A Congested Liver
One of the most under-rated components to weight loss is liver health.
A principal function of the liver is detoxification – the process of getting rid of everything harmful or unwanted by the body. An easy way to understand this is to say that everything which leaves the body, including excess body fat, must bypass the liver before it is eliminated. However, when the liver becomes congested, it prioritizes the detoxification of external substances over and above internal substances, such as excess body weight.
A congested liver also tends to recycle old hormones as it fights to keep up with the external toxic load. Oestrogen can then become recycled to such an extent that the body experiences high oestrogen levels – and what we need to understand about oestrogen, is that it increases body fat storage, in both men and women.
To de-congest the liver...
We need to reduce the amount of external toxins we ingest. This may mean having a good look at what we eat and asking ourselves if we need to reduce the amount of refined sugars and flours, processed foods, takeaways, processed meats and dairy, excess caffeine, and alcohol that we consume. Does this mean that you can’t ever consume these foods again? Not entirely. It is about what you eat most of the time, not some of the time. If you are generally a healthy person and follow a wholefood diet most of the time, having a glass of wine or a pint of beer on the weekend won’t hurt you.
High Insulin Levels
Insulin is that friendly hormone that welcomes more and more body fat. When insulin levels are elevated, weight gain is inevitable. The most logical question to ask next is - what makes insulin levels increase? The answer is glucose. Glucose is the substance that carbohydrate is converted into when it enters the body. Glucose is an important part of the diet as it provides immediate fuel for those times when you need to run extremely fast, climb Mount Everest, or just need to provide your brain with a little extra fuel. Remember, at all other times the body’s preferred fuel source is fat.
When we consume carbohydrates, glucose levels rise in the blood, which is followed by an influx of insulin to bring down our blood sugar levels. Insulin does two things; it encourages our fat cells to uptake more glucose and it also increases the uptake of fatty acids into fat cells. When you get both fatty acids and glucose in your fat cells, you end up with stored fat, a.k.a. triglycerides. If we have elevated insulin levels for too long, the body can become insensitive to insulin. This causes even higher levels of insulin to be released into the blood, thus incurring greater weight gain.
To avoid elevated insulin...
Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates, e.g. toast or muesli for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, sweet food, pasta, rice, or pizza for dinner. A slice of organic wholegrain bread or a bowl of quinoa salad every now and then will not impact your insulin levels anywhere near as much. Eat whole, natural, and unprocessed foods most of the time to ensure insulin levels stay low and consistent.
We are all familiar with this one, but do we understand how stress contributes to weight gain? Our stress response comes from our adrenal glands, which help to manage stress by releasing a steroid hormone. When the stress we experience goes on for too long or feels too intense, the adrenal glands secrete an excess of hormones (glucocorticoid) into the blood or our glucocorticoid receptors become desensitised. This hormone then converts the fat and protein already in our body into glucose in an attempt to help us “get out” of the stressful situation. Back in the day, say thousands of years ago, the most stressful situation people encountered was a tiger in their village, and the message their body received was to get out of there fast! Today’s stresses don’t tend to require extra glucose (the fuel for intense activity), and so the increased levels of glucose are converted into fat, often resulting in a greater accumulation of fat than beforehand.
To reduce stress...
Start by learning to manage your stress more effectively. Introduce 3 spells into your week when you sit on your own, breathe using your diaphragm – in for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, out for 4 counts – and remind yourself of all the good things in your life. Using your diaphragm to breathe is key to reducing the stress your body perceives it is under. The more you practice breathing with your diaphragm, the less stressed your body will perceive it is.
If you would like help with losing those last stubborn pounds, or think the reason you may be struggling to do so is because of one of the scenarios mentioned above, please be in touch.
Feed, nourish, value yourself.