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Weight is a touchy subject for a lot of people. We’re told it’s just too many calories or not enough exercise. It may have worked that easily in the past but now it is much more likely to fail, due to our modern lifestyle.

Many medical conditions can lead to Weight Gain. Low Thyroid is one of the most common, but other Hormone Imbalances can be the problem. Diabetes is a state where the blood sugar is high and this can easily turn into fat. Many Inflammatory Conditions and Toxicities cause water retention. Numerous medications have Weight Gain as a common side effect. Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Hormones like Estrogens and Birth Control, Blood Pressure Medications and Steroids are just a few of the medications that can cause weight gain. A doctor trained in Functional Medicine can help to work through your medications, assess your medical conditions and help to find out if these are contributing to your Weight Gain.

Any condition that causes Inflammation can increase Weight Gain. Our constant exposure to Heavy Metals and Chemicals results in the accumulation of many substances. The body’s natural mechanism to deal with this is to retain water to “dilute” bad substances so they do less harm. Some people can do well with Toxic levels and others are disabled by a small amount. Even though other countries have eliminated Mercury from dental fillings and have worked to lower their population’s exposures, the United States still is ruled by major chemical lobbies and has a very small list of restricted chemicals. Just giving a few Immunizations on the same day, exceeds the governments own admission of safe levels of Mercury in a child. I have seen that finding and decreasing the toxic load or doing a Purification Program or Detox Program designed to eliminate some of these is beneficial and almost everyone loses weight.

Another inflammatory cause is Food and Gluten Sensitivity. You’ve seen many people who seem overweight, bloated, have a red face and, if asked, have IBS or Abdominal Gas and Bloating or another gastrointestinal symptom. These people usually have Delayed Reaction Food Sensitivities. These are hard to know about without testing as they can produce symptoms as much as five days later. A typical patient can be tired, barely eating, working out a lot and they continue to experience Weight Gain. In fact, one Food Sensitivity Test Company I use wrote a very popular book Your Food Sensitivities Are Making You Fat. So finding your Food Sensitivities is critical. Usually, using a Comprehensive Treatment Program that includes getting off these foods and healing the gut can cure them and most can be eaten again someday with less effect. Gluten can be a very difficult one and is more often a longer term problem.

90% of people with Gluten Sensitivity don’t even know it and some predict that as much as half the population is now Gluten Sensitive. Repeated exposure to certain foods (usually your favorites), a smaller diversity of food, Genetically Modified Foods, a lack of healthy bacteria in our gut and other causes of Gut Inflammation predispose us to Sensitivities. You see, for years now, Food Companies have been genetically modifying seeds to produce more gluten. Why? It’s because gluten makes breads and other foods softer and yummier and the American population likes things that break down into sugar, like processed grains. We are addicted to food and the food companies are just given us what we demand. Despite studies showing Genetically Modified Foods cause Inflammation and other problems, they were pushed through in this country and now don’t even need to be labeled as such. Most Soy and Corn in the U.S. are now genetically modified and exposure has been shown to cause sensitivities to other normal foods, like eggs, dairy, etc…

Food is much more important for weight loss than exercise. Exercise just enhances it and may speed weight loss. Eating many small meals a day can help. One study showed that eating the same amount of calories, but breaking it into more meals (5-6) created a hotter burning metabolism, called Thermogenesis and resulted in more weight loss. Eating or taking extra fiber at meals can increase thermogenesis and decrease the affect sugar has on us. Eating a lower carb diet can help. One example is called the Paleo-Mediteranean Diet and involves Nuts and Seeds, Non-Starchy Vegetables and Salads, Fish, some Clean Meats, Organic Eggs and a small amount of Berries or lower sugar fruit, like Apple.

This actually eliminates most empty carbs, most modern Food Sensitivities and Allergies and is higher in nutritive value. It basically eliminates Grains, Potatos, Corn, Soy, Dairy and Legumes (Beans and Peanuts). This was actually what humans ate for thousands of year, before we started mass producing Legumes and Grains for high calorie food for the hungry and taking lactating cow’s milk (calf food) for us.

Some studies have shown pasteurization to cause inflammation. Dead bacteria have been shown to be very inflammatory. Despite the push for more pasteurization, there have been many fewer problems with Raw Milk. Most big outbreaks of bacterial infections have come from large, commercial milking operations, not small Raw Milk Farms.

Raw Milk is full of Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, Immune system boosting antibodies and can be a source of Good Bacteria (Probiotics). Pasteurization kills everything, including the good bacteria, and destroys the Vitamins and other nutrition. It’s estimated that 75%-90% of the world is lactose intolerant and it is one of the most common American Food Sensitivities. Pasteurized milk can have many more bacteria than raw milk but they are now dead and inflammatory instead of being healthy probiotics. Those of us on the front lines frequently see Dairy as one of the biggest Sensitivities on testing, but those same people usually tolerate Raw Milk and fermented milk products like aged cheese. For generations, we have been putting underweight babies on milk to fatten them up. Why then do we continue to provide this to overweight people? In 1947, the school food program was started because Americans were too thin to go into the military. Now, we have created a problem and should back away from this harmful practice or pushing milk (and processed grains) onto our children.

Cravings can undo a healthy diet. Did you know raw sugar is full of vitamins and minerals? Yes. People used to chew raw sugarcane or use honey or maple syrup as a sweetener. The difference is, all of these actually had something healthy to offer. With the processing of sugar, all the benefits are gone and we’re left with just the sugar. A sweet craving can be your body’s craving for minerals. Ensuring minerals in the diet, or supplementing, can decrease cravings for sweets.

In summary, a Comprehensive Program of testing for treatable causes, ridding the body of toxic substances and working toward a more Paleo-Mediteranean way of eating has helped many people who could not lose before. I hope this helps open your mind to new things to try. Hey, if it was easy, we’d all be our perfect weight. But we have been told by the food industry for many generations now that these foods are healthy and it’s hard to turn around a lifetime of bad information. But, it’s time to start.

If you feel you have Weight Gain despite doing what you thought was healthy, call The Maine Center for Functional Medicine at (207)941-0080. Let us help you find some of the causes of your Weight Gain.