Dieting with natural remedies, yes or no?

There's been mixed evidence on using natural remedies and dieting, and while most of it can have a negative impact, a few things like green tea are beneficial and safe to try.

Dieting with natural remedies, yes or no?

Dieting with Natural Remedies?

Most experts don't recommend herbal supplements as part of a weight loss program, yet people continue to buy them. Do any of them work? Maybe.

  • Studies show mixed results (and some dangers) with certain herbs, in particular ephedra (the Chinese herb Ma huang), which is often combined with caffeine in diet supplements.
  • Ephedra has come under particular scrutiny in recent years because in certain people it can cause high blood pressure, stroke or other serious heart problems.
  • Moreover, a recent review of weight loss supplements by an independent laboratory found that many brands do not contain the amount of active ingredients the labels proclaim (they don't have to, since government regulations and controls are still being developed in Canada).

Despite these drawbacks, a number of supplements can prove a beneficial addition to a weight loss program:

  • Green tea is good for you because of its antioxidants, and one Swiss study showed that three daily doses of green tea extract helped burn more calories than similar doses of caffeine.
  • Psyllium, the soluble fibre from the husk of psyllium seeds, absorbs water in the stomach and may create a feeling of fullness.
  • Chromium picolinate supplements can help those with diabetes who have mild glucose intolerance and may also help lower cholesterol, but most studies don't support claims that chromium ­increases weight loss or changes body composition. Still, some ­dieters report that the supplement reduces their sugar cravings.

As always, when using supplements to drop weight, consult your doctor for her opinion and ideas.

What to avoid

  • Soft drinks and alcohol. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar, and even healthy-sounding fruit drinks may have as many as 200 calories a bottle. You can choose diet soda, but many successful dieters say they do better when they let go of sweet-tasting drinks altogether. Alcohol is another calorie-expensive habit. And because it reduces inhibition, you may eat more than you intended to. Choose sparkling water instead, all the carbonation for your fizzy fix and none of the calories.
  • "Fat-free" packaged goods. They're often made with refined grains and loaded with sugars, which means they're not low in calories. Studies show that people tend to eat more of these "diet foods" anyway, which defeats their apparent purpose. Even those with "low-fat" or "cholesterol-free" on the label may contain bad-for-your-heart hydrogenated oils.
  • Eating while watching TV. Experts say mealtime in front of the TV isn't good for the waistline. You don't really savour your food — a necessary ingredient in healthy eating — because you're too busy watching those food-touting commercials. Save TV for other times.
  • Self-punishing thoughts. It’s important to remember that you are human, and you will occasionally slip off your eating plan. Every successful dieter has been there. Tell yourself you're not a bad person doomed to failure. Then forgive yourself, and get back on track. Don't be discouraged by your setbacks.
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