Recently, a friend of mine complained that although she had been trying to lose weight she had only succeeded in gaining weight. "It's all in the mind" I replied, thinking only of the psychological battle most people on a 'diet' have when, as a result, they find that they're thinking of food nearly all the time.
It's bad enough having this psychological war - when you're 'dieting' and your mind starts to think of food as 'forbidden', which only serves to make it even more desirable and less resistable but (to make things worse) did you know that there's also a physical war going on in your body, that being - your brain versus fat production?
Yes and, if that's not enough, if you happen to be fat you are on the front line of this war, have no armour, are running out of weapons and the signalling sytem from your brain has been disabled. If you are already fat, you are fighting an unfair war. Why?
If you are already fat you will find it harder to lose weight because fat prevents the brain from sending out vital signals to the body to tell it when to stop eating. As a result of the essential, regulatory mechanism of the brain malfunctioning, due to the effects of obesity, itself, obese people are more likely to overeat and become even fatter.
This doesn't seem fair - so as a result of being fat you will find it harder to lose weight and, indeed, more likely to put on weight because the signals which come from your brain telling you when to stop eating are not working properly? Can your brain actually be making you fat?
Let me tell you a story about a little man called Leptin who lives in your body. Ever since he was a little boy, this little man has been best friends with Insulin - they played together, grew up together and even rhymed together.
Leptin and Insulin often used to go and visit an old friend of theirs called, Brain, whom they were quite in awe of because he seemed to have mysterious powers over them, nevertheless, they loved nothing more than to run errands for Brain.
Leptin was particulary good at running errands, especially when he had to stop the body from eating too much, because not only did Leptin have the ability to curb appetite, he also had the power to increase the body's metabolism which burnt off unwanted fat.
Leptin and Insulin became such a good working partnership that they set up a metabolic, signaling business together, which specialised in coordinating signals from the brain to the body relating to food and hunger.
Although Leptin and Insulin have been quite successful they now find themselves in times of recession because of an unprecedented production of fat, which has slowed their business down, and they have been increasingly unable to get their signals through to the body.
All their work is becoming ineffective. Indeed, sometimes Leptin doesn't even bother to turn up for work, which means Insulin has an unfair burden of work that he cannot deal with. Now, not only is the body suffering from the effects of obesity, it is also in danger of developing diabetes.
Needless to say, this has put a strain on the relationship of Leptin, Insulin and the Brain, who have all stopped speaking to each other, and, I'm afraid, the body will have to pay for it all. This story is too bad - where is the 'fairy godmother'?
Luckily, there is a 'fairy godmother' and she is on good terms with our friend, spinach, who, it turns out, is good for the brain as well as the brawn - bring back 'Popeye'. My next blog looks at which specific, foods you can eat to help Leptin and Insulin back to work.