A Naturopathic Approach to Weight Loss
In my practice it is very common for women to include ‘weight loss’ on their list of top health goals. Some of these women have been following a strict dietary and exercise program and have not been able to lose weight, or they originally lost some but now they have hit a plateau. Others have just started and want to ensure they are setting themselves up for success. Regardless of the starting place, my approach is always to assess the whole person and understand where the body requires more support. The body is always trying to bring itself back into a state of balance (homeostasis) and when it is unable to do so, symptoms start to arise (which can include weight gain or an inability to lose weight).
Some of the most common imbalances in the body that undermine weight loss efforts include digestive system dysfunction, blood sugar regulation issues, and poor adrenal gland function. Let’s take a closer look at these three:
Digestive System Dysfunction
The digestive system is a key system in the body to have functioning optimally if weight loss is one of your goals. This system is involved in breaking down, absorbing and utilizing the food you consume in order to provide the various cells, tissues, and organs of the body with the energy and nutrients required to function optimally. Some symptoms that could indicate your digestive system is not functioning optimally include constipation and/or loose stools, heartburn, and bloating.
Blood Sugar Regulation Issues
Whether it is hypoglycemia (blood sugar levels that are too low) or hyperglycemia (blood sugar levels that are too high), an imbalance here is going to make weight loss more difficult. Some symptoms that could indicate issues with blood sugar regulation include: fatigue, irritability, light headedness, and feeling better or worse after eating.
Poor Adrenal Gland Function
Adrenal gland dysfunction and chronic stress are common in today’s fast paced society. The stress response is meant to be short lasting, but in our society this response has become chronic, contributing to various health concerns and conditions. A key example that can result in adrenal gland dysfunction relates back to the blood sugar regulation issues. When blood sugar levels are too low, the body relies on Adrenaline and Norepinephrine to keep them elevated until you are able to eat again. Short term, this is a helpful response, but long term it creates a chronically elevated sympathetic stress response. This means the body is pushed more into a state of stress rather than rest and relaxation. Symptoms that could indicate there is an imbalance here include shakiness, light headedness, and irritability if meals are missed or spread out too far apart; dizziness when standing up, sleep concerns, and/or salt cravings.
If the above three areas are not functioning optimally, they can negatively impact many other areas of the body including hormone regulation, thyroid health, brain health/mood, immune system function, as well as cellular health. These additional areas can also impact your ability to lose and maintain an optimal weight. Ultimately when the body is balanced physiologically it functions better, you feel better, and weight loss efforts can become much easier!
Please note: This information is not meant to replace personalized medical advice. Speak with your healthcare provider about treatment options that are specific to your health concerns and goals.
Dr. Leslie Keating