People struggling with excess body weight may self-blame themselves or be criticised by others for their food or lifestyle choices; or increasingly we hear about genetic factors that may be accountable. Most people should know about the problem of food high in sugars that create metabolic problems that can lead to diabetes. There is less public awareness of the health problems caused by the oils in our processed foods (that’s another topic). At another time I will also write about the metabolic problems caused by wrong dietary and exercise advice, that does not consider the individual’s health status and unique functional characteristics.
Here’s another challenge: medically prescribed or pharmacy approved weight loss products that have adverse side effects and/or contain harmful ingredients, which can lead to increased body weight because of the body’s stress response, hormonal dysregulation and liver toxicity.
Consider this medically prescribed appetite suppressant. The pharmaceutical component, phentermine, stimulates our sympathetic nervous system or “fight and flight” response, with release of adrenaline that keeps us active and alert, increasing use of energy and suppressing digestion (hence appetite). Do you understand how this effects your nervous system balance, cortisol and blood sugar regulation…which accounts for side effects that include headaches, insomnia, irritability, palpitations, nervousness?
Are you aware of the other harmful ingredients listed below?
Lactose - may be problematic for lactose intolerant people
Liquid paraffin - used as a laxative by softening and lubricating stools
Magnesium stearate – used as a flow agent in the manufacturing process. Adverse side effects uncertain.
Synthetic colours (food additive code number)1:
Titanium dioxide (171) - Some concern over long term safety in relation to reproduction and cancer. Regard with caution. Not recommended for regular consumption.
Iron oxide (172) - Possible kidney damage. Suspected neurotoxin. Banned in other countries.
Brilliant blue FCF (133) - Suspected carcinogen, linked to hyperactivity, asthmatics should avoid. Banned in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Norway
Erythrosine (127) - Suspected carcinogen, linked to thyroid abnormality, brain dysfunction, hyperactivity, light sensitivity. Banned in Norway
Sunset yellow FCF (110) - Suspected carcinogen, allergies, hyperactivity, upset stomach, skin rashes, kidney tumors, chromosomal damage. Banned in Norway
Now consider the ingredient list in this pharmacy endorsed very low carbohydrate meal replacement:
Let’s consider just the 98% by weight ingredients2:
Whey protein concentrate (WPC) - Conventional dairy products are contaminated with hormones and antibiotics, and denatured by pasteurisation, homogenisation and processing.
Milk protein isolate - Casein rich. Not suitable for someone who is dairy intolerant. And same quality concerns apply as above.
Maltodextrin - A highly processed thickener derived from genetically modified corn or wheat, used to increase the volume of the product. Has no nutritional value, but has high GI, which spikes blood sugar, and it suppresses growth of healthy gut bacteria3.
Canola oil - Erucic acid is irritating to mucous membranes; canola oil consumption has been correlated with development of fibrotic lesions of the heart, CNS degenerative disorders, lung cancer, and prostate cancer, anemia, and constipation; Contains trans fatty acid formed during high temperatures needed in the refining process4.
BHA (320) = Butylated hydroxyanisole - A synthetic anti-oxidant used by food companies to prevent spoilage in foods with oil or shortening and to preserve many breakfast cereals, enriched rice products, and dried soups; serious concerns about carcinogenic and estrogenic effects; hay fever, headache, wheezing, fatique, asthma, hence asthmatics and aspirin sensitive people should avoid; causes metabolic changes and accumulates in body fat. Banned in Japan in 1958. Not permitted in foods for infants and young children5.
BHT (321) = Butylated hydroxytoluene - A synthetic anti-oxidant as for BHA; suspected carcinogen, asthmatics and aspirin sensitive people should avoid; skin irritation. Prohibited in food for infants and young children6; potential effects: chronic urticaria, dermatitis, fatique, asthma, aggressive behaviour, learning difficulties, bronchospasm, may affect kidneys and liver, harmful to aquatic organisms7.
Fructose = Fruit-derived simple sugars – not usable for energy; metabolised by the liver; causes leptin resistance leading to weight gain8
Dextrose = Corn derived simple sugar identical to glucose; raises blood sugar and insulin; may be from genetically modified corn;
High oleic sunflower oil - Has more monounsaturated fats and less polyunsaturated fats than regular oil9, making it more stable i.e. less prone to rancidity.
and aspartame (951) - linked to many health problems including cancer, asthma, nausea, depressions, hyperactivity and seizures. The most complained about food additive accounting for about 75% of all complaints to FDA9.
Eating REAL food, without synthetic chemicals, in balanced proportions and portions, combined with appropriate exercise and stress management is a MUCH healthier way to correct metabolic and hormonal imbalances and help your body reach a sustainable healthier weight.
References available on request.