How many times have you tried to lose weight, gone on a crash diet, and lost a few pounds only to gain the back again? I have been through that cycle too many times. I have tried keeping a food diary, counting calories, counting fat grams, avoiding carbohydrates and reducing my protein intake. Then I realized that the key is balance.

A healthy body needs clean air, clean water, sunshine and exercise. It also needs a balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein to function effectively. Yes, you read that right. Our bodies need fat. The problem with the American diet is that we are eating too much of the wrong kinds of fats and not enough of the right kinds.

Cutting down of saturated fats, like those found in meat and butter and vegetable fats that are solid at room temperature like margarine, and replacing them with unsaturated fat isn’t enough. Our bodies need essential fatty acids (Vitamin F). These are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that you have heard about. The best proportion of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is a ratio of 1 to 4. That means for every gram of omega-3 fatty acid that you consume you shouldn’t consume more than four grams of omega-6 fatty acid. That’s a big problem.

Most people today consume a ratio of at least 1 to 20 omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Eggs and fish (salmon, trout, catfish and shrimp) are all high is omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, our concern about cholesterol keeps the eggs off of many of our breakfast plates. In addition, much of the fish purchased today is farm raised. Fish raised on fish farms a feed a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids like grains. Most vegetable oils and prepared salad dressing are high in omega-6 fatty acids because of their longer shelf life. Table 1 below compares the percentage omega-3 and omega-6 in common oils.

Table 1
Percentage of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids

Percent omega-3 Percent omega-6
Safflower 0% 75%
Sunflower 0% 65%
Corn 0% 59%
Soybean 7% 54%
Walnut 5% 51%
Pumpkin 15% 42%
Golden Flax 48% 19%

Notice that the oils that we use the most (safflower, sunflower, and corn) are very high in omega-6 fatty acid and that they don’t contain any omega-3 fatty acid. Canola oil contains about three percent omega-3 fatty acids however when it is deodorized (refined) it loses most of its omega-3 fatty acids. Olive oil, on the other hand contains mostly neutral omega-9 fatty acids. A table spoon of olive oil contains 10.8 grams of monounsaturated fat, only 0.10 gram of which is omega-3 fatty acid.

What’s wrong with that? When your body doesn’t get the proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that it needs the excess carbohydrates that can’t be used are converted into fat and stored.

The Adrenal Connection

A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that there is a positive relationship between waist size and diabetes risk. Table 2 below summarizes the risk levels. This research has lead to concern about our insulin production and the health of the pancreas.

Table 2
Waist Size and Diabetes Risk

Waist Size Risk Increase (Times)

29 to 34 inches Lowest Risk
34.3 to 35.9 inches 2 times higher risk
36.0 to 37.8 inches 3 times higher
37.9 to 39.8 inches 5 times higher
40.0 to 62.0 inches 12 times higher

The pancreas produces insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels. The adrenal gland produces various hormones that keep the blood sugar level from falling to low. Table 3 below summarizes problems that result from imbalanced or weakened adrenal glands.

Table 3
Symptoms of Weakened Adrenal Glands

Abnormal or racing heartbeats Excessive sweating
Mood swings

Abnormal pigmentation of the skin Excessive urination Muscle wasting

Asthma Gastric reflux Salt cravings

Constant fatigue and exhaustion Headaches
Sensitivity to light

Hip problems
Sex hormone imbalance

Dizziness or lightheadedness Joint pain

Edema and water retention Low back problems
Varicose veins

Weakened adrenal glands are often accompanied with an accumulation of adnominal fat and the onset of diabetes. In part this may result from a decline in the production of dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA, a hormone produced by the adrenals. Although a declined in the production of DHEA is a normal part of the aging process, it can be accelerate by poor life-style choices like the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and sugar. In addition, stress or chronic infections can also affect the production of DHEA.

The Natural Solution

There are several things that you can do to make sure that you are consuming the right kind of omega-6 fatty acid, and that your diet includes enough omega-3 fatty acid.

Research has shown that a decrease in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) leads to obesity. On the other hand increased consumption of CLA helps with weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate, suppressing appetite and causing the body to use more stored fat for energy production. While safflower oil is high in CLA the easiest way to take it is in the form of Tonalin CLA softgels. A Norweigan study indicates that 3.4 grams per day achieved weight loss with no change in diet or exercise.

A recently published ten-year study in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine of 15,655 middle-aged individuals shows that those who used a chromium supplement demonstrated a significantly lower level of weight gain. Another study shows that while the use of bioavailable hydroxycitric acid (HCA-SX) is an effective weight-loss supplement, the combination of HCA-SX, niacin-bound chromium and Gymnema sylvestre extract are a more effective and safe weight-loss formula that facilitates a reduction in excess body weight while promoting healthy blood lipid levels . But what about the omega-3 fatty acid? Remember, your diet is probably low on omega3. One of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid is flax oil or flaxseed. I recommend three tablespoons a day of flax oil. It take longer for oils to saturate your cells than it does for water-based supplements, about six months. The long-term effects of balancing your essential fatty acids include increase metabolism, energy increase, better oxygen transfer, lower blood pressure and a decrease in the stickiness of blood platelets. The benefits are worth it so stick to omega-3 supplementation.

Adrenal function can be improved by making appropriate dietary changes, reducing stress levels, and exercising. In addition the use of nutritional supplements like Vitamin C (2,000 to 5,000 mg), a high potency B-complex, Adrenal glandular supplements and Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) can help improve adrenal health.

You might also consider taking DHEA. While this will not improve adrenal health it will supplement the DHEA currently being produced by the adrenals. A sic-month study of 28 men and 28 women between the ages of 67 and 78 that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows the dramatic effect of DHEA supplementation . Half of the participants in the study received DHEA while the other half received a placebo. The participants who took DHEA for six months showed a significant decrease in abdominal and visceral fat. In addition, their insulin output decreased by their blood sugar levels remained constant indicating an increase in their bodies’ insulin sensitivity.


In summary, what should you do to lose weight? This is what I have been doing.
1. Take vitamins and minerals supplements (including chromium) daily,
2. Eat a healthy and well balanced diet in moderation,
3. Avoid toxins (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar, white flour . . .) ,
4. Get some exercise (I like walking . . . I have two feet and shoes. No more equipment is needed and I don’t have to go to the gym),
5. Take at least 3g of CLA per day,
6. Take at least three tablespoons of flax seed oil a day, and
7. Supplement my diet with 50 mg of DHEA a day.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Murphy practices wellness counseling. He has a background in natruopathic medicine and is a master herbalist. He can be contacted at