This is a guest post by Katherine Atkinson, owner of Mind Body and Sole, a holistic health practice in Centerville, Utah, with a focus on Foot Zone Therapy, Nutritional Therapy, and Energy Therapies like Jin Shin Jyutsu.
Obesity: The Next Epidemic
A May 2011 Harris Poll showed that 78% of Americans over age 25 are overweight and of those 35.5% are obese. As many as 50% of women and 25% of men are trying to lose weight at any given time by dieting, exercise, behavior modification, or drugs.
There are many factors involved in weight management. From the perspective of a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner, being over-weight or under-weight is the outward manifestation of imbalances within the body – physical, emotional, and/or mental.
The body has a built-in process that tells it when it is hungry and when it is not. When the body is functioning properly it produces ghrelin, a hormone produced by cells in the stomach and pancreas, that signals hunger. The body also produces leptin, a hormone produced in adipose tissue, the stomach, the placenta, ovaries, skeletal muscle, mammary epithelial cells, bone marrow, gastric chief cells, and P/D1 cells, that turns off the hunger signal.
With the onslaught of Endocrine System disruptors that we come into contact with each day through our food, water, and the environment, there’s little wonder that hormone regulation has become one of the primary concerns of our day. But balancing these two hormones isn’t the only thing that is necessary for weight management.
Components of Weight Management
Diet. A properly prepared, nutrient dense diet provides adequate caloric intake and supplies the proper ratio of macro and micro nutrients. The best Foot Zone session in the world is not going to help with weight management if the client lives on fast food, soda, and twinkies.
Digestion. Proper stomach pH is needed for micro-nutrient absorption. If the stomach isn’t breaking down the food then the body isn’t going to be able to use nutrients from even the best diet. Proper liver/gallbladder function enables you to digest healthy fats and and the fat-soluble vitamins. Proper bowel flora is needed to produce vitamins B1, B2, B12, and K. Proper elimination is needed to remove waste and toxins.
Blood Sugar Balance. A high glycemic diet increases insulin levels which leads to increased fat storage. Blood sugar imbalances place a burden on the endocrine system as a whole.
Fatty Acid Balance. Fat in the diet provides satiation which reduces the overall caloric intake. Proper fatty acid ratios can assist in balancing blood sugar by buffering glucose levels.
Mineral Balance. Trace minerals support appropriate endocrine function – chromium supports the production of high quality insulin; zinc helps control appetite and taste and is also critical to the production of enzymes that support weight loss; iodine, selenium, and vanadium support thyroid function and appropriately regulate metabolism.
Hydration. Most people are dehydrated and the body can confuse thirst for hunger. Every system of the body requires water and every function of the body is a process of hydrolysis. Hydration is essential for the appropriate release of toxins, and helps manage inflammation.
Other factors that contribute to challenges in weight management include a lack of exercise, a lack of sleep, as well as stress and emotional issues that can put the body into a sympathetic state which prevents proper digestion and healing.
How Foot Zone Therapy Can Help
As a Foot Zone Practitioner, there are several things I can do to support a client with weight management. Foot Zone Therapy stimulates signals on the feet that correspond to every body system, organ, and part. Stimulating these signals helps bring that specific body part into balance and facilitates homeostasis.
During the zone, your Practitioner will stimulate signals that correspond to the entire Endocrine System, including the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. It’s the hormones ghrelin and leptin that signal the hunger response, and insulin is a hormone that controls how the body uses glucose. The release of hormones is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Stimulating these signals will help bring balance to the Endocrine System.
The blood stream is how hormones are transported throughout the body. During the zone, your Practitioner will also stimulate signals that correspond to the Circulatory System which will help bring balance to this system.
Fatty acids are transported through the Lymphatic System, and, you guessed it, during the zone your Practitioner will stimulate signals that correspond to the Lymphatic System and specifically to lymph node clusters. This helps bring the Lymphatic System into balance.
Digestive System signals – specifically stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small and large intestine signals – will help with the balancing of these organs which will support hormone production, food break-down, nutrient absorption, and proper elimination.
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve Points will help bring the body into a parasympathetic state to promote proper digestion of food and healing.
During the zone, your Practitioner will discuss any signals that are “blocked” or in which they feel an imbalance and discuss the signal with you. They might might talk about possible emotions that could be stored in the signal and how to release them. They might discuss physical attributes of the signal and how that particular part of the body can be supported on a physical level. They may discuss Suggestions for Self-Help that you can do on your own.
Even without a knowledge of the physiology of weight management, just simply doing the zone with the intent of helping balance the body and support a client in weight management will trigger the necessary signals and help bring balance. Having an understanding of the physiology of weight management gives the Practitioner more focus and heightens their intent while they work with a client.
Suggestions for Self Help
Proper hydration is probably the simplest and most effective tool for weight management. Don’t be fooled by the easiness of this important component of health. Proper hydration is critical to the Circulatory System and the transportation of nutrients and hormones, the Lymphatic System and the transportation of essential fatty acids, the gallbladder to maintain the fluidity of bile necessary for the digestion of fats and the release of toxins, the Digestive System to initiate peristalsis and aid in elimination, and much more!
I can’t stress enough how necessary it is to be properly hydrated (a good guideline is to drink half your weight in ounces each day, but not more than 100 oz/day).
It’s also important to sip your water throughout the day rather than chugging a glass here and there so the body can use the water rather than release the water. Many clients find success by using a container that holds the amount of water they want to drink throughout the day, filling it in the morning, and leaving it on the counter where they can see it (or taking it with them to work). You may like to add a sliced lemon to the water for flavor and also to help support the liver with detoxification.
Movement. A daily walk outside will not only provide necessary exercise, but will also help bring a state of balance and homeostasis.
Healthy fats. Remove all margarine, hydrogenated fats, and vegetable oils (including corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oil) and replace with butter, EV olive oil, and coconut oil. These are easy to find oils that will make a BIG difference. Poor fats affect the Lymphatic System, the gallbladder, and every cell of the body. The Weston A. Price Foundation is a great resource for information on fats.
Sleep. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. During sleep, the body reverts from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state and can begin the healing process.
Eliminate all soda pop. This will be one of the most effective, but for many one of the most difficult, self-help techniques to follow. Soda pop is a diuretic that can lead to dehydration. It is filled with empty calories from sugar and high fructose corn syrup. The phosphorus in soda pop also turns the body from a parasympathetic state to a sympathetic state like a light switch. This turns off digestion and healing mechanisms in the body, and releases insulin for conversion to ATP which is then converted to fat in the body when there is no ‘fight or flight’ action required. (‘Diet’ soda pop is even worse!)
One Last Word
Detoxification. Keep in mind that anything we do that begins the process of healing may result in the manifestation of detoxification symptoms. Even drinking more water or losing weight can signal detox symptoms since toxins are stored in fat tissue. Symptoms of detoxification include changes in bowel movements, worsening of the symptoms you’re working on, Herxheimer’s symptoms (flu-like), skin eruptions, etc. If you experience symptoms of detoxification, don’t give up! However, depending on the severity, you may want to contact your Practitioner.