Weight gain has been a bane of our existence in our current society. It’s frustrating, especially when you’re trying to follow all the rules and do everything right. Well, sometimes it’s not as simple as counting your calories or spending hours in the gym. In the last post,I mentioned three major reasons why someone would gain extra weight. After all, finding out the root cause is the only way to successfully reach your healthy weight and stay there. Thus, exploring and considering these root causes of weight gain is important. Here are three more:
Cause #4: Gastrointestinal problems – many of us have major disruptions in our digestive system without even realizing it. More than 95% of all my patients have some kind of digestive dysfunction, whether it’s low stomach acid, a sluggish pancreas or gallbladder, a parasite infestation, a yeast overgrowth, a bacterial infection, or a combination of any of these. Much like a nice patch of grass that becomes infested with weeds, these “critters” take up residence along the walls of your intestines, keeping you from digesting and absorbing many nutrients that help us burn fuel efficiently. Without these nutrients, we end up with a scenario similar to that of the Thyroid Dysfunction mentioned in the previous article, in which the unburned excess is stored in our fat cells.
Gastrointestinal bugs can also produce wastes that bog down the liver, causing the traffic jam I described in the Liver Congestion section of the previous article. A comprehensive digestive analysis is a crucial tool that reveals a lot of information about how well you’re digesting and absorbing nutrients, as well as whether or not you have inflammation, a parasite, yeast, or bacterial infection in your intestinal tract.
Cause #5: Excess Estrogen (both males and females) and/or Uterine Fibroids (women) – with all the hubbub surrounding hormone replacement therapy and its touted benefits, it may surprise you to learn that many women (and men) actually have too MUCH estrogen! This is a condition known as Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen in the proper amounts and forms is normal and healthy, but too much estrogen (or estrogen in the “wrong” forms) can wreak havoc on the body. In men, excess estrogen starts to compete with testosterone, which shifts a man’s metabolism more toward fat storage, as opposed to building muscle. Women, who naturally have less testosterone, are already prone to forming more fatty tissue, and thus, we’re more susceptible to easier fat storage.
In addition, estrogen can promote abnormal uterine growth, called a uterine fibroid. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus, and with excess estrogen driving this growth, they can grow very large–the size of a grapefruit, or even bigger. These can contribute toward significant (and sometimes rapid) weight gain. This is especially true if your body has shifted toward making a more powerful form of estrogen rather than its normal, healthy mild and beneficial form. Often, a blood test for estrogen levels doesn’t go far enough; it’s good to test for the actual ratio between the milder and more powerful forms of estrogen. This test is simple and can possibly save your life by alerting you to a possible risk of certain hormone-driven cancers such as breast cancer.
Cause #6: Excess Insulin – estrogen isn’t the only hormone that promotes fat storage. When we eat a meal, especially one high in sugar or carbohydrates (even complex carbs), our blood sugar levels rise. To counteract this, the pancreas will release insulin, whose job it is to take that blood sugar and bring it inside the cells for fuel. However, if there is too much insulin over time, the cells become stuffed with blood sugar and they don’t need any more. So they stop responding to insulin when it comes knocking with more blood sugar in hand. Now, the blood sugar has nowhere else to go except–you guessed it–right into the fat cells. Most doctors will test fasting blood glucose (a very simple and routine blood test) but they may not run other very important tests that measure how well your body has handled its blood sugar over the long-term, a period of either 2-3 weeks, or about 4 months, depending on the biomarker(s) ordered.
As you can see, there are several possible reasons why a person might gain excess weight, none of which have much to do with calorie-cutting or spending time on the treadmill. When the body functions inefficiently or there’s a breakdown in the body’s physiology, one of the most common ways this manifests is weight gain. The important key is to find out which cause (or combination of causes) are actually at fault, because each of these root causes will require a different approach in order to achieve effective results. This is why comprehensive testing is so important. Remember: for every test NOT run, the practitioner is only guessing, and you may not see the results you’d like. It’s best to know for sure – it saves time and money in the long run.
Of course, as I mentioned previously, the ultimate goal is NOT necessarily weight loss, per se. It’s important to shift our mindset toward a goal of true health, and then to accept and embrace our bodies as they are once we have mastered our health from the inside out. As we move closer to optimal health, something surprising unfolds: our bodies will begin to transition to our healthy weight BY THEMSELVES. This means that as you take steps to rebuild your health from the ground up, excess pounds will indeed melt away without much–if any–additional effort!
Also as mentioned previously, since there I’ve counted 40 different reasons for excess weight or weight gain, I’ve turned these articles into a series on this blog.