age 12-19 are obese (CDC)
- 17.7% of children age 6-11 are obese (2011-2012 CDC, NIH)
- 8.4% of children age 2-5 years are obese (2011-2012 CDC)
- The average American was 24 pounds heavier in 2013 than in 1960 (CDC)
- Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980 (WHO)
- In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight (WHO)
CDC: Centers for Disease Control
NIH: National Institutes of Health
JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
These are some pretty hardcore statistics, and they’re projected to worsen with time. The big idea is that billions of people are more overweight than ever before, and being overweight and/or obese predisposes us to every disease and condition there is. What diseases are associated with being overweight? Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, you name it. We can sum all this up as weight issues equal health issues. Weight issues don’t lead to health issues, they are health issues.
What’s more, the WHO, NIH and CDC state that these issues are preventable. Our weight issues and our health issues—health issues like cancer, heart disease and diabetes—can be largely prevented. A great question to be asking is, “If all of this stuff is preventable, why are incidence rates skyrocketing?” The answer isn’t wildly complicated, but it is multifaceted. We’ll look at some of the facets that contribute to the problem, but we’ll mainly focus on the parts you need to know about in order to increase your overall health and be able to easily keep your weight right where you want it to be.
Solving The Mystery
Contributing to the world’s overweight/obesity epidemic and skyrocketing disease rates is a relatively unknown yet surprisingly common liver disease: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is inseparable from another relative unknown that also contributes to overweight/obesity and all western diseases: metabolic syndrome (MS). NAFLD and MS are virtually inseparable from obesity, overweight and many of the world’s most common diseases and health issues. If you’re dealing with weight and/or health issues, you’re dealing with NAFLD & MS. They all occur simultaneously. In order to work through your health and weight issues, you have to address NAFLD and MS. Until you do, you’re spinning your wheels, and your conditions will only continue to worsen.
NAFLD & Metabolic Syndrome
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome are described in Here’s The Solution: Find The Truth, Open To New Possibilities. In that post, I mentioned how people usually express a mix of bewilderment and disbelief when I describe NAFLD and MS. It’s pretty shocking to learn not only how pervasive and damaging they are, but also how unknown they are. People are even more surprised to find out that they’ve been doing most of the things that cause NAFLD & MS—and they’ve been doing them their entire lives. Once again, if you’re dealing with weight/health issues, you’re dealing with NAFLD & MS.
Because NAFLD & metabolic syndrome are so central to weight and health issues, we’ll go into detail about them both. I’ll describe exactly what to do to heal these common and destructive health problems, because until you do, changing your life, health and weight is all but impossible.
What Are Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease And Metabolic Syndrome?
NAFLD is liver damage that’s exactly the same as alcohol-induced liver damage. Really? Really. Liver damage is an otherworldly serious matter. It’s not something to take lightly or minimize. In NAFLD, healthy liver tissue is replaced by fatty tissue, rendering the liver less capable of performing its hundreds (if not thousands) of unique and vital functions. The liver is as busy and important to your physical life as your brain is to your mental, emotional and conscious life. The liver is busily performing functions and creating things that science has yet to even figure out. Not only does liver damage predispose us to every health issue there is, it also sets us up to gain weight we simply can’t get rid of until we eliminate the fat from our liver.
Eat Right For Your Liver (And Your Cells)
As fatty deposits increase in the liver, fatty deposits increase in the body. That relationship is well-established. It’s a given that if you’re carrying around extra weight, you’re dealing with fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome. Too much body fat means too much liver fat—the body and liver are mirror images of each other. To lose weight, you’ve gotta put your liver on a diet. Forget about eating right for your type, and instead learn to eat right for you liver. Learning to eat right for your liver is learning to eat right for your cells, a point we’re going to explore in detail.
What Causes NAFLD And Metabolic Syndrome?
What causes fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome? Two key contributing factors are eating what’s considered to be a healthy diet and taking on too much stress. You read that right: eating what’s considered to be a healthy diet leads to NAFLD & MS. If eating a healthy diet leads to all these problems, then eating an unhealthy diet spells complete disaster. If this is the case—and it is the case—then what the heck do you eat? We’re getting there, but we’ve got quite a bit of ground to cover first. Before we get to what to do, I’m first going to explain the why you do it and how you do it in enough detail to create a solid context for you.
Additionally, don’t overlook the part about stress. Stress isn’t just a small thing, it has an incredibly detrimental impact on every aspect of our health, and is even considered by some (myself included) to be synonymous with NAFLD & metabolic syndrome. Everything is everything, and life is an active interplay of body, mind and spirit. Many physical problems begin as psychological challenges and stress, and NAFLD and metabolic syndrome are no exception. This post sticks to the nuts and bolts of weight loss, and doesn’t explore the relationship of stress. That’s something I’ll get into in a lot of detail in future posts.
NAFLD is the hepatic (liver) component of metabolic syndrome. Fatty liver affects the liver, while metabolic syndrome affects other parts of the body and several key physiological functions. NAFLD and metabolic syndrome are opposite sides of the same coin. They occur simultaneously. It’s not as if one leads to the other—in this case the chicken and the egg occur at the same time, only in different places.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms commonly found in industrialized peoples and includes the following:
- Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin)
- Dysregulation of blood sugar (blood sugar too high and/or too low)
- Dysregulation of cholesterol and triglycerides (too high/low)
- High (or low) blood pressure
- Inflammation and overproduction of adipocytokines, e.g., TNF-α and IL-6
- Weight around the midsection that won’t go away (though metabolic syndrome is common in normal weight people as well)
- Sodium and water retention
- Fatty depositions in the liver
- Chronic stress
These are all common symptoms. You’d be hard pressed to find many adults without a few of them, and you’re diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when you have 3 or more of them. A big challenge I’ve noticed about these symptoms is that because they’re so common, we tend to think that they’re no big of a deal, when they are a big deal. So many people have high cholesterol and blood sugar problems that we don’t give it much thought when yet another person tells us about their cholesterol problems or trouble losing weight. We’re desensitized to these health issues because they’re so common, which makes it hard to appreciate how serious they actually are.
In my experience, once you’ve put on weight around your midsection that’s hard to get rid of, you’re developing fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome. With all the talk about fat and obesity, it’s easy to think that those souls who’re seemingly blessed with perfect genetics and never gain an ounce are immune to fatty liver and metabolic syndrome. Not so. Metabolic syndrome and fatty liver commonly occur in normal weight people as well, though carrying extra weight that you can’t shed is a surefire sign of both metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.
Technical Point #1
Here’s one of the (really important) technical points I promised: by the time you’re gaining weight that you’re not able to shed, there’s a problem with your metabolism. In simplified terms, metabolism is the conversion of fuel into energy. Where does metabolism take place? Inside your cells. Your cells take up fuel from outside themselves and convert it into energy. By the time you’re gaining weight, your cells aren’t functioning efficiently. There are scads of reasons for this, and one big reason is that they’re being forced to burn an inefficient source of fuel, which puts your body under a lot of physiological stress.
When your cells aren’t efficiently converting fuel into energy, it’s similar to your car not running properly even though you’ve got a full tank of gas. When your car doesn’t run efficiently, your MPG goes down, and you wind up having to put more gas in the tank to get from point A to point B. The same thing happens to us: when our metabolism isn’t efficient, we have to eat more to get from point A to point B. If what’s causing your car to run poorly is something simple like a dirty air filter, you can spend thousands of dollars on all sorts of repairs, but it won’t run right until you replace the air filter.
And when it comes to your body, it won’t run right and you won’t lose your excess weight until you repair the real issue: your inefficient cellular metabolism. And unlike the car analogy I made with the dirty air filter, many of our issues are caused by the wrong fuel. It’s as if we’re putting diesel fuel in our tank when we need gasoline, and our cells can’t work with the wrong fuel very well. Part of the solution is in switching to the right fuel—a point we’re driving towards—and the rest of the solution is optimizing cellular metabolism. They both have to happen in order for your overall health to improve, and figuring how to do that is what we’re in the process of doing.
Excess Weight Is A Symptom Of Metabolic Dysfunction
The excess fat you’ve been carrying around for years is just a symptom of an underlying metabolic issue. Focusing on getting rid of the fat—the symptom of impaired metabolism—without addressing the underlying metabolic dysfunction, will only lead to more frustration and eventual health problems. The big idea we’re after here is to optimize your metabolism at the cellular level. Once that is accomplished, you’ll be able to tap into and burn the excess fat that’s been stored throughout your body rather than continually adding to your fat stores with no ability to convert it to fuel and burn it.
And here’s the deal: Fat is an amazing source of fuel. The extra weight you’re carrying is fuel that your cells could easily learn to burn as a high-quality fuel source. Why don’t your cells tap into your fat stores and burn it? Because when they remain in a metabolically inefficient state, they’re unable to burn fat as a fuel. But what if they could? Well, then you’d begin to lose weight. But get this point, because it’s critical to getting off of the rollercoaster of weight gain/loss: it’s not about losing weight, it’s about optimizing your cellular metabolism so that your cells can learn to tap into and burn fat as fuel rather than just storing it and remaining unable to access it.
Fat is awesome stuff. It really is. More specifically, it’s awesome once you can tap into it and burn it as fuel. Until then, it seems like it’s the bane of your existence, mocking you at your every turn. To do something useful with it, you’ve got to optimize cellular metabolism. How do you do that? That’s the whole idea of this post, and I’m including all the information you need in order to know why you’re not losing weight and how to go about doing so. It’s my experience that if people don’t have enough information, they’ll fill in the gaps in their knowledge with half-truths, and eventually become frustrated when things don’t turn out the way they’d planned. I’m giving you all the information you need to get the big picture of weight loss, and there’s a lot to cover. We’ll get to the nitty gritty, and if you read all the way through this rather long series of posts, you’ll be able to really appreciate the fine details when we arrive at them.
Technical Point #2
In the paragraph just before Technical Point #1, I stated that by the time you’re putting on fat you can’t get rid of, you’re developing metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease. Which is true, but a more specific way of making this point is that metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease are really a form of deranged cellular metabolism. In other words, by the time you’re gaining weight, you’re already dealing with underlying metabolic issues—all the things associated with metabolic syndrome plus an inefficient liver—and you’re also dealing with inefficient cellular metabolism.
The extra weight you’re carrying around and any metabolic issues/fatty liver problems actually stem from an inefficient cellular metabolism, a point we’ll eventually circle back to once we’ve introduced all the other things we need to factor in to arrive at the nitty gritty details of what to do to solve all these health challenges. There’s a reason I’m taking the time to develop these points so well: you’ve got to really get how important it is to optimize your cellular metabolism in order to heal your fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome if you’d like to once and for all improve your health lose weight. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program already in progress.
What Are The Problems Associated With NAFLD & Metabolic Syndrome?
NAFLD, metabolic syndrome and impaired cellular metabolism predispose us to developing diabetes, kidney disease, atherosclerosis and stroke, insulin resistance, blood sugar issues, all manner of cholesterol issues and of course worsening liver damage itself. They also predispose us to cancer, hypothyroidism, systemic inflammation, and every other chronic disease there is. Liver damage opens pandora’s box, and once opened, it can be hard to close: that’s why there’s no “known” cure for NAFLD and metabolic syndrome in the medical world.
There’s a cure—of course there is. The healing blueprint addresses these conditions in a big way, and it’s very realistic to walk away from them with relatively straightforward diet and lifestyle changes. The solution won’t come in pill form, and you’re not about to exercise yourself out of fatty liver disease, poor cellular metabolism and metabolic syndrome once they’re firmly established. The solution is simple, but the problem is complex. Let’s continue seeing the problem for what it is so that when we arrive at the solution, it’ll all make sense.
Here’s What The Scientific Literature States About NAFLD & MS:
I’ve included excerpts from various scientific publications showing the association between NAFLD, metabolic syndrome and various health issues. Take the time to read these excerpts because they’ll give you a feel for what the scientific world has been saying about these conditions for many years:
Nearly 35 percent of all U.S. adults and 50 percent of those 60 years of age or older were estimated to have Metabolic Syndrome in 2011-2012, according to a study in the May 19, 2015 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is rapidly becoming the most prevalent cause of liver disease worldwide and afflicts adults and children as currently associated with obesity and insulin resistance. BioMed Research International, 2015
The World Healthcare Organization (WHO, 2005) stated that soon this type of disease prevalence alone [NAFLD & MS] will drag the public healthcare systems of even the most affluent countries into total bankruptcy, let alone in rapidly developing countries such as China and India.
Prevention is the only viable solution to this public healthcare disaster. Epidemiological evidence has indicated that more than 90% of chronic diseases are actually preventable given proper and in-time diet and lifestyle interventions (Campbell and Campbell, 2005; Willett, 2008). However, diet and lifestyle managements for “clinically healthy” populations are very difficult to implement because the general public tend not to take the advice of healthcare providers until real diseases occur. Journal of Biotechnology, 2010
[Note: while science understands NAFLD & MS, most healthcare providers are unaware of their severity and causes, and therefore do not give sound advice regarding their treatment.]
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in patients with breast cancer may be associated with the primary tumor itself or some well-known risk factors such as obesity, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus. Medical Oncology December 2007, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 367-371
NAFLD affects a large proportion of the US population and its incidence and prevalence are increasing to epidemic proportions around the world. As with other liver diseases that cause cirrhosis, NAFLD increases the risk of liver cancer, a disease with poor outcomes and limited therapeutic options. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology 10, 656-665 (November 2013)
Hypothyroidism is closely associated with NAFLD independently of known metabolic risk factors, confirming a relevant clinical relationship between these two diseases. Journal of Hepatology Volume 57, Issue 1, July 2012, Pages 150–156
Endotoxin [toxins released by bacteria] levels were significantly higher in patients with NAFLD compared with controls. Endotoxin levels were considerably increased in NAFLD patients, with marked increases noted in early stage fibrosis compared with controls. Journal of Inflammation, 2010
Metabolic syndrome in patients with NAFLD is associated with a diet containing more carbohydrate and less fat and greater histologic severity. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2006
Mortality in patients with NAFLD is significantly higher than in the general population of same age and gender with liver-related complications. Nutrition Reviews, June 2007
…metabolic syndrome is as widespread as pimples and the common cold. According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it. That’s almost a staggering one out of every six people. MedMD
Do You Have To Be Overweight To Have NAFLD & MS?
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is closely associated with metabolic disorders, even in nonobese, nondiabetic subjects. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can be considered an early predictor of metabolic disorders, particularly in the normal-weight population. JAMA, October 25, 2004, Volume 164, No. 19
Insulin resistance and systemic inflammatory response are of key importance for inducing NAFLD, particularly in apparently healthy non-obese men. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Volume 19, Issue 6, pages 694–698, June 2004
Putting Some Of The Pieces In Place
Having just read the above excerpts from various research journals, contrast that information with what mainstream publications have to say about NAFLD:
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is common and, for most people, causes no signs and symptoms and no complications. Mayo Clinic
Excuse me? Causes no complications? When the World Health Organization states that these problems are going to bankrupt the healthcare delivery systems of the most affluent countries, that’s a major complication! My point isn’t to rip on Mayo Clinic, but to shed light on how slow even the most respected medical establishments are to respond to the scientific literature and to what’s going on with the health and well-being of the world at large.
Everyone gets that big institutions like governments and medicine are slow to change their ways. This quote from Mayo Clinic’s website shows how even the most respected institutions aren’t responding to what’s really taking place in the world today, a point we’ll look at a lot more deeply as we go, because it helps explain why such massive problems continue to fly beneath the radar.
- Losing weight means eliminating fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome
- NAFLD & metabolic syndrome are very common
- NAFLD & MS are caused by insulin resistance (remember this!)
- NAFLD & MS are associated with obesity, insulin resistance, cancer, hypothyroidism, and will bankrupt the healthcare systems of the most affluent countries
- NAFLD and metabolic syndrome are inseparable from impaired cellular metabolism
- Losing weight means optimizing cellular metabolism
- Stress exacerbates NAFLD & MS
Weren’t You Going To Tell Me About Weight Loss?
You’re putting the pieces together: weight loss isn’t possible until you deal with your underlying fatty liver and metabolic syndrome issues, and you’re not going to deal with these issues until you optimize your cellular metabolism. But how do you do that? It’s simple: you’ve got to change your diet. But how do you do that?—because I’ve already told you that a so-called healthy diet is what causes fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and weight problems in the first place. You’re right, I did. So if you’re wondering what in the world you’re supposed to eat, you’re not alone. Heck, billions of people are wondering what to eat, and it’s clear that what they’re eating is killing them. Fortunately it’s not all that complicated, but you’d never know it based on how crazy things have become in the world today.
Dietary Guidelines Are Propaganda For Themselves
The Crux Of The Biscuit: We Won’t Get Fooled Again
This is the crux of the biscuit, folks: basically no one knows what to eat and what to stay away from, and we’re becoming overweight, obese, developing fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and every other darn disease as a result. It’s a mess. Why? Because for more than 100 years, we’ve been so misinformed about what to eat and what to stay away from that the truth has become close to impossible to sleuth out. One of the main contributors to this problem are the dietary guidelines given us by governments and medicine—the food groups and food pyramid thing.
The crux of the biscuit is that governments and medical institutions are stuck in the past, and it’s clear that what they’re telling us to eat is destroying the health of the future. We’ve all been subjected to so much advertising and marketing pressure that we’ve unknowingly accepted that the very things that destroy our health are good for us. Forget thinking outside the box, you’ve got to think outside the four food groups and the dastardly food pyramid!
Here’s a quote by Louise Light, the architect of the original food pyramid. In this quote, she expresses her frustration over revisions made to the pyramid she constructed by special interest groups, specifically the wheat and corn industries, which are heavily subsidized by the U.S. Government.
I vehemently protested that the changes, if followed, could lead to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes — and couldn’t be justified on either health or nutritional grounds. To my amazement, I was a lone voice on this issue, as my colleagues appeared to accept the “policy level” decision. Over my objections, the Food Guide Pyramid was finalized, although it only saw the light of day 12 years later, in 1992. Yet it appears my warning has come to pass.
Her warnings have indeed come to pass. In the following quote by Dr. Light (what an awesome name!), she’s responding to a question about whether or not the government will cease being influenced by special interest groups in the formation of their dietary guidelines:
I think not. Ultimately, the food industry dictates the government’s food advice, shaping the nutrition agenda delivered to the public. In fact, to the food industry, the purpose of food guides is to persuade consumers that all foods (especially those that they’re selling) fit into a healthful diet.
Trust me when I tell you that the things we’ve been conditioned to eat for several generations have everything to do with bringing products to market, not the health and well-being of the world. Money talks and healthy food walks. I remember learning about the food groups in grade school…and I remember thinking it was cool to know what to eat to stay healthy.
It’s all part of the marketing and advertising campaign we’ve all been subjected to for as long as we’ve been able to process information. When the information you’ve been processing your whole life is false, how would you possibly know what truth is?
We all know that governments and medicine don’t respond to change very well, even when it’s long overdue, even when the health and wellness of the world is in turmoil. And in this case, the powers that be would have to radically change their nutritional guidelines in order to get with the times and begin providing people with sound advice.
These changes aren’t about to take place, as there’s billions of dollars at stake, not to mention the trillion dollar industries which have developed to care for all the sickness these guidelines create. My point in this section about nutritional guidelines is to help us understand how we got where we’re at so we can make different choices going forward.
Part of going forward with new awareness is recognizing the errors of our ways, then moving beyond them into healthier, happier ways of being. In this case, we have to re-educate ourselves, which means figuring out the truth for ourselves, as no one’s going to do it for us out of some moral imperative. I’m doing my best to figure this puzzle out and give you the basic gist of what it looks like when you put all the pieces together. Let’s add in another enormous puzzle piece, after which time we’ll be on the homestretch of this rather lengthy series of posts.
To continue to Part II of this series, click here.
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