By Dr. Angela Karvounides
While weight loss may not be the primary reason for an initial patient visit, the majority of patients that I see will express a desire to lose weight or frustration with the degree of difficulty it entails to maintain weight. Even strangers will ask for my thoughts on a new claim making media headlines about a magic weight loss supplement once they learn that I am a naturopathic doctor.
In all honesty, a magic weight loss pill sounds just as enticing to me as the next person. As such, I can understand all of the marketing hype. After all, a market only exists because there is a want or need expressed by the general public, regardless of the practicality of the specific desire. We live in money driven society and 60% of Americans adults are overweight. Of that 60%, obesity alone accounts for 78.6 million people! More and more school-aged children are becoming overweight each year and obesity is directly related to some of the leading causes of preventable death.
In a modern world filled with quick fixes and instant gratification, it is essential to remember that many things in life still require some good, old-fashioned hard work, dedication and adaptability.
If you are wondering why you are finding your current diet strategy ineffective, there could be a multitude of explanations. The most likely factor, however, is that the program you are following is not individualized to your very specific needs. Stress, thyroid function, mental-emotional health, blood sugar regulation, lack of sleep, toxins, genetics and the types of foods you eat are all affecting your ability to maintain a healthy weight. The good news is that all of these factors can be addressed with your naturopathic doctor.
Modifying your diet is one of the easiest ways to positively impact your health. The food choices we make have a profound effect on our bodies and our genes. We now know that our genes are not permanent as once believed, but rather able to be changed by the choices we make. In addition to diet, exercise, sleep and stress also affect gene expression. The outcome of this alteration in gene expression is either positive or negative depending on the circumstance.
Lectins are proteins found in food that interact with our blood, tissues, immune system and various biochemical signaling pathways. These proteins are most prominent in grains, beans and seeds and are resistant to digestive enzymes and cooking. They can initiate a range of bodily responses from inflammation to blood clotting and can be very toxic. While naturopath Dr. D’Adamo pioneered The Blood Type Diet and The GenoType Diet, scientific research on the effects of dietary lectins and associations between blood type and various diseases has been around for decades. Lectins affect the colonic environment and get past the gut wall and deposit themselves in organs and stimulate various responses in cells throughout the body.
If associations between blood type and various diseases exist and proteins in our food interact with the proteins in our blood, what if we can affect not only our current health status but also our genetic predisposition based on diet alone? This is truly preventive care at its best and the power exists within us.
Each of us has specific genetic factors that affect weight and metabolism. Fat, protein and carbohydrate ratios differ for individuals based on genetic makeup. For some, wheat, gluten and corn can slow metabolic rate and contribute to problems related to blood sugar regulation. For others, certain types of beans and red meat can be the primary contributors to weight gain. Dairy can speed up the metabolic rate in some people while slowing it down in others.
The reasons stated above are a few possible explanations that may help to answer your weight and general health concerns. It could also explain why you felt lethargic on the Paleo Diet or South Beach Diet or any other diet that wasn’t designed to accommodate your specific and important needs.
To start making an immediate change in your health, find out your blood type. If you are blood type O, a Paleolithic style diet is likely to be most beneficial for you. Those with blood type A will benefit from a modified vegetarian style diet complete with plenty of fish, beans and even whole grains. Dairy is a super food for people with blood type B and some seemingly healthy foods such as peanuts, corn, lentils and even whole wheat can be some of the biggest contributors to weight gain for B blood types. Blood type AB will benefit from a combination of blood type A and blood type B diets.
Diet is part of our lifestyle. It’s not a weight loss plan but a conscious decision about how we choose to live our life in order to feel the best that we can. Part of being the best version of ourselves is also remembering to think positively, getting a good night of sleep and doing the things in life that make us happy. Perhaps the most important aspect of our well-being is remaining open to change and remembering to ask for help when needed.