For some people weight loss is pretty straightforward: They just need to cut out sodas and sweets and hit the gym regularly. For others, especially those with a chronic health disorder, weight loss remains elusive despite and weight gain happens far too easily despite doing everything right.
Weight gain and weight loss resistance are very common symptoms among people with chronic health disorders. Contrary to popular belief, an inability to lose weight or keep it off is not a sign of a character flaw but instead flaws in your metabolic, immune, or neurological health.
Fat shaming is culturally accepted, particularly in the alternative health spaces and against women. The truth is, overweight and obese people may have some of the healthiest diets and lifestyle practices you’ll encounter. They have to — should they dare to eat “normally” they would quickly balloon out of control.
Instead of beating yourself up if you can’t lose the weight or you have mysteriously gained it too easily, consider if any of the following underlying causes may apply to you.
Nine possible reasons why you can’t lose weight — none of which are due to being lazy or undisciplined
1. You are a veteran lifelong dieter. The multi-billion-dollar diet industry coupled with unrealistic cultural body image standards have turned low-calorie dieting into a way of life. That works great in your youth, but as you age your metabolism fatigues from constant famines.
The human body responds to famines by progressively lowering metabolism and increasing fat storage hormones. As a result, each low-calorie diet can make you a little bit fatter than the last one once you resume normal caloric intake. This explains why diets have such low long-term success.
This phenomenon was most poignantly illustrated in a study of participants from the The Biggest Loser reality TV show. Six years after participating in the show, researchers found they were burning 800 fewer calories per day and the majority of them returned to their pre-show weight and had to under eat by 400–800 calories a day just to not gain weight.
2. Your hunger hormones are out of whack
Conversely, if you routinely eat ample sugar and desserts and processed carbohydrates (breads, pastas, white rice, etc.), you likely have leptin resistance and skewed hunger hormone function that causes constant food cravings and hunger. Minimizing or eliminating processed carbohydrates and exercising regularly helps improve leptin sensitivity so your hunger cues and fat burning returns to normal.
3. Your thyroid isn’t working well
One of the most common causes of weight gain and weight loss resistance is hypothyroidism, or low thyroid activity. And the most common cause of this is Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and damages the thyroid gland. This is why many people do not lose weight even after they start taking thyroid medication. It’s important to address the underlying causes of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to improve your health and lose weight.
4. You are chronically inflamed
Chronic inflammation skews hormone function, metabolism, and gut health in a way that can promote fat storage and prevent fat burning.
Many people enjoy easy weight loss by following an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. Nutrient-dense foods void of inflammatory triggers also manage pain, gut problems, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, depression anxiety, and other health issues.
5. You’ve had a brain injury or have compromised brain function
Many sufferers of concussions and brain injuries find they suddenly gain weight after their injury and are not able to lose it. Brain injuries cause inflammation in the brain, which can not only impact brain function, but also disrupt metabolic, hormone, and immune in a way that promotes promotes weight gain and inhibits fat burning. Brain injury victims also often struggle with fatigue, exercise intolerance, depression, and other symptoms that interfere with appropriate fat burning and storage.
6. You have mold illness
Mold illness is increasingly being identified as an underlying cause of many health disorders and symptoms, including weight gain and weight loss resistance. Almost a quarter of the US population is susceptible to mold illness. Toxicity from mycotoxins, the byproducts of molds, can seriously impact metabolic, immune, and neurological health leading to unexplained weight gain and weight loss resistance. This refers not just to the dreaded black mold but also the more commonly found strains of mold caused by leaks and water damage in buildings.
7. You were born with an obese gut microbiome
Research into the gut microbiome, our trillions of gut bacteria, show they impact virtually every aspect of our health, including whether we are more likely to be thin or heavy.
Studies on both mice and humans have shown that obese subjects inoculated with the gut bacteria of thin subjects went on to quickly and easily lose weight.
Factors that impact your gut microbiome “signature” in a way that promotes obesity include being delivered via C-section, being formula fed versus breastfed, and frequent antibiotic use in childhood.
8. You are a victim of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault or have PTSD
After more than two decades of trying to understand why most obese people regained the weight they lost, an obesity researcher made an accidental discovery — the majority of his study subjects had been sexually abused as children or sexually assaulted right before the time their weight gain began. This can drive complex PTSD and the genesis of a food addiction to cope.
Likewise, researchers have found a correlation between food addiction and PTSD in women.
9. You have a brain-based disorder that promotes food addiction and an eating disorder
For many people with weight issues, food becomes the source of torturous addictive behaviors that can then morph into eating disorders. It is increasingly being found that addictions and eating disorders are linked to brain-based disorders such as ADHD. Skewed neurological function triggers the obsessive thought patterns that lay the foundation for addictive eating and eating disorders.
Look for the underlying cause of weight gain and weight loss resistance to develop self-compassion
I hope this article helps you understand some of the factors that play into a chronic struggle with weight gain and weight loss resistance. Our society begs us to gorge on eat sugary foods and drinks through incessant advertising while a multi-billion-dollar diet industry and impossible pop culture body ideals value human worth based on thinness.
The result is millions of people, the majority of them women, internalize society’s fat shaming and develop shame and self-loathing around food and their bodies when the real sickness is in the society and not the individual.
The body is a miraculous machine that operates in constant service to us. You can learn to live and eat in a way that honors good health and function regardless of your size. Ask my office how we can help you.
A controversial new study found that high cholesterol does not shorten life span and that statins are essentially a “waste of time,” according to one of the researchers. Previous studies have linked statins with an increased risk of diabetes.
The study reviewed research of almost 70,000 people and found that elevated levels of “bad cholesterol” did not raise the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease in people over 60.
The authors called for statin guidelines to be reviewed, claiming the benefits of statins are “exaggerated.”
Not only did the study find no link between high cholesterol and early death, it also found that people with high “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) actually lived longer and had fewer incidences of heart disease.
The co-author and vascular surgeon went on to say that cholesterol is vital for preventing cancer, muscle pain, infection, and other health disorders in older people. He said that statins are a “waste of time” for lowering cholesterol and that lifestyle changes are more effective for improving cardiovascular health.
Naturally, the paper drew fire and its conclusions were dismissed by other experts in the field. Statins are among the most commonly prescribed drugs — one in four Americans over the age of 40 take statins and the drug accounts for more than $20 billion in spending each year. Statin use has gone up more than 80 percent in the last 20 years.
If you would like help understanding Heart Health and Diabetes, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Statins linked to higher risk of diabetes and other health disorders
In functional medicine we recognize cholesterol as a vital compound in the body for multiple functions, including brain function and muscle strength. Overly low cholesterol is linked with an increased risk of several health disorders, including diabetes.
One study of almost 9,000 people showed that people in their 60s who used statins had an almost 40 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. They also had higher rates of high blood sugar and pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance. High blood sugar disorders underpin numerous chronic inflammatory conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Previous research found a 50 percent increased risk of diabetes in women who took statins.
In addition to raising the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes, statins also may cause such side effects as muscle weakness and wasting, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and dizziness.
Statins do not address the underlying cause of heart disease: Chronic inflammation
Statins may lower cholesterol, but they do not address the underlying cause of heart disease, which is typically chronic inflammation (some people are genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease). The body uses cholesterol to repair arteries damaged by inflammation — the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes.
For instance, the vast majority of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol. In other countries where people have higher cholesterol than Americans, they also have less heart disease. In fact, low cholesterol in elderly patients is linked to a higher risk of death compared to high cholesterol.
Improving heart health through functional medicine instead of statins
Functional medicine is a great way to improve cardiovascular health because it avoids drugs that cause potentially harmful side effects. Although lifestyle changes may require more work than popping a pill, they address root causes of your disorder versus overriding them. This means you feel and function better overall.
What does a functional medicine approach to heart health look like?
- An anti-inflammatory diet
- Releasing feel-good endorphins on a regular basis through exercise (endorphins are anti-inflammatory)
- Targeted nutritional support
- Identifying and addressing the root causes of your inflammation, which are different for everyone. Possibilities include high blood sugar, poor thyroid function, an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, chronic bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, leaky gut, or a brain imbalance, such as from a past brain injury.
It’s important to address things from this angle because cholesterol is vital to good health. It is found in every cell and helps produce cell membranes, vitamin D, and hormones. It’s also necessary for healthy brain function.
Inflammation promotes heart disease
Chronic inflammation and not cholesterol is the concerning factor in heart disease. The blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP) identifies inflammation. If it’s high, you have a higher risk for heart disease than those with high cholesterol. Having normal cholesterol but high CRP does not protect you from heart disease.
By using functional medicine to lower your inflammation and improve your heart health, you not only avoid the risks and dangers of statins, but also you get to better enjoy your golden years thanks to improved energy and well being.
Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
In the world of functional medicine, it has long been known that gut health is paramount to the health of the rest of the body. For decades we didn’t fully understand why, although we knew the gut was the seat of the immune system and chronic inflammation. Now with the gut microbiome renaissance underway, we also understand how integral gut bacteria is to health.
As such, addressing gut health has always been one and continues to be one of the first steps in managing a chronic inflammatory or autoimmune condition. However, people tend to fall into the trap of thinking everyone needs to follow the same gut healing protocol, wondering why it works for some and not others.
As it turns out, repairing gut health is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There is not just one diet, one type of probiotic, or one gut healing powder that works for everyone. Although there are some basic foundations to gut healing — remove immune reactive foods, keep blood sugar stable, and create a healthy gut microbiome — the truth is you still need to know why your gut health deteriorated in order to address the root cause.
If you would like help understanding about Gut Health, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Examples of root causes of poor gut health
For example, a number of patients can come in with a complaint of constipation. While laxatives may help the patient, it is nevertheless important to understand why they are constipated in the first place. This goes for any digestive complaint and not just constipation.
Here are some different reasons why a person can develop a digestive complaint such as constipation:
- A past brain injury has dampened activity of the vagus nerve, which carries communication back and forth between the gut and the brain. This slows down motility of the intestines and causes constipation.
- The gut’s nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, has degenerated significantly due to chronic gut inflammation from immune reactive foods, too many sugars and junk foods, chronic stress, gut infections, or brain degeneration. Intestinal motility depends on a healthy enteric nervous system, and constipation develops.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) releases gases that shut down motility.
- Medications impact intestinal motility and cause constipation.
- Dysautonomia, a dysregulation of the central nervous system, prevents the body from getting into the “rest and digest” state that allows for healthy bowel function.
A one-size-fits-all gut protocol can completely heal one person, create improvement in another, do nothing at all for a third, and perhaps make another even worse.
It’s also important to screen for more serious conditions. These can include gastric ulcers from an h. pylori infection, intestinal permeability — or leaky gut — from damage to the microvilli of the small intestine, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease. Knowing whether these conditions are an issue also impacts how you manage gut health.
Also vital is knowing whether gut autoimmunity is the root cause of your gut issues. You can test for this through Cryex Labs. If so, this changes your expectations of your outcomes and how you evaluate your progress. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system erroneously attacks and destroys tissue in the body. Eventually this leads to symptoms and breakdown of function.
Although autoimmune disease cannot be cured, it often can be dampened or driven into remission for long periods of time. However, unpredictable flare ups also happen, and the person with gut autoimmunity must have realistic expectations in order not to feel demoralized if their symptoms flare and recede. Also, there is still much we don’t know about autoimmunity. For some people it’s easy to manage and for others it’s a constant battle. In these cases, the goal can be as simple as “more good days.”
This is an overview of why common gut-healing protocols work gangbusters for some people and little to not at all for others. Our digestive system is one of the most fascinating, complex, and influential systems in the body. The more scientists learn about it, the more apparent it becomes that gut health largely determines the health of the rest of the body, including the brain.
This is why we are seeing so many chronic health conditions in modernized societies that subsist largely on industrialized agriculture and food processing. The commercialization of cheap, processed, chemically laden, and highly sweetened “foods” largely void of produce has inflamed and damaged the digestive tract, decimated the gut microbiome (some researchers call it an extinction event), and ravaged the brain in today’s modern populations.
Fortunately, functional medicine excels when it comes to repairing and maintaining gut health. Ask our office how we can help you.
Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Many of us are pretty good at beating ourselves up when we have lost our motivation, calling ourselves lazy or worthless. But research shows laziness, or lack of motivation, can actually be a symptom of chronic inflammation.
A natural state of health is to want to engage in life. If you don’t want to and don’t care, this is a red flag to look for an underlying health condition.
New research shows that chronic low-grade inflammation hinders the activity of areas in the brain responsible for motivation.
Called the dopaminergic signaling system, these parts of the brain rely on sufficient dopamine, a brain chemical responsible for motivation, drive, and a sense of self-worth — hence the feelings of worthlessness that often accompany low motivation or “laziness.”
The hypothesis is that when the body is suffering from chronic inflammation, this means it has an injury or illness it must heal. In order to meet the demands for healing, the brain lowers drive and motivation so that energy is freed up for healing.
Our everyday tasks and chores, or working toward our goals and dreams suddenly no longer feel worth it.
That’s because inflammation has down regulated areas of the brain that link a sense of reward to effort and work.
We can especially feel this when we are laid up with the flu or a bad injury that can make watching Netflix tiring.
However, low-grade chronic inflammation is not just about the flu or an injury anymore. It is an epidemic problem these days, as evidenced by the mushrooming incidences of chronic inflammatory disorders, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and cancer.
In fact, many brain-based disorders are often a consequence of inflammation, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, memory loss, brain development disorders in children, and even acute psychiatric conditions.
If you would like help understanding being unmotivated because of inflammation, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Understanding the cause of no motivation can lift shame and stigma
Because chronic illness and inflammation causes lack of motivation and fatigue, sufferers are often stigmatized for their condition.
The majority of people with chronic illness are women, and they are commonly dismissed or disbelieved by doctors in the standard health care model or even by their own families.
What’s worse, many internalize the stigmatization and suffer in isolation and with shame around their low energy and lack of motivation.
That’s why it’s important to understand “laziness” and lack of motivation can be symptoms of a larger, underlying problem and not character flaws.
Why is modern life so inflammatory?
Compared to our ancestors and many people on the planet today, many Americans have it pretty easy in terms of ease and convenience.
Yet why are we so inflamed and chronically ill?
Here are just a few factors driving epidemic levels of chronic inflammation and illness:
Blood sugar is too high. Advertising, restaurants, grocery store aisles — everything about modern life is hellbent on making us gorge on sugar and processed carbohydrates. However, science shows high blood sugar is one of the most common and relentless sources of chronic inflammation.
Modern foods are pro-inflammatory. Gluten intolerance is responsible for more inflammation than people realize, thanks to modern hybridization, storing, and pesticide use of gluten grains and other grains. Industrialized fats such as canola oil, soybean oil, and hydrogenated fats are recognized as inflammatory and are ubiquitous in the food supply.
People eat too little produce. Americans eat about half the amount of fiber they should to be healthy. A diet rich in plant fibers creates a gut microbiome rich in healthy gut bacteria. Bad gut bacteria and an unhealthy microbiome are pro-inflammatory and pro-disease.
Modern life is sedentary. Except for workers whose jobs are physical, our ultra-convenient, screen-based lives are extremely sedentary. Lack of regular physical activity and “sitting disease” are sources of chronic inflammation.
Modern life is toxic. Numerous studies link numerous toxins to inflammatory-based conditions. Plastics, pesticides, car exhaust, scented cleaning products, chemically laden body products and foods — we live in a sea of environmental toxins and heavy metals the body was not designed to manage. We are also exposed to too much artificial light, which confuses our biological rhythms and triggers inflammation.
People are stressed out. Despite our many comforts and conveniences, rates of depression, anxiety, and stress are high and afflicting younger and younger people. These negative emotions are known triggers of inflammation. When you experience them all the time, it can lead to inflammatory-based health disorders.
How functional medicine can help you restore your natural motivation
Although we are up against many daunting assaults on our physiology, functional medicine recognizes this and has strategies and protocols to help you.
One of the most common rewards of a functional medicine dietary, lifestyle, and nutritional game plan is the return of energy, motivation, and ambition.
“Laziness” and lack of motivation are red flags. Ask us how we can help you remedy them.
Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
If you have a chronic health or autoimmune condition, chances are you also suffer from brain inflammation. Brain inflammation causes symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, lack of motivation, and depression. We all have some degree of brain inflammation, but it can range from barely perceptible to debilitating depending on how advanced it is.
What kind of brain inflammation do you have? We can look at brain inflammation as either subtle, moderate, or severe, and as transient or chronic. Brain autoimmunity is another cause of brain inflammation and brain-based symptoms.
Subtle brain inflammation:
- Brain fog
- Slower mental speed
- Reduced brain endurance (can’t read, work, or drive as long you used to)
- Brain fatigue after exposure to specific foods or chemicals
- Comes and goes with exposure to triggers
Moderate brain inflammation:
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to focus and concentrate for long periods
- Need to sleep more than 8 hours
- Loss of appetite
- Unable to be physically active
Severe brain inflammation:
- Disorientation or confusion
- Difficulty speaking
- Tremors or trembling
- Involuntary twitching
- Symptoms are activated by exposure to a trigger but subside. Person has more good days than bad.
- Symptoms are persistent symptoms and the person has more bad days than good.
- Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system attacks tissue in the body, mistaking it for a foreign invader. Neuroautoimmunity is more common than people realize and can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms, depending on the area of the nervous system being attacked. Symptoms are caused by flares of the autoimmune condition, which can be whatever triggers the body’s immune system. These people also have symptoms of brain inflammation.
If you would like help understanding Brain Inflammation, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Why the brain becomes inflamed
Most people think the brain is made up mainly of neurons and that neurons run the show. But in recent years, research shows neurons only make up about 10 percent of the brain. The rest is made up of the brain’s immune cells, called glial cells. Glial cells outnumber neurons 10 to 1.
Although the glial cells are the brain’s immune system, scientists have discovered they do much more than defend the brain. When the brain is not battling inflammation, glial cells support healthy neuron function, clear away plaque and debris that can lead to brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and they help facilitate efficient pathways of communication in the brain.
Factors that cause brain inflammation include a brain injury, unmanaged autoimmune disease, high blood sugar, eating inflammatory foods, undiagnosed food intolerances, excess alcohol consumption, a chronic viral or bacterial infection, leaky gut, leaky blood-brain barrier, hormonal imbalances or deficiencies, or other chronic health conditions and imbalances.
When the brain is in a chronic state of inflammation, this takes glial cells away from their job of supporting neuron health, debris clearing, and neuronal communication. This not only causes symptoms like fatigue and depression but also raises your risk of more serious brain disorders down the road.
If your symptoms are in the mild category, following functional medicine protocols (finding and addressing the root causes of your brain inflammation) can help restore your brain health. As long as you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can keep brain inflammation at bay.
These strategies include:
- Balancing blood sugar; lowering blood sugar if it’s too high.
- Removing foods that cause an immune reaction from your diet, gluten in particular.
- Repairing leaky gut and leaky blood-brain barrier.
- Improving microbiome diversity.
- Addressing autoimmune conditions.
- Addressing chronic infections.
- Taking high-quality glutathione and other supplements to dampen inflammation.
- Daily exercise, especially high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
- Hormonal balance if necessary.
If your brain inflammation symptoms are in the moderate to severe category, you still need to follow these steps, but you may need pursue one or more of them very aggressively, as well as adjust your expectations. Unlike the immune system in the body, the brain’s immune system does not have an off switch and inflammation can move through the brain like a slow-moving forest fire for months, years, or even decades. If you have not been the same since a brain injury or other brain insult, this may apply to you.
Additionally, if glial cells undergo a severe inflammatory event, such as a brain injury, they can become “primed.” A primed glial cell permanently changes its physical structure to function less as a neuron helper and more as an immune soldier. This also shortens its lifespan. As with neurons, we only have so many glial cells — their numbers dwindle as we age, and unmanaged brain insults and injuries and unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits can accelerate their demise.
Once glial cells are primed, acute inflammatory events can trigger your brain inflammation symptoms, even if you are following a healthy diet and lifestyle. Also, symptoms from triggering events will be much more severe once your glial cells have been primed. Whereas someone with mild to moderate neuroinflammation may suffer from some brain fog or fatigue if triggered, a person with primed glial cells may see loss of brain function, depending on the area of the brain most affected. This could mean bouts of memory loss, inability to speak properly, loss of muscle function, fatigue so severe they are bed ridden, and more. Once your glial cells are primed, it becomes necessary to structure your life around preventing flares.
Note: One scenario that can occur with primed glial cells is that anti-inflammatory functional medicine protocols may work great for a few weeks and then the person has a rebound crash with severe symptoms. This does not mean the protocols aren’t working, it just means you need to slow down with your protocols and keep systematically working through the various mechanisms until you find your primary triggers, whether its blood sugar, hormonal imbalances, or a dietary or chemical trigger. They will be different for everyone.
Outside of brain inflammation lies another mechanism of brain-based symptoms called “neurons close to threshold.” This means that a triggering neurological event, such as smelling perfumes for the chemically sensitive person, eating gluten for the gluten intolerant person, pushing your brain past what it can handle (with reading, working, studying, driving, etc.), too much noise for someone who is sound sensitive, etc. can fatigue fragile neurons and trigger symptoms.
For instance, a scent-sensitive person may develop migraines and fatigue walking past a perfume counter, or a gluten sensitive person may suffer from brain fog and fatigue after eating gluten. Or a day-long drive may take three days to recover from for the person whose neurons have lost endurance.
Poor health and chronic inflammation sabotage neuronal mitochondria, the energy factory in each cell. This causes a neuron to fire too easily, and then to fatigue. A classic example is tinnitus — auditory neurons are too close to threshold and “hear” noise that isn’t there, which causes ringing in the ears.
In these cases, rehabilitation includes anti-inflammatory strategies for the brain, but also gently exercising the neurons back to better health. This may mean a gradual introduction of essential oils for the scent-sensitive person, using hearing aids to gently stimulate the auditory neurons for the person with tinnitus (there are other causes of tinnitus, this is just one), or gradually increasing reading time each day to build endurance.
This is a broad overview of neuroinflammatory concepts. Ask my office how we can help you manage your brain inflammation.
Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.