Natural Treatments for Weight Loss
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
FOR THE PAST DECADE THE NUMBER-ONE HEALTH CONCERN in the United States has been the rapidly increasing rate of obesity. Today eight out of ten adults are overweight and some 40 million people are considered obese. Many life-threatening ailments are attributed to obesity, including diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, coronary heart disease, stroke, depression, and the growing problem of infertility. More alarming is pediatric obesity, which has tripled in the last twenty years. Our children are at increasing risk of serious health problems, including insulin resistance, pediatric diabetes, depression, hypertension, developmental problems, and even cancer.
Energy expenditure: there are physiological and psychological reasons for obesity, but it’s often a matter of energy intake versus energy expenditure. We’ve become extremely sedentary. The quality and quantity of the foods we eat has changed: food now contains tightly packed calories in smaller packages. Our drinks contain high concentrations of sugar, our meats have been treated with hormones and antibiotics, and our streets are littered with fast-food drive-through restaurants serving up heart attacks to go.
Our eating habits have also changed. The family dining table has been replaced with individual serving trays positioned comfortably in front of the television, and on-the-go chow downs substitute for lunch and dinner. Breakfast has all but disappeared. All these factors are slowing down our metabolism. It’s simple: When you take in too much energy but don’t use it up, the body stores it for a rainy day.
Emotions play an important role in obesity as well. We’ve long known that emotions play a key role in disease. Our hormonal systems react to negative emotional states with the production and release of hormones that help us cope with stressful situations. These hormones are designed to protect the body from harm by shutting down or slowing down bodily functions in order to conserve energy. Thus the stress hormones slow down metabolism and promote the storage of fat. This worked well back when our ancestors were being chased by prey, but now our stressful lifestyle is contributing to the obesity epidemic. A constant state of anxiety and stress creates an imbalance of these hormones in the body, promoting weight gain.
It’s not easy to lose weight and keep it off. Many obese people require medical attention and need to be guided in a structured weight loss program. In Chinese medicine, obesity is the accumulation of dampness and phlegm and the result of declining function of the spleen network and metabolic fire of the kidney network due to stress, lack of movement, and poor eating habits. The roles of nutrition, physical activity, and emotions on the body’s metabolic functions cannot be overstated.
I work with endocrine and bariatric physicians to design individual weight-loss programs for patients. My treatment program for obesity entails acupuncture and herbal therapies to restore healthy digestion and metabolism and to eliminate dampness and mucus from the body. It also includes Swimming Dragon, a qi gong exercise, and meditation to activate energy flow, besides the diet suggestions below.
Here are some simple suggestions that can get you started on your own weight-management program.
DIET FOR WEIGHT LOSS
There are hundreds of fad diet programs out there, ranging from total starvation to high-protein diets promising quick fixes. The problem with dieting is that it deprives the body of food or goes to extremes with a few recommended foods. This is contradictory to our metabolism, and often the results do not last, producing a yo-yo effect and further depressing self-esteem, not to mention metabolic function. We are natural beings requiring a balance of nutrition from all sources.
HOME REMEDIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS
DAILY SUPPLEMENTS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
HERBAL THERAPY FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
EXERCISES FOR WEIGHT LOSS
The number one cause of obesity is inactivity. The human body is designed for physical activity. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. They spent most of their natural lives walking long distances to gather food, chase prey, and sometimes be chased as prey. Evolution shaped our metabolic functions for a life on the move, but today we live in opposition to our nature. Most diets fail because we do the opposite of what our bodies are designed for. They aren’t designed to subsist on meager foods. They are designed to consume a good amount of energy- and then to burn that energy. Physical activity- not necessarily exercise- is the key to a healthy metabolism. These simple changes can increase activity, helping to speed up metabolism and burn excess calories:
QI GONG FOR WEIGHT LOSS:
Here is a simple Qi Gong for weight loss exercise, the Swimming Dragon, that can help speed up your metabolism and reduce your appetite. This exercise resembles a belly dance - It is a wriggling rhythmic dance of the torso, and it burns energy and promotes fat burning in the abdomen.
Begin slowly and increase the speed and vigor, warming up the whole body, but not to the point of perspiration. Practice for 15 to 20 minutes, twice a day, for maximum benefit.
SELF ACUPRESSURE FOR WEIGHT LOSS
WEIGHT LOSS: ADVICE ON WHAT TO AVOID
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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