Losing weight seems to be everybody’s goal. We all want to look better, feel healthier and ward off illness. However, for most people losing weight is a huge struggle and keeping it off is an even bigger problem.

Research shows that almost 95 percent of repeat dieters fail and ultimately regain any weight they initially lost.

“Very few people succeed at keeping off weight. Sometimes people aim to lose too much weight too fast by depriving themselves of foods they love. Or they follow a food plan that isn’t realistic over the long term and don’t cut out foods that are making them unhealthy by introducing harmful toxins into their bodies,” says Dr. Edward F. Group III, author of the new book “Health Begins In The Colon.”

What about that successful five percent who lose weight and keep it off? What is their secret to weight loss?

Here are some tips from Group and his new book, “Health Begins In The Colon,” that can help you permanently shed pounds while becoming healthier:

• Stock up on healthy organic foods. Proper weight loss nutrition includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dried beans, low-fat cheeses and fish or lean poultry. Plan meals in advance to avoid making unhealthy selections when you’re hungry and rushed.

• Eat five small meals daily to help regulate your metabolism. This might sound difficult, but it takes a minute to enjoy a banana or a handful of seeds or nuts. Large meals can negatively impact your colon and bog down your system.

• Eat slowly and chew food completely before swallowing. This allows your stomach to signal your brain it’s full, so you avoid excessive calories. This is one of the best-kept secrets for losing weight and helps your body absorb vital nutrients more thoroughly and rapidly.

• Limit meat intake to one-to-three meals weekly and don’t eat red meat more than twice weekly. Avoid processed meats like bacon, hot dogs and sandwich meats. Not only will this help you lose weight, it helps eliminate toxins from antibiotics, hormones and nitrates in meat.

• Avoid coffee, alcohol and soft drinks, especially beverages in aluminum cans. Aluminum can be absorbed by your colon and many nervous system disorders — like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease — are linked to excessive aluminum in delicate brain tissue.

• Learn how many calories you eat in a typical day. If you don’t already know, keep a food journal. Find areas where your diet is weakest. Also identify “hidden” calories from sodas or snacks. Make a plan that gradually reduces your caloric intake. Make sure to eat enough to keep your energy levels high and metabolism charged. Simply limiting portion sizes will help cut calories dramatically.

• Go slow. Slow weight loss is critical to long-term weight loss nutrition. Aim to lose no more than one to two pounds weekly. Quick weight loss can lead to yo-yo dieting that negatively impacts long-term health.

• Drink at least eight to ten glasses of purified water daily. When the body isn’t adequately hydrated, the kidneys may compensate by “retaining” water. Drinking also helps stimulate the digestive system and makes the stomach feel fuller. Avoid drinking with meals, as this can dilute digestive juices. Try to drink between meals. If this doesn’t suit you, limit water intake during meals to less than eight ounces.

• Physical activity is important for losing weight, but you needn’t workout to exhaustion. Incorporate exercise into normal activities. Walk to work or take a stroll in the evenings with the kids.

“If you’re serious about losing weight and keeping it off, start simple. Start by controlling portion sizes and making better food choices that have the side benefit of making you healthier,” says Group.

— For more tips on eating healthfully and improving your general well-being, visit www.healthbeginsinthecolon.com.