Slim down with natural therapies

Good health magazine
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Brought to you by Good Health magazine

Could alternative therapies be the answer to shifting those kilos, asks Charmaine Yabsley.

You've tried the latest diets, special eating plans, weights machines and gym workouts, but those extra kilos aren't shifting. It may be that your body is crying out for an alternative solution to losing weight.

When treating someone who is trying to lose weight, many naturopaths will first examine the person's daily food intake.

"Many people cut out sugar, but may still be eating high amounts of carbohydrates," says naturopath Annalies Corse. "Refined carbs are broken down into glucose and, if you're eating glucose in excess, your pancreas releases large amounts of insulin, causing your body to store the glucose as fat."

VIEW GALLERY: Stars that swear by natural therapies

A naturopath may suggest blood tests to check if you are releasing excess insulin (which impairs your ability to lose weight and increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease), as well as to investigate your thyroid and hormonal health.

"Drink green tea — organic and loose leaf — for optimum health," says Corse. One to three cups daily is idea

Chinese reflexology
In Chinese medicine, there are many reasons why somebody has gained weight," says reflexologist Andre Tse. "For instance, if somebody has too much 'heat' in their stomach, their metabolism is very fast. This mainly affects those whose diet may consist of fried foods and alcohol."

On the other hand, weight gain and an inability to lose those kilos may be caused by a weak digestive system "where the patient's spleen and stomach aren't working correctly — their digestion isn't metabolising the food properly, so they keep the weight on".

Many people who don't exercise enough and are eating too many sweet and fatty foods have a poor digestive system. "You may also have chronic loose stools, low energy, brain fog, and a low immune system," says Tse.

Reflexology concentrates on warming up the 'kidney yang', encouraging healthy digestion and metabolism. In this ancient Chinese art it's believed certain points on the foot correspond to specific areas of the body. The kidney yang area is 'heated' by massaging points on the foot — specifically those related to the kidney, bladder, thyroid and adrenals, which stimulates the metabolism.

"I also concentrate on the liver area, as it plays an important part in moving the body's digestive energy," he says. In reflexology working on the 'bowel area' of the foot may help to ease constipation, which can add unwanted kilos.

"Sit comfortably and hold your foot across the opposite knee, says Tse. Press different areas of the soles of your feet. "A tender spot may indicate an issue in that area's corresponding organ," he explains.

"Try massaging the arch of the foot in the middle to help stimulate the bowels," suggests Tse.

Research has found acupuncture to be beneficial in the treatment of health concerns such as depression, morning sickness and lethargy.

And when it comes to suppressing the appetite, numerous studies have found acupuncture to be effective. "Acupuncture can treat and correct imbalances in your digestion, particularly if you're constantly hungry, or if you're not burning up the food you're eating," says Karina Stewart, co-founder of Thailand's Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa.

"For many women, an inability to lose excess weight is due to a liver which isn't functioning correctly. If the liver is underperforming then you're not detoxifying excess fluids and fat and, ultimately, will gain weight. Treating areas around the ear has been shown to help curb hunger pains, and depending on your symptoms. Other needles may be used around the stomach, feet and hands," she says.

Top tip!
Don't like needles? Then ensure you're getting enough sleep. A recent study found people who get about eight hours of sleep each night are less likely to be stressed and lose weight more easily.

For the full story, see the April issue of Good Health. Subscribe to 12 issues of Good Health for $59.95 and receive free Advanced Natural Rebalancing Moisturiser.

Image: Good HealthNaomi Watts "I really like people who are going to challenge me" Image: iStockWhat's best for your health: diet or exercise? Image: iStockWomen's cures from around the world Image: Good HealthJulia Morris "Laughter is great for your health"