• By Kathleen Finn

Mother Nature's Weight-Loss Aids

Whether you’re struggling to lose your last 5 pounds (2.3 kilos) or embarking on a more ambitious plan to shed 20 (9 kilos) or more, start with the basics: consume fewer calories, exercise more, don’t skip meals, and start your diet with a stamp of approval from your healthcare provider. Combining these recommendations with the moderate use of safe, natural supplements may help you in your quest toward a slimmer self.

Sesamin shows promise for its possible action of enhancing fat burning

Hoodia—May help ward off hunger

Used by the Kalahari bushmen to ward off hunger on long treks, hoodia has piqued the interest of the dieting public.

Made from the South African succulent—a cactus-like plant—hoodia theoretically affects nerve cells in the hypothalamus—a part of the brain that governs appetite—by responding to blood glucose levels. In a sense, it may trick the brain into thinking you are full. Unlike many purported weight loss herbs, hoodia is not a stimulant.

Sesamin—May help the liver burn excess fat

Nuts and seeds have long been hailed for their nutritional achievements of providing fiber, good fats, and protein. Now scientists have isolated sesamin—a part of sesame oil believed to play a role in encouraging weight loss.

Sesamin shows promise for its possible action of enhancing fat burning. It increases the activity of several liver enzymes that break down fatty acids. It is believed that optimizing the liver’s fat-burning capacity may promote fat loss.

Relora—May balance your hormones

Some researchers believe that achieving hormone balance holds the key to the weight-loss dilemma, and products such as relora, a product derived from Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense bark, claim to help in this area, though more research is needed for confirmation.

Prolonged stress raises blood levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland. In high amounts, cortisol stimulates deposits of fat in the abdomen. Manufacturers of cortisol-lowering products maintain that by keeping cortisol levels low, one can avoid weight gain around the middle. According to the manufacturers, relora is supposed to maintain healthy cortisol levels.

Garcinia—May keep stored fat at bay

Animal studies suggest that Garcinia cambogia and its active ingredient hydroxycitric acid (HCA) may decrease the conversion of carbohydrates to stored fat. Studies in humans are mixed. One controlled trial showed no weight loss benefit from Garcinia cambogia, yet another trial found that as part of a mix of nutrients and herbs, garcinia may help people shed a few pounds. A comprehensive review of studies on garcinia concluded that this substance has a good record of safe use over the short term—up to 12 weeks.

Kathleen Finn

Kathleen Finn is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in the natural health industry. She tries to avoid prolonged stress and its attendant high cortisol levels.

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