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The Hidden Weight Gain Culprit
that No One Ever Told You About
by James J. Valko

All language is developed from a need to specifically name something that may not have existed or been considered prior to its recognition. Such is the case with the newest byword of potentially fat producing chemicals called appropriately enough, "obesogens."

Unless you have been doing extensive research on what causes fat and why this country is seeing such an upsurge in obesity despite endless streams of weight-loss solutions, you may not have heard of them.

What exactly is an obesogen, and what does it have to do with your being overweight? Let's take a look. The term obesogen, was coined by Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine, and their effects are detailed at length in the book "The New American Diet."

Most of us have known, or at least suspected that for many years our foods were not only not as nutritious as they were fifty or more years ago, but that they might also represent certain "risks" to our health, resulting from increased chemicals such as pesticides, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals and processed sugars.

The growing popularity of organically produced fruits, vegetables and meats is a direct result of expanding knowledge of the potential dangers of these substances in our food.

In The New American Diet an obesogen is described as an endocrine-disrupting chemical, whether natural or unnatural, found in the US food and water supply. Chemicals such as certain plastic-based compounds, pesticides etc. can, according to the book's authors, disrupt the balance of our endocrine systems, which in turn can trigger an unnatural increase in fat cells. In addition obesogens can affect the body's natural ability to process leptin, the hormone that signals feelings that we have eaten a sufficient amount.

These obesogens can enter the body in a variety of ways and may be responsible for many diseases that plague the American public. They can "misprogram" stem cells to become fat cells by altering gene function. They are also believed to play a part in fertility and sleep difficulties, reduced immune function, brain abnormalities, reduced male birth rates, miscarriage and behavioral problems.

So, perhaps it is not just that Twinkie you had 2 nights ago or the Big Mac you downed when you were in a hurry. If it were as simple as reducing eating fattening foods a little exercise to lose weight, why aren't more people able to do so? The answer most likely lies in this heretofore hidden component of obesogens, or more generally, toxins in the body, that inhibit the overall function of the endocrine system and stealthily convert our bodies to stockpiles of fatty cells.

Numerous studies have been done on the effects of various pesticides and their consequence on thyroid function and weight gain. These toxic substances have been found to produce increased fat in animals as a result of changes to the thyroid, which can itself produce metabolic changes in the body. In addition plastics such as BPA (bisphenol) and Phthalates can be found in food packaging, processed drinks, PVC piping, epoxy resins, children's toys and baby bottles, just to name a few.

And what about that reusable water bottle? According to one study by Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after a group of people drank out of a polycarbonate bottle (usually stamped with a 7 on the bottom) for just 1 week, their BPA levels jumped by nearly 70 percent.

Another more "natural" culprit is soy. Touted for so many years as a healthy alternative to milk and other animal products, soy has been discovered to be, yet another obesogen, albeit a natural one. The reason for this? There are two naturally occurring chemicals which are found in soy, genistein and daidzein, both of which are estrogenics (compounds which stimulate estrus or ovulation) and promote the formation of fat cells.

Knowing this, wouldn't it be easy enough to avoid ingesting soy products by just reading labels?

Not really. When you consider that moo shoo chicken you had last Saturday night, or the beef wellington, or the pulled pork that tasted so great at the barbecue, realize that they've all been fed soy diets – more fattening than grass, certainly!

Another culprit in the long list of disruptive foods is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is an insidious and seemingly innocuous ingredient as it's found in soooooooooooo many foods we consume. From candies to ketchup to canned peas, bread, soda and even some health food items and medicines, it is believed that HFCS may trick the brain into craving more food than one actually needs. Research also indicates that it too can disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with leptin.

So what is the solution to the overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to obesogens as a source of obesity and ill health? There are simple changes one can make such as eliminating plastics from your daily intake – wrap and store your food in glass or paper. Buy organic meat at the butcher or have it fresh ground or cut at the store. Eliminate processed foods such as soda, chips and chemical laden snacks and canned products, unless their packaging is BPA free. Stay away from soy products and try to eat organic chicken, and other meats (even wild fish) that isn't stuffed with hormones and preservatives and fed with soy. Eat organic vegetables to cut down on the pesticide intake that is inescapable with typical store-bought vegetables. Try not to drink tap water, but instead drink natural spring or filtered water.

You should notice some fairly rapid improvements if you will do this. But what about the obesogens you've already ingested, which are lodged in your body and which may already have done their damage? Cleanse your system. Find a good product that will eliminate the toxins, that's not harmful to the body and let your body heal itself.

Jim Valko is CEO of NuLean Inc., a company that provides doctors with weight loss solutions for their patients. www.nulean.com

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