Did you know that 32% of American adults are overweight and 40% of Americans are obese? Over 70 diseases, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, fatty liver, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, fatty liver disease, gallbladder disease, and reproductive abnormalities are caused by obesity, which is a disturbance of the body’s weight-regulating processes. Adults are aware that obesity is an issue because half of adults have tried to lose weight in the past year and for many it has been unsuccessful and unattainable. Why is it so tough to lose weight and keep it off? Let’s discuss-
Aging: Weight maintenance and weight loss become more challenging as we age due to multiple factors. Your resting metabolism declines when lean body mass (muscle) decreases. Secondly, the average individual in their mid-life spends less time exercising. The result is a surplus of calories at the conclusion of each day since less calories are burnt during both rest and activity.
Food addiction: Food manufacturers intentionally blend sugar, fat, salt, and artificial sweeteners in ways that cause our brains’ reward systems to fire in turn, sending dopamine and other feel-good chemicals into our bodies. As a result, this leads to food addiction.
Homeostasis: Your body strives to maintain a specific set point for fat mass, just as it does for other metabolic processes like body temperature. To maintain your “set point,” your body will either increase appetite or decrease metabolism while you try to lose weight. The circulating leptin level serves as a gauge for energy reserves and directs the central nervous system to adjust food intake and energy expenditure accordingly. Leptin exerts immediate effects by acting on the brain to regulate appetite Leptin informs the body how much fat is kept in reserve. As fat cells contract, less leptin is produced, which triggers the body’s warning system to prevent additional weight loss.
Leptin resistance: Studies show that a high-carb and high-fat diet damages the brain’s hypothalamus and leads to the development of leptin resistance. As a result, the brain becomes less able to distinguish between stored and consumed fat as resistance grows. The person subsequently experiences increased hunger and desires, which leads to continued overeating and worse leptin resistance. Many treatment modalities are looking at ways to treat leptin resistance.
Hormones: Many people think that fat gain and loss is all about calorie counting and willpower: eating less and exercising more. As it turns out, that line of thinking has been proven by modern obesity research to be largely inadequate. Your weight is controlled, largely, by hormones, which in turn are influenced dramatically by the quality of the nutrition you consume, and less by the quantity of the food you are eating. Hormones determine your level of hunger, your level of satiety, how and where you store fat, and how and when you burn fat. Non-optimal levels of these hormones are linked not only to obesity, but to chronic inflammation, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. The interplay between these hormones is complicated, especially during menopause and midlife.
Insulin Resistance: As we age and develop more visceral fat (belly fat) distribution, Insulin Resistance (IR) begins to develop- meaning it takes more insulin than normal to “push” sugar into cells to do their job. This IR also promotes more fat storage and central obesity, leading to a vicious negative feedback cycle. A diet rich in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fast-food drives insulin resistance and increases insulin levels.
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You are so much more than a number on the scale. You are valued and respected here.