(NaturalNews) More than one-third of Americans are now overweight or obese, and many of these individuals are having a difficult time shedding the pounds, despite following the latest fad diets and cutting their calorie intake. But there are other factors besides simply eating too much that inhibit a person's ability to maintain a healthy weight, and these include things like hormone imbalances and sluggish thyroid, conditions of which most people are probably unaware.
Here are five of the biggest weight loss "killers" that tend to perpetually crush all weight loss efforts if left unaddressed:
1) Sluggish thyroid. Many Americans are unaware of how important it is to have a healthy, well-functioning thyroid. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormone, which is the "master metabolic control mechanism," according to the Life Extension Foundation (LEF). This vital hormone regulates the body's resting levels of energy, sets its metabolism rate, and regulates proper growth and development, among other functions.
But exposure to fluoride chemicals, excess soy intake, iodine deficiency, and various other negative factors tend to rob the thyroid of its ability to regulate the complex systems of the body, which can lead to weight gain in many people. Symptoms of low thyroid, or hypothyroidism, include things like being cold-natured, suffering from routine brain "fog," and having dry hair, skin and nails.
In addition to consulting with your doctor or health practitioner, some practical ways you can help boost thyroid function at home include bathing in and drinking only fluoride-free water; supplementing with Nascent, Lugol's, Iodoral, or another high-quality iodine nutrient, eating more iodine-rich sea vegetables, avoiding soy intake, and shying away from wheat and gluten products that may be damaging your thyroid.
2) Food allergies and sensitivities. Many people have food sensitivities or allergies of which they are unaware, and these triggers of systemic inflammation can be an insurmountable barrier in the fight to lose weight. Since not all food allergies and sensitivities manifest themselves in the form of extreme outbreaks or extreme anaphylactic reactions, many people experience more subtle damage in the form of chronic pain, digestive problems, and weight gain.
Having a blood test to determine potential food allergies and sensitivities is one way to identify this particular cause of weight gain, as is following an elimination diet in which certain foods and food ingredients are removed from the diet for a while, and reintroduced later in order to observe the body's reaction. Excelon Health has developed a helpful food allergy resource with more information about the elimination diet that you can access here: http://www.lef.org/protocols/metabolic_health/obesity_01.htm
3) Pharmaceutical drugs and artificial sweeteners. These two are almost never associated with obesity in mainstream medicine, but they both can be extremely problematic for people trying to lose weight. A recent study out of Harvard University found that many common, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs, including diabetes drugs, steroids, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants, actually promote weight gain.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) also tend to do the opposite of what they are marketed as doing. Several recent studies have linked consumption of diet sodas, which are loaded with synthetic sweetening chemicals, to weight gain rather than weight loss, which may come as a surprise to many people.
4) Hormone imbalances. Similar to the thyroid issue, hormone imbalances throughout the body are sometimes the biggest culprits for people who struggle with obesity and an inability to lose weight. Since balanced hormone levels are necessary for the proper metabolization of food, as well as the creation and distribution of fat, one would think that more doctors would address this important issue with their patients before signing them up for often-misguided dietary weight loss protocols.
Environmental toxins, food chemicals, chemical additives in consumer care products, lack of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients -- these and many other factors, including routine exposure to endocrine disruptors, tend to throw the body's weight-regulating hormones out of whack. Getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of clean water, exercising, eating nutrient-dense "superfoods," increasing probiotic food and supplement intake, and avoiding pharmaceutical drugs and other toxins can all help re-balance your hormones and stimulate your body's own natural weight-loss mechanisms.
5) Lack of fiber. Sometimes the biggest factor in obesity is a simple lack of dietary fiber, which helps to cleanse the gut of impacted fecal matter and other waste materials that tend to build up over time and create a large middle section. Consuming more dietary fiber also helps to slow the absorption of carbohydrates, which tend to be converted into fat when consumed too quickly or in excessive quantities.
Adding some psyllium husk powder to your morning smoothies is one way you can help boost your intake of dietary fiber. Doing this will also provide the added benefit of eliminating the excess hormones that are released from your liver into your gut, preventing them from reabsorbing into your system and throwing your hormones out of balance.