Understanding Fat Metabolism
By Steven Horne
In this issue, I want to talk about two important keys I have learned to promote weight loss. One was learning to show love for our bodies instead of being so negative and critical
The other was using massage and detoxification to promote the breakdown of fat. In this issue, I'll share some of the material I already understood about weight loss and used in
my contribution to the new Untold Truth module.
Fats are very important to our health. They are a major structural component of the body, and particularly the nervous system. Over 50% of the brain is fat. So, when someone calls you a "fat head"¯ you should thank them for the compliment.
Fats also transport nutrients, help our skin stay soft and smooth (instead of being rough or dry) and store energy. The body burns fat in order to stay warm (especially in cold weather) and fats are the preferred source of fuel for the heart. Fats also form the basis for adrenal and reproductive hormones.
When the body is holding onto excess fat, it is doing so for a reason. The fat is not the real problem. It is the underlying health issues which are causing the body to create and hold onto
excess fats that are the issue.
Kim Balas's work in biochemical blood analysis really opened my understanding as to how the body metabolizes and uses fats, which has given me additional clues as to why we gain weight
and have trouble losing it. There are five major organs/glands which regulate the metabolism of fat in the body. If any of these organs are not functioning properly, then our fat metabolism
will be impaired and we will have difficulty burning off excess fat. These organs are the gallbladder, liver, thyroid, spleen, and uterus in women and prostate in men.
To begin with, the gallbladder serves not only to emulsify fats for digestion (bile), but also as the means for disposing of toxins from the liver and excess cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol in the body is used to make bile, and bile is secreted to help digest fats. Low fat diets can actually increase cholesterol levels because less bile is produced to break down fats.
When the gallbladder is congested, fat metabolism is impaired. Cholagogues are herbs which stimulate bile production in the liver and secretion from the gall bladder.
Many bitters have this property, including dandelion, milk thistle, yellow dock and Oregon grape. Stronger cholagogues include turmeric (curcumin BP), blue flag, fringe tree and Culver's root.
Fats that are broken down and absorbed through the intestines are transported to the liver for processing. In the liver, proteins are combined with fats to form lipoproteins to transport these nutrients through the bloodstream. Magnesium is also used to transport fats in the body, and many people are magnesium deficient. When the liver becomes congested, fats are not correctly
metabolized. When fats oxidize prematurely, they become rancid.
Many skin conditions are the result of problems with fat metabolism or fat soluble toxins. This is why herbs that help clear the liver and decongest it have proven useful for skin conditions.
Examples of herbs that affect the liver's ability to regulate fat metabolism are burdock, chickweed and yellow dock.
SF (Skinny Formula) is one of the very best formulas for reducing fatty
congestion in the liver; it was originally formulated as a weight loss aid by herbalist LaDean Griffin.
In my experience, most of us need support for the liver, which is bombarded by the nutritional deficiencies and toxicity we are exposed to in modern society. Cleansing and supporting the liver, therefore, is absolutely essential to weight loss. Both Deanna Hansen and Kat James found that milk thistle helped them reshape their bodies. The Dieter's Cleanse contains supplements that place a heavy emphasis on liver detoxification. This is essential to losing weight because not only does the liver help regulate fat metabolism, it also has to handle many of the toxins released into the bloodstream when fat is broken down.
The thyroid regulates the metabolic rate in the body. I like to think of it as the body's gas pedal¯ for metabolism. One of the primary roles of the thyroid hormones is to emulsify (make water soluble) and activate fats for metabolism. Since the body primarily burns fat to stay warm, a low thyroid function results in a lowered body temperature. Other symptoms of low thyroid function include dry skin (remember that fats keep the skin soft and moist), fatigue, reduced sex drive and function (sex hormones are made from fats) and, of course, weight gain.
In contrast, when the thyroid is hyperactive, as in Grave's disease, the persons are hot,¯ they lose weight rapidly, they are hyper¯ and their heart tends to beat too rapidly (remember the heart uses fat for fuel).
Low thyroid is very common, and probably, a lot of moderately low thyroid conditions go unnoticed. Kimberly Balas recently attended a class with David Brownstein, a medical doctor
who uses supplements and holistic methods. Dr. Brownstein has written a book entitled Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, as well as two other books on natural hormone
Dr. Brownstein believes that most people are iodine deficient. Iodine is not just needed by the thyroid, it is also used in uterine and prostate tissue, the breasts, the skin and many other organs
and systems in the body. In fact, iodine deficiency is a factor in fibrocystic breast disease and breast and prostate cancer.
Our lack of iodine is partly due to dietary insufficiency, but is exacerbated by the fact that chlorine, fluoride and bromine all displace iodine in the tissues. Since most people drink chlorinated
water and are exposed to fluorides and bromides on a regular basis, we need more iodine to offset this exposure.
I have added an iodine supplement to my program to see if it will accelerate my own weight loss. I have only been taking it a week, but it appears to be helping. Target TS II was originally developed as a weight loss product to stimulate the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid Activator, Thyroid Support and Liquid Dulse can all be helpful in a weight loss program.
The spleen stores and ages fats by combining them with B12 and calcium and storing them in cell membranes. It balances the iron and fat in the body. It is also involved in regulating immune
functions. In Chinese medicine, the spleen is said to build the muscles, so that a spleen chi deficiency results in muscle wasting.
Deposition of fat and wasting of muscle is a common sign of aging. Supplements that may help the spleen include dandelion, Fat Grabbers, Spleen Activator, Ultimate Echinacea and yarrow.
The Uterus and Prostate
The uterus and prostate play a role in fat metabolism because they help bind fat to water. This is done through a mineral catalyst, selenium. Potassium is also used to draw fatty acids into
the cell to be burned. Manganese is used in the mitochondria of the cell to combust cholesterol to produce sex hormones. This process of burning fat is involved in creating energy, including
creating sexual energy and sexual desire.
Dr. Bernard Jensen called manganese the love element. It is found in abundance in red raspberry leaves, which are used as a uterine tonic. Herbalist James Green maintains that raspberry
leaves work equally well as a tonic to the male prostate.
Women who have problems with water retention, a lack of energy and fat accumulation around the hips, buttocks and thighs typically have a problem with their uterus. A chiropractor friend of mine also indicated that he had noted that after having their uterus removed, he observed that women often had trouble losing weight and also developed heart and nervous system problems.
This is due to the fact that fats are no longer being processed as efficiently because of the loss of uterine tissue.
So, getting this reproductive tissue into good health may also be necessary to weight reduction.
Supplements that may help balance uterine and prostate tissue include:
Female Comfort, FCS II,
X-Action for Women
Men's Formula, X-Action Rdeloaded for Men
While the pancreas is not directly involved with burning fat, excess insulin is involved in turning the excess carbohydrates we consume into fat. So, eating a lot of simple and refined carbohydrates
is a key factor in weight gain. Not only are these foods lacking in nutrients our body needs, they are also triggering storage of fat. Starchy things like grain and potatoes mature in the fall for a reason. Eating them helps people and animals put away fat reserves to stay warm during the winter. So, focusing on other types of foods helps us lose weight.
(sugars) are also to be avoided.
Stress is a big factor in excess weight. High levels of insulin and high levels of cortisol (a stress hormone released from the adrenals) are associated with a loss of muscle mass and the development of abdominal fat. So, stress management is an important factor in weight reduction.
I gained my belly during a very stressful period of my life. When my stress level reduces, I always seem to lose weight more easily.
Of course, that's where the Nature's Cortisol formula can come in handy. It can reduce stress hormone output, which reduces stressful feelings (anxiety) and helps block the tendency
to gain weight under stress.
I hope this information will aid you in designing customized weight loss and health improvement programs for yourself.