This is the time of year people make resolutions to change and improve their lives.
New Year’s resolutions about health, and especially about diet and weight loss, must be the most common vows made each January.
If your resolutions are similar to these – and you are determined to get rid of “belly fat,” “muffin tops,” “spare tires,” etc. – you can accomplish this by following these three rules.
- Remove sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and processed food from your diet.
- Over 1/2 of everything you eat each day must be vegetables – a good variety of colorful vegetables.
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water (eight 8-ounce glasses) of water every day.
The fat will melt away.
My purpose for writing this blog is to help you restore the health of your immune system. Medical research is clear that being overweight and having excess fat suppresses the immune system.
Thus, the starting point in restoring the health of your immune system to its optimum is to get rid of excess weight and fat.
Why This Diet Works
Most people are unaware that body fat is an important endocrine gland that secretes hormones. The most important of these hormones is leptin. Leptin controls your appetite.
Your body is designed to protect you from starvation. To do this, it has the ability to measure your total amount of body fat (stored energy). When the amount of body fat drops below a predetermined level, the brain does two things to protect you from starvation: (1) it slows down your rate of burning fat – so you will last longer. (2) it creates a hunger craving – so eating food becomes a major priority.
How does your body do this? Fatty tissue secretes the hormone leptin. Leptin binds to brain cell receptors. Based upon the amount of leptin that attaches to these receptors, the brain releases chemical signals that cause either hunger cravings or appetite suppression.
Increasing the amount of fat in your body produces more leptin that binds to the brain cell receptors. This causes the brain to secrete appetite-suppressant chemicals.
When high levels of leptin bind to your brain cells, it signals your brain that your body has extra calories beyond what it needs. Your brain responds by releasing appetite suppressant signals.
When the level of leptin drops, your brain signals that “you’re hungry – really hungry.”
An analogy of how this works is a thermostat on a furnace. You set the thermostat to a predetermined level – for example 68°. When the temperature rises above 68° the thermostat will turn off the furnace. When the temperature drops below 68° the thermostat will turn the heater on again.
Likewise when the amount of leptin is high (above your basal metabolic rate) appetite suppression kicks in. Next, as fat calories are burned the amount of leptin in the bloodstream will drop. When the amount of leptin drops below your basal metabolic rate the brain causes hunger cravings to begin. The lower the amount of leptin in the bloodstream the more intense your hunger cravings become. Your brain is very sensitive to low levels of leptin.
The bad news is that high fructose diets induce leptin resistance. Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, eventually these brain cells become overwhelmed and shut down their leptin receptors to protect themselves. This is called leptin resistance – leptin can no longer get into the cells to deliver their message.
Thus, even when the leptin levels are high the ability for leptin to bind to the brain cell receptor sites is decreased.
Leptin resistance is like having a sticky or stuck thermostat on a furnace. When the temperature gets above the predetermined level the thermostat doesn’t shut the furnace off. The temperature continues to rise. Likewise, when the leptin levels are high but not enough is binding to the brain cells; the brain does not release appetite suppressant signals telling you to stop eating. The brain is getting a false signal that leptin levels are low! The brain continues to create intense hunger signals.
One more piece of bad news about leptin resistance. Leptin also controls metabolism – how fast you burn energy (calories). When your brain “thinks” you are low on fat, it will slow down your metabolism. This is why you feel fatigued all the time. Your brain thinks you need to conserve your energy – it wants you to store up more fat! This is a vicious cycle. You are trying to get rid of fat and weight while your subconscious brain is working to keep you from burning calories and losing weight.
Willpower can not overcome these intense hunger signals. It is like bench-pressing weights. At some point you become exhausted. If a diet depends upon willpower, the brain will cause the hunger cravings to become so strong that you will become exhausted trying to resist them.- that’s when you sit down and eat a full bag of Cheetos or a big bowl of ice cream.
The good news is that you can reverse leptin resistance with exercise and a healthy diet that cuts out high levels of fructose – sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and processed foods..
- Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver.
- The liver can only handle small amounts of fructose at a time – it converts excess fructose to fat.
- Fatty tissue secretes a hormone (leptin) that communicates to the brain the total amount of fat in the body.
- Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup cause leptin resistance.
- Leptin resistance causes the brain to think that the amount of fat is low; therefore, the brain sends out signals that cause food cravings.
- As leptin resistance increases, the food cravings become more intense.
- Leptin resistance can be reversed fairly quickly with proper diet.