The 21st Century Epidemic – How Can You Escape It?

by Alan Hewitt on March 1, 2012

By Dr Don Colbert
1 February 2012

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls obesity a worldwide epidemic. In 2007, the WHO found that 67.4% of Australian adults are overweight, ranking 21st in the world, and third out of the major countries in the English speaking world, behind the US (ranked 9th) and New Zealand (ranked 17th).

A 2005 WHO study found that just over 20% of Australian adults are not only overweight, but are obese. The percentage is expected to rise to roughly 30% if current trends continue.

In August 2008, Diabetes Australia, the national body for diabetes awareness and prevention, told the House of Representatives that the cost of obesity on the country’s health system in 2005 was an estimated $58 billion taking into account not just health care but job productivity and other related quality of living costs.

In 2003, the number of Australians with type 2 diabetes rose to nearly a million for the first time. In addition, the number of type 2 diabetes patients who were diagnosed solely on their weight was calculated at 242,000 in 2007, a 137% increase over three years.

Obesity has become a global epidemic. It is linked to depression, gastro esophageal reflux, sleep apnea, gout, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, blood clots, dementia and numerous cancers.

No Magic Bullet
What’s the answer? While many turn to fad diets, studies show that most diets have about a 2% success rate. As a medical doctor, I am committed to getting verifiable results that prove a patient is on his or her way to long-term health, not just a short-term fix.

Many have given up, believing they have no control over their weight. While there is a genetic predisposition to gaining weight, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Environment and culture play a major role. The primary issue comes down to lifestyle. The good news is we can change our lifestyle over time, including what we eat, through education and practice. Here are some important truths I have learned during my years of medical practice.

Break the Sugar Addiction
Millions of people are addicted to unhealthy food, especially sugar and processed carbohydrates. Much of it is a result of “successful” marketing techniques, which make major food and restaurant corporations lots of money. Most of the carbs we eat today are highly processed and turn to sugar rapidly.

How quickly a food turns into sugar determines its glycemic index. Normally, the more processed a food is, the higher its glycemic index, while the more natural a food is, the lower its index. When we eat too many foods with a high glycemic index such as carbs or sugar, our pancreas secretes excessive insulin. This can lead to weight gain, obesity and a host of deadly diseases.

One of the most important ways to avoid sugars and unhealthy carbs is to recognise what triggers our cravings and avoid those triggers. Most people experience food cravings between 2:00pm and 5:00 pm and between 8:00pm and 11:00 pm. Try to stay busy during these times.

Also, don’t keep unhealthy “trigger” foods, such as lollies and junk food, in your home or office. Mark them off your shopping list. To help maintain that commitment, never shop for groceries on an empty stomach. Studies show you will spend 15 to 40% more than on a full stomach.

In addition, consider replacing sugar with other natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol.

Finally, reduce stress. Stress is a major trigger when it comes to any addictive behavior, including overeating.

Eat More Fibre
Most people do not eat enough fibre. Fibre will lower the glycemic index of foods as well as keep you full and more satisfied for a longer period. Soluble fibers such as in beans, apples, oats, flaxseeds and citrus help rid the body of sugar, cholesterol and toxins. Insoluble fibre such as in whole grains, wheat bran, and some fruits and vegetables adds bulk to the stool and helps sweep the colon clean. Overall, fibre will help control your appetite, lower your cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, improve bowel function, decrease your risk of chronic disease and assist you in weight loss.

Drink More Water
Most people underestimate the role drinks play in weight gain, especially soft drinks and fruit juices. The healthiest beverage by far is clean, pure water. Here’s a good rule of thumb. Begin each day with 250-500ml of water. Drink more water 15-30 minutes before meals or two hours after. Only drink 125-250ml of water at room temperature during meals. Avoid drinking large quantities after 7pm. Other healthy drinks include vegetable or tomato juice, skim milk, and plain low fat organic kefir or yoghurt.

Eat Smaller Portions
Restaurant servings are typically 1.5 to 2 times the standard serving size. Obese patients are more prone to clean their plate than other people. Try serving your salad on your dinner plate and your dinner on your salad plate.

Increase Physical Activity
Start by walking. Gradually add intervals of short higher intensity activities such as running. Also, add muscle strengthening activities to increase your metabolism rate.

Don’t Skip Meals
Eat a healthy breakfast. Those who skip breakfast are 4 ½ times more likely to be obese. Studies show that skipping one meal can lower your metabolism rate by up to 40%. In fact, I recommend my patients eat a healthy snack 400 – 800 joules (100-200 calories) between meals. Several studies suggest a link between going long periods without eating and weight gain.

Mindful Eating
Many people fall into the habit of “mindless eating.” An example is eating, almost unconsciously, while watching TV, reading or participating in some other activity. Be aware of when, where and how you eat. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Many successful weight loss programs suggest keeping a food diary. One recent study suggests it can double your weight loss.

Balanced Diet
Humans need 3 basic foods:
* Low glycemic carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits and whole grains)
* Proteins
* Fat (not trans fat or fried foods)
The ratio between low glycemic carbs, proteins and healthy fat should be 40:30:30. An easier rule of thumb is to make sure half the food on your plate is vegetables. Divide the other half of your plate between lean protein (which will also provide fat) and low glycemic starches such as beans, rice, apples or sweet potatoes. While this may be difficult at first, you can train your taste buds to enjoy natural, healthy food in a matter of weeks if you remain consistent and disciplined.

Supplements can play an important role in weight loss. A healthy weight loss supplement is a nutritional product or herb intended to assist – not replace – your healthy eating and healthy activity lifestyle.

Most weight loss supplements have no sound clinical research and some are even dangerous. Keep in mind, supplements are not subject to the same standards as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. They can be marketed with limited proof of safety or effectiveness.

That being said, there are a number of safe and fairly effective dietary supplements. I have categorised them below.

* Thermogenic (fat burning) agents. These supplements trigger the body to burn fat. Green tea and green tea extract are good examples of thermogenic agents. Another one, fucoxanthin, is a supplement derived from various types of edible seaweed. Fucoxanthin was traditionally known for its antioxidant powers. Recent research also suggests it may be effective in weight loss.

* Appetite suppressants. There are several safe and natural supplements which help to suppress your appetite. Neurotransmitter deficiencies can cause you to be abnormally hungry. The three most common deficiencies are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.

L-tryptophan and 5-HTP are amino acids that help manufacture serotonin. Serotonin helps control carbohydrate and sugar cravings. These supplements also act like natural anti-depressants, so if you are already taking an anti-depressant, talk with your doctor before adding one of these.

L-tyrosine, N-acetyl, and L-phenylalanine are other amino acids naturally found in cottage cheese, chicken and turkey. They help raise norepinephrine and dopamine levels.

* Supplements to increase satiety. Unlike insoluble fibre, soluble fibre supplements increase satiety in several ways. Soluble fibre slows the passage of food through the digestive tract decreasing the absorption of sugars and starches, causing the stomach to feel full longer.

* Supplements to improve insulin sensitivity. High insulin levels results from insulin resistant cells and can lead to belly fat as well as many other diseases. Along with choosing low glycemic foods and exercise, re-sensitizing the cells to insulin is important. Irvingia grows in the jungles of Cameroon and appears to do just that.

* Supplements to increase energy production. L-carnatine is an amino acid that functions as a transporter of energy within cells. It helps turn food into energy. Humans synthesize very little carnatine, especially as we get older, so a supplement may help.

In light of the recent research described above, I have created a natural supplement called NaturaLean, which combines clinically studied 7-Keto, the safe form of DHEA, with seven other powerful natural compounds to support metabolism and weight loss.

One study showed that participants who combined 7-Keto with a healthy diet and exercise lost an average of 500g per week, while the placebo group lost less than 100g per week. The weight loss was due to a loss of body fat, not water weight or muscle tissue.

NaturaLean has been clinically shown to burn fat and promote weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and exercise program. In addition to increasing metabolism, it also provides essential nutrients for optimal thyroid function and may improve memory.

NaturaLean is not a stimulant, or appetite suppressant. It does not raise the heart rate or blood pressure, nor does it cause problems with sleep. 7-keto DHEA does not convert to active testosterone and/or estrogen and has no known adverse effects.

In summary, the key to healthy weight loss is to develop a healthy lifestyle which includes less food intake, more physical activity and natural supplements if needed.

About the Author
Don Colbert, M.D., is board certified in Family Practice and Anti-Aging medicine. He is a New York Times Bestselling author with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida. He is also the Medical director of Harvest Time International Medical Center, a non-profit medical center for the underprivileged. Together, he has treated over 40,000 patients. He is also a internationally known expert and prolific speaker on Integrative Medicine.

He has been featured on Fox News, ABC World News, BBC, Readers Digest, News Week, Prevention Magazine and many prominent TV programs. He is also the radio host of his syndicated program “Dr Colbert’s Health Report.

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