Most of us have been taught that obesity is caused solely by ingesting too many calories and/or burning insufficient calories. Other causes of weight gain are rarely considered or discussed by health care practitioners. What are some other causes?
- *Obesogens are chemicals that interfere with normal metabolism and can lead to obesity. They alter fat storage, change metabolic set points, disrupt energy balance and appetite regulation to promote fat accumulation. Many environmental toxins are obesogenic endocrine disruptors which can wreak havoc with your thyroid among other endocrine glands. Various pesticides, food and cosmetic preservatives, PCPs found in fish, and phthalates and BPA frequently found in plastic can all disrupt hormones of the endocrine system and contribute to obesity.
- *Drugs such as some antidepressants, synthetic hormones, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-psychotic drugs can also contribute to weight gain.
- *Liver toxicity from medications, alcohol, and environmental toxins can also contribute to obesity. Reducing or eliminating OTC medications, particularly acetaminophen as well as trans fats, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can reduce this risk.
- *Food allergies can lead to fluid retention with resultant weight gain. Foods most apt to be allergens include dairy products, corn, soy, wheat, sugar, and yeast. Food allergies are also thought to contribute to food addictions and binging.
- *Excessive ingestion of carbohydrates and/or insufficient protein intake.
- *High glycemic foods cause the release of excessive Insulin which leads to fat storage.
- *Stress causes the adrenal glands to release cortisol which increases the appetite and leads to fat storage, particularly in the abdomen. Poor eating habits during stress, such as increased intake of sugar and carbohydrates, leads to more cortisol release with resultant Insulin release and fat storage.
- *Disruption of intestinal bacteria such as that which occurs with the overuse of antibiotics.
- *Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from seemingly harmless devices such as cell phones, cordless phones, microwave ovens, appliances, and computers can contribute to obesity by interfering with the body’s metabolism, resulting in reduced energy, blood sugar imbalance, appetite stimulation, and loss of natural detoxification, further contributing to weight gain.
So what can be done? We can start by limiting our exposure to toxic chemicals (obesogens). Buying organic produce, limiting use of plastics to store food, avoiding toxic personal care and household chemicals can all help. We can also limit, reduce of avoid unnecessary medications by conferring with our PCP and bypassing OTCs, opting for healthier lifestyles instead. Diet is extremely important here – avoiding or reducing sugar, processed and other high glycemic foods, alcohol, and trans fats while adding Omega 3 fish oil and a high antioxidant diet (lots of fresh, whole veggies and fruit.) Stress reduction is also critical to lower the body’s production of cortisol and Insulin which leads to appetite stimulation and fat deposition. While obesity is not all about food, choosing a healthier diet can reduce the risk.