Popular physician’s new book illuminates a key metabolic aspect of weight control
by Craig Weatherby and Randy Hartnell
Leo Galland, M.D. first became known outside his popular New York City practice following publication of Super Immunity for Kids, which approached children’s susceptibility to infections and other immune system failures from a nutritional perspective.
Dr. Galland, who received his education and medical training at Harvard and NYU, has been repeatedly chosen by “New York” magazine as one of that city’s best doctors, and he’s appeared on CBS-TV’s “Good Morning America” and on CNN, Fox News, and PBS.
Like Drs. Nick Perricone and Andrew Weil, Dr. Galland focuses on diet-induced “silent” inflammation and the ways in which it affects appetite and weight control. But Dr. Galland puts control of leptin—a key appetite-regulating, inflammation-influenced hormone—at the center of his program, as detailed in his acclaimed new book, The Fat Resistance Diet.
The leptin-weight connection
Research indicates that obesity in both humans and in experimental rodents is usually associated with high blood levels of leptin, and a phenomenon called “leptin resistance.”
When the body’s fat cells increase in size and number, they synthesize and secrete more and more leptin: a process that provides the body with a continuous report on its own composition.
In this way, blood leptin levels give the brain a reading of energy storage so that it can better regulate appetite and metabolism. Leptin works by inhibiting the activity of neurons that contain certain hormones, such as neuropeptide Y: —a pro-inflammatory hormone suppressed by the capsaicin that makes chili peppers spicy and has shown weight-control promise in clinical trials.
Over time, elevated blood leptin levels desensitize the body to the hormone's effects, much like obesity results in increased insulin levels and eventually produces the "insulin resistance" that leads to diabetes and weight gain.
Studies show that obese people have high levels of leptin in the blood, but not in cerebral spinal fluid: a fact that suggests leptin resistance may result from high blood leptin levels overloading the leptin-transport system, which results in smaller amounts crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Eating right to axe the inflammation-leptin axis
Dr. Galland's program focuses on ways to reduce “leptin resistance,” which is the body’s inability to respond to high blood levels of this key signaling chemical.
We’ll let Dr. Galland describe the reason for his leptin focus in his own words:
“My decades of clinical practice as an M.D., my success in treating patients with nutritional medicine, and my in-depth exploration of the latest scientific research have convinced me that if you can't lose your excess weight, then you probably suffer from leptin resistance.
“If we inadvertently gain a few pounds, the leptin in our system works to suppress our appetite, increase our metabolism, and reestablish our original weight. This is the mechanism that enables people to stay slim—the natural ability of our bodies to regulate themselves.
“The problem comes when this natural ability is disrupted, most often by a condition known as inflammation. This is because inflammation triggers leptin resistance, which in turn contributes to a sluggish metabolism, unchecked cravings, and, eventually, unwanted pounds.
“Inflammation disrupts your body's natural weight regulation system. As a result, you gain weight. Then the excess fat creates more inflammation, making the extra weight unusually difficult to lose. That's why, once begun, weight gain often continues. The weight itself is worsening the condition that caused you to put on weight in the first place.”
The Fat Resistance Diet offers a phased regimen:
- Stage 1: A fourteen-day starter program that can deliver a loss of ten to fourteen pounds in the first two weeks. Inflammation-fighting foods work to trigger rapid weight loss and balance weight-related hormones.
- Stage 2: A 90-day plan builds on the benefits of Stage 1 and can deliver a loss of at least five pounds a month. Readers are allowed to enjoy a greater variety of foods while still keeping their weight-related hormones in harmony.
- Stage 3: Sustainable for life, the meal plans in this phase keep weight-related hormones doing their job, even after readers reach their target weight, and it allows a more expanded menu of foods.
The book features recipes rich in Dr. Galland’s super foods.
A super-food, seafood focus
Like the super food lists offered by Drs. Perricone and Weil, salmon is featured on Dr. Galland’s roster of super foods. This is no surprise, since recent research results show that the long-chain marine omega-3s found only in fish, plankton, and algae exert a positive influence on at least seven aspects of weight control:
- Stimulate secretion of leptin, a hormone that decreases appetite and promotes the burning of body fat.
- Enable burning of dietary fats by helping move fatty acids into body cells for burning as fuel.
- Encourage the body to store dietary carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, rather than as hard-to-lose body fat.
- Inhibit inflammation, which is known to promote weight gain.
- Enhance blood-sugar control by increasing our insulin-producing cells’ sensitivity to sugar.
- Flip off genetic switches (nuclear transcription factors) that promote inflammation and storage of food as body fat.
- Help the body transport glucose from blood to cells by increasing the fluidity of cell membranes.
Virtually all observers agree that the best, purest seafood sources of omega-3s include wild-harvested salmon, sardines, sablefish, and low-weight, minimal mercury tuna.
For more information, see “Eat Fish, Lose Weight, Feel Better” and “Exercise + Omega-3s = Perfect Weight Loss Pair” in past issues of Vital Choices.
In our opinion, The Fat Resistance Diet is a welcome addition to the growing list of expert-penned books that focus on nutrition as key to successful long-term weight control.
But the high praise proffered by respected medical peers certainly counts for more than ours:
“The Fat Resistance Diet teaches us how to alter our biological hardwiring to lose weight and keep it off. Dr. Galland spotlights Leptin Resistance–a condition that drives millions to gain weight, despite futile dieting efforts.”
—Mehmet Oz, M.D., author of You: The Owner's Manual
“In a world of fad diets, Dr. Leo Galland’s Fat Resistance Diet brings leading-edge science to bear on the problem of obesity. This program revolutionizes our understanding of weight loss and health enhancement.”
—David Perlmutter, M.D., F.A.C.N., author of The Better Brain Book
“Dr. Galland cuts through the diet myths to reveal the critical relationship between hunger, inflammation, and body weight, and provides delicious ways to reduce all three.”
—Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., Director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center