Every day, millions of Americans— possibly you, too—struggle with the same problems: lack of energy, chronic illness and an inability to shed those last few pounds. And every year, new fad diets are introduced with the latest spin on weight loss
But the end result is always the same: Initially the fads may work, but after a few months all the weight that was lost is put back on and sometimes even more.
Well, now there is something that could change all that.
The concept is based on a scientific breakthrough called nutrigenomics: the science of how food “talks” to your body’s genes.
When you eat, you not only supply your body with the energy it needs to operate, you also provide it with a set of very specific instructions that tell it how well or poorly to operate. In a sense, your body is like a computer. They both require energy. For the computer, that energy comes through a cord. For your body, it comes from the food you put in your mouth.
But just providing energy isn’t enough. If you don’t provide your computer with operating instructions, it’ll just sit there—useless. Worse yet, hackers can get into it and corrupt the programming, spawning a whole slew of problems.
Fortunately, it’s much easier to program our bodies to automatically lose weight and regain health than it is to program a computer. All we need to do is choose the right foods and engage in healthy habits.
What’s frustrating is that this knowledge has been available for sever- al years. But, knowingly or not, the government, food industry and medical establishment have been keeping it from you. Until now.
Many of the answers to our weight and health problems are buried in countless research papers. With the aid of a number of brilliant scientists, I’ve gathered and synthesized these great advances in medical science—the kind of advances that usually take decades to be incorporated into medical practice. And I have translated this information into a simple program that has brought easy, sustainable weight loss to thousands of people.
This approach isn’t theoretical. I’ve been testing and refining this methodology with my patients—both at Canyon Ranch, where I was co-medical director for 10 years, and most recently in my private practice. All told, more than 2,000 of my patients have helped me discover precisely what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to weight loss and long-term health.
As part of this process, I’ve identified the seven fundamental causes of weight loss and health—the master bi- logical mechanisms that control virtually everything in your body.
Control these master biological mechanisms—or “metabolic keys” and you can control the building blocks of your body: your genes. By controlling your genes, you can deter- mine whether you are slim, fit and full of energy or overweight, ridden with disease and sluggish.
Our genes interact intimately with our environment. Every bite of food we eat, every thought we think, every stress we experience and every toxin we ingest or inhale carries a specific message to our genes, turning them on (or off) and telling them how to behave. As a result, our genes are programmed, moment by moment, to actively create weight loss or weight gain, health or disease.
The secret that makes this work is, well, really no longer a secret: By simply eating the foods that ignite all of your body’s fat-burning engines, and avoiding the foods that snuff them out, you will begin the process of working with your body instead of against it. This is what all fad diets fail to do—and it is why they all fail.
My message to you is simple: If you want to fit into your jeans, you have to learn to fit into your genes!
Metabolic key #1: optimizing your brain chemistry
For decades, people were warned to avoid fats at all costs. But we now know that the type of fat you eat is more important than the amount of fat you eat. The new science of nutrigenomics traces the biological impact of good fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids (contained primarily in fish, fish oils, walnuts, ﬂax and hemp seeds and a limited number of other foods), and bad fats, such as processed vegetable oils and the trans fats in many processed foods.
The recommendation to eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids is old news. What’s new is the discovery of the weight-loss secret behind that recommendation. We now know that good fats turn on your body’s fat-burning genes and bad fats turn them off. When you consume EPA or DHA, both omega-3 fatty acids, they access a metabolic gateway (the PPAR receptor) to activate genes that increase your metabolism, help you burn fat and assist you in processing sugar more effectively so food won’t get stored as fat.
It’s as if the EPA and DHA open up an extra lane on your hormonal super- highway, making for a smooth and easy route toward slimness and health. That’s why, for automatic weight loss, I recommend adding EPA and DHA (both found in fish oil) to your diet.
At the same time, unhealthy trans fats act as a metabolic roadblock to weight loss. That’s why I also recommend avoiding as many processed foods—snack foods, junk foods, fast foods and the like—as possible. Most (if not all) of them contain high levels of trans fats.
Metabolic key #2: boosting thyroid production
The thyroid hormone plays an integral role in regulating your body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which not enough thyroids is produced, is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions that I’ve seen. It affects over 10,000,000 Americans and is a leading cause of weight gain.
One common cause of hypothyroidism is an allergy to gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt and kamut). People who are allergic to gluten react in different ways, including suppressing the body’s production of the thyroid hormone. This leads to a dramatic slowdown in metabolism.
For many of my patients with hypothyroidism, simply eliminating gluten from their diets not only normalizes their thyroid levels, boosts their metabolism and leads to weight loss, it also lowers their cholesterol, improves their memory, promotes regrowth in cases of hair loss, and relieves muscle aches and constipation—and even cures infertility in some.
Don’t think this is a big deal? Well, consider that recently three separate law- suits were filed against McDonald’s because their fries contain gluten. This revelation shocked people with food allergies who had no idea that potatoes could be a source of this substance that they must avoid.
So not only do McDonald’s fries have bad trans fats (which shut down your brain chemistry and slow your metabolism), they also have gluten, which could put a damper on your thyroid gland, slow your metabolism and cause you to gain weight: a severe metabolic double whammy.
Mark Hyman, M.D., is the author of Ultra-Metabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss and editor in chief of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. You can purchase Dr. Hyman’s book at www. Hyman.com and www.ultrametabolism.com.
Originally Published on GRAND Magazine in January-February 2007 Issue