In the first two parts of this series, we discussed why calorie counting doesn’t work, and we got into two different approaches that work far better for weight control and overall health: the metabolic approach and the hormonal approach.
Dealing with the root problems that lead to weight gain is so important if you have a weight loss goal. When it comes to your metabolism, hormones, and toxins, each could be keeping you from getting your desired result, be it losing those last few pounds before you reach your ideal weight, or putting on some extra muscle in exchange for flab. Today, we’re mostly going to focus on toxins and their role in fat storage and weight loss.
My Detox/Weight Loss Story
I’ve been through a lot, as many of you who’ve read this blog before know. Most of what I’ve been through has had to do with my overexposure to mold toxins. My story is not unlike Dave Asprey’s, but without all of the money, success, gadgets, and podcasts. Throughout all of the ups and downs in my health, which resulted from my dietary choices, stress levels, and environment, I was never in more trouble than when I was living in a moldy house and spending a ton of time indoors. At that time, my weight was fluctuating worse than it ever had, and I got heavier than ever before (except several years prior when I was on Paxil and reached 230 lbs. in college).
Before I got sick, I topped out at 205 lbs. I was gluten- and sugar-free, yet I was still having trouble maintaining weight. Of course, I had no limit on carbs, so that wasn’t really helping, but my digestion was fine and it didn’t seem to be the carbs that were the culprit at the time. Things took a huge turn for the worse when I had a friend open up a ceiling in my very damp bathroom and try to repair it. I stupidly sat there and talked to him without a mask on while all of this insulation, ceiling particulate, and I’m sure awful aspergillus/stachybotrys concoction filtered through my lungs.
The day after the ceiling excavation, I got the worst respiratory infection I’ve ever had and hopefully ever will have. It lasted two weeks, in which time I thought I was going to die. Subsequently, I started to experiencing all kinds of crazy inflammatory issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, back issues, and sore muscles all around. This was accompanied by nasty symptoms like post-nasal drip, sinus infections, night sweats, heart palpitations, and crazy anxiety. The chest infection even recurred 2 months after the initial infection, and at that point I took antibiotics to fight it (which is always a bad idea) and recovered after 3 weeks. In the next few months, more inflammation kept popping up, including extreme muscle weakness after a panic cardio exercise session where I was trying to “blast out” my heart palpitations also a very bad idea). I was also experiencing a great deal of stress in my business life and family life, which I am certain negatively influenced my health in a huge way.
Ultimately, when I got acid reflux and terrible heart tachycardias, I hit a wall and lost faith in conventional medicine completely, primarily due to proton pump inhibitors and GI doctors who didn’t know how to treat me. I pray that all of you never have to experience what I went through, but if you do, I know a few things that might help you recover. In any case, it has been my observation that in the process of detoxing from mold, you lose weight. There’s no doubt about it: detox causes fat loss, and I’ll try to explain why.
Melting Off the Fat and Unleashing Toxins Unto Thy Liver
The best illustration for toxins’ tendency to be sequestered in fat is the phenomenon of people getting gallbladder disease with weight loss. In my frantic search for information on gallbladder dyskinesia, which I experienced after losing a ton of weight on a nearly zero-carb diet (never recommended), I discovered this. A lot of the articles I read informed me that low-carb diets cause gallbladder problems (which I now know is controversial), so going back on grains was a way to ameliorate this uncomfortable problem.
Believe it or not, adding non-gluten/non-soy/non-corn grains into my diet helped my gallbladder a lot at the time, but it didn’t fix the droves of other presentations of inflammation I was still experiencing, such as silent reflux (LERD) and intense muscle weakness. I ultimately figured out the safe carbs (white rice and sweet potatoes), used artichoke extract, and gradually added in tons of saturated fat against my doctor’s recommendations to effect an oil change of my bile. Sadly, if you have gallstones, you probably need to get the thing taken out (or attempt a no-guarantee gallstone flush that some people have had luck with), but if you have sludge or dyskinesia, I recommend not giving up on old Jeeby just yet and following the three steps I mentioned above.
Of course, the article referenced above blames gallbladder inflammation from rapid weight loss on cholesterol seeping into the bile. Okay, perhaps this makes sense. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the sd-LDL you have stored up from years of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates and vegetable oils based on the thought that this would actually “lower your cholesterol.” If this is so, wouldn’t these sd-LDL particles in some respect be considered toxins? In any case, it’s all fat-soluble junk that you have stored up in fat and in your liver. The message I’d like you to take away from my gallbladder story is that you should be wary of extremely rapid weight loss and very low-carb (VLC) diets.
But let’s just hang it all and get into the science behind toxins’ sequestration in fat and their effect on insulin.
Toxins Cause Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain
There are countless articles about toxins and weight gain on the Internet. You could spend all day reading about it. And that’s a good thing, because it shows that awareness is spreading! Dr. Mark Hyman points out in this article that the discovery that environmental toxins make you fat and cause diabetes should be headline news, yet it isn’t, because there is no drug to treat the problem. I like the way you think, Hyman (except when it comes to veganism of course).
My crude understanding from the things I’ve read in the past few years has been that when toxins from your environment and your food overwhelm your liver, the liver has no choice but to sequester them in fat cells. It’s a crude explanation, but it’s essentially the right idea.
Barry Sears wrote a whole book about this process called Toxic Fat: When Good Fat Turns Bad. He pins the whole obesity problem down to the production of arachidonic acid, a natural fatty acid which can be toxic in large amounts. He very simply then proceeds to pin down the cause of Metabolic Syndrome and thus most chronic disease to what he calls Toxic Fat Syndrome, when the toxins from fat cells where they have been sequestered start to spill out into the bloodstream, causing all kinds of inflammation and autoimmunity. I haven’t read the entire book, but it sounds like he’s got it figured out.
Here is another article discussing the toxic properties of arachidonic acid and several other fatty acids, as well as the mechanism by which omega 3 fatty acids mediate their negative effects. So, all things considered, it looks like a lot of the toxins that we’re storing away in fat are basically polyunsaturated omega 6 oils mixed with fat-soluble toxins like PCBs, dioxins, herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals (according to Sears). This should give us a good indication that these toxins encourage the storage of fat, but also that we need to consider taking detox supplements before, during, and after we start to lose weight. I can attest that this is true after my horrible experience with my gallbladder.
Before losing weight and thus releasing toxins into your system that were once sequestered, make sure you assist the body in detox by aiding in elimination through urine, stools, sweat, and breath:
- Drink lots of clean spring water or filtered and remineralized water helps with the first three!
- A good probiotic, like Keybiotics goes a long way in helping your elimination through stools
- A clean low-toxin coffee, like Bulletproof Upgraded Beans, can also serve as a very useful bowel/bile stimulant
- Practice ayurvedic breathing exercises for a few minutes at a time, which usually involve 4 seconds in, and long, drawn out exhalations of 8 seconds. Be sure to completely push out all air if possible. This has been huge for me.
- Exercise (the right way) to get all of your systems of detox active
- Take supplements that bind and remove toxins, like activated charcoal and chlorella
- Take a good quality krill oil, like Mercola’s, to help fight the negative effects of AA
- Take supplements for liver support, such as molybdenum, milk thistle, forskolin, choline, and artichoke extract
- Eat good clean saturated fats from organic/grass-fed sources to effect an oil change for your bile
- Eat the Bulletproof or Perfect Health Diet, two diets engineered to provide the lowest possible toxin load to your liver and fat cells
I pray that you find a way to achieve balance in your weight and health, without all of the negative side effects due to chemicals/toxins you have stored up! Remember, removing the source of the toxins is always the first step, so identify those, and you’ll be on your way to reaching your goal. The toxin-oriented approach will actually tackle the metabolic and hormonal approaches too, because a detoxified body has better hormones and metabolism!