Herbs That Can Help With Weight Loss
If you are overweight, you are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, breathing difficulties, high cholesterol or diabetes. You may also be more prone to osteoarthritis, varicose veins, hiatus hernia and gynaecological problems.
Dieting alone will not help you to achieve significant or lasting weight loss. It is just as important to undertake regular strenuous exercise in order to speed up your metabolic rate, thereby burning up more calories. It is much easier to stick to an exercise plan if you choose an activity that you enjoy, for example swimming, salsa dancing or keep fit classes. Exercise until you feel a little breathless, and do it for at least thirty minutes a day. Walk as much as possible, and climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
You should never try to lose too much weight too quickly. Your body needs time to adjust, so aim to lose no more than two pounds per week. Eat sensibly, using a wide range of fresh, natural ingredients. Processed foods often contain too much salt, encouraging fluid retention. Cut down on sugary and fatty foods and concentrate on fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and fish. If you have a sweet tooth you could consider natural sweeteners such as Stevia. Avoid artificial sweeteners – these can have a laxative effect and cause food to travel through the digestive system too quickly, decreasing absorption of vital nutrients. Have regular small meals and cut out snacks.
Popular ‘fad’ diets that concentrate on one or two particular foods or a single food group such as the Atkins high protein diet can ultimately result in malnutrition and consequent health problems. You are unlikely to persevere with a restrictive and often boring diet.
Very low-calorie ‘starvation’ diets merely encourage the body to conserve fat by lowering the metabolic rate and burning up lean mass instead. You will soon discover that you have to eat progressively less and less in order to achieve minimal weight loss, and you will feel lethargic and unhappy. You may also damage your health irreparably. Laxative use is to be discouraged – if food passes through the digestive tract too rapidly you will be unable to absorb nutrients effectively. Organisations such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World offer sensible eating plans as well as lots of moral support. Once you have reached your ideal weight you should continue to follow a sensible diet and exercise regime.
Herbs can have a supportive role in helping you to achieve weight loss. The only way to keep weight off permanently is to eat less, move more, and maintain a good metabolic rate. This, as we have seen, can be achieved by a sensible diet and regular strenuous exercise. The seaweed Kelp can help raise the metabolic rate by stimulating the thyroid gland; it may also improve a sluggish digestion, improving food utilisation (you should not take this without professional advice if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid problem or are taking any thyroid-related medication).
Blue flag stimulates the gallbladder to release bile which in turn breaks down fats in the digestive system and helps cleanse the circulatory and lymphatic systems of toxins released into the body when fat is burned up. Boldo also helps to stimulate the flow of bile, ensuring efficient fat processing; it has a diuretic action too. People suffering with gallbladder disease should seek professional advice before taking Boldo. Where fluid retention is a problem, particularly at certain times of the month, Dandelion leaf may be of benefit. Most prescribed diuretics deplete the body of potassium, but dandelion is a rich natural source of this essential mineral. Co-enzyme Q10 is essential for cell energy production and is believed to help the body metabolize food more quickly. It is also a beneficial supplement to take if you have been prescribed statins for high cholesterol.
You are unlikely to suffer from constipation if your diet is high in fibre, but herbs such as Psyllium Husk or Dandelion Root will help ensure a regular bowel movement. Persistent constipation will respond well to Senna, but this should never be taken long-term as the bowel will become reliant on it. You should also ensure that you consume adequate fluids throughout the day.
A bowl of porridge or oatmeal every morning will not only provide fibre in your diet, but is also known to reduce cholesterol levels. Cholesterol-reducing herbs include Garlic and Fenugreek, while Garlic, Cinnamon and Turmeric have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.
If your weight is making you feel a little depressed, St. John’s Wort is an effective herb for lifting the spirits. Since it is known to interact with many other medicines you should seek professional advice if you are taking any prescribed or over-the-counter medication. Other soothing and calming herbs include Passiflora, Chamomile and Melissa (lemon balm).
Remember, there is no quick-fix method for losing weight. It requires hard work and perseverance. You must think of it in terms of a lifestyle change. Eat a sensible, fresh, natural and well-balanced diet, undertake at least thirty minutes of strenuous exercise daily; walk as much as possible; and aim to lose those excess pounds slowly and steadily so that your body has time to adjust.