While there exists a great deal of anger and frustration regarding the unfair treatment of people experiencing obesity — larger bodies and insufficient medical treatment — the purpose of this article is to offer nutritional therapy perspectives theorizing possible roadmaps to healing despite obstacles embedded within humanity’s collective health consciousness.
If you are a person who is physically fit, then enjoy your gift and have compassion for those not currently able to experience such fortune.
I am seeking allies to support the mission of healing.
1. Consumers must recognize the impact of the U.S. Farm Bill which provides subsidies on corn, wheat, soy and other cash crops. Restructure investments towards regenerative agriculture and sustainable infrastructures that promote ecological diversity.
There are an incredible amount of environmental factors at play with regard to obesity that include our relationships with other people as well as the intentional marketing of ultra-processed food-like substances.
What are the dangers of ultra-processed foods on metabolism and likelihood to get disease at a younger age?
We can direct our attention to the source of ailment.
Ultra-processed edible commodities undergo refining processes which, “add value,” by reducing the nutrient density of subsidized crops into hyperpalatable, branded for kids or adults, and colorfully marketed food-like products that contribute to the disease of modern humanity.
It is perhaps of great concern that the majority of human disease is caused by diets and blaming the consumer is an absolute scapegoat by the powers in play. I don’t think people realize the seriousness of diabetes or insulin resistance and also the ability of the body to recover when certain dietary inflammation causing offenders are eliminated.
Increased ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a worse cardiometabolic risk profile and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, depression, and all-cause mortality.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32792031/
Today, many bodies are already becoming metabolically obese at an even younger age. Growing up with parents in larger bodies could behaviorally reinforce certain disordered or addictive eating patterns. At the very least, we become accustomed to brands and marketing at an extremely young age and this plays a role in the comfort eating, relapse cycle common amongst people.
An option is to intentionally consume fresh food which is less convenient, yet can improve human health and wellness potential from brain to body (starting from the gut center). One doesn’t have to always enjoy vegetables, but one can appreciate putting disease into remission through nourishing practices and faith in the process.
Even better is to prevent disease. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why I believe we need more effective nutritional education programs for young families. If the government cannot achieve this task, then it’s clear that there must be an organic effort which arises from the individual and community levels.
Socially conscious business can also have a major impact while enjoying growth and revenue by serving the wellness of others.
Change isn’t easy in a culture where vice is normalized and promoted.
If a doctor gave a meal plan to a family living with obesity, in most cases it’s not something they could stick to for any sustainable period of time. Still, we shouldn’t put so much blame on the parents because they are under a lot of stress from things that wear down on them sometimes like their job or dependents.
Blaming the parents is not the answer because the health crisis is on a GLOBAL level. Despite the effects of obesity being felt and experienced on an extremely personal level, it’s difficult to maintain discipline in our challenging environment rife with nutritional misinformation at every aisle. However, a person can feel proud when using energy to pursue virtue or whatever may be relevant in your own personal context.
The preponderance of evidence to date suggests that healthy dietary patterns reduce the risk of the major diet-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30077352/
If a person lives with obesity for any period of time, it will be challenging to cure it. Ultra-processed food addiction is a commonly relapsing disease as is obesity itself. For people who grew up with obesity, it could be that their reward pathways in the brain have reinforced certain habits, values, and beliefs.
Metabolic obesity can occur in people of “normal” weight ranges and refers to the ways in which fat builds up around organs and causes biological damage by inflaming.
In the 1980s, the first study of the MONW (metabolic obese normal weight), a phenotype that is characterized by metabolic diseases in people with normal body weight. Since then, no uniform criteria have been established for MONW deployment, which has created difficulties in identifying affected individuals. Recent work has appeared describing the TOFI phenotype, which seems to lead to the appearance of MONW. People affected by this problem, in spite of undersized fatty tissue, have an increased amount of adipose tissue surrounding the internal organs, which increases the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073292/
Gut bacteria plays an extremely important role in human metabolic function. The gut microbiome of a child living with obesity can become strongly entrenched and typically skews the balance of bacteria unfavorably for the host.
Altering the gut bacteria microbiome is certainly possible when eating fermented foods and herbs. However, effectively improving the microbiome does quire significantly reducing many of the offending foods available to a modern person. Taking action to consume your personal healthiest and best foods for your own bio-individuality consistently requires sacrifice, however I firmly believe that you can maintain trueness of self in this process.
As obesity is an inflammatory condition, the gut cannot, “cool the fire,” so to speak. The gut becomes imbalanced and dominated by bacteria that confer metabolic damage to the host.
If the gut was never balanced to begin with, starting as an infant, the person would have the most difficult challenge making lasting microbiome changes through diet alone. It’s why human fecal transplants are being investigated as a promising therapeutic.
That is a reason why simply decreasing caloric intake is insufficient to fix the imbalances reinforced by the obesogenic state.
To promote healthy fat burning potential, your cellular mitochondria must have sufficient or optimal function.
To alter course from processed, convenient consumption to deliberate, intentional nutritional therapy may be necessary in order to promote disease prevention and longevity.
Even though you may notice not so happy thoughts about your body at times, as long as you can find room for forgiveness, then you will always be able to move forward despite the most trying of circumstances.
2. Drink more high quality water.
And be mindful of your salt.
Because hydration is extremely important in the battle to reduce inflammatory body fat which surrounds and impedes the organs.
Have you heard of the POLYOL pathway which is why people gain more fat when they become dehydrated and consume added sugar?
It is a glucose-sensing process, so it activates in conditions in which large concentrations of glucose flood the blood stream. The consequence is that survival genes become activated or expressed and these genes specifically relate to the production of triglycerides from glucose.
According to the theorized carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity, when glucose rapidly converts to fat by driving insulin to extreme levels, the organs become starved of energy due to the lack of optimal glucose being available for brain and organ function. Thus, after the sugar is quickly turned into fat, the person becomes hungry again as their organs struggle to maintain energy balance.
This doesn’t even account for the inflammation spike caused by sugar and insulin metabolism which over time can accumulate into lasting and irreversible damage to the host.
When you don’t drink enough water, the blood sugar levels will increase and the body has a process to deal with it (and this process has metabolic consequences).
First off, glucose should ideally be utilized by the brain, skeletal muscle and other organs rather than converted to fructose. Even worse is that the body has to use metabolic energy to convert fructose to triglycerides.
Second, if there is a nutrient deficiency, imbalance or excess causing the rate limiting metabolic step of converting sorbitol to fructose, then an excess of sorbitol becomes built up in the cells.
As sorbitol is too large of a molecule or that there is no gene available to transcribe a transporter protein for it, it gets stuck inside the cells and causes osmotic and oxidative stress. The cells can swell or shrink in size and they may also become irregular shape and inconsistent phenotype across the same cell type.
Osmotic stress promotes metabolic disease since the interactions within a cell rely upon the congruence of water to solve biological equations.
Relevant to the etiology of the epidemic of kidney disease. The common risk factor seems to be exposure to heat and recurrent dehydration. Fructose-rich juices or beverages might compound the problem.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120672/
And finally, fructose increases uric acid levels in the body.
Once uric acid enters the cell it causes oxidative stress.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917125/
THE GOOD NEWS:
When you hydrate with water, it may dilute the polyol pathway and hopefully slow down the aging processes or maybe even reverse it.
This is yet another reason why a “calorie is not just a calorie,” with regard to the metabolic function of using and storing energy. If you eat a high salt, high sugar meal along with a soda, your body would probably just turn it into fat immediately instead of giving time to circulate in the blood stream and let the organs utilize it as fuel.
Further, if you already are dealing with insulin resistance, then you shouldn’t compare your eating habits to others. With poor insulin function, the inflammatory consequences become even greater.
None of this is even taking into account the role that the microbiome plays in metabolism.
The point being, drink WATER. Reduce excess sodium. Reduce added sugars.
3. Change your perspective about weight.
Even though the scientific literature presupposes that weight is the actual indicator of a normal health status, I believe that the meaning of, “weight,” is used as a proxy for body composition. People who are heavier tend to store greater inflammatory fatty deposits in and around the organ systems.
Losing weight for the purpose of losing weight may be frivolous, if not harmful or emotionally damaging if the weight returns.
There are plenty of weights that we’d like to maintain such as bone density, lean muscle, organs, and you name it. We should strive to maintain the weight and mass of essential systems while reducing the overall capacity of cells that act against our physical health.
Obesity is an inflammatory disease of the endocrine system which represents a dysfunction of adipocytes and adipose tissue. We should be targeting dysfunctional fat specifically by utilizing nutritional therapy strategies that transform the body into a less inflammatory state from the inside out, gut first.
We know fat is essential, so how can we leverage fats to empower our brains and bodies? Let’s continue on.
A short list of quantitative indicators or tests of health status that aren’t intrinsically linked to bodyweight:
- Chemistry panel/complete blood count
- Lipid panel / Apolipoprotein B100 / VLDL / HDL-C
- Hemoglobin A1c
- Prostate-specific antigen (for men)
- C-reactive protein
- Thyroid stimulating hormone, T3, T4
- Testosterone (free and total)
- Estradiol/progesterone (for women)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3::Omega-6 index ratio (Red Blood Cell test, not plasma)
- Fasting Insulin
- Uric Acid test
- Saliva cortisol
- Gluten Panel
If you are experiencing setbacks in your body fat percentage despite efforts to reduce food intake, perhaps it could be useful to focus on improving nutrient balance and overall nourishment instead. Take an abundance mentality to the biochemistry of natural unprocessed nutrients.
When people focus on weight loss exclusively, they tend to get a narrow view of energy balance and fail to improve their well-being especially if they succumb to toxic diet culture.
Let’s reframe the discussion of obesity and health as a relapsing inflammatory condition which goes far beyond basic willpower and personal responsibility. People would do best to restructure their lifestyles to that which promotes health and balance, of course. But what we do not need are additional nutritient deficits — instead, we require nourishment.
A recent study gave participants two weeks of a diet in which they were able to consume as much food as they wanted. In the processed diet, they gained weight. In the unprocessed diet (in which they were allowed unlimited food), they lost weight. And the meals weren’t bland, they looked pretty good.
Some experts will look at the results and still obsess about the idea that it’s all about calories. Have caution while listening to calorie obsessed experts because they are not nutritional therapists and lack the understanding of nutrients in disease prevention.
Most food is ultra-processed and designed to be highly palatable while simultaneously stimulating more appetite rather than satiety. Unprocessed diets are the way to go, but they are more difficult and time consuming.
It’s very clear in my own personal experiences that just eating SOME processed food leads to eating MORE processed food. It’s very difficult for me to control the amount of food that enters my body once I get started eating. That’s why I prefer to consume unprocessed food because I get the sense that I can eat large, satiating quantities and still be fairly healthy.
Metabolic health is not simply a function of weight, but rather biochemistry, psychology, and more.
For this reason, I almost never weigh myself because I believe my own weight is mostly irrelevant to my health.
4. Upgrade the Fat that you Eat.
Dietary fat is necessary for normal healthy function of all human cells. Choosing your sources of fat should be extremely relevant due to the fact that the specific dietary fat physically incorporates into your cells. Thus, the quality of your fat sources are directly related to biological potential in the ability for cells to mobilize, communicate, enact enzymatic processes with multiple substrates, and so much more involved in every day human function!
Avoiding unhealthy fats is almost impossible in this modern nutritional climate that we live in. This is because most processed food contains refined seed oils and even your favorite restaurants — front fast casual to fine dining — use highly inflammatory ultra-processed, damaging seed oils like soybean oil (fine dining) and rice bran oil (Chipotle).
The Western-type diet is generally proatherogenic (causes plaques in arteries) characterized with energy dense, refined, ready-prepared foods with a high glycemic index and unhealthy lipids poor in ω-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals, and fiber.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128131480000141
Another difficulty in reducing unhealthy fats is that it’s near impossible for the average consumer to understand the difference between fat that comes from grass fed organic beef and the fat that comes from feedlot slaughterhouses.
When a cow consumes refined feed containing soy, corn, and grain, they themselves become metabolically obese. Yes, corn fed beef tastes good, but it’s more likely to increase systemic inflammation rather than 100% grass fed beef.
Look at the sheer amount of processing required for degumming, soaping, neutralizing, bleaching, and deoderizing that has to happen in order for people to even consider this product edible.
If it didn’t go through every single one of these refinement processes, nobody would touch it due to the disgusting smell, texture or appearance.
People on StopEatingSeedOils subreddit consistently report the easing of their diseases and even the remission of common inflammatory conditions like acne.
Being mindful about the types of fats that you consume is absolutely one of the most essential ways to manage your inflammation.
And when you manage inflammation, you manage disease.
Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids influence gene expression. Omega-3 fatty acids have strong antiinflammatory effects whereas ω-6 fatty acids are proinflammatory. A high ω-6/ω-3 ratio of the diets and tissues have been reported as a risk factor of coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Increased dietary intake of ω-6 fatty acid significantly enhances the apparent atherogenic effect of genotype, whereas increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA blunts this effect. Dietary omega-6 fatty acids promote, whereas marine omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA inhibit leukotrienes-, thromboxanes-, prostaglandins-mediated tissue inflammation thereby leading to the pathogenesis of NCDs. (Non-communicable disease)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128131480000141
So even when a person thinks they are doing great by counting calories or hitting their macros, I urge you to be mindful about the implications of fatty acid balance.
The importance of consuming high quality, balanced fats cannot be understated.
Wild Alaskan Salmon is arguably the best source of fat and nutrients on the planet. Other great sources include pasture raised eggs, ghee, and more.
TAKE HOME POINT: Fat is extremely good, healthy, and important for us. Or it can be the driver of disease and inflammation.
In the upcoming series, I’ll write a post about my favorite sources of fat and how to avoid common hidden fats that may be detrimental.
5. Use movement as part of a daily practice.
Access your body and utilize your mobility, opportunity, and possibility. If you can still lift your hand, that is more than a lot of people. Do any intentional movement that brings you the slightest amount of joy and health.
Movement gives us opportunity to overcome obstacles. By moving our bodies in ways that challenge us to overcome, we can build powerful mental strength and resilience as well. Even if the size of our body has not changed, healthy movement can benefit our beliefs, values, and that all of that which is intrinsic to us.
Working out really shouldn’t be about weight loss anyway. It should be about a healthier you.
I notice that for me, when I practice the type of movement that I enjoy, it also encourages me to be more mindful of my nutritional choices as I know healthy nourishment will only support it.
As an movement minded individual, I view nutrition as essential in the recovery process so that I can perform and hopefully one day achieve my destiny and purpose in life.
6. FIBER. Consume fiber from a variety of fresh, frozen, and fermented plant foods.
Don’t overdo it, but definitely don’t underdo it.
This could be an eating strategy in it’s own right. It would be called, “Focus on the Fiber,” and the person’s goal would be to consume 30-50 grams/daily of plant fiber from at least five different sources. More variety the better for immune health due to increase of beneficial endogenous probiotics and the work they do for us.
Prospective cohort studies showed that insoluble fibers in diet is more protective against some metabolic diseases. A reasonable association with insoluble dietary fiber on the basis of the background of the gut microbiota in hosts is of great importance in achieving the goal of disease prevention and cure.https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/22/6802/htm
It’s much easier to do once you eliminate hyperpalatable food completely, because you build a much better appetite for the plants.
The benefits of fiber have evidence:
- A higher consumption of fibers seems to be associated with lower concentrations of serum inflammatory biomarkers. Inflammation is associated with a higher risk of mortality, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
- Dietary fibers are known to alter intestinal microbiota composition and function, which play pivotal roles in modulating the immune system and might affect CVD and cancer risk.
- The consumption of fibers (particularly from vegetables) is associated with higher intakes of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Dietary fiber may inhibit cholesterol synthesis and consequently reduce serum cholesterol concentrations by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids and the rate of bile excretion, promote weight loss by regulating energy intake, and slow glucose absorption and thus improve insulin sensitivity.
- We found suggestive evidence that higher dietary intakes are associated with a lower risk of several cancers (i.e., pancreatic, gastric, esophageal adenocarcinoma, colon, endometrial, breast, and renal), stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
7. Offer compassion to another person or yourself.
Since I have worked with the public for my entire career, I have come to realize that people maintain complex feelings and concerns related to health. A lot of people would just rather ignore the symptoms that their body is giving them until it becomes too serious to ignore. Others are proactive, especially if they dearly value their one and only body.
Many people who are interested in nutrition for the health benefits are doing so because they have experienced past trauma, inflammation, imbalance, or dysfunction. I am a personal testimony to this and I believe it is my duty to pass on nourishing traditions to the next generations.
- You never completely know what another person is truly going through at a given point in time.
- All people are worthy of compassion.
- Compassion is a gift that allows another person to be themselves.
- You don’t know everything about human metabolism and I don’t either.
- If a person living in a larger body has a disease, it is not your place to discuss it let alone diagnose it.
I wish I could go back in time and right my mistakes.
But I can’t.
So I’m writing to share with the world,
If there is just one conclusion that you take from this article is that we are experiencing a collective health crisis that has VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH INDIVIDUAL WILLPOWER.
Please understand that obesity is systemically caused by the modern food environment and that there are many forces and feedback loops that keep people trapped in processed food addiction.
I struggle often and I am a knowledgeable professional.
You are empowered to make the choices with your own wallet. Whether or not you like it, you are voting for disease, obesity, and cancer every time you support the processed food industry.
That’s why educated people must lead by example and continue to educate others with compassion.
Let’s encourage nourishment for ourselves and for the sake of others.
You don’t owe your health to anybody, but if you truly need your physical health, I can help you.
Stay tuned for more.
I hope I can stay consistent in my messaging to the world.
Thank you for reading.