Angela: A healthy weight is dependent on more than what you eat, drink and how you move your body. In this article Naturopath Lynda Griparic shares with us her top 5 steps to maintain a healthy weight long term or what you should consider to shed those last five kilos. Over to Lynda…
1. Nourish your gut flora
A healthy weight depends on the health of your gut microbiome (gut flora), the trillions of microscopic bacteria that live within your gut. A healthy, well balanced microbiome protects you from the harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses which can affect your ability to lose weight.
90% of our the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is responsible for a healthy mood, sense of calm, optimism, sleep and appetite. Low mood and poor sleep can affect your ability to produce the hormones needed for weight loss and satiety, that sense of fullness. Not to mention a low mood often leads to low motivation for exercise and poor food choices.
Your gut bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids, which are important for weight loss, prevention of colon cancer and ward off inflammation. They also improve the strength and health of your intestinal walls, prevent leaky gut and reduce inflammation by maintaining the tight junctions in the lining of these walls.
If you want to know how you can nourish your gut flora, click here.
2. A daily poop is essential
Pooping removes inflammatory toxins from the body. If you are constipated and are not completely emptying your bowels every day, chances are the toxins are being re-absorbed by the body.
A buildup of toxins in the body can lead to hormonal imbalances, impaired brain function (foggy mind, poor concentration, Parkinson’s), infertility and digestive issues, such as leaky gut.
Making sure that you get adequate fibre and managing your stress can help your bowels move and poop as they should. Include fibrous foods daily: brussel sprouts, avocado, kale, broccoli, cabbage, ground flaxseeds and chia.
Read more about avoiding and relieving constipation here.
3. Improve your sleep
It is now a recognised fact that poor sleep patterns can lead to obesity and diabetes. In fact those with less than five hours a night have a 46% increased risk of developing diabetes compared to those who manage seven to eight hours.
Many metabolic hormones are affected by disruption to our sleep and wake cycle (circadian rhythms). These hormones include cortisol, melatonin and even leptin, adiponectin and the hunger-promoting hormone, ghrelin. When the normal production of these hormones are affected, there is an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
Other consequences of little sleep are increased risk of inflammation, increased blood triglycerides and increased hunger. Did you know that most fat burning takes place at night? Fat burning has been shown to be more active during the sleep phase, peaking just before you wake. This decreases our hunger so that we can remain sleeping. When daylight is detected by our brain we move from burning fat to sugar.
Leptin is an important suppressor of appetite that tells the brain how much food “energy” is available and how much is needed. Leptin peaks after we eat and tells the hypothalamus to reduce our intake of food.
Try these 4 sleep tips if you are struggling with sleep.
4. Manage your stress
Stress affects the adrenal glands and as a result raises the hormone, cortisol in our body. Increased cortisol levels can lead to fat storage, particularly in the abdomen. Even more cortisol is created by the abdominal fat itself. Fatigue can often occur because fuel is being stored rather than burned.
This creates a vicious cycle as the changes to your health and fatigue can lead to depression and as we know depression can cause more stress and so on it flows.
You can help manage your stress by moving your body (walking, yoga, exercise), supplementation, exposure to nature, community, meditation and getting good quality sleep .
5. Promote great digestion, elimination and reduce stress through Yoga
A regular yoga practice stimulates the flow of energy throughout your body enhancing each organ’s function. Many yoga poses nourish our digestive and elimination organs, reduce digestive sluggishness, prevents constipation, stimulates bowel movement and detoxification. Yoga is also fantastic for reducing stress, anxiety and improving sleep.
Try holding yin yoga poses that support the stomach, spleen, kidney, liver, gallbladder and intestines for five to ten minutes to really massage and stimulate these organs into optimal function.
As you can see, sustainable weight loss is not as simple as a blanket diet or exercise but it is certainly possible. While this list is not conclusive, investigating these areas and implementing these principles will see that you achieve a healthy weight or at the very least amazing overall health free from the complications of chronic illness.
If you do not know where to start or how to go about investigating further, find a practitioner who can guide you through your journey to great health. There are many of us out there 🙂