Skip to comments.Is Cutting The Vagus Nerve The Answer To Weight Loss?
Posted on 06/16/2009 8:17:46 PM PDT by wintertime
Last year, 200,000 Americans had weight loss surgery and while gastric bypass surgery can significantly reduce weight, the surgery comes with risks.
Now a procedure that was once commonly used to treat ulcers is being tested as a safe alternative to weight loss surgery.
Action News reporter Kimberly Tere has the details.
The vagus nerve controls your feeling of hunger.
Some even say every single thing the vagus nerve does is designed to make you gain weight.
That is why San Francisco Doctor Robert Lustig is testing laparoscopic vagotomy, a surgery in which the vagus nerve is cut.
Cutting the vagus nerve can reduce the amount of fat stored in the body and can increase energy levels.
"Every patient in the study said their hunger was gone, just gone. One comment I got from one patient was this is the first time in her life that she was not a prisoner to food," said Dr. Lustig.
People who are normally thin are not obsessing about “processed” carbs.
I have never met a normally thin person who even knows what an Aduki bean is. Somehow they stay thin without them.
If you are constantly struggling with feelings of hunger, you’re right, there may be something wrong. It’s not clear that the vagus nerve is the culprit, though. Since World War II, the vagus, which innervates a number of internal organs under automatic control, has been cut in an effort to control problems. Years ago, for instance, the vagus was surgically severed in the hope that this would relieve asthma. It’s been tried as the solution to irritable bowel syndrome and hypertension, too. These procedures have not been successful.
The urge to eat is not just mediated by the feelings of stomach distension. Parts of the brain monitor blood sugar, fat content, smells, hormone levels, sights, memories, associations, and other cues. It’s incredibly complex and there is an enormous literature of research about satiation. The bottom line is that a simple surgical procedure like severing the vagus is unlikely to relieve you of your hunger. The question of satiety is likely to be far more complex, I’m sorry to say.
I’m not going to make facile suggestions about what you should eat. That would be disrespectful of your efforts and your willpower, which I’m sure are admirable. But may I ask you to do the same? Those of us who are slender are often thought by the overweight to come by it naturally. “It’s easy for you,” they say. For many of us, it’s not easy. If we ate what we wanted and had a sedentary lifestyle, we too would be very heavy. Personally, I live on the South Beach Diet and have for years: mostly simple chicken, fish, and meat with vegetables. Nothing white. If I eat white stuff my blood sugar soars and I pack on weight.
I constantly encounter heavy people who say to me, “You’re just naturally skinny, you don’t know how hard it is.” When people say this to me, my answer usually is, “How far did you run this morning? How much are you going to lift tonight after work?” They almost never tell me that they got out and ran four miles, as I did, or that they are going to swim a mile after work, and then lift weights. They don’t tell me about their thirty-mile bike ride last weekend or the fast games of tennis they play several afternoons a week. They actually say that a fit body comes naturally, even while I’m standing before them in my riding boots and breeches, dragging myself back from the stable in obvious exhaustion.
I could never get weight off and keep it off by dieting alone. If you lost 80 pounds by dieting, my hat’s off to you. I once lost a lot of weight, but not just by dieting. If you want to suppress your appetite and raise your metabolic rate, you may have to exercise three times a day. Some intervention with drugs to change your brain biochemistry might be in order, too.
Best of luck to you. You’re a strong person and you should be proud of yourself.
I know. I used to be one of them. Until I was about 33, I never thought too much about what I was eating. If I binged on too much sugar or beer, I'd just work out an extra day. That all changed after an 8-year-long battle with insomnia. While I was working as a flight attendant, I couldn't sleep more than 3 hours at a time. About 5 years into that, I started packing on weight at an unbelievable rate. It's been a nightmare.
Good carbs are fruits and veggies, bad carbs are grains. Think about it. Cows get fatter quicker on grains than they do on grass. It’s the same with people.
I do not know even one normally thin person who is up at 4:30 in the morning lifting weights followed by another 90 minutes of cardio. That's at least 2 hours of your life **everyday** fighting fat. Huh?
Normally thin people are not doing that.
You seem do have an exquisitely developed grasp of the factors that do NOT contribute to a trim physique.
What are you ideas about those factors that DO..?
I feel your pain.
I was a registered nurse and work swing and night shifts in an ICU.
I should have said “worked”. I did that into my early thirties. I was normally thin until my mid thirties and gradually keeping off the weight became more and more of a problem.
By all means, then, why do ANYTHING to help yourself...?
The notion that there ARE ways of helping yourself but which you detachedly pass up terrifies you.
And it should.
But...if it’s all GENETICS, fine....! Suit yourself....
Well, I am 49, 6’0”, and weigh 255. For the last couple of years I have been exercising daily. I eat a balanced diet with little refined sugar. I feel fairly fit, but definitely have a lot of weight around the middle.
I have been like this ever since I was a little kid. I never have succeeded in losing any serious amount of weight for any sustained period of time. For about six months two years ago, I was going for 2hr+ bike rides every single day (something I cannot do all time because of work/family commitments), and did manage to lose about 20 pounds, but promptly gained it all back when the weather turned cold and rainy and I couldn’t ride every day anymore.
I feel like I am at my “natural” size, and that there is no way I will lose the 80-100 pounds I need to lose to get to optimally healthy weight without doing something to fundamentally change the way my body deals with food. I have been seriously thinking about lap band, as a relatively non-invasive and reversible (if necessary) weight loss procedure.
I would be interested in hearing anyone’s experience with this procedure.
I DO know that the normally thin people who populate my life do NOT exercise 2 hours everyday. Most do nothing more than take a casual walk a couple times a week.
None of them are worried about oatmeal, protein power, soda, or sliced almonds.
You drank them after you caught them?
It's a really long story, but I ended up in much, much worse shape after 4 months of training. Since my hormones were already so screwed up from not sleeping, working out twice a day 6 days a week was definitely NOT what I should have done. I pushed myself until eventually I crashed (it happens to a lot of triathletes, I found out later). I was in the pool one day and suddenly felt like I was swimming in mud. My body just completely shut down. It was awful. I had fried my adrenal glands and my thyroid - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I'm still dealing with it 3 years later.
Ok...This is what I do.
During the winter I ski double black diamonds for 5 to 6 hours 5 days a week.
In the summer, I go to the gym lift weights, and bike uphill for 5 miles every day, and windsurf in the afternoon.
I eat 1200 calories a day and not a crumb more. Natural peanut butter on whole wheat seems to hold off the hunger better than anything, I've tried. Everything I eat is **measured** carefully.
I am STARVING!..but I am normal weight and have been for quite a few years now.
The normally thin people in my life are doing NONE of this.
A couple of thing that make me think on your post...
While I didn’t really “Crave” carbs at all when I finally went off - I fell off that wagon because of events in my life that made it VERY difficult to stay on it (my first daughter born 2 months early). The daily hospital trips, plus my insane work schedule at the time added up to make it unbelievably difficult to stay on. I tried very hard - but eventually - enough carbs crept in that I was fighting a losing battle.
Since that time, I have packed on to a record weight for me. I am quite disgusted. But getting motivated to do SOMETHING has been harder this time around. I can’t help but wonder if it was from my time doing the low-carb thing.
But I really WANT to do something - while medical staff still get a surprised look on my face when they check my BP, especially if they check my weight first, I want to be around to see my daughters grow up. One is 5, the other 3. I have a lot of years to stick around if I am going to see them grow up and start their own families. I will be 40 this year - so dieting (as you know) just gets harder. I have considered trying to do the low-carb thing. But again - with two children in the house, and a spouse who is a minimalist when it comes to meat... Not the most conducive environment for that path.
And your statement about the leg cramps - I too don’t recall every really having any issues with leg cramps before I did the low-carb thing. But after - I too sometimes get odd leg cramps - very painful, and often after having a carb-bump. Doesn’t happen every time, but it does happen. Hmmmm...
And yes - people who have never battled obesity don’t understand. My Father-In-law is about my height, but less than 1/2 my weight. He is a skinny as a bean pole! He can out eat most everyone (including me) most of the time... yet he rarely gains much of any weight. Yes, he has a physical job, but even in his off time - his eating never slows down, and he never puts on any weight. Further - he isn’t afraid of sugar or fat...
Frustrating. About the only thing I have ever found that in any way helps with feeling hungry - if I keep a bottle or cup of water around all the time and drink it all the time. If I stay full on water, I tend to not feel much hunger pangs. But that has the obvious side-effect that you can hardly get any work done as I am always in the bathroom.
No they all look better at closing time. Did try to chew my arm off once.
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