Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum's Column
...expert advice on CFS, Fibromyalgia and other Health Topics.
You can benefit from Dr. Teitelbaum's wisdom and experience by visiting us at The Environmental Illness Resource regularly to read articles from his latest newsletter!
Monday, January 28th, 2008:
What to Do When You Can't Lose the Weight
by Jacob Teitelbaum MD
Some of you are finding that despite proper eating and exercise you simply cannot lose the extra weight. Our research has shown that there are a number of metabolic processes contributing to this and that when you treat them the weight will often begin to disappear. This is discussed at length in my book "From Fatigued to Fantastic!" which teaches people how to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and goes into great detail about how to effectively treat the problems discussed below. In these illnesses, which are characterized by fatigue, insomnia, "brain fog", and often widespread pain there is an average 32 lb. weight gain. The good news is that our research shows that effective treatment is available for 91% of these patients and a fringe benefit is that not just do they feel great but they also lose their excess weight. One patient that I recently treated had lost 50 lbs. by her 4 month follow-up visit-in addition to having no pain and having great energy. She was understandably thrilled. Many of the factors contributing to weight gain in these syndromes also affect the rest of us. These are the most common ones:
1. Hypothyroidism. Over 26 million Americans suffer with hypothyroidism, and less than one third of them are being properly diagnosed or treated! This is the case despite most of them having what their doctors mistakenly consider to be normal blood tests. As long as your thyroid function is inadequate, it will be nearly impossible for you to keep your weight down. The symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance with low body temperature (under 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), achiness, and poor mental function. You don't have to have all of these. Having even a few of these symptoms is enough to justify a therapeutic trial of thyroid hormone. The form that I recommend is Armour thyroid, and it should be adjusted to the dose that FEELS best while keeping the Free T4 blood test in the normal range.
2. Nutritional deficiencies. When you are deficient in vitamins or minerals your body will crave more food than you need and your metabolism will be sluggish. To keep it simple and avoid the need to take tablets all day, I recommend that you use "The Energy Revitalization System" by Enzymatic Therapy. 1 scoop of a good tasting powder plus 1 capsule replaces about 35 tablets of supplements a day and will leave you feeling great! It is available from most health food stores or at www.Vitality101.com. I would note that 100% of the royalties from products that I make go to charity and I do not take money from any company whose products I recommend.
3. Poor sleep. The expression "getting your beauty sleep" actually has a basis in fact. Deep sleep is a major trigger for growth hormone production. Growth hormone stimulates production of muscle (which burns fat) and improves insulin sensitivity (which decreases the tendency to make fat). In addition, sleep also affects the appetite controlling hormones called leptin and ghrelin. 100 years ago, the average American got 9 hours of sleep a night. Because it raises growth hormone, getting the 8-9 hours of sleep a night that the human body is meant to have can powerfully contribute to your staying young and trim! If you have insomnia, eating some turkey before bedtime can help as it contains high levels of Tryptophan. Herbals can also help. I recommend "Revitalizing Sleep Formula" (by Enzymatic Therapy) 1-4 caps an hour before bedtime. This is a mix of 6 herbals and is the most effective natural sleep aid available.
4. Yeast overgrowth. Clinical experience has shown that fungal (also known as Candida or yeast) overgrowth contributes powerfully to both sugar cravings and weight gain. Although we do not know the mechanism for this, we have repeatedly seen excess weight drops off once this overgrowth is treated and eliminated. The main causes of fungal overgrowth are excess sugar intake and antibiotic use. Common problems caused by yeast overgrowth include chronic sinusitis and/or spastic colon (gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation). If you have either of these, you probably have fungal overgrowth. The good news is that treating this will not just help you to lose weight but can also eliminate your spastic colon and sinusitis! My book or the treatment protocol on my web site will teach you how to effectively treat this.
5. Another major problem is carnitine deficiency, which is present in most CFS/FMS patients. Unfortunately, this deficiency forces your body to turn calories into fat and makes it almost impossible to lose fat. Simply taking carnitine does not help adequately however, as it does not get into cells optimally. I recommend that people take Acetyl-L-Carnitine 1000 mg daily (which does get into the cells more effectively) for four months, as this can help both energy and weight loss.
6. Adrenal stress support — Sart by making an attitude change. Whenever you notice that you're getting anxious or worried ask yourself the simple question "Am I in imminent danger?". The answer is almost always no, and you'll find that your adrenal glands relax as you realize this. If you have problems with relaxing or letting go of worry, my book "Three Steps to Happiness—Healing through Joy" can help you get from where you are to a life that you love! The book is available on my web site. If you are experiencing hypoglycemic episodes, consider taking an adrenal glandular that includes licorice (e.g. Adrenal Stress End).
7. Insulin Resistance. If your morning fasting insulin blood level is over 10, this suggests insulin resistance. This can cause weight gain—especially if your DHEA-S and Testosterone are also high. In this situation, consider PCOS—Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, in women. The medication Metformin, 500 mg each AM can be very helpful in this situation. Be sure to take at least 500 mcg of Vitamin B12 a day if on Metformin, and if feeling poorly on it, have your doctor do a blood test to check for a rare complication called lactic acidosis.
It is no longer necessary to be on extreme, unsustainable or unhealthy diets to lose weight and keep it off. The recommendations above will not just help you stay trim, but they will leave you healthy and full of vitality as well!
Several factors contribute to persistent weight gain. These include inadequate thyroid function, unbalanced adrenal function, poor sleep, nutritional deficiencies, insulin resistance & yeast overgrowth. Treating these problems can result in marked weight loss.
Used with permission from Dr Jacob Teitelbaum's free newsletters-available at www.Vitality101.com
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