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Losing Weight the Natural Way

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"Many foods marketed as "fat-free" and "low-fat" are high in white flour and sugar. These are the real culprits when it comes to weight gain." The overweight woman sitting across from me was close to tears.

The overweight woman sitting across from me was close to tears. "For the past year, I've hardly eaten an ounce of fat," she said, desperation in her voice. "I'm buying only fat-free foods fat-free salad dressing, fat-free yogurt, low-fat cereal and look at me, I'm still gaining weight!"

Along with countless other people, this woman had been deceived by the popular misconception that in order to lose weight, she must cut all fats from her diet and live on artificially "de-fattened" foods. The underlying presumption is that all fats are bad and that any fat eaten will automatically pile up in unsightly deposits of body fat. Her overweight body, however, held the proof that this theory is false.

Excess body weight is a growing problem in developed nations. In Canada and the United States, more than half of the adult population is overweight. Along with the extra weight comes an increased risk of type II diabetes and heart disease two degenerative conditions that are eating away at our nation's health at epidemic levels. Clearly, the fat-free/low-fat approach isn't working, and we need to change our strategy.

Whenever we move away from a diet of natural foods and consume modified, unnatural "substitutes," we create an imbalance in the body. Such an imbalance will ultimately manifest in weight problems and degenerative disease it's nature's way of showing us that we've gone wrong and that we've not given the body the nourishment it needs for optimal health and metabolic function.

Healthy Fats Boost Metabolism

Losing weight need not be a painful process, and it doesn't mean that we must deprive ourselves of foods that taste good. What we need to do is increase our intake of natural, whole foods, and that includes the right type of fat. Dietary fat is a concentrated source of energy and plays an important role in metabolism and in protecting cellular health. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and the carotenoids depend on the presence of fats for their assimilation. Fats are also precursors of hormones and hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins.

Certain fats encourage weight loss by boosting metabolic rate and by increasing the body's ability to burn fat. These are the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that occur naturally in whole grains, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. However, anyone who has subsisted on refined foods and a low-fat diet for many years may need extra help to replenish their EFA reserves. Among the best sources of EFAs are the oils from the seeds of flax, safflower, sunflower and sesame. Look for mechanically extracted, unrefined oils that are stored in opaque bottles in the refrigerated section in health food stores. These oils can be used in salad dressings, added to foods after cooking or taken therapeutically as a supplement.

Never use commercial vegetable oils that have been extracted with the use of chemicals and that are highly refined, bleached and deodorized to improve appearance and neutralize odour and taste. Commercial oil extraction and chemical treatment produce damaging free radicals that contribute to degenerative disease and metabolic disturbances.

Avoid all hydrogenated oils in vegetable shortenings, margarine and processed foods. Hydrogenation hardens oils artificially, causing molecular damage. Hydrogenated oils contain trans fatty acids (TFAs)-chemically altered molecules that disrupt enzymes and metabolic processes. Clinical studies have shown that TFAs raise serum cholesterol levels and contribute to cardiovascular disease.

In response to increasing consumer concerns about TFAs, some manufacturers have eliminated hydrogenated oils from their margarine. Instead, they've added saturated oils such as palm oil or palm kernel oil to harden the margarine and make it spreadable. The fact remains that margarine is an unhealthy processed fat made from chemically treated oils.

Butter from pasture-fed cows or extra-virgin olive oil are much better choices. Used in moderate amounts, such healthy, natural fats help to normalize weight by several mechanisms. They slow down the release of sugars from carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus helping to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels.

They also promote a sense of fullness and satiety after eating, thus preventing the constant hunger and resultant binge-eating that plague those on a low-fat diet. They boost metabolism and help to mobilize stored body fat.

Complex Carbohydrates

Many of the manufactured foods that are marketed as "fat-free" and "low-fat" are high in refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar. These are the real culprits when it comes to weight gain because they stimulate insulin production, thus promoting fat storage. Those who want to lose weight must avoid refined carbohydrates, opting instead for complex carbohydrates as they occur in natural foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. The high fibre supplied by these whole foods slows the rate of food passage through the intestinal tract, resulting in a more gradual release of glucose (and thus insulin) into the bloodstream.

Don't be fooled by unnatural foods that are "fat-free" but high in refined carbohydrates that cause weight gain. Remember that achieving and maintaining one's ideal body weight is essentially a function of metabolism (how foods are burned and assimilated in the body). If you keep your metabolism well-tuned with raw foods, enzymes, and healthy, natural fats and lean proteins, you can say goodbye to weight problems. Add a regular exercise program that suits your temperament and schedule, whether it's walking, running, swimming or dancing, and you're on your way to the slim and healthy person you've always wanted to be!

Eat Your Enzymes

The less processed your fruits and veggies are, the better. For best results, don't process them at all eat them raw! The curative powers of raw vegetables, fruits and their juices derive not only from the abundant vitamins and minerals they contain but also from the plant enzymes they supply. Plant enzymes facilitate the digestion and assimilation of nutrients in the body. When fresh and raw foods are taken into the mouth, the chewing action ruptures their cell walls and releases the plant enzymes, which immediately initiate digestion. Raw foods possess the exact amount and types of enzymes necessary for their digestion. Thus, enzymes taken into the body with raw foods reduce the demand placed on the body to produce its own digestive enzymes. This assists the body in conserving energy for metabolic processes, resulting in better overall health and appearance as well as higher physical and mental energy levels.

The summer months are an ideal time to increase our intake of raw foods. Local produce is abundant, and warmer temperatures make us feel inclined to eat a lighter fare. Salads tossed with chlorophyll-rich leafy greens, fresh fruit and freshly squeezed juices are nature's prescription for detoxifying the body and stimulating metabolism so that extra pounds will melt off.

Food enzymes are destroyed by heat. The overconsumption of cooked and processed foods, which are devoid of enzymes, burdens the digestive system particularly the pancreas, which must compensate by producing its own digestive enzymes. Anyone who eats a lot of cooked food should consider taking a plant enzyme supplement with each cooked meal to assist in the breakdown of the food and to reduce the strain on the body's own digestive organs.

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