There’s something new in healthcare that most have not heard about… functional weight-loss medicine. Most often, weight loss plans involve restricting portions and adherence to some exercise regimen. With functional weight-loss medicine, weight loss is simply a side benefit of a body that has become healthier overall!
So what exactly is functional medicine? Functional medicine focuses on improving the body’s gastrointestinal (gut health), endocrine (thyroid), and immune systems. Each treatment plan is designed uniquely for each patient.
Two of the most common symptoms that our patients experience, prior to arriving at our doorstep, are weight gain and fatigue. They’ve tried restricting their calories, sometimes to as little as 500 calories a day. Some patients, at least those who have enough energy, will exercise almost daily. Yet, the excess weight remains.
Their weight problem is obviously not caused by too many calories or too little exercise. The problem is in how the patient’s body is functioning.
For instance, when adrenal glands are over-worked it causes our bodies to store fat. This is called adrenal fatigue. It happens when we continually stress ourselves out… sound familiar? Cortisol, an adrenal hormone, becomes elevated during times of stress. Our body reacts to cortisol by storing fat, especially around the waistline.
Normally, when our stress fades away, the body simply uses up this cache of fat. But… when our stress levels remain high, so does our cortisol level. This is one reason why mid-body fat is so difficult to get rid of. Until the adrenals become healthier, these fatty deposits aren’t going away.
When the adrenals are fatigued, this can affect the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland tells our thyroid gland what to do i.e. how much thyroid hormone to produce. The thyroid gland monitors our metabolism. When thyroid hormones are low (hypothyroidism), our metabolism slows. A slowed metabolism causes us to gain weight.
Another way that our metabolism can be slowed is if thyroid hormones cannot be converted into a usable form called T3. Often, the problem is the body’s inability to properly absorb T3 into its cells. This can explain why some people on thyroid hormone medication continue to have problems with fatigue and weight gain.
Functional weight-loss medicine focuses on all the elements that can cause unintended weight gain. By improving these elements, the body will be able to attain its ideal weight again. Generally, this involves a nutritional and neurologic approach by a doctor experienced in functional medicine.