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Cracking the Weight Loss Code

Posted By Andrea Purcell, NMD, Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A groundbreaking study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 27, 2012 by Dr. David Ludwig out of the Boston Children’s’ Hospital settling the debate about how we lose and gain weight.

Up until this moment there have been two sides to the weight loss discussion.

Side A – Quantity, how much we eat determines our weight. In essence the calories we take in minus the calories we burn will determine our fate. For example: If we require a 1400 calories per day and we eat 1900 calories then we are at a surplus of 500 calories that will get stored as fat and cause us to gain weight. If we require 1400 calories and consume 1400 calories then we break even for that day and will not gain weight.

Side B – Quality, the quality of our food matters. For example: If we require 1400 calories per day and we eat 1400 calories it will depend on the food groups that make up those calories which will determine weight gain. In essence if we eat 1400 calories of potato chips those will be metabolized differently than 1400 calories of chicken. The quality side argues that even if we eat within our caloric limits certain foods are more likely to be stored as fat than others.

In this study Dr. Ludwig took a group of obese patients and put them on a starvation diet to lose 10% of their body weight. In this case a 300lb person would lose 30lbs and be 270lbs at the beginning of the study.

The starvation part is not the interesting part.

This next part is what is most interesting:

Patients were then divided into three groups and given 3 different food plans.

Dr. Ludwig wanted to see what would happen to these patients over 30 days when they were given the same caloric load but different qualities of food.

1) Group one was put on a high carbohydrate low fat diet. (60% carbohydrate, 20% protein, 20% fat)

2) Group two was put on a low glycemic diet similar to a diabetes diet. (40% carbohydrate, 40% fat, 20% protein)

3) Group three was put on a high protein, high fat, and low carbohydrate diet. (60% fat, 30% protein, 10% carbohydrate)

At the end of 30 days Group three, the very low-carbohydrate diet, had the most beneficial effects on energy expenditure and several metabolic syndrome components. Group one had the most unfavorable outcome of all the groups.

Note from Dr. P: This is something that Naturopathic Doctors have known for some time. Calories in, minus calories out, are an extremely generalized view of the complex metabolism of the human body and typically only help younger individuals lose weight. As we age hormonal fluctuations contribute to a sluggish metabolism and weight loss becomes increasingly difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this, "Dr. Purcell, I don’t know what happened I’m gaining weight and my diet hasn’t changed, I’m still eating what I always ate.” Women’s bodies’ change every 5 years. What worked when you were 30 is not going to work when you are 40. That means we need to change our food choices. Women especially are plagued by weight gain in peri-menopause and the quality of the calories makes the biggest difference for weight loss and a healthy weight.

Tags:  nutrition  weight 

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Diabesity - A Reversible Epidemic

Posted By Mark Hyman, MD, Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014

What life threatening, life sapping, energy robbing condition affects one in every two Americans (that is EVERY OTHER person) including 80% of those overweight and up to 40% of normal weight people? What condition is responsible for more deaths from heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia than anything else? What condition also causes acne, infertility, sexual dysfunction and depression?

What condition accounts for more then 70% of our $2.4 trillion annual health care bill and will account for most of the $47 trillion we will spend globally over the next 20 years to deal with chronic disease? What is responsible for nearly twice as many deaths every year as infectious disease, even in the developing world?

And what condition is not even diagnosed in over 90% of those who suffer from it?

What condition are doctors not trained or reimbursed to diagnose, treat or prevent, yet makes up the majority of health care visits and costs?

And what condition is nearly 100% preventable, treatable and reversible?


It is the single biggest health challenge facing us individually, as a nation and as a global community.

Diabesity is the continuum of metabolic disturbances from mild blood sugar and insulin imbalances to pre-diabetes to full blown type 2 diabetes. It occurs in about 40% of people of normal weight – these are the skinny fat people who look thin but are metabolically fat and have all the same risk factors for disease and death as those who are overweight. And it occurs in 80% of overweight people.

Since it affects every other American, watch this video to see if you have it.

The solution is not coming from our health care system or doctors, not from our government, or from most corporations. There are too many people vested in maintaining the status quo or worse profiting from making us fat and sick. We need a solution.

That is why I wrote, The Blood Sugar Solution. It has a bold central goal: to address and begin to reverse a global epidemic. It is a personal guide and plan, as well as a program for helping people get healthy together, based on functional medicine, and it is a blueprint for us to take back our health as a society.

Obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes or what I call diabesity, which now affects one in two Americans arises out of existing social, economic and political conditions. In fact obesity and diabetes are social diseases and need a social cure and collective action on many levels to reverse the tide.

Over 10 years, these conditions will cost America over $3.5 trillion in direct costs, not including lost productivity and the costs in quality of life. From 1983 to 2008, worldwide diabetes rates increased seven fold from 35 million to 240 million. In just 3 years from 2008 to 2011, the roll call for diabetes increased another 110 million.

Children less than 10 years old now get type 2 (or adult onset) diabetes, and have strokes and heart attacks by age 15 or 20. One in three children born today will have diabetes unless we do something differently.

I wrote The Blood Sugar Solution to tackle this problem head on.

It is a personal plan that breaks through myths about obesity and diabetes that keep us sick and fat. And lays out the seven key steps to preventing, treating and reversing diabesity by dealing with the underlying causes. It is an eight-week plan that takes you through step by step how to reboot your metabolism, lose weight, reverse type 2 diabetes.

It is a plan for us to be more successful by working together to get healthy. We do twice as well and lose twice as much weight when we get support from others in community. We are better together.

We recently did a "beta test” of this program with about 150 people. Their results were astounding:

  • The group lost a total of 1,536 pounds in just eight weeks. That’s an average weight loss of over ten pounds per person!
  • More than half the group lost more than ten pounds. Some lost as much as 28 pounds.
  • Average waist size decreased by 1.5 inches, and some people lost so much of their waist that they had to go out and buy new clothes. One woman lost eight inches from her waist. Imagine, eight inches in eight weeks. No medication can help you do that.

But The Blood Sugar Solution is about far more than weight loss; it’s about taking back your health and your life. People who completed the program reported an average reduction of 14 points on their systolic blood pressure, their fatigue evaporated and they had more energy than they had felt in years, their joint and muscle pain vanished; the program improved their mood and sleep, eliminated their brain fog, and a provided a deep sense of well being. The Blood Sugar Solution gave these people a new lease on life, here are a few of their stories.

The Blood Sugar Solution is a plan for each of us to take back our health as a society. Our health has been hijacked from us, taken from us slowly, quietly, over the past century. Our current food, social, family, school, work, faith-based, and community environments, health care institutions, and government policies make it hard for us to make healthy choices. We are presented with choices that foster bad habits. But
together, getting and staying healthy is possible given the right information, tools, support, and collective action to take back our health.

Navigating the Terrain of Disease: Getting to the Root of the Problem

To effectively treat diabesity we must shift our focus away from the symptoms or risk factors of the disease and begin taking a hard look at the causes. All of our attention is on treatments that lower blood sugar (diabetes drugs and insulin), lower high blood pressure (anti-hypertensive drugs), improve cholesterol (statins), and thin the blood (aspirin). But we never ever ask the most important question:

Why is your blood sugar, blood pressure, or blood cholesterol too high and why is your
blood too sticky and likely to clot?

Put another way: What are the root causes of diabesity?

Answering that question must be the focus of our diagnosis and treatment of the disease if we are going to solve this global epidemic.

The good news is that the answer is shockingly simple.

The Real Causes of Diabesity

The entire spectrum of diabesity including all of its complications—diabetes, elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol—are simply downstream symptoms that result from problems with diet, lifestyle, and environmental toxins interacting with our unique genetic susceptibilities.

Those are the real causes of diabesity.

And the reason these dietary and lifestyle factors lead to diabesity is because they create a condition known as insulin resistance. Contrary to what most people think, type 2 diabetes is a disease of too much, not too little, insulin. Insulin is the real driver of problems with diabesity.

When your diet is full of empty calories and an abundance of quickly absorbed sugars, liquid calories, and carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes), your cells slowly become resistant to the effects of insulin and needs more and more to do the same job of keeping your blood sugar even. Thus you develop insulin resistance. A high insulin level is the first sign of a problem. The higher your insulin levels are, the
worse your insulin resistance. Your body starts to age and deteriorate. In fact, insulin resistance is the single most important phenomenon that leads to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.

As your insulin levels increase it leads to an appetite that is out of control, increasing weight gain around the belly, more inflammation and oxidative stress, and myriad downstream effects including high blood pressure; high cholesterol; low HDL, high triglycerides; weight gain around the middle; thickening of the blood; and increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression. These are all a result of insulin resistance and too much insulin. Elevated blood sugar is not the source of the problem. And because insulin resistance (and diabesity) are a direct outcome of diet and lifestyle, the condition is 100 percent reversible in the vast majority of cases. Most people just need to eliminate the things that are sending their biology out of balance and include what’s needed to help the body rebalance itself. For most the interventions required are extremely simply and extraordinarily effective.

8 Steps to Reversing Diabesity

In my new book The Blood Sugar Solution I outline a comprehensive 8-week plan for overcoming diabesity in all its forms. Here is a sneak preview of the steps outlined in the book:

1. Get the right tests. Most doctors focus on fasting blood sugar. This is actually a poor indicator of diabesity. The best test to tease out the condition is an insulin response test where insulin levels are measured fasting and then 1 and 2 hours after a glucose drink. Demand this test from your doctor.
2. Get smart about nutrition. Despite the media hype and the seeming confusion amongst doctors, the basics of nutrition are extremely simply. Eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates, include whole real foods like lean protein (chicken or fish), veggies, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.
3. Get the right supplements. There has recently been a frenzy of negative reports about supplements. Most of them are unfounded. Supplements are an essential part of treating diabesity. A good multivitamin, vitamin D, fish oil, and special blood sugar balancing nutrients like alpha lipoic acid, chromium polynicotinate, biotin, cinnamon, green tea catechins, and PGX (a super fiber) should also be included.
4. Get relaxed. Stress is a major unrecognized contributor to insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalance. Push your pause button every day with deep breathing, visualization, yoga, and other relaxation techniques.
5. Get moving. Aside from changing your diet, exercise is probably the single best medication for diabesity. Walk for at least 30 minutes every day. For some, 30-60 minutes of more vigorous aerobic exercise 4-6 times a week may be necessary.
6. Get clean and green. Environmental toxins also contribute to diabesity. Filter your water, look for green cleaning products, and avoid plastics when you can.
7. Get personal. While the steps above will address 80 percent of the problems with diabesity, some may need to take additional steps to optimize key areas of their biology. Remember, the medicine of the future is personal medicine. Seek out your own biological imbalances and look for ways to address them.
8. Get connected. Research is beginning to show that we get better more effectively when we get together. Invite your friends, families, and neighbors to change their diets and lifestyle along with you. Together we can all take back our health.

I hope that my book The Blood Sugar Solution will be the beginning of a larger transformation – for individuals, communities and for society. In the book I outline all of the social, economic, biological, and medical underpinnings of this health epidemic and provide an 8-week, step-by-step system that will allow you to dig deep into your own biology and heal even the most severe cases of diabesity.

Get a book, get two and give one to someone you love – you might be saving their life. When
you purchase the book from this link you will automatically receive access to the following special bonuses:

  • Special Report—Diabetes and Alzheimer’s: The Truth About "Type 3 Diabetes” and How You Can Avoid It.
  • More Delicious Recipes: 15 Additional Ways to Make The Blood Sugar Solution as Tasty as It’s Healthy!
  • Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Nutrition Coaching – FREE for 30 days!
  • Hour 1 of The Blood Sugar Solution Workshop DVD

For more on diabesity, join us on

Tags:  diabesity  prevention  weight 

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The Real Issue with FAT

Posted By Matt Angove, ND, NMD, Monday, October 3, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Are your eating habits making you FAT?

For the average "weight loss” specialist, calorie reduction and exercise are the mainstay of their weight loss programs. I think the best word to describe the plight of most people trying to lose weight is FRUSTRATION!

This frustration is due to the fact that the weight loss program being practiced is not going to lead to lasting weight loss. Lasting weight loss or much more importantly FAT loss requires a complete transformation of daily habits. It also necessitates finding the real issue (aka cause) for fat gain.

When it comes to weight loss, you can be so right and yet be completely wrong.

As I have seen it, the focus of people trying to lose weight is set on "low-fat” and "sugar-free” foods. On the label, it looks like a dieters dream but in the body, it is an inflammatory mess. And if the pro-inflammatory effect wasn’t enough, these foods aren’t satiating, and many of them even trigger hunger signals.

Fat cells generate inflammatory chemical messengers (called cytokines), and those chemicals eventually trigger a reaction for cells to stop listening to two important hormones: insulin and leptin.

So, if you are going to bump the FAT forever, you have to get the inflammation under control. Inflammation decreases the cells sensitivity to insulin and leptin.

When cells become resistant to insulin, glucose gets converted into fatty acids and stored as fat instead of being used as energy. NOT WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR!

When the hypothalamus becomes resistant to leptin, the hormone that indicates satiety, people will consume more calories than necessary. Also, NOT WHAT WE WANT!

As a dietary starter, this requires eliminating foods that are inflammatory, such as processed sugars, synthetic sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, over-cooked foods, and foods a person is allergic to. You can make it really easy on yourself by simply just eliminating food items that come in a box.

In addition to switching to a whole foods based diet, specific anti-inflammatory nutrients should be added. Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics should be at the top of the list, as well as magnesium, curcumin, and ginger to name a few.

This is what we call a long-term, sustainable solution!

Tags:  nutrition  weight 

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Tips for Healthy Eating

Posted By Andrea Purcell, ND, Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Many of the patients who come to me initially do not have good diets. They may be too busy to shop and prepare meals, or not know how to prepare healthy food on the go. By the time someone ends up in my office they have a medical necessity and are in desperate need of a dietary turnaround for their health.

If someone has been eating poorly, I try to make food adjustments that are better but not perfect so as not to overwhelm him or her. In light of that attempt on my part, occasionally when I present a person with an individualized food plan they may become overwhelmed. This depends on the individual. For some, dietary changes are exciting and for others they can be down right daunting.

In this blog I am enclosing my 8 food tips to help someone shift towards a new dietary practice. Read on…

1) Start slowly: Read over the entire food plan and go on a shopping field trip to the local health food store, farmers market, or Trader Joes. Browse through the aisles; compare what the plan says to what you see on the shelves. Check out the vegetables, which ones would you normally bring home, try something different.
2) Focus on breakfast: Read the food plan and incorporate changes to your typical breakfast routine each morning during week one. Do not change lunch or dinner until the following week. Really work at becoming familiar with your new breakfast routine.
3) Simple and delicious: Keep meals simple but hearty. For example plain quinoa flakes can be dressed up with chopped apple, walnuts, flax seeds, stevia and cinnamon.
4) Invest in a good cookbook: Check out my cookbook,Feed your Cells!What can I say I’m biased, for years my patients asked me to recommend a good cookbook and I couldn’t so I wrote my own.
5) Get Inspired! Ever go to a restaurant, have a fantastic meal and try to re-create it at home? Well do it!
6) Think Positive: Instead of feeling deprived, think about how all of the new adventures in vegetables that you are having is helping your body to detoxify and ward off cancer.
7) Make one meal go a long way. You will read about this in my cookbook but there should always be leftovers for lunch. I will cook a pot of lentils on a Sunday and have them over quinoa and spinach for breakfast and lunch for two days in a row. That saves a LOT of time.
8) Transition from fake to real. Ask yourself does this food grow out in nature? Have I seen this food on a farm? If the answer is yes, then it is probably real. Real food gives us life.

Note from Dr. P:
Remember when you were a kid and learning to ride a bicycle? You didn’t ride that bicycle perfect the first time you tried. For some reason when we become adults we do not give ourselves the compassion of trial and error. We become impatient with ourselves when something is difficult. Healthy eating is a necessity, you pay now or you pay later. When you are ready to embrace good health, the path reveals itself. Adapting to a new way of eating and adopting new food behaviors take time. Try to break it down into bite size pieces and before you know it you will be shopping, cooking, and eating healthy, nutritious food. Looking for healthy recipes?Buy my book!

-Be Healthy, Happy & Holistic

Tags:  health  nutrition  weight 

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HCG for Weight Loss

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 29, 2010
Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014

by Andrea Purcell, ND


HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is the hormone that medical doctors test for in order to determine if a woman is pregnant. Measuring HCG is the success of companies such as EPT who conveniently created the urine pregnancy tests found in every drug store in the world. HCG is present in both men and women, but becomes detectable in pregnant women. During pregnancy, HCG almost completely controls metabolic functions. In non-pregnant persons, research suggests HCG increases metabolism in a similar way.

Although HCG is associated with pregnancy, both men and women that are looking to get their weight under control can safely use it. Let's take a closer look at what its job actually is. Nature created HCG as a way to ensure healthy full term pregnancies. One of the roles of HCG in pregnancy is to increase metabolism by allowing the fat that the pregnant woman has stored to be accessible to her during famine. In other words the fat stores can be broken down by the HCG and used as food for her and the baby should the food supply run out while she is pregnant. This ensures a healthy full term pregnancy.

In a non-pregnant person we can recreate this metabolic situation by administering HCG and putting the patient on a low calorie diet. When we do this, the fat that the patient wants to lose becomes the primary food source as it is broken down and used as energy. In essence, we are forcing the body to burn its own fat stores. Thousands of calories in stored fat are released and are used by the body or expelled.


How HCG is different than other diet programs is that it is short term, the results are up front, participants eat real food, muscle mass is maintained, and it burns cellulite (toxic fat). What people lose with HCG isn't simply weight, but fat, a particular kind of fat. We generally think of fat as just "fat," but in fact there are three distinct kinds of fat. Two of which we need, and one we don't. If a person has tried dieting, perhaps diet after diet, and found that the weight comes back, it's because diets can't rid us of the one kind of fat that most needs to be eliminated. Of the three kinds of fat, structural fat is essential because it cushions our organs. Then there's the kind of fat that gives us a reserve of energy, fueling the body between meals. But a third kind of fat-the unsightly fat that ruins our appearance-is totally unhealthy. This unwanted fat is not only unhealthy, it just happens to be almost impossible to lose. It can be mobilized only in times of starvation and pregnancy. In women, this unhealthy fat tends to accumulate around the middle and thighs. In men, it's around the belly and chest. In both cases, it's extremely difficult to get rid of. The usual approaches to weight loss just don't budge it. The genius of Dr. Simeons, the doctor who discovered the role of HCG in weight loss, was to recognize that HCG triggers the body to burn this type of fat. The HCG program consists of a low calorie diet in combination with HCG hormone treatments. During the 30 days you regularly inject a small amount of HCG into your body. Be aware that the HCG itself does not cause weight loss, it just modifies your eating behavior, and mobilizes stored fat. This will make it possible to maintain the diet.



HCG allows you to rapidly lose a specific amount of weight in a 30-day period. You can safely and effectively lose up to 10% of your body weight on this program, and some can achieve 30 pounds of weight loss in 30 days. A very specific diet must be followed for the 4 weeks along with injections of HCG, a hormone that women produce during pregnancy. This program dramatically shifts your metabolism towards burning your own fat and allows you to create energy from the fat that you are melting away. HCG assists in controlling all cravings when you are on this low calorie diet. Vitamin injections are given to assist with energy and promote fat burning. HCG is completely safe for men and women. Following the 4 weeks of injections, you are then transitioned to a stabilization food plan for 3 weeks where your weight loss is stabilized. During stabilization all whole foods are re-introduced with the exception of sugar and starch. Stabilization is then followed by a maintenance food plan, which will allow you to maintain the weight you have lost while eating a healthy, whole food diet. Unlike other weight loss programs all of your weight is lost in the first month of this program. This means that your results are immediate.

CAVEAT FROM FDA:Since 1975, the FDA has required labeling and advertising of HCG to state: HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.



When HCG is prescribed in a medial scenario, it is either as a fertility medication (can be for both men and women), or to assist in restoring testosterone production in men.


The high levels of HCG that are produced during pregnancy have no negative effects on the pregnant woman’s body. In fact, doctors have used HCG for many years in order to help women experiencing hormonal issues or fertility problems. There are literally no major side effects. Small conditions such as low blood pressure and low blood sugar can be easily off set with proper medical supervision.


After supervising and coaching hundreds of patients through HCG here are a few of the trends I have noticed:

*Some patients feel euphoric, and can easily follow the program without much effort.

*Other patients are tired and feel the need to go to bed early each night. Otherwise they would cheat by eating to maintain energy.

*There is a window of the correct HCG dosage, some people need a little bit more than others. This can make a big difference in a person’s ability to stick with the diet.

*When using HCG it can up-regulate thyroid function in patients who are hypothyroid. This is something that needs to be addressed when a person completes the program.

*Cellulite is literally melted; it is nothing short of miraculous.

*Patients are elated at their success, and are more motivated to make good food choices to maintain their success.

*It is imperative that coaching on proper eating be done with each patient. A roadmap of healthy food choices & how to eat is the only guarantee of permanent weight loss.

*If a person is an emotional eater, that condition will not be corrected. Emotional eaters must be willing to explore the way they use food as a coping mechanism and consider healthier coping mechanisms to put in its place, including but not limited to therapy.

*Patients do not look gaunt or shriveled; weight loss is evenly distributed throughout the entire body.

*Weight loss is between ½ pound and 1 pound per day.

*The results of HCG are amazing and this can be a great option for patients who need to lose 25 pounds or get a jump start on their weight loss goals.

Tags:  food and drink  weight 

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BAT Fat Keeps You Thin

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 9, 2009
Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014

By Ronald Hoffman, MD

It's a fat that bats have, but in med school we were taught adult humans lacked it. It's Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT). Found in many mammals, especially rodents, BAT is what keeps them warm because of its accelerated fat-burning capabilities. Unlike the more prevalent yellow blobby ("white") fat that predominates in obesity, it has a rapid metabolic rate.

Babies are known to have brown fat as a means of cold-adaptation because they can't shiver (most warm-blooded animals don't either). But in breakthrough research, the New England Journal of Medicine announced this week that adult humans have it, too.

How does brown fat rev the body's metabolic machinery? The answer is complex, but offers some insights into thyroid physiology. The main source of thyroid hormone, or T4, must be converted to T3 within the mitochondria inside cells to set the rate of metabolism and fat-burning. In brown fat, the T4 to T3 conversion is in overdrive, resulting in thermogenesis, or fat-burning.

This is why complementary docs often favor thyroid replacement with T4/T3 combinations instead of straight T4, as is found in Synthroid. Dosing with pre-formed T3 simulates the conversion that occurs in brown fat. But too much T3 can result in jitteriness and heart arrhythmias.

Overweight rodents are in luck these days. Scientists have developed a slew of prospective weight loss drugs that are dramatically effective in mice and rats. But because rodents have brown fat and humans were said not to have it, the experimental drugs disappoint in humans.

Now research shows that brown fat does not entirely disappear in adulthood. Small amounts of it are present in healthy, trim individuals. In overweight folks with hallmarks of metabolic slow-down like high cholesterol and Syndrome X, it has virtually disappeared.

So what are the practical implications? Are there ways we can enhance brown fat?

Remarkably, the New England Journal researchers have found a partial answer: Just CHILL!

In a series of experiments, they exposed healthy adults to cold temperatures. We're not even talking the Polar Bear Club here. Sitting around in light clothing for a couple of hours at temperatures around 60, or immersing feet in cold (not ice) water produced a detectable increase in brown fat, and it happened within just days!

Now, I'm thinking to myself, am I aspiring to rodent-hood? I make a point of turning off the radiators in winter, opening windows, and dialing down the thermostat to 60 or 62. I challenge myself to frigid runs in twenty-degree temperatures throughout winter. While I don't go so far as to take cold showers, I regularly swim in Shinnecock Bay after water temperatures top 60 around Memorial Day. Maybe I'm stoking my metabolism and building brown fat stores while saving the planet and reducing my carbon footprint!

It may be that one way that modern civilization conspires to make us fat is by shielding us from the evolutionary anvil of cold which honed the metabolisms of our ancestors for millennia. We sit in toasty homes, commute to work in cozy cars with seat warmers, and if we work out, we do so in heated gyms or tepid swimming pools.

Another take-home from the New England Journal research: Certain drugs rev brown fat, especially amphetamines. But their addictive properties and side effects make their use undesirable. According to the articles, natural ephedra works well, too, but it's been banned, despite a track record of mostly safe use among responsible users. EGCG from green tea may also hit brown fat receptors, and it's still available.

Unfortunately, there are drugs that shrink brown fat, thus slowing metabolism. The sad fact is that they are routinely prescribed to tens of millions of Americans. They are the beta-blockers, dished liberally for heart disease and hypertension, and the benzodiazepines, medicine's main remedies for anxiety. Common examples include Inderal, Lopressor, Toprol, Zebeta, Tenormin, and Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Halcion, and Klonipin.

So, for now, barring any major breakthroughs on the fat-drug front, embrace the cold, and try to stay healthy enough to eschew medications that are metabolic downers.

Tags:  weight 

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