I think by now we all can agree that being overweight is a “growing” problem globally. The World Health Organization recently stated that “65% of the world’s population lives in a country where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.” And, “childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.” Obesity is now killing three times as many people as malnutrition according to a landmark study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. Researchers who authored the study conclude that obesity has taken the place of hunger as the No. 1 health crisis globally.
So, why is this happening? Regretfully there is no definitive single answer to this “growing” question but here are a few of my favorites:
- In the past 20 years, we have gone from not having enough food, to having too much of it — including unhealthy food (even in developing countries.)
- Prevalence of sugars, refined flour, and starches in their diets. These are the cheapest calories, and they can be plenty tasty without a lot of preparation.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Fad Diets (they either don’t work or don’t last.)
- Misleading and false claims about “miracle” weight loss products.
This epidemic of over-weight people is also contributing to another epidemic: Diabetes. These two conditions are the two leading risk factors for deadly diseases and the increase in mortality rates.
So what’s the solution? In the long run, it is imperative for us to re-teach adults proper dietary and activity habits. This is a difficult task due to economic reasons and the fact that we are such a fast-paced society. The foods we gravitate to are processed to the point of having zero value nutritionally, yet are packed with calories. These foods are usually high in starches and sugars, which are inexpensive, easy to prepare and taste great. These types of foods (breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.) fit into our fast-paced lifestyle and economic struggles.
In the short run, we need some fast and easy solutions to balance out the impact of these processed and nutrient deficient foods. This is where the dietary supplement industry can and should play an important role. There are numerous scientifically validated ingredients that can help address our issues with weight gain and if used properly and long enough will help “shrink” the numbers with regards to both diabetes and obesity.
If I had to choose one area that is having the largest impact on the obesity epidemic it would be the overconsumption of starchy/sugary-processed foods. Recent information has shown that small amounts of sugar stimulate the same region of the brain that certain addictive drugs stimulate. To me, this means that sugar has very strong and addictive properties. Taking this one step further, I feel that anything that converts to sugar easily is also addictive. Since starches are easily broken down into sugar by the enzyme amylase, you can see where my assumption of starchy-foods are addictive, originates. This addictive nature points to why people seem to have such difficulty eliminating breads, pasta, rice and potatoes from their daily diet.
This brings me to the first of my four favorite supplements for addressing our obesity epidemic: Phase 2 Carb Controller. Phase 2 is a specific extract from white kidney beans that blocks starches from being broken down into sugar by the enzyme amylase. In studies, Phase 2 has shown to block up to 65% of dietary starches from being broken down and therefore yields an immediate impact on blood sugar levels and your waistline. A more recent study even showed that people who used Phase 2 daily with meals had decreased cravings for sweets too. Since we are a starch and sugar addicted society, this ingredient can go a long way at helping address the “obesity epidemic”. Phase 2 offers us a reprieve from the calorie counter while we learn to modify our lifestyles.
Another one of my favorite ingredients is Tonalin. Tonalin, like my other favorite weight loss support supplements, is also carefully researched. Tonalin (CLA) has 18 major studies proving its safety and effectiveness. Tonalin works in these key ways to help with our obesity epidemic:
- Decreases the number and size of fat cells.
- Decreases the activity of LPL enzymes, which help to store triglycerides in fat cells. With regular use of CLA, less fat gets stored.
- Increases the rate at which fat cells disintegrate.
- Increases activity of the enzyme CPT that helps burn fat faster.
Another key ingredient in the battle against obesity would be Super CitriMax. Super CitriMax is a patented brand of the herb garcinia cambogia. Like Phase 2 and Tonalin, Super CitriMax has extensive research studies showing its benefits as part of a weight management program. The key compound HCA appears to work by inhibiting an enzyme called Citric acid lysase, which blocks off conversion of simple sugars into fat. This ingredient shows benefits for curbing appetite and decreasing your body’s ability to make fat from sugars.
Lastly, Chromax. Just as with my previously mentioned ingredients above, Chromax too has numerous clinical studies showing its benefits in both blood sugar and weight management. Chromax works by impacting glucose metabolism, carbohydrate cravings, satiety and depression.
If we go back to my theory comments about the foods we consume being loaded with sugar and starches, and that those foods lead to increased blood sugar and fat production, you can see why these four ingredients are high on my list for taking action against the global obesity epidemic. Until we can educate and enact better lifestyle choices, all four of these should be looked at as components in the battle of the bulge.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of my other helpful tips to address our obesity challenge:
- Eat more nuts: Focus on raw Almonds if you can. Studies show that eating just a handful of almonds daily can lower body fat by almost 20% in as little as 6 months. I find them filling and they help curb craving for me throughout the day if I eat them early enough in the day.
- Add chia seeds to your diet: Chia seeds are one of my favorite super foods. They are actually a super-super food in my book. For weight concerns, they help give you a full feeling and are high in good fats. This is an excellent 1-2 punch for attacking your weight concerns. Sprinkle them on just about anything: Yogurt, chili, soups, smoothies, etc.
- Get more good fats into your diet or supplements: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points to omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil as helping the body use fat as fuel instead of storing it. Research also shows that fish oil may also stop certain kinds of fat cravings.
David Foreman RPh, is a pharmacist, author and media personality known to consumers nationwide as, “The Herbal Pharmacist.” Well-versed on the healing powers of herbs, vitamins and other natural supplements and how they interact with pharmaceutical drugs, Foreman’s career as a registered pharmacist gives him the foundation to now impart his expertise in physiology, pharmacology and integrative medicine to educate consumers on cutting edge approaches to natural health and healing. His shift from traditional pharmacist to herbal pharmacist was based on his belief that education is the key to understanding that natural health plays a vital role in mainstream medicine and he has dedicated his entire career to educating consumers about the benefits and power behind natural herbs, supplements and functional foods. Foreman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, currently serves on Organic & Natural Health Association’s Scientific Advisory Board and is author of, “4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease.”
NOTE: WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.