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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Taking Back Your Power

Dec 31, 2016 08:58PM

The Obesity Endemic

by Dr. Isabel Sharkar
Obesity is reaching a global crisis point, where today one in five U.S. deaths is related to obesity. By 2025, an estimated 20 percent of the global adult population, 40 percent of British and nearly 45 percent of American adults will be obese. Carrying excess weight guarantees individuals to suffer from health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart attacks. Worldwide, obesity is responsible for half a million cancers each year.

We live in a world today where the grocery store is filled with fake, processed and refined foods pumped with artificial colors, preservatives, GMO (genetically modified organisms), MSG (monosodium glutamate), HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) and chemicals of all sorts. It has become normal that most people don’t even question it, still believing that big corporations have the public’s best interests at hand. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a naturopathic doctor, we’ve spent four years of medical education learning what real food is and what we see in our grocery stores across the world is not real food.

What’s really causing obesity? 

An underactive thyroid, high cortisol levels (stress hormone) and other hormonal imbalances, as well as certain medicines, environmental chemicals, stress, lack of exercise and inadequate sleep are contributors to obesity. Not getting enough sleep leads to cravings for sweets and starchy foods, due to an increase in cortisol.

One of the latest studies linking antibiotics to weight gain found that children who took antibiotics seven or more times before the age of 15 weighed an average of 3 pounds more than those with no history of antibiotic use. However, the primary source of antibiotic exposure is actually through the diet. The U.S. uses nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise food animals, accounting for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S.

The “least-looked-at” cause for obesity is an individual’s mindset. What is the wound within that is causing one to hold on to weight? Willpower is not enough if there is an emotional trauma that needs to be addressed, buried underneath all that weight. What is the weight protecting you from and what are you trying to cover up? These are all things to examine when unraveling the reasons for weight gain. However, the most dangerous reason of weight gain may be right under your nose—and that’s your diet.

Obesity is a Malnourishment Issue

Many overeat but are nutritionally starved. What is eaten makes a big difference in how much is eaten. The more nutrient-dense the food, the less of it will be needed to feel satisfied. A high-carb processed diet high in sugar and lacking any essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, with poor quality protein and low in healthy fats, is the perfect recipe for obesity.

The biggest breakthrough for those seeking escape from obesity comes from what they perceive as real food. The truth is that processed or fast food is not real food. Essentially, it is poisonous to the human body, which is not equipped to be under constant stress detoxifying these chemicals that naturally do not belong there. As a survival mechanism, the body stores all these toxins into fat tissue.

Cut Out the Soda

How much soda are you drinking? Drinking soda is one of the quickest ways to get on the obesity fast track. A 20-ounce bottle of cola contains 16 teaspoons of sugar in the form of HFCS, a cheap and unhealthy corn-derived sweetener, likely GMO. Diet soda is not any better, as it contains sweeteners like aspartame, which has 92 documented side effects. Twenty minutes after drinking a cola, the liver converts this sugar into fat. Research suggests that sugary beverages alone are to blame for about 183,000 deaths worldwide each year.

Stop Counting Calories, Starving Yourself and Eating Low-Fat

Counting calories is a thing of the past. Instead, become an expert in reading ingredients. Don’t starve yourself either as eating less and doing more does not work. The minute you start eating again, you’ll gain back all the weight you lost plus 10 percent more. Stay away from low-fat as this fad contributes to the obesity epidemic. Saturated fat has been confused with trans-fat. Although trans-fat increases the risk of premature death, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, saturated fat is not the cause of diseases.

Why does unhealthy food even exist?

There is a relationship between federal food policies and agricultural subsidies that promote the manufacture and consumption of addictive junk food. Corn, wheat, soybeans and rice are the top four most heavily government-issued agricultural subsidies. That is why it is easy to find these GMO grains and HFCS in all conventional food products. If you find yourself addicted to certain foods, don’t underestimate the genius behind the creation of processed food, which is created to be highly addictive.

What You Can Do

Eat real organic food and prepare meals at home. Join a local CSA and get to know local organic and biodynamic farmers. Order meat from organic farms, as most ship from different states. It’s more expensive animal protein is not needed with every meal. Get natural spring water from local springs and drink up because chances are, you are not hungry but thirsty.

Genetics tell each person’s story and there are many genetic tests available now that will help determine what percentage of fat, carbs and protein each person should be eating, as well as which type of exercise is best. Exercise, sweat regularly and make detoxing a part of your lifestyle to decrease the buildup of toxins stored in the body. Do a micronutrient testing to determine which vitamins, minerals, antioxidants need to be restored in your body. Learn to intermittent fast and give your digestive system a break.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, the New York Times bestselling author and advocate for smart, healthy eating, believes that once an individual gets net carbs below 50 grams along with a moderate protein intake of 30 to 60 grams, and adds high quality fats like avocados, butter, coconut oil, macadamia and pecans, the body will start to wake up its fat-burning metabolism, and will become virtually impossible to be overweight.

Beating the obesity endemic is something we, the people, have to do ourselves. In Zoe Harcombe’s book, The Obesity Epidemic, she states, “Every one of us can bankrupt the fake food industry and put the drug companies out of business by taking charge of our own health and say, We’re just not having that junk.”

With less junk in our bodies, the healthier we will be.

Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit



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