I believe zinc deficiency might be the number one overlooked health concern facing our aging population. Zinc is an essential trace element found in every cell of your body, where it plays an important role in cellular structure, function, and metabolism. A multi-tasking mineral, zinc is required for metabolic health, immune response, reproductive health, and numerous biochemical functions. Zinc also helps preserve DNA integrity, is vital for more than 2000 transcription factors, is necessary for the production of brain neurotransmitters, and functions as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
If you struggle with weight loss, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an astonishing 70 percent of Americans are overweight, while only 25 percent of adult Americans are at their proper weight (about 5 percent are underweight). Although most people who are overweight have tried at least one diet, a restrictive diet is the least effective way to lose weight, and may even make you fatter.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that on average, the more people diet, the more it leads to increased weight gain. Researchers evaluated 2,000 sets of twins, aged 16 to 25 years old. They found those who embarked on just one intentional weight loss episode were two to three times more likely to become overweight, compared to their non-dieting twin counterpart. Furthermore, the risk of becoming overweight increased with each dieting episode.1
In part 1 of this series, I provided an in-depth evaluation of the powerful role that diet plays in cardiovascular health, particularly in regard to achieving healthy cholesterol levels. As I pointed out in that post, I do not recommend statins, except in rare cases. Even then, the dosages I recommend are far less than the current standard of practice dictates.
Although cholesterol is often singled out as the cause of cardiovascular disease, this waxy, fat-like substance is essential to our health. Cholesterol is found in every cell, and is an important component of the membrane that surrounds cells. It’s also necessary for hormone production, specifically the hormone pregnenolone, which is the precursor to all other steroid hormones. Additionally, cholesterol is the precursor for bile acids that are necessary for digestion and provitamin D.
For many people, weight loss is a challenge. Sure, it’s easy to drop a few pounds on a crash diet—but as you’ve likely discovered, this type of weight loss rarely lasts. Many people end up in a seemingly endless cycle of dieting/regaining weight/and dieting again. The side effect of this approach is that each time you diet, you lose muscle; and each time you regain weight, the muscle you lost is replaced with fat.
Developing A Healthy Relationship With Food
The first step in having a healthy relationship with food begins with your spirit, which connects with your mind (intelligence), emotions, and physical self. It’s important to consider your cultural heritage when choosing a diet, and to pay attention to choosing foods that are balanced and appealing in taste, smell, color, and texture. It’s essential to also consider the source; in other words, to choose fresh and wholesome foods from the earth, prepared with love and consumed with the intent to deeply nourish.
It’s important to understand that everyone, no matter how healthy, naturally has lower levels of most hormones—including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and growth hormone — as they grow older. I refer to this hormonal reservoir as our Vital Essence, from which we draw our restorative hormonal well being. We all need support as we age, and that’s why I recommend botanical extract formulations and companion nutrients to increase Vital Essence, enhance anabolic (building) processes, and maintain hormonal balance.
Not so long ago, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was routinely prescribed for menopausal women to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia, as well as to protect against osteoporosis, heart disease, dementia and aging. Even women who were content to age naturally were sometimes pushed into taking hormones. For example, my mother decided against hormones, and was told by her doctor, “All right then, you can just let your skin sag and watch your body age quickly.” Unfortunately for women, hormone replacement turned out to have unexpected negative consequences, as long-term clinical studies showed that HRT increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, blood clots, and hormone-related cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer—even with short-term use. HRT is also associated with a significant increase in lung cancer and death from lung cancer. It’s almost unthinkable, but HRT has even been prescribed for women with breast cancer, with the result being double the reoccurrence rate of cancer (J Natl Cancer Inst 2008; 100: 475-482).