Obesity Determinants

There are many different factors that contribute to the world-wide problem of obesity today.  If solving this problem was as easy as eating less fatty foods and exercising more, we would not have a problem.  Unfortunately it is not as simple as that.  While the “calories in, calories out” theory looks good on paper, it doesn’t take into account the complex metabolic pathways that different foods go through when we eat them or the effects that different foods have on our hormones and brain.  Calories in vs calories out in general therefore fails to work at a grassroots level.

We are all different and thank heavens for that!  We all have different genes, come from different cultures, are of different social classes and live in different environments.  Obesity is complex.  Weight loss is more complex.  It is an individual thing, there is no “one size fits all” and all calories are not created equal.

Living in cities we are surrounded by fast food chains and supermarkets that are open from early morning to late at night.  Food is freely available, most of it is processed and the more processed it is, the cheaper it is.  So if we can’t afford to be a food snob and only buy the healthiest organic food our bodies need,  then we will buy the cheaper, more addictive foods that the food industry likes to advertise.  And we can and do become addicted to the processed food.  We eat more and exercise less, so yes in this case calories in vs calories out does come into play.  However, if we ate more healthy foods, e.g. vegetables, healthy fats and good quality protein, but of the same caloric value as the cheaper, addictive carbohydrate-laden processed foods that the food industry love, then weight loss would actually happen.  All calories are certainly not equal.  The food we eat control the hormones that regulate how much we eat and when we eat as well.  Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body, some cause hormone changes that encourage weight gain, while others increase satiety and boost the metabolic rate.

We live hectic lives, we are often stressed and sleep badly.  This too impacts on our hormones and prevents weight loss no matter how minimal our calorie intake is or how excessive our calorie output is.

Toxins surround us.  We inhale them, we consume them, we apply them to our skin and they are disrupting our endocrine systems and poisoning us slowly, day by day. This too has an impact on obesity.

Throughout the world, cultures are threatened as well. Younger people are not taught basic home cooking and even older baby boomers have become accustomed to making use of quick and easy meals prepared with packaged ingredients.  Kitchen skills are not being passed down from generation to generation.  Urbanisation, modernisation of lifestyles and globalisation of food are robbing cultures of their heritage and this is having an impact on obesity and health.  We can’t solve this problem by eating less fat and exercising more.  We have to change our mindset and go back to the basics.  We need to live and eat like our grandparents and great grandparents used to.  And this also involves eating healthy fats!  Like our grandmothers we should render our own lard and tallow and use it for cooking. It may be higher in calories, but less is consumed as it satiates us quicker.

Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, being part of a caring community, being aware of the nutrient value of food, partaking in regular physical activity (a daily 30 minute walk will do, it doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of cardio!), sleeping well, stressing less, having “me” time and holding ourselves accountable, all affect energy in, energy out and can prevent or treat obesity and ultimately keep us healthy.

So don’t cut out the fatty food, just make sure it is healthy fatty food. You may just be surprised by the result.


Many everyday disease states or illnesses are associated with magnesium deficiency.  Magnesium is a required for the electrical stability of every cell in the body.  Everyday things like consuming caffeine, alcohol, a diet of refined carbohydrates or taking blood pressure or acid reducing medications can all lead to (amongst other things) magnesium deficiency.  Symptoms of an existing magnesium deficiency may include:

  • Muscle cramps and chronic pain
  • Facial tics or muscle spasms
  • Headdaches
  • Anxiety, hyperactivity, depression and sleep problems
  • Weakness
  • Calcium deficiency and bone loss
  • Increased blood viscosity resulting in increased blood pressure and risk of stroke
  • Vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure
  • Hypercholesterolaemia

By treating symptoms only and not finding the cause, many more problems can be encountered.  For example, if I was deficient in magnesium and my blood pressure was elevated, a diuretic would most probably be prescribed as first line treatment. Diuretics can cause magnesium depletion and so the problem is compounded.  Increased blood viscosity could see warfarin being added into the treatment plan.  Warfarin reduces vitamin K which leads to bone loss, so more complications.  And so on and so on.

You can watch a very interesting video dealing with these types of scenarios here

Magnesium-rich food sources were once commonly consumed, but have diminished drastically due to industrialized agriculture, excessive food processing,  farming in minerally-depleted soils as well as a change in dietary trends. Read about it here

Many commonly prescribed and over-the-counter medicines are called “drug muggers” by Suzy Cohen, America’s most trusted pharmacist, as they deplete your body of essential nutrients like magnesium.  Replenishing the nutrients helps the body to function properly.  Suzy Cohen has written a book on “drug muggers” that you may find useful to purchase and read.

More information on magnesium deficiency, including signs and symptoms, is available  here

There are different ways of supplementing with Magnesium.  Epsom salt baths, transdermal magnesium oil sprays or oral magnesium tablets can be used.  Baths may not be ideal for “older” folk from a safety point of view, oral tablets can cause gastric upset and transdermal sprays may not be freely available.  To help you make the right choice for yourself if you feel you could benefit from supplementation, here is some more information .

As usual, any information given here is purely for reference and self education. 

I personally use Thorne Magnesium Citrate from iHerb. Click here to save up to $10 off your first order from iHerb.


Back to basics…


We have forgotten the basics, relied on processed junk, replaced full cream with low fat everything, abolished healthy fats for highly inflammatory vegetable oils, skimped on nutrient dense foods, been exposed to GMO’s and environmental toxins, and abandoned our kitchens as we are so time-poor … and we wonder why we are not healthy anymore! We are surrounded by our nearest and dearest, work colleagues, acquaintances and friends and so many of them are experiencing one or more of the following:  brain fog, joint paint, fatigue, eczema, auto-immune conditions, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, autism, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety, hormone imbalance, cancer, and many more chronic diseases.

There is so much we can do to prevent so much by merely making the right food choices.  And it is not rocket science.  Just go back to the basics.  By doing the following, my husband’s pre-diabetes was reversed and my arthritis pain resolved.

Taken from Dr Axe’s website, in order for us to be “healthy” and prevent illnesses, we need to follow a diet that:

  1. Decreases Inflammation – Most chronic, modern diseases all have the same underlying issue – inflammation.  Inflammation controls our lives. It damages our cells and blood vessels resulting in High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Arthritis, Inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s, Peripheral Neuropathy, Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, and so many more.  Many people find it hard to understand that the majority of inflammatory diseases start in the gut when an auto-immune reaction develops over time into systemic inflammation. By reducing inflammation our body is better able to recover from any disease and a good place to start is by healing your gut.
  2. Alkalizes our body – an acidic body is usually sick and fat.  The pH of our body should be around 7.4.  Green vegetable juices like spinach can restore the body’s correct pH.   All diseases, including infections, osteoporosis and cancer thrive in an acidic environment.  By alkalizing our body, our cells can heal and become healthy again.  We do need to understand though that our body thrives for balance or homeostasis and so it will adjust to whatever we are feeding it.
  3. Lowers Blood Glucose – one of the main causes of obesity and diabetes is burnt out insulin receptors.  Lowering blood glucose levels by restricting your sugar and carbohydrate intake, allows these receptors to heal and start secreting insulin again.
  4. Includes nutrient dense foods – the food we eat today is not the same as it was 50 years ago, even if you are eating organic food.  Soils are devoid of nutrients and if we are eating processed foods, there are no vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants or enzymes in them, so we are starving ourselves of good nutrition.  This accelerates aging and is damaging to the body at a cellular level.  By consuming the best nutrient dense, organic, free range foods that you can, you will slow down the aging process, maintain your energy levels, improve your brain function and in a nutshell, be healthy.
  5. Eliminates toxins – food toxins, environmental toxins, household toxins, cosmetic and skincare toxins are all detrimental to our health.

The ideal, healthy diet for most people would be to include equal amounts of clean (organic, free range) protein, healthy fats and low glycemic index carbohydrates (ie fruits and vegetables, not bread and pastries!)

Remove the BAD FATS (trans fats, soybean oil, canola oil, vegetables oil) – replace them with GOOD FATS.  Bad fats are high in omega 6’s and create chronic inflammation throughout the body which cause diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc.  Good fats are essential for hormone production, cancer prevention, brain development, weight loss and anti-inflammation.

Change the MEAT AND CHICKEN you eat – feeding grain to animals that are meant to eat grass changes their fatty acid ratios and denatures good fats which leads to modern day disease.  Pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones in meat are contributing to modern diseases too.

Change the FISH you eat – try and source sustainable, wild seafood, not farmed which are fed pellets.  Eat smaller fish…the larger ones are not as abundant, take a long time to reach maturity and potentially can harbour more mercury…try to be sustainable in your choice.

Eliminate refined SUGAR and GRAINS from your diet, including white rice, pasta, bread, soft drinks, pizza, store bought sauces, soups, yoghurt, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, etc.  High glycemic index foods increase your blood glucose level which elevates your insulin and results in premature aging, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Sugar, gluten and dairy are also highly inflammatory for many people.  Elevated blood glucose levels also increase your susceptibility to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

Low glycemic index carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that all slow aging, detoxify our cells, help us lose weight and improve energy levels.





Eat Clean, Live Dirty and the M word…

The microbiome, what is it? Why should we care? And, most importantly, what should we do about it? The microbiome refers to all the microbes that live in or on the human body and includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa … The number of microbes in our gut alone outnumbers the total number of cells in our entire body.  Microbial cells in the body actually outnumber our human cells by 10:1, so we are actually more microbe than human!

Watch this entertaining but informative video by Dr Robynne Chutkan, an integrative gastroentorologist here.

Food for thought…

It is sad to think that our supermarkets or grocery stores need to advertise which aisles they stock the HEALTH FOOD or NATURAL FOOD in.  Surely all food should be healthy and natural?  Advertising signs should say Vegetables, Fruit, Milk, Cheese, Meat, Fish, etc…but they don’t.  What we choose to eat affects our gene expression and in simple terms this means you are actually in control of whether or not your genes will be turned “on” or “off” and whether or not you will or won’t develop chronic illness.  Listen to what Dr David Perlmutter has to say here .