You’ve been on a roll.
Monday through Friday pilates class. You splurge on the weekend and take booty barre, intensive cardio, or a good old fashioned nature hike. You’re amped, seeing some tone and definition.
Thrilled with your accomplishment you treat yourself to those skinny jeans that frame your legs and backside. Flush with anticipation to strut your stuff, you suddenly realize that the button is a little stretched and there’s a flap of flub bulging over your pants!
How could this be?
You’ve been devoutly crunching those abs weekly. You’ve even noticed your clothes fit a size smaller. You’ve put in your time, and you actually like your routine now! How is that protruding focal point still rearing its ugly head, crushing your dreams of those infamous Janet Jackson abs?
Here’s the skinny on Belly FAT.
Come on, go ahead and pinch an inch of your waistline.
The fat you just gripped and jiggled is subcutaneous fat (even skinny people can do this exercise). It’s no secret that subcutaneous fat resides all over our bodies. We can see and feel it. And, although it comes in different sizes, it provides cushion for our butt, thighs, arms and even the soles of our feet.
Now, visceral fat or ‘abdominal fat’ you can’t measure. It surrounds your abdominal organs and any amount of exercise doesn’t melt this away.
This fat is stubborn and along with being unsightly and annoying, it has a dark and dangerous presence in the body. By the time your waistline distorts the proportion of your body, your visceral fat has been metabolically active for a while.
Visceral fat has a mind and a mission of its own. It has gone rogue. It actively releases inflammatory agents and hormones, such as angiotensin and adipokines that spike blood pressure and insulin. These imbalances set the stage for diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of dementia.
Research from Harvard and The National Institute of Health confirm that women with a waist of circumference exceeding 35 inches are at higher risk of developing these health problems.
Who knew a belly could do all that!
Well, this belly doesn’t come out of nowhere, bad luck, not calorie counting or having faulty genes. Don’t despair, look no further than your hormones!
Hormones we all have them, and they are not just in a state of flux at certain times of the month, puberty, pregnancy or perimenopause. Hormones tell you when you’re hungry, they change your temperature, mood and how you respond to stress. They control how much fat stays on, comes off and where it goes.
Sounds like some pretty important friends you got there!
So, obviously when your friends get out of control they can do more harm than good and steer you in the wrong direction. Hormones are equally influential. These are the top three cool friends (or enemies) you need to check to help flatten that belly.
Will The Master Hormone….. Please Stand Up
I bet you thought it was estrogen!
Every cell in your body needs glucose, and insulin is the hormone in charge of transporting it there. Think of your cells as the doors of an opening elevator and insulin and glucose step in to catch the ride. When this happens smoothly, your body has abundant energy to function, repair and grow.
By eating a standard American diet of refined carbohydrates and sugar devoid of vegetables and fiber, your liver cells become overloaded with glucose. Your cells forcibly shut out insulin. They purposely push that ‘close door’ button.
Well, similarly, if you’ve ever had the door closed in your face, insulin gets angry. It finds other cells to ride along with. These are your fat cells. Insulin and fat cells become a power couple. Higher and higher amounts of insulin feed your fat cells and end up as storage in the belly. Years into this relationship, the pancreas eventually burns out leading to Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor to obesity, weight gain, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and some cancers.
You do not want to mess with insulin! With elevated levels of insulin, you are destined to remain in muffin top purgatory.
Although insulin is the master of ceremony, there are a couple other key players to keep in check.
Tuning out the Leptin
Normally, when you’ve had enough to eat, you feel full, right?
Well, let me introduce you to Leptin.
Leptin is a hormone, made by your fat cells, that decreases your appetite. Leptin signals your brain to stop eating when there’s enough food in your stomach.
Leptin levels get higher the more weight you gain because fat cells make leptin.
But here’s the problem, Leptin is like that passive aggressive mother that keeps nagging you about eating too much. The naggiar she gets the more you tune her out.
The more you tune out, the faster you become leptin resistant and your brain stops getting the memo that you’ve just ate that fifth cookie, so you eat and eat and eat.
Your brain will never know when to stop eating.
Leptin levels determine whether you will use food as fuel or store it along your waistline. So, if you’ve been wondering why that midsection won’t budge, you are probably leptin resistant.
The Stress Case
Along with that expanding belly, do you find yourself overly stressed, tired, grumpy and in need of morning and afternoon caffeine or sugar to push through your day?
Cortisol is the infamous “stress hormone”. It’s one of the main hormones we release when we’re under any sort of pressure. In the short term, this hormone is life saving. It gives you the strength to run from danger, protect your children or react quickly to oblivious people on the road.
It’s highest in the morning, so you wake up. And, lowest at night so you can sleep. If you find you do your best cleaning at two in the morning, your cortisol hormones are out of whack.
Cranked up cortisol levels, enabled by carmel latte frappuccinos, scones and donuts, make you “hangry” and contribute to insulin resistance.
Fat cells around your belly love cortisol. Fat cells have an irresistible magnetic grasp with cortisol Cortisol loves to stick to the belly since fat cells are waiting with open arms. Together they bond and grow that belly fat.
Hormones on Strike
There are several other factors at play, but mostly insulin, cortisol and leptin hormone imbalances contribute substantially to belly fat. Your attempts at the gym, ‘healthy’ eating and persistence are in the right place, but it’s out of whack hormones that hold you back from your ideal body. It’s much like that boyfriend you want to stay with but you know deep down he’s got no direction in life and he’s really no good for you.
Deflate The Muffin Top With Smart Food
Have you ever baked and stuck a toothpick in to see if it was ready, but your creation just flatten out? Well, here’s a magical toothpick for flattening your muffin top.
Refined carbohydrates, enriched wheat flour products, processed foods, sugar and low healthy fats combined with stress all feed that belly fat. Studies have revealed that this process sets the stage for insulin resistance and chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
Create hormone harmony with food
Acupuncturists were (and remain) the world’s first bio programmers. An acupuncturist has many ways to reset hormones. Work with an acupuncturist twice a week for three weeks and see how much easier your body realigns.
Although all of us would like to look better in our bathing suits, the true gift of losing weight around our middle is prevention of life threatening diseases.
Abdominal fat is a precursor to many health issues and easy to avoid. Eat healthy and move your body!!
Your body will thank you in many more ways!
I just returned from my annual visit to Lima, Peru, and although every trip fills my heart with love from family, this year I've returned sad, broken hearted and filled with ever more purpose.
I visited grandma who has Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve avoided it for a while and I now understood why. I wasn’t prepared to see a woman who I only remember as a sassy, spunky independent pistol, who use to get on the Metro line and disappear for hours in Downtown LA, one who use to rock out in the park with her tai chi girlfriends, and one who use to hike faster than me, reduced to having the verbal and cognitive skills of a nine year old. It was devestating watching her happiness to see me again only to be followed by confusion as to who I was.
The truth is, dementia and Alzheimer's is a growing problem. As a society, we are not prepared to deal with the projected forecast. Researchers predict Alzheimer’s will affect 106 million people by 2050. That is over half our domestic population.
Watching her enjoy her daily pastry, I was overcome with memories of her fantastic cooking. The modern Limeño diet is filled with simple carbs, enriched wheat, sugar, dairy, and fried foods. It's delicious, but this has come at a price. I started to connect the dots with my grandma’s present reality and the work i’ve been doing regarding aging and the body and brain connection.
Many people erroneously dismiss memory problems, depression and brain fog as a consequence of aging, or bad luck in the gene pool. They are not!
With ever growing advancements in medical technology and research, scientists now dubb Alzheimer’s disease as Type 3 diabetes. New research proves that high levels of blood sugar (insulin) from eating too many carbs and sugar and not enough fat is one major factor leading to chronic inflammation in the brain and body. Having too much sugar on the brain starts the cycle of the brain literally being on fire.
Basically, it goes like this: Too many processed carbohydrates and sugar and not enough good fats lead to blood sugar instability, blood sugar instability leads to inflammation, inflammation leads to every chronic disease and speeds up aging. Let's call this Inflammaging. Although it is proven that diabetics are four times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s, you do not need to have diabetes to have blood sugar problems.
Inflammation turns on select genes that show up as diseases your parents or grandparents had. Unfortunately, with Alzheimer’s we are watching the ramifications of generations that were led to believe low fat diets, replaced by convenient processed carbohydrates and sugar were healthy.
But, this doesn’t just occur in older people. The process starts as early as you decide what lifestyle habits you repeat and show your children.
Ultimately, this is GOOD news! You have complete control of how you age. So are you just aging, or are you growing old?
The body and brain connection is a symbiotic ecosystem that gradually destroys or mutually benefits one another. If you’re reading this with a bit of skepticism, just remember, western medicine once thought it was impossible to reverse arterial plaque (high cholesterol). I’ve personally helped hundreds of my patients eliminate their dependence on medication with acupuncture, herbs and diet.
My patient Mary was in the midst of menopause, and although she did not have transitional hormonal symptoms, she noticed her mental capability was declining. She would look for her keys, which were usually in the her other hand, she was having delayed responses, especially while driving, she could not sleep through the night, she was frequently tired but wired and did her best cleaning at 3 am. Her blood pressure was elevated for the first time in her life. She was startled by the fact her physician prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication with no other guidance or hope for the future.
When she came to see me, she broke down and felt as if she was ‘‘short circuiting’. She was also devastated that her children noticed changes in her mood, memory and alertness to the point that they could not entrust her with her own grandchildren.
Initially, I worked with Mary twice a week for three weeks using acupuncture. By her third session, Mary was sleeping through the night, uninterrupted and woke up refreshed and energetic. She followed an herbal supplementation and nutrition program designed to clear inflammation, balance hormones and nourish the brain. Within three months her blood pressure was normal, she lost belly fat, she was sharp, clear and confident. Best of all, she was back on a regular babysitting schedule enjoying her grandchildren. Mary is an exceptional example of what my Reboot Your Body & Brain Program can accomplish!
If you know you have a genetic predisposition toward dementia, it can be prevented or reversed by optimizing the things we know affect brain function: Diet, stress, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, hormonal imbalances.
First and foremost, you must control your blood sugar. This will balance your mood, help boost your energy, help you focus and prevent aging related brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Here are 5 basic strategies to prevent dementia and inflammaging:
This is just a jump start. These steps go a long way in helping your brain recover, heal and experience fewer memory problems.
Even if you are not suffering from memory loss, these steps help counter imbalances that create inflammation. If you are ready to achieve lifelong health and longevity, I can show you how. Contact email@example.com to set up your complimentary consultation.
Autoimmune diseases have become increasingly more common. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), up to 50 million Americans are affected with autoimmune conditions. Almost every other woman I treat has been diagnosed with some form of autoimmune condition. Ladies, we are 10 times more likely than men to have an autoimmune disease!
How It Occurs
An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system goes into overdrive and attacks healthy cells, which then affect one or several different types of body tissue.
Can't Pass The Buck, Anymore
Medical doctors are taught that our health is the result of our genes, preprogrammed and predetermined. This view rejects the possibility that health reflects an accumulation of choices that we make and the environment around us.
Science has proven that 95% of inflammation found in common diseases is rooted in lifestyle and environmental choices. This leaves only 5% of the blame on our mommy or daddy issues (darn!).
Causes of Autoimmune Disease:
The reality is our health and well-being are the result of how our environment interacts with our genes. There are up to 80 autoimmune diseases with 'unknown' causes, but evidence suggests that they share common triggers:
Conventional medical treatment for autoimmune disease is all wrong. Yes, they will admit it at times, and they can be wrong. The current approach to treating autoimmune disease falls under two categories. The first is to manage inflammation by suppressing the immune system, for example in autoimmune Lupus. The second, more conservative approach, is replacement therapy. Autoimmune thyroid disease is the best example, which is predominantly managed either by reducing the thyroxin production or by replacing the hormone once the gland is damaged.
Since environmental and lifestyle triggers are mainly what integrative practitioners focus on, we can offer hope to patients without the drastic ramifications of conventional therapy. Diagnostic considerations include stool testing, stress testing, organic acid testing, food antibody testing, as well as gluten sensitivity testing or elimination of gluten from the diet.
Successful treatment plans address lifestyle choices and environmental exposures that can perpetuate the triggers that can find expression of genetic predispositions to autoimmune disease. We support and strengthen the immune system and try to figure out why it went into overdrive in the first place.
While there is no known cure for autoimmune disease, you are now familiar with the key triggers that are at the root of all autoimmune conditions. In my integrative practice, I have been able to successfully help hundreds of patients lower and reverse antibodies, get off their harsh medications, and become symptom free.
Whether you or someone in your family is one of the 50 million Americans suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or another autoimmune disorder, there is hope for prevention and even reversal of the debilitating symptoms that accompany these conditions.
Burnout is a Reality!
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is the control center for your body’s stress response. When you get stressed, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), which signals the adrenal glands to pump out cortisol (stress hormone). During times of perceived danger, the switch is turned on, then off, designed to be followed by long periods of rest and relaxation.
Because emotional, physiological and environmental stressors are the new ‘normal’, the HPA axis switch is constantly on. During the ‘on’ period, the adrenal glands work overtime to produce high cortisol. Eventually, the HPA axis cannot keep up, and cortisol levels drop off to very low functional levels leaving a cascade of hormonal imbalances behind. This drop off point is known as HPA axis dysfunction, or Adrenal Fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is not a life threatening condition, but people with functionally low cortisol levels can barely keep up with life’s daily demands without turning to caffeine to push through the day.
Women are seven times more likely than men to be affected by adrenal fatigue. The hormonal demands throughout a woman’s life make us more susceptible to hormonal imbalances and HPA axis dysfunction. Think about the last time you thought to yourself: “I never felt quite the same after…..”. Many women have shared that line with me many times after having their children.
How Many Symptoms Can You Relate To?
The most obvious symptoms of adrenal fatigue are low energy and exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue affects everyone in different ways even if the underlying cause is the same. The following symptoms can vary from mild to extreme (this is not a complete list, nor is it intended to diagnose):
Have you heard of Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is rooted in science (labs and technical language), but based on ancient principles of treating the entire human condition: mind, body and spirit. It is holistic and preventative medicine.
According to the Institute of Functional Medicine, "Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease that engages both patient and practitioner. It offers a powerful new clinical model for assessment, treatment, and prevention of chronic disease to replace the outdated and ineffective acute-care models carried forward from the 20th century."
Unfortunately, the current medical system is decades behind technological advancements in healthcare. Conventional medicine tends to looks at symptoms first with the goal of disease diagnosis. Often, this diagnosis is associated with a drug or drugs that can be prescribed to treat symptoms, and that is the end of the story. This approach neglects how the disease progressed in the first place and how similar symptoms affects people differently.
Functional medicine checks for the root cause of inflammation and imbalance. For example, I use an Adrenal Stress Index panel when patients come in with severe fatigue, weight gain and depression. Although the symptoms are clinically similar, lab results show different markers affecting their hormones. One patient may have a gut infection leading to malnutrition, leading to their fatigue, while the other has chronic stress showing high cortisol levels leading to fatigue. Obviously, their treatments should be different. That's what functional medicine strives to do. We look at each patient, not their symptoms.
Why isn't my doctor using these?
There are MD's who want to revive their practices and are looking into the training. But most doctors are locked into the insurance based system, which has its limitations for now. Although functional medicine may be in the 'alternative medicine' category now, it is the medicine of the future. It gets results. It's in demand. It addresses our 21st century healthcare needs. It's a paradigm shift in medicine!
Contact me if you want a 15 minute consultation to see how I can help you.