Losing Weight and Enhancing Beauty
A Grain of Salt - 10/1/2002
An Interview with Ann Louise Gittleman by Sabrina Marie
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, C.N.S., M.S. is one of the most respected and dynamic nutritionists in America today, continually breaking new ground in both traditional and holistic health. Her books have sold over 3 million copies worldwide. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Connecticut College, Ann Louise attained a master’s degree from Columbia University in nutrition education. She later went on to attain a Doctor of Naturopathy degree. In 1993, Ann Louise became a Certified Nutrition Specialist from the American College of Nutrition and recently received her PhD in Holistic Nutrition.
Ann Louise’s latest book The Fat Flush Plan (McGraw-Hill 2002) has become a New York Times and USA bestseller. We were very honored to discuss the subjects of beauty, fat, liver cleansing and hormones with Ann Louise.
Sabrina Marie: In your work, what is the common oversight that people often make that directly undermines their health & beauty?
Ann Louise Gittleman: I would say that the most important oversight that people make is the exclusion of the right kind of fat. I truly believe that essential fatty acids are the missing link to both health and beauty as well as weight loss. Most of the information that we have heard or read about weight loss is dead wrong. Weight loss is not simply the result of under-exercising or overeating. Your waistline could be getting bigger due to a deficiency in fat.
There are three fats that I feel everyone needs to be aware of and incorporate into their diets. <a href="http://www.smartbomb.com/supplements-specialty-supplements-cla.html">Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)</a> has been shown to reduce body fat while retaining lean muscle mass. Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) boosts metabolism in 2 ways: it stimulates brown adipose tissue (BAT) to burn calories and it stimulates a metabolic process commonly referred to as the sodium pump that helps to burn up ½ of the body’s calories. The third fat is the Omega-3 rich Flax Oil which provides the satiety factor to ward off hunger. Flax Oil will keep you feeling full for up for 3 to 4 hours so that you’re not tempted to overeat between meals. Also, the Omega 3's in the flax oil are now known to boost seratonin levels in the brain. As a result, you won’t feel depressed and you won’t feel the need to eat to release anxiety and stress.
I have integrated these fats into my eating program described in my new book The Fat Flush Plan. I believe that this program is so successful because for the first time in 20 years, women are now increasing their intake of fat. The goal of the Fat Flush Plan is to provide a lifestyle program of sustained detoxification and weight loss maintenance. But, my followers are also seeing the remarkable internal moisturizing benefits that these fats provide as well. Skin, hair and nails are more healthy and beautiful. Sleep is improved. They are not as depressed. And, their cholesterol is coming down at least 30 points while triglycerides are normalized to at least 100-110 in their blood tests. Plus, they’re finding more mental stability because their nervous system is nourished and happy.
Fat is back big time. This has been substantiated by a breakthrough article that the New York Times Magazine ran on July 9, 2002 called “What if Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat?” [This article questions the benefits of a low fat, high carbohydrate diet and suggests that fat is an important nutrient]
SM: What is Brown Adipose Tissue?
ALG: Brown Adipose Tissue, referred to as BAT, is a metabolically-active fat which is often under-active in overweight people. It lines the shoulder blades and it’s also on top of the adrenal glands. It is brown because the accelerated activity of the mitochondria makes it look brown instead of white, the color of normal adipose (fat) tissue. When essential fatty acids, particularly GLA, were discovered, or uncovered in the 1980's, they found that the mechanism that allowed GLA-containing oils (evening primrose oil and borage oils are high sources of GLA) to be so active was the way that it spurred on this brown fat which is underactive in overweight people. This biological action of GLA helps people to lose weight by doing nothing but adding this fat into the diet. So it’s very exciting information, and it works.
SM: What is CLA and where is it found?
ALG: <a href="http://www.smartbomb.com/supplements-specialty-supplements-cla.html">CLA is conjugated linoleic acid</a>. This fatty acid used to be found in grass-fed beef and in foods that came from grass-fed cows, such as milk, butter and cheese. Butter and cream were our highest sources of CLA. But in the late 70's to we started feeding our cattle grains, about 80 - 90% of the CLA in the diet disappeared. That, concurrently is the time period when obesity rate started to rise.
<a href="http://www.smartbomb.com/supplements-specialty-supplements-cla.html">CLA is now available in supplemental form.</a> It is made out of combination of either sunflower and safflower seed oils. The latest studies seem to suggest that by taking a daily dose, you can lose seven to eight pounds of weight and reduce your body fat by a whopping 20% within three months. This can be accomplished simply by adding a moderate exercise program and including one to two grams of CLA per meal. CLA also reduces cancer risk, and reduces diabetic complications and even reduces cardiovascular risk. There are over 500 clinical studies about CLA. It has been well-studied, well-documented, and the safety and effectiveness of the supplement has been solidly proven.
SM: This sounds very interesting to me because I know for myself and for a few other young mothers, after you have a baby you can get your weight back to normal, you can fit back into all your old clothes, but your stomach just does not shrink back to where it was.
ALG: CLA is very useful for the tummy. It specifically reduces abdominal fat.
SM: I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people today have concerns about their weight (whether they need to or not), can you begin by describing what a healthy weight is?
ALG: The typical definition of overweight means having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 -29.9. Obese means having a BMI of 30 or higher. You can figure out your BMI because it equals weight in pounds divided by height in inches, divided by height in inches again and multiplied by 703.
The BMI provides you with a way of looking at your weight from a scientific standpoint. But most individuals know when they are at their proper weight because they feel better and they look better.
I would also suggest that it’s not so much the weight that’s important. I personally feel we should throw away the scale. Instead, look at your body’s shape, look at your inches, look at how you’re fitting into your clothes. And if you’re happy and you are a well-toned size 14, that’s well and good. It doesn’t really matter how much you weigh.
It’s important not to get hung up on your ideal weight. If you feel good, if you look good, you are at a good place. If you’re female, it’s important that you menstruate regularly. If you skip periods regularly and have a body fat below 18%, then you don’t have enough body fat. It’s important to have sufficient body fat reserves because this helps with estrogen and progesterone conversions.
SM: Because it is possible to be too thin.
ALG: That’s absolutely true. Because we have this anorexic model culture, we’re all trying to obtain a body figure that’s very unrealistic. If you’re menstrual cycle becomes irregular, then you don’t have enough body fat. You will need to gain at least three to five pounds until you start menstruating regularly.
SM: In your book, The Fat Flush Plan, you outline a step-by step system that aids weight loss. One of the first points you make is that it is important to detoxify the liver in order to burn fat. Can you explain how the liver helps to burn fat?
ALG: Today, we are exposed to a great many environmental pollutants, as well as over the counter medications and birth control pills. What happens is that many of these substances have to be processed by the liver, and the liver becomes overburdened. When the liver is stressed in this way, it becomes much less able to burn body fat and converts your food to pure energy.
One of the primary functions of the liver is to produce bile which in turn digests and breaks down fatty globules into small particles. When the bile is filled with heavy metals and viruses and parasites and all the toxins from the blood stream, it becomes congealed. It will then get stuck in the bile ducts, and no longer be able to break down fats the way it should.
The liver is a fat burning organ, but when it becomes overworked, it loses that very important ability. Then you become fatigued and you become toxic. I always tell people that the fastest way to lose a dress size or two is to clean out the liver. A good liver cleansing program can melt your fat from your hips, your waists and your thighs in no time flat.
My focus on liver cleansing is the one reason my program is so successful. We target the liver. It’s probably your # 1 hidden weight loss factor.
SM: So what can we do to help our liver function better?
ALG: The idea is to support and nourish the liver. We do that first by eliminating the major liver stresses: caffeine, trans-fatty acids, sugar and yeast-producing foods. People often don’t understand that caffeine is harder on the liver than sugar. Caffeine will slow down your body’s ability to process other toxins by tenfold because there are over 200 various kinds of toxins that are used in the growing of coffee beans. Eliminating these foods helps to support the liver’s detox capacities.
We also nourish the liver using certain herbs, spices, lemon juice and water. Also to nourish the liver, I recommend my cranberry juice cocktail. This drink allows your liver to actually regenerate new tissue. The liver is so unique, it is the only organ that can actually replace and regrow damaged tissue. Cleaning up and flushing out on the Flat Flush Plan you will allow your system to de-congest excess fats more effectively. This will help your body maintain normal blood pressure, and it will help your hormones to detoxify so that you’re not carrying toxic estrogen in the system which can lead to a number of cancerous conditions.
SM: Can you explain the role that adequate protein plays in weight loss? And how do you define adequate protein? ALG: Protein is very important because it raises your metabolism by 25%. By doing that, you are gearing up your thyroid gland which is a major calorie-burner. A slow thyroid can sabotage weight loss efforts. Protein also stabilizes blood sugar, in fact, it is the second most important nutrient in stabilizing blood sugar. Finally, protein provides the building blocks, the amino acids that are important for tissue repair for every organ and cell of the body.
SM: In one of the chapters of your book, The Living Beauty Detox Program, you provide information about different signs of “aging” and then give nutritional & lifestyle tips on treating these symptoms. I think when we start talking about aging, most women (and men) think about their face. What is a basic protocol for a beautiful, glowing facial complexion?
ALG: First, we have to go back to the essential fatty acids. In terms of a glowing complexion, this is the most important element that I feel is missing from everybody’s diet. The specific nutrient that’s important for skin health is actually GLA. I believe that GLA means healthy beautiful skin. The skin requires a steady supply of GLA to retain moisture and stay supple and smooth. Without enough GLA from evening primrose or borage or black currant, our skin can’t retain moisture and it will be very dry and rough. The problem is that most people have not been getting enough GLA in their diet unless they’ve been supplementing with some borage, evening primrose or black currant oils. The good news is that there are now topical cosmetics that have the GLA so that you can apply these topically. By using internally and topically, GLA is very helpful against dehydration and redness. My sense is that many individuals who have a lot of redness, even certain types of rosecea may in fact be very dehydrated and lacking this critically important moisture-building nutrient.
SM: Another subject that you’ve written about that I would just like to touch on briefly is perimenopause, the hormonal imbalance that occurs 5 to 10 years before menopause. Is this something that always happened and is just now being discussed or is it a new problem brought about by modern lifestyles?
ALG: I think this is a brand new stage of life somewhere between PMS and menopause that is new to the baby boomer generation and the kids of the baby boomers. It’s happening because we are under an inordinate amount of stress and because we are exposed to so many toxic estrogens, also called estrogen-mimics, that can displace biological estrogen in the system and create an imbalance, called estrogen dominance. This condition has led to a deficiency of the other hormone that most people don’t know about which is progesterone. When there’s too much estrogen and not enough progesterone, you will be getting symptoms sometimes called the “PMS from Hell” like mood swings, anxiety, irritability, water retention, thyroid problems, loss of hair, and depression. And it’s affecting women in their 30's as well. In fact, the change before the change or perimenopause often begins at the age of 35.
The problem is, when you go to a doctor, you may be told that you are too young to start the change and then you walk out the door with a script for an antidepressant or a sleeping pill when in truth you may be starting that hormonal roller coast ride we know as perimenopause.
My program helps perimenopause on many fronts. First off, the right oils and the right amount of protein help your body’s ability to handle stress. The liver support in the form of phytonutrient rich foods and supplements helps you to detoxify and break down potentially toxic estrogens. And finally, the zinc-rich foods are included because zinc is the precursor to progesterone. We’re not making enough progesterone to counteract the detrimental effects of estrogen mimics. For years we have been limiting the best zinc foods in world, red meat, eggs and pumpkin seeds, to name a few based upon the misguided notion that these foods would raise our cholesterol levels or make us gain weight.
Think zinc or take a supplement of 25 – 50 mg. daily and you will forestall and ward off many of these discomforting changes that are very unique to 21st Century women.
SM: Can you explain more about the mock estrogens? Where do they come from?
ALG: Petrochemicals function as estrogen mimics. Plastic contains some chemicals that act as mock estrogens. Mock estrogens are everywhere. Since WWII, over 50 different kinds of mock estrogens that have introduced, and have subsequently inundated the environment. Nail polish, rug cleaners, lawn and garden sprays, eating your food out of plastic containers, all of these will expose you to estrogen mimics.
Estrogen mimics are everywhere, they are part of life these days. That’s why it is so important to have a balance in terms of hormones. A diet rich in the right oils, in zinc, and in other foods that are part of the Fat Flush Plan will balance out those hormones and keep you healthy.
SM: Will the Fat Flush Plan help women entering perimenopause, or should they be eating differently?
ALG: My program is very perimenopausal friendly. A lot of women who are in perimenopause are flourishing with the use of the oils on the diet that act as phyto-hormones and hormonal balancers. Specifically, the two tablespoons of high lignan flax seed oil that are used throughout the day plus the ground up flax that we use for my Long Life Cocktail are marvelous in terms of balancing hormones. The high lignan concentration in the ground up flax seeds especially acts as a natural hormone balancer and transports excess estrogen out of the system. The lignans in flax are the most potent estrogen modulators that Mother Nature provides. The lignan rich flax seeds are a form of natural Tamoxofin –without the side effects.
SM: If you had a woman in your office and you could only convince her to do one thing for her beauty and health, what would you recommend?
ALG: The one thing to add to your diet right now is two tablespoons of ground up flax seeds. Put the ground up flax seeds in the unsweetened cranberry juice in water and you’ve got something that will balance your hormones, help you with elimination and regularity, make your skin look beautiful and detoxify your liver. You have my Long Life Cocktail. You know, the name “liver” actually means “life.” From the old English derivation.
In closing, The Fat Flush Plan s designed for more than just weight loss. My mission is to promote a balanced lifestyle championing simple healthy habits that both men and women tend to overlook or forget about as a result of life in this hectic but incredible 21rst Century.