Tag Archives: weight loss

  • Natural Weight Management: Is There Truth Behind the Hype?

    You’ve probably heard the hype about some new naturally derived weight loss supplements on the market today. Here, we explore how they work, and how they might be able to help you meet your weight management goals.

    Green Coffee Bean
    Taking green coffee bean extract isn’t just like drinking a cup of coffee: unroasted coffee beans contain a much higher amount of chlorogenic acid, an active compound that increases fat metabolism and decreases glucose absorption.

    There are several studies, says Dr. Jenny Kaltunas, naturopathic doctor at our West Seattle store, that provide strong evidence for its ability to promote weight loss. “In one study with overweight people, they saw a significant decrease in overall weight, body-mass index and percent body fat over a 22-week period.” She cites another study in which participants not only lost weight, but also saw a decrease in blood pressure and homocysteine, a marker for cardiovascular disease.

    African Mango
    Derived from the seeds of mangos grown in the rainforests of West Africa, the supplement commonly known as African Mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is high in soluble fiber. “That’s the active constituent that can contribute to weight loss,”Jenny says. “The fiber delays the emptying of the stomach and absorbs water, meaning sugar is absorbed at a slower rate and you don’t get blood sugar spikes.” Fiber also combines with bile, which helps flush out fat and cholesterol.

    In a 2005 African study, participants who were given African Mango saw a 5.6% decrease in weight after one month compared to placebo, and a significant reduction in waist and hip circumference. “They weren’t changing their diets, and their total cholesterol went down,” Jenny says. “So there’s pretty good preliminary evidence that this could be a supportive adjunct therapy to weight loss.”

    Raspberry Ketone
    Raspberry ketone entered the limelight when it showed up on The Dr. Oz Show earlier this year. It’s an aromatic compound that comes from raspberries and other fruits, and apparently improves fat burning by encouraging norepinephrine to break down fat cells.

    “The other idea is that it increases a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in fat metabolism, and improves insulin resistance, which can also help with weight loss,” says Jenny. But, she says, “Exercise is one of the best ways to increase adiponectin, so you’ll probably see a bigger increase if you combine the two.”

    While there isn’t yet strong evidence for raspberry ketone, Jenny says it’s worth a try. “It’s something to try if your want to kickstart a diet—as long as you’re combining it with healthy diet and lifestyle changes.”

    Note: Any weight management program should be combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. Please consult your health care provider before beginning any weight management program.

    SafSlim (Safflower Oil)
    Safflower has long been cultivated for its oil, used in cooking and other applications. The oil is rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is being researched for its ability to reduce the adipose fat around our waist.

    “There are some theories that it could promote the breaking down of fat,” says Jenny. “Supposedly it helps use existing fat for energy and inhibits fat storage.” She also points to a study done at Ohio State that showed that safflower oil can boost good cholesterol levels, and reduce belly fat and insulin sensitivity in overweight post-menopausal women with Type 2 diabetes.

    SafSlim offers a convenient way to incorporate safflower oil into your diet, as it offers an ideal dose of linoleic acid in a tasty formulation.

    Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HcG)
    hCG has been used for years in its injectable form, and is now available as a homeopathic drop. “hCG is a hormone that’s naturally produced in pregnancy,” says Dr. Jenny Kaltunas, naturopathic doctor at our West Seattle store. But if you don’t have a baby, she says, “The idea is that it’s tricking the hypothalamus into using stored fat for energy.”

    Pharmaca offers hCG from Creative BioScience, and the company recommends taking the drops along with a low-calorie diet—either 500, 800 or 1,200 calories per day, depending on your level of physical activity. (Even on a 500-calorie diet, Jenny says, “You don’t feel as hungry as you think you would, because the body is pulling that stored fat to provide energy.”) Their site even offers detailed recommendations for dosages and meal plans.

    “They’re pretty adamant about following their diet recommendations of lean protein, vegetables and low carbs,” Jenny says. “They’ve formulated it in a way that the food you’re taking in is not used up before breaking down the fat cells.” But, she cautions, because the diet is so high in protein, anyone with kidney problems or diabetes should consult with a physician before starting the hCG diet.

    Learn more about Pharmaca’s health weight-management options by speaking with a practitioner today.

  • Coconut: Packed with Healthy Benefits

    What is this nut that’s so hard to crack? Coconut is cropping up everywhere these days—coconut water, coconut flour, shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut cream. When I was a young girl we’d shake them to check for water inside (an indication of a good coconut, according to my mom). The next task was actually getting the hairy orb open so we could drink the water and carefully pry the meat out.

    I’ve always thought of coconuts as a special treat, but in the islands of the South Pacific, coconuts have long been a staple food item. While doing research on the benefits of this mysterious “nut,” I found that the people of Polynesia have been consuming coconuts for centuries, and their population is amazingly healthy—free of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

    Now it’s true that coconut contains saturated fat, and it’s fair to say that most people are concerned about consuming too much saturated fat for fear of increasing their cholesterol and triglyceride (fats) numbers, along with the potential for heart disease.

    But coconut doesn’t contain just any saturated fat—it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and medium-chain lauric, capric and caprylic fatty acids, which are associated with many health benefits. In fact, medium-chain fatty acids (MFCAs) have long been used in hospitals to treat critically ill patients who have malabsorption and digestive problems, as well as in premature infants (MCFAs provide many of the same nutrients as human breast milk). In fact, coconut water is still a primary ingredient in infant formulas.

    Let’s look at some of the other benefits of coconut.

    Metabolism: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that medium-chain fatty acids were three times more effective at raising metabolism than long-chain fatty acids. This is for two reasons: First, MCFAs do not circulate into the bloodstream. Instead, they are sent directly to the liver, where they are immediately converted into energy. Second, they don’t raise blood sugar. And it has been reported that coconut oil can actually help to control sugar cravings.

    Candida: The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil have been shown to destroy Candida, a condition of yeast overgrowth in the body that triggers symptoms of weight gain, carbohydrate cravings and fatigue. Additionally, coconut oil slows the digestion of food, which helps you feel more satiated after a meal. The added bonus is that coconut oil has no carbohydrates or sugar—another reason coconut oil can help with weight loss and is a good alternative for diabetics.

    Digestion: The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and help in dealing with bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that can cause digestive problems. MCFA molecules are smaller, and require less energy and fewer enzymes to break down for digestion, which reduces strain on the pancreas and digestive system. Coconut oil also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which can be beneficial for people who suffer from gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease and diabetes.

    Cholesterol: Coconut oil contains about 50% lauric acid, which has been shown to help increase HDL (healthy cholesterol) and does not lead to increased levels of LDL (unhealthy cholesterol). As such, the saturated fats found in coconut oil are clearly not the same as those found in animal fat—the difference is in the length of the fatty acids.

    5 easy ways to make coconut part of your healthy lifestyle

    If you’re thinking about incorporating some of this “healthy” saturated fat into your lifestyle, here are some ideas to make it quick and easy.

    Replace other cooking oils with coconut oil. I would start out by using half of the amount that you would normally use. If you don’t care for the flavor or smell of coconut, look for oil that says it’s odorless and tasteless. It’s great for cooking vegetables, eggs, meats and fish—even baking.

    Add a tablespoon to hot cereal
    along with some raw walnuts or almonds, a drizzle of agave nectar and some fresh berries for a heart-healthy breakfast.

    Coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer and hair conditioner. Keep a jar of coconut oil in the bathroom and use it as a moisturizer after a warm bath or shower. It’s also great on dry heels and elbows. If you suffer from dandruff, apply a small amount to your scalp, massage it in and leave on for about 15 minutes (or even overnight), then wash your hair as you normally would.

    Try using coconut in smoothies, soups, dressings, cakes, cookies, sauces, cereals or pancakes. Coconut products are relatively easy to find—look for coconut water or milk, coconut flour, shredded or flaked coconut, coconut cream or butter, and coconut sugar.

    Use it as a deodorant. OK, you might think this one is a stretch, but consider the fact that coconut oil is anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. If you’ve been searching for a healthy alternative to conventional deodorant, give coconut oil a try. I’ve been applying odorless coconut oil as a deodorant for about four months and so far, knock on wood, no complaints from my co-workers at Pharmaca.

    Pharmaca carries several types of coconut oil from Jarrow Formulas and Nature’s Way, as well as a variety of coconut waters, both plain and flavored.

    Sharon Wegner is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Nutritional Consultant and member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Sharon teaches her clients how to make healthier food and lifestyle choices by creating simple and sustainable changes. She shares her passion for cooking with her clients by teaching them how to make fresh and delicious REAL food. You can find out more about her work at her Essentials for Healthy Living blog.

  • Cayenne pepper may aid in weight loss



    Long used for a variety of purposes in Chinese, Japanese and Ayurvedic medicine, cayenne pepper has now been shown to act as an appetite suppressant and to burn calories.

    A recent study in the journal Physiology & Behavior explained how capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers can help reduce hunger and encourage calorie burning.

    The six-week trial included 25 non-overweight adults, 13 of whom liked spicy food and 12 of whom did not. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a standard quantity (1 g) of red pepper, their preferred amount or no red pepper with meals. After each treatment period, the participants switched groups so they were able to try each dose.

    The researchers found that cayenne increased core body temperature, energy expenditure and the number of calories burned. Additionally, preoccupation with food and cravings for fatty, salty and sweet foods generally decreased more in the infrequent users of cayenne pepper compared to those who liked the spice.

    If you're not one for spicy foods, try taking a Cayenne supplement with meals. Because it acts as a stimulant, it can also be generally helpful for kick-starting digestion and warming the gut.

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