Weight Loss and Functional Medicine

Have you ever felt like no matter what you did you couldn’t reach your ideal weight? Maybe you’ve tried going low calorie, vegetarian, paleo and even ketogenic to no avail. Well you’re not alone. 42.8% of middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years are obese according to the CDC. 1.  That number seems to go up every year. North Carolina has one of the higher obesity rates. 2

Raleigh has good food but is it that good?

Maybe. But if you’ve struggled with weight issues then it’s not completely your fault. Usually it indicates an underlying problem with metabolism. For many people it’s not just a simple matter of eating less calories. When you try to solve this foundational metabolic issue, you tend to see more significant results. There are many factors that can create an underlying metabolic problem that can cause extreme difficulty with losing weight.

Many people are told that they need to lose weight so they can get healthy. While this may be true there is a bigger truth. The fact is, in order to lose weight, we actually need to get healthy first. Getting healthy helps establishes a normal fast-moving metabolism. Let’s look at some significant factors that can create a slower metabolism.

Causes of slow metabolism

Systemic inflammation

Systemic inflammation is a known critical factor in many chronic diseases. One of the main reasons it’s linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease is because of its effect on our metabolism. Systemic inflammation has many reasons why it can produce a slow metabolism. This includes thyroid, digestive, hormone balance, appetite control and cell function.

Hormone imbalance

HORMONE IMBALANCE  can play a major role in slowing the bodies metabolism and making weight loss difficult.


The job of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone activates the metabolism in our bodies cells. When we have a dysfunctional thyroid gland it can cause weight gain.


Insulin is a known fat storing hormone. It’s made in the pancreas and it responds to sugar in the blood. When we eat higher levels of carbohydrates that break down into sugar our cells will often resist insulin. That’s when insulin must store the sugar into fat.  A diet high in processed carbohydrates can be a major factor in our metabolism. 


Leptin is a hormone that is made in the fat cells of our body. It signals the brain to turn off hunger. When the brain becomes resistant to leptin the brain keeps hungry feeling going.


Stress today can be rampant. Whether it’s stress from work, traffic, family, loss of a loved one or simply watching the news. This can cause an imbalance in our cortisol levels raising blood sugar and fat storage. The weight tends to show up in the abdomen area.

Digestive Problems

Indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and even simple bloating can be a factor in your metabolism. Digestive problems DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS can lead to poor nutrient absorption and an increase in toxins circulating.  This leads to many factors that drive a slower metabolism and increase in weight.


Toxins can damage mitochondria in the cells which can affect our cell metabolism. This makes it difficult to burn fuel effectively which means we must store it as fat.


When the body is fighting an infection, often times hidden, The immune system’s inflammatory response can create a vicious cycle that can slow metabolism.

Brain Chemistry Imbalance

The brains neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA and acetylcholine can become imbalanced for many reasons. Today we have more usage of psychotropic medication than ever. This imbalance can affect our metabolism directly and indirectly. Neurotransmitters are necessary for many functions including thyroid activity.

Two common misconceptions today keep people from achieving their ideal weight.

1.  It’s always about eating less. Lowering calories can often lower metabolism. If you feel you are eating too much it’s often because we need nutrition. Getting nutrient balance is the key. Everyone has different needs.

2. If one approach works for one person it must work for another. Everyone is different. We all have a different reason why our metabolism might be off. It’s not the same for everybody.

Our Customized Functional Medicine Focus for Weight Loss

A main FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE focus in our practice when it comes to weight loss is determining the unique factors that are causing a slower metabolism. Those factors are the key to a healthy metabolism. The metabolism improves when you give the body what it needs in the form of nutrients. Nutrients are what the body needs to get healthy. Not drugs.  Doing it properly also helps keep weight off for the long term. Many who’ve applied this concept in the Raleigh, Apex, and Cary area realize they don’t have to struggle with the weight challenge. Rather the weight seems to just melt away. That’s the way it should be.