Many people believe eating fat, such as butter, makes us fat. Most health professionals and nutritional guidelines advise avoiding fat if we want to lose weight. But that does not have to be the case. Eating fat from animals only makes us fat when we combine it with plant carbohydrates that spike glucose then insulin, which in turn regulate fat and sugar metabolism and storage. Fat is not the ‘naughty’ food we have been lead to believe, as even the front cover of the June issue of Time magazine points out: ‘Eat Butter. Scientists labelled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong’.
Good science has never supported the idea that eating fat will make us fat. Our anthropologists tell us that our thin and physically-defined traditional aboriginal hunter-gatherer people living in various corners of the world before European settlement, coveted fat and would go to great lengths in hunting fat animals. This is my personal experience also when I had spent time with traditional aboriginal people in the 70s. Why didn’t these people get fat themselves? Well they didn’t eat a great deal of plant carbohydrate from vegetables and fruits. They didn’t mix their foods as we do. More than 80 per cent of their diet was composed of flesh foods from animals—insects, mammals, marsupials, fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds (anything that moved). They also ‘fasted’ from day to day, week to week, depending on the availability of unpredictable food sources—remember there were no refrigerators, canned goods, nor preservatives to be used to stop foods ‘going off’ and provide food predictability.
Most of us now know that fast foods with high fructose corn syrup are linked to weight gain, however we must keep in mind that when we were 20 years of age and totally healthy, we could eat all types of fast foods and drinks and not put on weight or get a ‘fat belly’. Why could this happen when I was a young person 50 years ago and not now? From my experience, the fat belly is connected to immune system compromisation. Healthy people have a healthy immune system to support the efficient function of all the body’s organs including digestion and metabolism, whereas overweight people invariably have a compromised immune system. When immune systems are compromised, the lymph system is usually stressed, and it is the swelling from an inflamed lymph system throughout the abdominal region that is the major contributor to a fat belly.
If we don’t change our diet but strongly exercise, we should lose weight. However many people today do just that and still cannot shift that ‘fat belly’. Are you one of these? Then consider that your excess weight may be due to:
• Excessive immune responses to plant natural defence chemicals (and pesticides) that cause the lymph nodes across your abdomen to swell (the ‘fat belly’) that occurs when your immune system is compromised; or
• Eating too many carbohydrate plants (fast foods/drinks, vegetables and fruits) that challenge the gut ‘acclimatisation response’ which will also cause an excessive lymph response; or
• The result of misdirected hormonal responses, when an immune system is compromised (For example Hashimoto’s disease of the thyroid which causes weight increase).
The key here is not to simply reduce your calorie intake, but to improve your immune function by removing specific vegetables, fruits, salads or herbs/spices from your diet to give your immune system a rest. This is similar to a person with coeliac disease removing gluten from their diet.
Removing lymph to supplement weight loss
The most dramatic weight losses (several kilos in a week) always occur through the drainage of lymph. Lymph is the immune system ‘fluid’. It is similar to blood plasma. It is composed of immune system cells such as lymphocytes, leukocytes, immune chemicals such as complement proteins, and free fatty acids known as chyle.
A healthy immune system neither over-responds nor under-responds in effort to denature microbes and toxins that are brought into our bodies, associated with the food we eat—thus the abdomen remains flat. When our immune system becomes compromised, it generally over-responds in the production of lymph, and the lymph nodes around the gastrointestinal tract dramatically swell and feel ‘heavy’ and uncomfortable. After some time the lymph nodes drain into the liver and the ‘heavy’ swelling reduces. To many people it appears random and not linked to what they eat nor when they eat. If an inappropriate immune lymph response continues for some months, a person can end up with a belly that ‘goes up and down randomly’ but never entirely goes away. In fact it can continue to grow even though they reduce the food they eat and they exercise strongly.
The most effective way to reduce the volume of lymph in your body is to remove specific vegetables, fruits, salads, or herbs/spices from your diet. All plants have toxic defence chemicals (both man-made and natural), including the plants we eat. While a healthy liver, kidneys and intestine eliminate poisons, a healthy immune system denatures the natural (or man-made) toxins in plants. If our immune system becomes compromised, it will not be able to denature toxins efficiently for all the types of plants we eat. It can then produce a lymph defence response which will create the uncomfortable ‘fat belly’. The plants that cause this response will be specific for each person—because each of us has an individual ‘signature’ reflecting the way our immune system changes with age. In order to effectively determine which plant toxins could be causing problems for your immune system, you may have to undertake a ‘Signature Diet Protocol’.
It must be noted that a small amount of the food toxin can stimulate kilograms of lymph response. Think of coeliac disease where a few grams of gluten will stimulate kilograms of lymph response which can cause an inflammatory response for some weeks.
Another way to reduce lymph production (fat belly, bum and legs) is to cook all foods well. Cooking destroys microbes and many plant toxins, and this reduces the likelihood of a lymph response occurring.
Exercising to supplement weight loss
For years we’ve been told that more physical pain gives more gain in losing weight; that working-out until we drop, torturing ourselves in crowded gyms, pummelling our bodies with boot-camp style workouts, burns fat. Right? This is not entirely true from my experience. You mostly just increase your chances of getting injured without getting the results you may be craving.
One key component when exercising to lose weight, is to get yourself out of breath for several minutes and then rest. This will stimulate your lungs, heart, circulation and muscles to produce catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine) to the stress response that being out of breath triggers. These chemicals drive weight loss because catecholamines break down and burn fat stores and their activity continues when you rest after the workout. The understanding is to do enough exercise to trigger this response and then let the chemicals do the work while you rest or do other things.
Also when you aim to get yourself out of breath you should drive your body with intensity and aim to ‘hit the wall’ and hold it there for a few minutes before you rest. It is only when you ‘hit the wall’ that you will stimulate human growth hormones. If these are produced in adequate amounts, they will heal and regenerate muscle (and organ) tissues, and this makes you feel younger and more vital.
When you incorporate this way of exercising, you may have to initially do these workouts once a day, but with increased healthy eating for your immune system, this can be reduced to once a week and still continue to reduce your weight to your optimal level. If you incorporate other components like strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, relaxation, static and dynamic endurance, relaxation and joint alignment, then you will begin feeling physically younger. When all these are regularly practiced (in classes for most of us), there will be the added advantage of a natural increase in emotional wellbeing that complete exercising creates—through the production of hormones such as testosterone. You can feel eternally young, or so it still feels to me at my age.
Bill Giles has more than 50 years’ experience in martial arts, 40 years in yoga and corrective exercise, and has practiced as a clinician for decades in Oriental bone-setting, shiatsu, acupuncture and Chinese massage. Contact us for specific advice on weight loss or corrective exercise we can coach you through finding your own Signature Diet and personalised corrective exercise program to lose weight.