By Dr. Isaac Eliaz
People don’t become obese overnight. It’s an incremental process—a pound here, a pound there. Still, at such a rate, it may only take a few years before we’re 30…40…even 50 pounds heavier than our ideal weight.
Even though the process is gradual, we can still see it happening. Clothing that once fit perfectly is now in the Goodwill bag. Our energy has gone down. Cravings for unhealthy foods have gone up. We don’t feel like ourselves.
But even with these red flags, it can be hard to summon the motivation to increase our workouts or plan, shop for, and prepare meals more carefully.
Of course, exercise and diet play a central role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. But there’s one critical—and often overlooked—factor in weight control: digestion.
Poor digestive function contributes to obesity and weight gain by making it more difficult for your body to convert food into energy. Processed food and poor eating habits can aggravate this cycle of destruction… So even when someone adopts a healthier diet, long-term damage to the digestive system can still impede weight loss efforts.
Luckily, there are natural solutions that can help bring digestion—and the bathroom scale—back into balance.
Recommended for You: What’s her secret?
“I have more energy. I have less digestive upsets. My thinking seems to be more clear. My joints aren’t aching. I’m sleeping better. I’m not craving carbs and sweets. I can feel hunger pangs and I feel full; these are new sensations for me. And, without trying, I took off 20 pounds in 6 weeks.” Discover Diane’s unique secret HERE.
The Role of Friendly Bacteria
One measure of digestive health is nutrient breakdown and absorption. Poor nutrition and nutrient absorption means our body isn’t getting enough fuel. This robs us of our vitality and encourages us to eat more.
In recent years, researchers have discovered the importance of bacteria in promoting nutrient absorption, manufacturing certain nutrients, and supporting other measures of digestive health.
These friendly bacteria also control inflammation, fight off pathogens, improve mood and brain function, support immunity, and even help manage how the body stores fat. In fact, science is just beginning to uncover the numerous roles friendly gut flora play in maintaining optimal health.
Antibiotics and processed foods destroy healthy bacterial colonies and throw our microbiota—a term used to describe our personal bacterial ecosystem—out of balance. This condition, called dysbiosis, can generate inflammation and weight gain. It also may be linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Boost Your (Healthy) Bacteria
So how do we take care of the bacteria that are taking care of us? One step is to provide more good bacteria. There are numerous fermented foods—such as yogurt, miso, kefir and sauerkraut—that are rich in friendly bacteria. In addition, the fermentation process actually makes their nutrients easier to absorb.
We also want to emphasize whole foods with lots of fiber, as well as prebiotics. These are specific nutrients, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), that feed good bacteria. Prebiotics can be found in garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, onions, and other foods.
Enzymes are also an important ingredient for aiding digestive function. They’re abundant in foods such as fresh sprouts, pineapple, papaya, and other raw fruits and vegetables. Digestive enzyme supplements can also help.
Herbs, Spices and Supplements
There are a number of supplements that encourage nutrient breakdown and assimilation, support digestive enzymes, and reduce inflammation—while supporting healthy metabolism.
Black pepper, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, and other spicy herbs have long been recognized for their abilities to sooth gastrointestinal discomfort. In addition, they stimulate digestive enzymes and bring the added benefit of supporting a healthy microbiota by fighting bad microbes. But they also have other benefits.
For example, black pepper can impact metabolism and weight. Research has shown that piperine, the component that makes pepper spicy, also reduces fat storage. In fact, this spice works on the DNA level to prevent fat cells from being formed in the first place.
In addition to various herbs and spices, the nutrient chromium polynicotinate supports energy production, digestion, and healthy metabolism.
Next time, I will tell you how the foods you eat determine your energy levels. I’ll also reveal the seven most critical guidelines for making your diet a healthy one.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz, M.D., is one of the nation’s premier integrative physicians. He has been a pioneer in holistic medicine since the 1980s and has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers. He is founder and medical director of Amitabha Medical Clinic in Santa Rosa, Calif., which specializes in cancer and chronic conditions.
Visit his website at www.dreliaz.org