An Integrative Approach to Weight Management

Successful weight management is more than just calorie counting and portion control. All aspects of well-being are intertwined, and weight management should be part of a larger overall integrative plan that seeks to promote a healthy mind and body as a whole. There are many elements to consider in weight management—and they all are all connected in some way. The following is a description of just some of the other conditions associated with weight management, and of the natural remedies that can help to alleviate their negative effects. Depression and anxiety Boosting mood can burn belly fat and contribute to successful weight management. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and muscle contraction. When it is not present in sufficient amounts, like in depression and anxiety, the body fails to properly regulate these functions. Exercise is a great way to boost serotonin levels. So is natural sunlight. Supplements like 5-HTP and amino acid replacement therapy can also help to synthesize serotonin. Stress Cortisol is the hormone connected to the body’s responses to stress. In its natural balance, it also reduces inflammation. When our bodies are overstressed, cortisol is released in harmfully high doses. The overproduction of cortisol can result in belly fat, decreased metabolism, chronic inflammation, increased appetite and digestive problems—all factors involved in weight management. Balancing cortisol levels is possible through nutritional supplements such as vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and magnesium. Food sensitivities Most people live with food sensitivities that they do not even know they have. These sensitivities contribute to chronic inflammation, which is a condition linked to weight gain—especially belly fat and bloating. Common foods that cause inflammation are wheat, dairy, hydrogenated oils, red meat, simple carbohydrates and artificial colouring. A holistic nutritionist can identify inflammation aggravators and help to develop a healthy diet and supplement plan.Nutritional deficiencies Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other natural compounds are essential to health. When diet alone does not provide the required amount, supplements can be taken to boost levels. These compounds work together to promote and maintain health. Energy is associated with vitamin B12. Vitamin B1 helps to break down fats. Creatine is a natural compound that the muscles need to store energy. Iron enables muscles to burn fat by delivering oxygen to them. If deficient in iron, the body has lower levels of energy, a slower metabolism and a reduced capacity for aerobics.  It is important to discuss a nutritional supplement plan with a nutritionist to ensure that the right balance is met. An overabundance can cause just as much of a problem as a deficiency. Sleep deprivation Getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining health and managing weight. Sleep deprivation impacts the hormones that work in the night. Leptin is a “night hormone,” meaning that it is only activated during the sleep cycle. Leptin’s function is to tell the body when to stop eating. When sleep is deprived, leptin is not produced, resulting in a lack of the “appetite off-switch.” Melatonin is another hormone that is part of the human sleep cycle. Released at night, it regulates the sleep-wake cycle by inducing drowsiness and lowering body temperature. Boosting melatonin and leptin levels through natural supplements can aid in getting a good night’s rest, which can then translate into an increase in cognitive functioning and energy—both of which play a role in weight management. Plants like chamomile and lavender have calming effects and are used for inducing sleep. They can be found in the forms of oils, teas, powders, liquids, and pill form. Taken as a whole, weight management involves addressing the entire mind and body—inside and out.  This integrative approach to the issue works from the premise that the healing and treatment of one issue is a healing and treatment of all. Weight management will not be successful unless all of the other contributing factors are also addressed.