6 Reasons for your Stubborn Belly Fat

Like many of my patients, I suffered from stubborn belly fat which continues to haunt me to this day. I tried many different diets and trends to help eliminate this spare tire. It stuck around with me until I was able to find the underlying reason for why it was present in the first place. If you want to get rid of that stubborn weight, it’s absolutely essential to find out the underlying reason it is there in the first place.

  • Poor Fatty Acid Metabolism

Fats don’t make you fat. However if your body is not able to use the fats as a fuel source (burning fat that gets into the cell), then it will have no choice but to store it away. If your cells lack a couple important nutrients, then the process of burning fats to produce energy will not be effective. In order to burn fatty acids, our cells require Carnitine and Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin).

There are 2 things you can do to determine if fatty acid metabolism is the cause of excess fat storage. The first is to get tested by a Functional Medicine doctor to determine if you are able to burn fats correctly. The second is to change the fats that you are eating from bad, inflammatory fats to good sources of fat. Good fats do not promote inflammation, and can be found in wild fish, organic coconut oil, avocado, cold-pressed olive oil and clarified grass-fed butter.

  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Many people who are overweight and dealing with stubborn belly fat, are often also dealing with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome including bloating, constipation, diarrhea. All of these symptoms along with many more can be a sign of overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.

Humans normally have a population of bacteria present in their digestive tracts, located in their mouths and large intestine. Sometimes these bacteria can be overfed and expand into the stomach and small intestine due to poor dietary choices and low stomach acid. While in the small intestine, these bacteria can steal the important nutrients in our foods leading to a reduced level of nutrition entering our bloodstream. If you are eating well and still not losing weight, you may be dealing with a bacterial overgrowth leading to a lack of nutrients getting into your cells.

There are tests that can be completed by a functional medicine practitioner to determine if this is the underlying cause of inability to burn fat and lose that body weight.

  • Hormonal Imbalances

There are countless people all around North America, who are dealing with some sort of hormonal imbalance. This can include imbalance in insulin levels, adrenal hormones, sex hormones and brain based hormones. Chances are you know someone who is dealing with Diabetes, Thyroid dysfunction, Infertility, Polycystic ovaries or Adrenal fatigue.

Our hormones control the metabolic processes of our cells, their reaction to stimuli, their ability and rate of energy production, mood and storage or usage of fat and carbohydrates. A single hormonal imbalance can NEVER occur in isolation as all hormones interact with each other and determine the effects that each other have.

People dealing with any hormonal condition will invariably have issues with their weight. From obesity and diabetes to thyroid dysfunction and infertility, the inability to lose weight are universal and must be dealt with correctly, from the root cause. A functional medicine doctor can help you to completed the testing and determine if a hormonal imbalance is at the root of your persistent weight gain.

  • Not eating Organic food

Crops are often sprayed with pesticides and herbicides so that farmers can reach and surpass quotas set forth by distributors. These chemicals affect the bacteria, viruses, fungi, insects and the rest of the biome in a negative way. Recently it has been theorized that some of the chemicals that are used can potentially replace certain amino acids and cause our proteins to form as non-functioning entities.

Glyphosate, a herbicide used by the agricultural industry under the trade name RoundUp, has been theorized to replace Glycine, an important amino acid building block in many hormones, causing these hormones to become far less functional. There are 4 Glycine amino acid spots in the Insulin protein molecule, and if even one Glyphosate molecule is entered into this molecule, its structure can be significantly altered, causing Insulin to become unrecognizable and even non-functional.

It is important to try to keep these chemicals from entering your body, so choosing to eat organic can help you to lose weight that you are having trouble getting rid of. As soon as I started to choose organic vegetables and fruits, I noticed a significant decrease in my own weight, and have not looked back.

  • Diet High in Sugar and Carbs

It’s no secret that processed foods contain high levels of sugar and refined carbohydrates. These “foods” cause spikes in insulin levels, leading to fat storage if the sugars are kept in the bloodstream and not used for energy production immediately. We now live relatively sedentary lives, sitting in front of our computers and TVs for hours on end, while consuming high levels of carbohydrates in our diets.

This is one of the most basic changes that you can make. Choose unprocessed foods and foods higher in protein and good quality fat content rather than high carbohydrate options.

  • High Intake of Low Quality Fats

There is a lot of confusion out there about good vs. bad fats so let’s get to the root of it.

Good fats contain Omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and help in the development of our cells. Natural, minimally processed organic choices are best. Choose coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, cold-pressed olive oil, wild fish, avocado, raw nuts and seeds.

Bad fats contain Omega-6 fatty acids which are inflammatory and cause increased immune responses to stimuli. Bad fats are highly processed and should be rigorously avoided. These include vegetable oils, canola oil, sunflower/safflower oil, rapeseed oil, “pure” olive oil and margarine. Consuming inflammatory oils can keep you from losing weight due to the constant energy requirements of your immune system rather than muscle cells that burn stored and consumed fat.

Should I Eat Organic?

“Organic food is expensive.” I hear this comment daily when I speak with patients, colleagues and friends. Is it even possible to always eat completely organic?

In our daily lives, it is not always possible to make the best choices in terms of food. Nobody understands this better than an entrepreneur, chiropractor and owner of multiple businesses. We have hectic lives and if you have kids and parents to take care of, we can often feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to make great food at home on a daily basis. Choosing high quality foods when you grocery shop is also not easy, but it is possible if you know what to look for.

What does Organic even mean?

I’m sure we have all heard about the use of pesticides and genetically modified organism (GMO) crops that are growing in usage throughout North America especially.

Organic foods generally are foods that have not been genetically modified to withstand the effect of herbicide and pesticide sprays. Organic foods are those that have not been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. The most commonly known example of this practice is the company Monsanto, which uses genetically modified seeds of corn, soybean and other crops, and sprays them with their own herbicide product called Roundup.

The main ingredient in Roundup is a chemical called Glyphosate. Glyphosate actively is used to kill weeds and grasses that compete for soil usage with crops that are being grown by farmers.

Glyphosate has been linked to many health conditions since its usage started in 1996 when glyphosate resistant crops were introduced in the US. The health conditions implicated include a nearly exact correlation with Autism, Alzheimer’s, Obesity, Diabetes and Autoimmune diseases. It is not unreasonable to assume that these chemicals could potentially be a significant source of chronic health conditions. For this reason, it would be best to purchase organic produce when you are shopping for groceries.

Do I need to buy everything Organic?

Some vegetables and crops have been found to contain more pesticide and herbicide than others. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) has created a list of foods that are highest and lowest in pesticide and herbicide residues. They have called these lists the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”.

Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries
  • Potatoes

Clean Fifteen:

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

Use this list as a resource to direct you when you are buying your groceries. This is an easy way to keep your expenses down and to ensure that you are feeding your families the cleanest foods possible. Ideally, most of your foods should be purchased organic, but this list is a great resource to use if you are not ready to go all the way just yet.

If you think organic food is expensive, just think of it as an investment, so you don’t need to spend money on huge healthcare bills when you are older.

Happy Grocery Shopping!

Are you a Foodie or a Food Addict?

I love food.

I used to think that I loved food, but I did not know what that love meant until I lost over 75lbs and my relationship with food changed.

We all need food to live, but remember – food is a source of energy. We have become accepting of food-like products as real food and continue to use meals as a medium for social gatherings, which makes us happy.

Personally, I love going out to dinner with friends or having breakfast on the balcony with my wife. I am sure that most of us look forward to the evenings that we get to spend talking and enjoying the company of those closest to us and those we want to be close to. The emotions that we invest and the positive energy that we receive from these social gatherings is amazing. But I believe we (as a society) have started to use food as a supplement in the moments we crave a positive energy source, particularly in settings where we are alone, lonely and bored.

Social gatherings bring people together. People choose to spend their most precious resource, time, together. When we meet a group of friends after a long time, there is a great sense of positive energy: laughs, tears, jokes and love. This flow of positive energy is like nothing else. The same goes for romantic evenings spent with your loved one, in which you simply enjoy the company of the person you love most in the world. These are the moments we live for.

In our daily lives, many of these experiences revolve around food. Sunday brunch dates, or Saturday night get-togethers with friends tend to employ food. While we are in these situations, the company is so enjoyable that we attribute that positive energy to everything present in those moments. For example, I still remember the amazing chicken wings that we ordered when a group of friends went out to watch a baseball game in Toronto, the positive energy I felt while hanging out with my boys watching the Blue Jays win. When my wife and I were in Bruges just recently having a romantic dinner, chatting about live and our next steps, we ate the most amazing steak and mussels. Was it the company and the energy that was amazing or the food…see where I am going?

The food that we eat in our positive experiences are looked upon and thought about with such enjoyment, as though it would bring us back to that moment we enjoyed with others. These experiences, as well as negative experiences with food, contribute to how we see that food on a daily basis.

Years ago, I used to love food – or at least I thought I did. I now realize that I was using food to fill an emotional hole, a gap that I felt was missing in my life. As a teenager, I did not have a lot of friends. I did not fit into a single social group. I certainly was never the cool kid. This made me feel as though I was not good enough for my peers and that I somehow had to find a way to make friends. I used to fill this emotional hole with food. I ate everyone’s leftovers at dinner and the few friends I had were happy to hand over anything that they couldn’t finish eating in the lunchroom to me. I felt as though I was being accepted and that I was doing good, because nobody wants to waste food, especially with all those starving children in the developing world. I should simply be happy that I have food in front of me and make sure that none of it goes to waste.

I was blind to what I was doing to myself. I was addicted to food and had no idea.

In university, I was the big guy, the jolly guy that everyone liked but nobody really got to know personally. I was likeable, always smiling and always sitting in the cafeteria, ready to grab lunch, or a snack with the next person that would come sit with me while I was “studying”. I enjoyed the company so much that I ate 5 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, all processed food, all high in carbs and bad fats. This led me to Chiropractic school during which I continued this same trend as the big guy, the jolly, likeable, happy-go-lucky, book-smart guy. But I was still blind to my addiction.

I used food as the medium to fill my addiction of craving positive energy and acceptance. Unfortunately, I continue to see this trend around me, in friends, patients and family members.

Once I snapped out of the delirium and decided not to care what everyone thought or felt about me, my life changed. I met my wife, I began to grow my career, I took over a business and I became healthy.

Getting healthy is NOT about giving up the food that you think you love.

Getting healthy is about loving yourself enough, and believing that you deserve and are worth the positive energy that real food gives to each one of us. Getting healthy is about enjoying those positive experiences with friends and loved ones, with good real food, but also changing it up and going for a hike on Sunday afternoon with friends rather than another dinner on a Saturday evening. Getting healthy is about playing in a fun softball league with friends once per week. Getting healthy is about loving yourself and giving yourself the positive experiences that you deserve, even if you don’t truly know it or believe it yet. Getting healthy is about living life without excuses.

You are worth it.

You are amazing.

You are Positive Energy (1)

You are positive energy bundled into an organized blob of 60 trillion cells conspiring to keep you alive and functioning correctly, long enough to find your calling and make a positive change in the world.

Once you can say that you truly love yourself, then you are ready to say that you love food.

Natural Methods to reduce Anxiety following an Autoimmune Diagnosis

When your doctor diagnoses you with an autoimmune condition, you remember that day. In fact, time just seems to stand still for a moment as you try to comprehend and understand what is happening. There are many different autoimmune conditions that are commonly diagnosed in North America, including one that seems to directly target the Thyroid Gland – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

It is estimated that 80-90% of all cases of Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) are due to this condition, and nearly 50% of those diagnosed autoimmune disease, actually suffer with more than one condition. The emotional and mental stress of being diagnosed with this, or any other autoimmune condition, can lead to increased levels of anxiety and can make the symptoms even worse than they initially presented. In fact, the worry and stress that we put on ourselves actually reduces our ability to deal with the condition and the environmental factors head on. Acute Thyroid events such as transient hyperthyroidism (high thyroid function) can also lead to surges of active Thyroid hormones which leads to increased hormone induced anxiety.

I recently heard a great quote by Vance Havner regarding worry, and why we should not do it:

Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

It’s time to stop worrying about the condition, and actually do something about it… get off the rocking chair.

So what can we do to address the anxiety related to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? Below are some great tips to help you address the underlying causes of symptoms and the condition itself.

1. Balance your Blood Sugar Levels

Each of our hormone systems are connected. This means that Thyroid hormone levels are associated with Insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas to help us balance our blood sugar levels, promoting glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the cells as our cellular source of fuel to produce energy. It is very common for sufferers of Hashimoto’s to also have imbalanced blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance.

One important step to take is to reduce the amount of simple carbohydrate foods that we eat, including breads, rice, low fat milk, simple sugars, candy, chocolate and even fruit. Too much sugar in our diets leads to spikes in our blood sugar levels, causing our pancreas to produce lots of insulin in surges. This can cause our cells to become less sensitive to the insulin in our bloodstream (insulin resistance) and can cause our pancreas to get tired of producing so much insulin (type 2 Diabetes).

It is incredibly important to balance your blood sugar levels. For a more in-depth understanding of this mechanism, watch the video at this link: http://drhabib.ca/2016/03/blood-sugar-control/

2. Support Adrenal Gland Function

Your adrenal glands are very important in the production of stress and sex hormones. Low Thyroid function can lead to severe imbalances in Adrenal gland function, leading to elevated stress levels and reduced ability to deal with stress. Our adrenal glands produce a hormone called cortisol which is the main hormonal stress response in the body. There is a direct correlation between low thyroid hormone levels and imbalanced cortisol levels.

To support your adrenal glands, ensure that your diet is high in vitamins and minerals, chosen from real food sources. Also, begin practicing stress management by doing deep breathing exercises, going for walks outside, getting regular exercise and even performing yoga or meditation. Each individual will have a different pattern of adrenal gland function so see a functional medicine provider in your area to help address your individual case with specific supplements and treatments for the root cause of your condition.

3. Get Tested for Nutrient Deficiencies

There are some very common nutrient deficiencies related to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis including Selenium and Magnesium. Have your doctor test you for your levels of these nutrients as well as your Vitamin D and B vitamins. Supplementation with these vitamins must occur on an individual basis and should only occur once you have been tested. There are many studies showing a significant improvement in symptoms of autoimmune conditions when patients are treated for underlying nutrient deficiencies.

4. Drink Herbal Teas

There are some great natural remedies for anxiety such as herbal teas. Some of the best types of herbal tea have been shown to be as effective as medications like benzodiazepines in helping to reduce anxiety levels. Some of the best herbal teas include: Passionflower, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Ashwagandha and L-theanine. Click here for some great tea recipes: http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/5-herbs-to-calm-anxiety-without-being-drowsy

5. Use Essential Oils to help with Autonomic Nervous System Balance

Essential oils can be a very helpful natural tool in helping to reduce anxiety and stress in all sorts of conditions. Use an essential oil diffuser to spread the oil in a room or home when you are feeling stressed. Here are some of the best essential oils shown to be effective in many different research studies: Lavender Oil, Rose, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Chamomile and Frankincense.

6. Heal your Gut

The Root Cause of Autoimmune disease occurs in the Gut. Often times, we have food intolerances, chemical sensitivities, parasites, yeast and bacterial buildup in certain areas of our intestinal tract, that can lead to a condition called leaky gut syndrome. When your gut lining is compromised by one of these issues, it leads to overactivation of immune cells in the gut lining, which can lead to autoimmune activation through a process known as molecular mimicry. When antibodies are produced to attack the proteins that should not enter our bloodstream, these molecules look very similar to proteins on the surface of thyroid cells, leading to autoimmune disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

It is very important to get tested with a comprehensive stool panel and parasitology to determine the population of bacteria and parasites that are residing in your gut. These can be the root cause of why many people have autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Probiotics can be an effective form of treatment depending on your individual testing.