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 Naturopathic Medicine: Weighty Thoughts about Slimming Down  
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©

Long-term, successful dieters keep fats, not food, to a minimum. Twenty percent or less of calories as fat allow most people to lose weight slowly and safely. Most importantly, this approach is healthier and long lasting. Moderate, regular exercise enhances the loss of excessive body fat.

The most difficult task is traveling from your current eating and activity habits to those that encourage health. Ideally you want to eliminate as many empty calories as possible, such as candy bars and potato chips, and give your diet a boost with nutrient rich foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Besides being chock full of vitamins and minerals, most of these foods are also low in fat. While making these changes, you might want to add a comprehensive multiple vitamin/mineral supplement to your diet.

The Exercise Habit
For most of us physical activity is not part of our daily routine. Most people have labor-saving machines to lessen the workload and sedentary jobs. It's no wonder that Americans are heavier than they used to be. A lean, healthy body requires a certain amount of exercise almost everyday.

Discover what activities are enjoyable for you, whether it's walking, playing tennis, gardening or working out at a gym. Those who exercise on a regular basis burn up more calories not only during their activity, but also on sedentary days (4). Exercise, even when light, also suppresses appetite (5).

If you decide to exercise more intensely, your nutrient need will increase. Here is one more argument for taking a balanced vitamin/mineral supplement while losing weight.

Special Situations
Losing weight is not always a matter of health or looks, or even intentional. Sickness, particularly when you've lost your appetite, can cause weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Not only does diminished intake rob you of nutrients, but illness increases your body's need for extra nutrition. Infections (6), burns (7) and broken bones (8) all expand protein requirements. The immune system needs a variety of nutrients like vitamins A, B12 and C and magnesium, especially during sickness.

Pregnancy is another special weight loss case. It's natural and desirable to gain a certain amount of extra body fat when expecting. Even nursing mothers tend to hang on to an additional 10 to 15 pounds, beneficial for breastfeeding. Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement is smart while dropping your baby fat. Pregnancy places tremendous nutritional needs on the body. Weight loss while breastfeeding can be tricky. For many women, the mere act of nursing causes weight loss because of the calories released in your milk. However, you need to be careful that you're still eating enough so you and your baby get enough nutrients. For this reason, a multiple supplement and sound eating habits are advisable.

Some people use a vegetarian diet to gain health and slimness. The term vegetarianism describes a variety of eating plans, for example, all foods are eaten except red meat; all plant foods allowed plus eggs and dairy products; only vegetables and milk are consumed; a purely plant diet without any animal foods. Someone who eats only plant-based foods is called a vegan. Like anyone, vegetarians need to include a variety of whole, unprocessed foods to be healthy. However, a diet void of all animal foods can be more difficult to balance.

A group of Finnish vegans were found to be low in vitamin D, especially during the winter months (9). The same is true for some parts of Canada and other northern regions. Sunshine is an important source of vitamin D. But those who eat animal products also get this nutrient from eggs, meat and fortified milk.

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