A FRESH LOOK AT WEIGHT REGULATION
Despite widespread popular belief, more deeply ingrained in our American culture than baseball and apple pie, there is no connection between overweight and character. Being fat is not a sign of weak willpower or self indulgence. Neither is it a sign of superior willpower to be lean. For the religious, being overweight is not a sin. Neither is being overweight a crime; at least not yet. However, with the current redesign of our government it is always possible that overweight may become a criminal act at some point.
Nor is there any connection between undesired weight gain and our genetic inheritance. It is true that overweight conditions tend to prevail along family lines, but as we shall see, this has very little to do with heredity. Today, largely because it is politically correct to blame our genes for our poor health, sometimes the overweight among us point to their genes as the culprit. While it may be comforting to ascribe our overweight to something so beyond our control, this does little to promote lean body mass.
Much of the science that we hear from the weightloss industry is pure undiluted, money making hokum. It rarely originates in reputable science labs but rather from the marketing departments of companies with something to sell. Ever since the era of the rainmakers in the latter nineteenth century, weightloss nostrums have been a mainstay money maker for the pseudo scientists in our midst.
Before discussing the real science of our body weight and appetite control system and how we can restore normal healthy body mass, we digress to take a quick look at some of the history of the pseudo science weightloss movement. We do this on the theory that in order to appreciate more fully how to do something right it is often helpful to see a few of the ways it was done wrong.
Weight loss rainmakers
An important part of the weightloss industry is the diet book. One of the first was published in 1864 and advocated a daily alcohol intake. Obviously this was before prohibition. Actually our body systems are now known to convert some of our alcohol intake to body fat and store it. Not only was this an ineffective weight control technique but it actually promoted the storage of body fat.
�Outsmarting the female fat cell�, another more recent pseudo scientific weight loss guide, asserts that calories do not count. The only thing that counts is how you eat them; not how many you eat.
In the 1930�s an insecticide, Dinitrophenol, was widely promoted as a weightloss medication. Before it was ordered off the market a number of dieters lost their eyesight as a direct consequence of its use. Another high risk theory was promoted in the Cambridge diet. This one killed a number of people before it too was ordered off the market. 
We have all lived through the more recent era that saw the Jack LeLane program, Stillman�s quick weight loss program, the Beverly Hills diet, the Phen-Fen program, the low carbohydrate diet and many, many others. Each of them took a guess at the cause of overweight and each of them in turn failed miserably to resolve the weight loss problem for the large majority of us. Millions of us suffered along with Oprah as she, very publicly, strove to preserve her figure and her health.
Although this sort of pseudo science abounds and fills a huge market share, real science also exists and it has made important recent strides in the understanding and reversal of the overweight syndrome.
Nathaniel Pritkin, an engineer, came a little closer to a genuinely sound weight loss program than most with his no fat diet. When he started to study the problem he weighed 300 lbs and suffered from severe arterial occlusion and had already had a heart attack. When he died at the age of sixty of unrelated causes, he had a trim figure and the arteries of a thirty year old. It�s unfortunate that the role of the essential fatty acid was not understood in the 1960�s or he would have been much more successful. Unbeknownst to Nathaniel, the type of fats and oils that are eaten is far more important than the quantity of them. However, this was not learned until much later.
The scope of the problem
The body has a number of control systems that control many of our important body parameters. Parameters such as blood pressure, blood sugar, body temperature, fluid balance are all subject to automatic control without our conscious intervention.
Body weight and appetite are also subject to the same automatic control. It is only when this controller is damaged and fails to function properly that we get fat. When it fails in a big way or for a long time we get obese. Currently this controller is broken and does not function well for about 35% of us that are overweight. For another 30% of us the overweight has progressed into morbid obesity. That is, we are overweight by thirty pounds or more, sometimes by much more. The frightening statistic is that 2/3 of Americans are either overweight or morbidly obese. These numbers not coincidentally, are similar to the number of diabetics among us. Type II diabetes and Obesity are closely related symptoms of a very similar endocrine imbalance.
Although a complete picture of the body weight and appetite system does not yet exist, enough is known in the research community to be of great help in our struggle to become lean. For example, the secret to effective weight control does not lie in an heroic struggle against all odds to starve our body into submission. When we continuously have to intervene in the weight loss process it means that our automatic system is still broken. When we get it fixed, our weight will be maintained at an optimum level automatically with very little conscious concern or effort on our part.
The entire concept of dieting to lose weight is seriously flawed. Anyone who has attempted to lose weight this way can readily attest to the fact that when the diet ends, all of the weight and more returns far more easily than it was lost. We end up worse off than before we dieted. There is a reason for this.
As we diet the body perceives that it is in danger and is experiencing a famine. It responds to this danger in three ways. First, it makes us more hungry so that we miss no opportunity to consume food. Second, it slows down our cellular metabolism so that we burn fewer calories thus conserving our energy stores (fat). Third, it revs up our digestive metabolism so that we more efficiently get energy from the food that we consume. In this way the body acts to make us secure in the presence of the famine that our diet causes.
After we fall off our diet, and we always do fall off it, we find ourselves ravenous to replace the lost food stores. We also find that our digestive metabolism remains more efficient and we regain the weight we lost much more quickly than we expect.
Thus, from the scientific standpoint, willpower and dieting are less effective than doing nothing at all. Any dietary improvement is temporary at best.
How our body weight and appetite control system works
When we eat our food is broken down in our intestines into fragments that are then used by the body to repair and rebuild itself and to power our cellular processes. It is sort of like repairing and maintaining and remodeling our house with the parts that are scavenged from the dissassembly of other houses. These other houses, once consisted of the plant and animal building blocks that we find on our dinner plate.
Glucose is the primary energy source used to power our cellular metabolism. When carbohydrates are digested in the upper intestine, glucose is released into the portal vein. This glucose is transported to the liver and then to the rest of the systemic circulation. When the pancreatic sensors detect glucose in the portal vein the pancreatic Beta cells release insulin in little spurts into the portal circulation. When the liver detects the presence of this insulin it begins to store some of this glucose as glycogen in its storage depots. It also starts to convert some of this glucose into triglyceride fat for storage in our fat cells. Since fat is not soluble in the water like blood stream it must be transported to the fat cells around the body in little truck like conveyances. These are called LDL Cholesterol. Cholesterol has gotten a very much undeserved bad name partly because of this role in transporting fat around the body in the bloodstream.
The glucose that is not converted to glycogen or to triglycerides for storage by the liver is transported around the body in the blood stream, along with insulin and other control hormones. When this blood stream bathes the 70 trillion or so cells in our body, a number of interesting things happen. If the cell is a Peripheral, Muscle, Brain or Central Nervous System cell the insulin acts as a signal to the cell that glucose is available. When the cell sees the signal, it uptake's glucose from the blood stream into its own interior. There it is used for energy. It is when these cells fail tosweep the glucose out of our blood stream that much of it is stored as body fat.
When a fat cell receives its insulin signal, it uptakes any triglycerides in the blood stream and stores them as fat. The triglycerides that it finds in the blood stream come from the fat that we eat as well as the fat manufactured by the liver from the carbohydrates that we eat in the process just described.
When we eat too much fat and carbohydrates the excess over our immediate needs is stored in our fat cells. This is the way, during a feast, that the body prepares for famine. This is how we get fat.
However, in addition to the fat and carbohydrates that appear in the food that we consume, literally thousands of other essential nutrients are normally present to balance our endocrine system and provide health and vitality. These appear naturally in whole unprocessed properly prepared foods. The body needs these nutrients and will remain hungry until it starts to get them.
In the typical American supermarket diet the needed nutrient availability in our food has been removed in the processing. So, when the primary food source consists of supermarket food we will remain hungry. This hunger cannot be satisfied by the nutritionless food but we continue to try to satisfy it by eating more food. We then find ourselves consuming far more fats and carbohydrates than we need. During this unsuccessful attempt to obtain the needed nutrition our body, ever thrifty, carefully saves the calories as stored fat.
There is a very good reason why much supermarket food is so lacking in nutrition. The very same properties of food that make it digestible and nutrition rich are the ones that also limit its shelf life. Shelf life is the second most important determinant as to whether or not a store finds it profitable to carry a particular foodstuff. It is by carefully processing food for maximum shelf life that supermarkets are able to offer such a huge variety at such a low cost.
For the overweight, low cost food is an illusion. The money saved by buying cheaper food is more than offset by the need to buy so much more of it.
When we struggle with overweight problems we, in effect, are struggling with an endocrine system that is no longer automatically controlling body weight as it should. It is quite likely that it is no longer controlling other things as it should either. This is why Diabetes, Atherosclerosis, Impotence, Heart failure, Cancer and many other so called degenerative diseases are taking such a heavy toll on American life. The two places we should first look for answers to restore our endocrine system to proper function lie in our allergies and in our nutritional needs.
Food allergies are a common finding in the Type II diabetic. Food allergies are a common finding both in the overweight and in the Obese. In my book �Insulin: Our Silent Killer� a whole chapter is devoted to how to discover food allergies at home and in how to prevent them from impacting our health and body weight.  This was written from the viewpoint of the diabetic but applies equally well to the overweight.
When we consume foods to which we are allergic our immune system secretes opiate like chemicals called opioids. It does this to suppress the allergic symptoms, histamine reactions and inflammatory response which would normally be produced by the food allergen.
Unfortunately we become addicted to these opioids just as we would to any drug. One of the characteristics of food to which we are allergic is that we develop a real fondness for it and we prefer to eat it. Unbeknownst to us, this preference is a result of our opioid addiction. When we eat foods to which we are allergic the range of foods that we eat becomes limited and we eat the same thing often.
A viscious cycle ensues. We eat an allergen containing food. The allergic reaction begins. The body emits opioids to control the reaction. We feel good. We like these foods and make a habit of eating them. Our sparing metabolism saves all their calories in our fat cells. We get fat.
Some of us are even allergic to certain whole grain and health type foods. It's just the biochemical inheritance with which we must learn to deal. Common allergens are such things as peanuts, corn, gluten and dairy products. There are many more. In addition many grains come with their own opioids as a natural part of the grain complex. These tend to conceal the allergic response manifested by our bodies.
Most of us are allergic to some degree to many common food additives. These are commonly added to processed food to lengthen shelf life, improve texture, maintain color and flavor, to reduce the use of more expensive natural ingredients and for many other reasons that have nothing to do with health. More than one manufacturer has been caught deliberately adulterating his product in order to promote the addictive process.
If we are reacting to our food allergies, the trick is to discover the offending food allergy and stop eating that particular food. When we do this we soon lose our addiction to our own opioids and our appetite will begin to stabilize at a more normal level. We then lose weight and become more energetic without serious effort.
An interesting phenomenon has been noted about this food allergy effect. It is that we will invariably refuse to believe that we have any food allergies until testing makes it impossible to deny.
Our past eating habits are largely responsible for the nutritional deficiencies that may characterize our particular individual weight loss problem. Although we cannot treat all of the numerous nutritional deficiencies in America in this short article we will discuss some of the more important ones. By understanding these, many will be able to regain automatic control over their body weight.
Many carbohydrates in their natural state come with special enzymes called amylase inhibitors. When we consume the carbohydrate raw rather than cooked, these enzymes slow down and balance the digestion process. This is particularly important with high starch foods. Unfortunately high starch foods are almost invariably cooked and their enzyme inhibitors destroyed. This is why it is a good idea to avoid high starch foods when grappling with overweight problems. Starch contributes very little to needed nutrition but readily converts to fat that is stored.
If the overweight issue is due to excess starch consumption, then reducing starch intake and combining it with supplementary amylase inhibitors may have a helpful effect on body weight regulation.
Many carbohydrates other than starches when uncooked or lightly cooked (steamed) come with their enzymes intact. This permits our digestive process to work more effectively. Our body can then obtain needed nutrition instead of just the calories from the food. Perhaps the western tradition of serving a salad of raw fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced meal could have originated with this idea.
Often we lack essential minerals in our diet. We keep eating in the expectation that eventually needed minerals will magically appear in the blood stream. Since our food is severely mineral deficient this will never happen with a typical American diet. As an example, Calcium deficiencies are quite common and can lead to the sort of food craving that causes obesity.
If our overweight problem is due to mineral deficiency, supplementation with a good widespectrum therapeutic grade mineral complexed with their protein carriers may have a helpful effect on body weight regulation.
Often we lack vitamins, phytonutrients, phospholipids, enzymes and many, many other natural, vital life promoting organics. This deficiency too, will keep us eating until we finally find the ones we need in our blood stream. It is more difficult to uniquely identify these missing nutrients. Indeed, it is likely that some of them have not even been categorized or studied yet. For this reason it is important to prefer whole foods in our diet.
If our unbalanced endocrine system is due to lack of some of these more obscure nutritional elements, then adding therapeutic vitamins and cofactors as well as some of the better quality superfoods and algae�s to our diet may have a helpful effect on our body weight regulation.
Generally, if our body weight regulation problem is due to missing nutrition we must experiment until we discover just what it is that is missing and then make sure that we add it to our diet. In order to do this efficiently we must keep a logbook of our experiments. When we discover and add the missing nutrition to our diet we can verify that we were successful by noting the results we get from our experiments on ourselves in our logbook.
One particular food, common and popular in the supermarket, is perhaps more to blame for our American epidemic of weight control problems than almost any other food. It is to this we turn next.
Fats and oils
Much our engineered food is manufactured by machines. Possibly among some of the worst of these �manufactured food products� are the grocery store fats and oils. In addition to being almost without nutritional value, many contain very large quantities of toxins.
These toxic elements are created during the expeller pressing process by the high temperatures of the process. Also, the refining process adds toxic chemistry to produce a pristine looking finished product. The human body does not know how to use these foreign chemicals presented to it as food, so, it stores them in our fat cells. There are few grocery store fats and oils that this author considers edible, although all of them look good in their transparent designer bottles on room temperature grocers' shelves.
Often the label claims that the oil is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. However, they are not required by law to tell you that these unsaturated components are largely of the �trans� variety for which our body has no real use. They constitute one of the really important reasons overweight is so widespread. Unsaturated oils of the �Cis� variety that the body needs rapidly become rancid and obviously inedible in transparent bottles on room temperature grocers shelves very quickly. Shelf life is clearly a much more important criteria than health in the manufacture and distribution of these fats and oils.
Much of our overweight epidemic can be traced to the �war on fat� so widely hyped in the early 1970�s. Unbeknownst to the public this �war on fat� was declared as a smoke screen to conceal massive changes introduced into our fats and oils food chain by manufacturers eager to improve their profit margins.
One oil was almost totally removed from the food chain and replaced by cheap toxic substitutes. The lost oil, coconut oil, played a vital role in maintaining cellular metabolism and keeping us trim. When it was replaced by junk oils such as soy oil, cottonseed oil, and most of the rest of the refined oils from high temperature expeller presses we lost the �war on fat�.
If our unbalanced endocrine system and faulty weight regulation mechanism is due to the consumption of these cheap oils, and in very many cases it is, then the solution is simple. Stop eating these oils and replace them with the healthy fats and oils that we need. This means no more processed foods that contain these junk oils, no margarine, no engineered cooking fats and certainly no artificial �low fat� anything. Add the needed oils and fats to the diet such as coconut oil and clean saturated animal fat for cooking as well as flax oil, virgin olive oil and butter.
Liver induced toxin storage in fat cells
We live in a toxic world. Our liver works valiantly to keep us detoxified. One of the important ways it does this is to process toxins into either water soluble or fat soluble forms for excretion in either the urine or the feces. When we become overloaded with toxins this detox process cannot remove them from the system fast enough. So the body stores the excess fat soluble toxins in our body fat. When we become overloaded with toxins we also get fat.
If our overweight problems are the result of the need for the body to store toxin laden fat in our fat cells because the toxin excretion mechanism is overloaded, again a simple solution is available. A thorough intestinal and liver cleanse may often be the key to restore our ability to process toxins, to rebalance our endocrine system and to restore normal body weight.
Additional factors in body weight regulation
The use of flax oil, at three tbsps per day, and coconut oil for cooking mentioned above will rev up the cellular metabolism quite considerably. The use of CLA as a nutritional supplement will also rev up the cellular metabolism. Both of these lead to the rapid burning of stored fat and, potentially, to weight loss. I say potentially, because if allergies are present and vital nutrition remains missing, the net result may only be to cause an increase in food consumption to supply the additional energy requirements of the revved up metabolism.
Is it really in our genes
Children are born with a finite number of fat cells. They add more only with difficulty as they grow older. The number of fat cells is determined by the prenatal nutrition that the mother receives while the child is still in the womb. When the pregnant woman has inadequate nutrition during gestation, the child at birth tends to be overweight, to have extra fat cells and to be comfortable with elevated levels of both insulin and glucose. 
It is this prenatal nutritional connection that is frequently mistaken for an heredity factor. This prenatal nutritional shortage experienced by the mother usually shows up as gestational diabetes. The connection between diabetes and elevated body weight is very close both in the womb and in later stages of life. However, even the infant carried by a diabetic mother can regain full control over body weight later in life.
By looking at the birth weight on a birth certificate it is easy to determine if weight control problems are going to be experienced as an adult. Be aware though, while this gestational tendency is real it is not insurmountable. Even someone who was a high birthweight baby from a mother with gestational diabetes can maintain normal body weight as an adult. It�s just a little more difficult when one has such a start and perhaps, a little less automatic. So much for the genetic connection.
�Busting the low fat dieting myth�, Consumers Research Magazine, Oct 1997
� 2003 Thomas Smith - All Rights Reserved
Thomas Smith is a reluctant medical investigator having been forced into curing his own Diabetes because it was obvious that his doctor would not or could not cure it. He has published the results of his successful Diabetes investigation in his special report entitled �Insulin: Our Silent Killer� written for the layman but also widely valued by the medical practitioner. The book may be purchased by sending $25.00 US to him at PO Box 7685, Loveland, Colorado 80537. He has also posted a great deal of useful information about this disease on his web page www.Healingmatters.com. He can be reached by telephone at: 1 (970) 669-9176 -
E-Mail: [email protected]
"Much of the science that we hear from the weightloss industry is pure undiluted, money making hokum. It rarely originates in reputable science labs but rather from the marketing departments of companies with something to sell. Ever since the era of the rainmakers in the latter nineteenth century, weightloss nostrums have been a mainstay money maker for the pseudo scientists in our midst."