A Natural Approach To Health
Living With Obesity
I had a question the other day about obesity.
Obesity is, quite simply, an excessively high proportion of body fat.
Health professionals commonly use a measurement called the body mass index, or BMI, to classify an adult’s weight as healthy, overweight, obese, and extremely obese.
Basically, according to this index, a BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy; from 25 to 29.9, overweight.
Obesity class I is a BMI of 30 to 34.9, obesity class II is a BMI of 35 to 39.9, and extreme obesity class III is a BMI of 40 and above.
A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight and unhealthy.
Generally, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk of developing other obesity-related problems.
But, BMI doesn’t tell the entire story.
In addition to the BMI number, excessive abdominal body fat can pose a health risk.
Men with a waist size greater than 40 inches, or women with a waist size of 35 inches or more, are more at risk.
More than 66% of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.
Excess weight and inactivity account for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S.
This is second only to deaths related to smoking.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, joint pain, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
In addition, carrying excess weight means a higher risk for cancer.
Obesity is consistently linked to postmenopausal breast cancer, colon, uterine, prostate, and kidney cancer.
Being overweight is a contributing cause of many preventable illnesses.
Maybe more important than weight is the percentage of fat in your body.
For healthy women, fat can account for as much as 25% of body weight; 17% is a healthy percentage for men.
Women’s bodies are designed to carry a higher proportion of fat tissue to ensure there’s plenty of fuel for pregnancy and nursing.
The average human body has 30-40 billion fat cells.
Most of the extra calories we eat that we don’t need for immediate energy are stored as fat.
If we were still “hunter/gatherers” like our early ancestors, the fat would provide a food store for times when no food is available.
Today, however, instead of being a valuable survival mechanism, your body’s ability to store fat is more likely to have a very negative effect on health.
Most people today still have this gene for fat storage, which in part explains why there’s an obesity epidemic.
Lean people are really genetic mutations and wouldn’t have survived thousands of years ago.
As fat accumulates, it crowds the space occupied by your internal organs.
Obesity – even moderate overweight – puts undue stress on your back, legs, and internal organs, and this eventually exacerbates many physical problems.
Obesity increases your body’s resistance to insulin and susceptibility to infection, and puts you at a higher risk for developing coronary artery disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, and other serious health problems resulting in premature death.
The most common causes of obesity are poor diet and/or eating habits (eating too many calories) and a lack of exercise (burning too few calories).
Obesity has also been linked to food sensitivities and/or allergies.
The discovery of the “obesity gene” in 2001 was a major breakthrough in the study of obesity.
But, there are lots more genes than just this one tied to obesity, and researchers are looking for these as well.
What is certain is carriers of the gene have a tendency toward obesity, assuming other factors, not all now known, fall into place.
Also known is people of certain ethnic backgrounds are more likely to carry this gene than members of other groups (for the curious, North Africans and central Europeans more often have the gene).
Obesity is a serious health problem and is now classified as a disease.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., Australia, and Europe, and in many developing countries in South America and Asia.
And dieters are spending billions of dollars to get slim.
Some 15% of American men and 26% of American women are on a diet on any given day.
Americans spend over $100 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year.
Experts have different theories on how and why people become overweight, but they generally agree the key to losing weight is simple: Eat less and move more.
Your body has to burn more calories than it takes in.
Weight loss involves 2 distinct phases: active weight loss and weight maintenance.
During the active loss phase, you should lose 10% of your body weight in about 12-16 weeks (3-4 months).
This can be achieved in many ways.
Most diets have the same weight-loss potential as long as you’re eating fewer calories.
During the weight maintenance phase, which should last for the remaining 8-9 months of the year, the goal is to keep weight stable by exercising and eating only the amount of calories necessary so you don’t gain weight.
Every year the same 2-phase program should be followed.
This is how you have successful weight loss for the long term.
The reason most people fail to lose weight on a diet is they don’t like the program they’re on, or they try to lose more weight than they should to begin with and then can’t stick to the program because it’s too rigid.
Try to choose a diet you like in terms of the kinds of foods you’ll be eating; this will make it easier to stay with it.
To deal with obesity, it’s beneficial to:
*Drink 10 cups of purified water daily, which cleanses and flushes your system.
*Alfalfa, corn silk, dandelion, gravel root, hydrangea, hyssop, juniper berries, oat straw, parsley, seawrack, thyme, uva ursi, white ash, and yarrow can be used in tea form for their diuretic properties.
*Aloe vera juice improves digestion and cleanses your digestive tract.
*Astragalus increases energy and improves nutrient absorption. (Don’t use if you have a fever.)
*Borage seed, hawthorn berry, and sarsaparilla stimulate your adrenal glands and improve thyroid function.
*Butcher’s broom, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, Garcinia cambogia, ginger, green tea, and mustard seed are thermogenic herbs improving digestion and helping with metabolism of fat.
*Fennel removes mucus and fat from your intestinal tract and is a natural appetite suppressant.
*Gotu kola helps reduce body mass and increases energy.
*Turmeric strengthens digestion, increases energy, and cleanses the blood.
*Consuming fewer calories than you burn in a day is the only way to lose weight. But consuming the right types of foods is important as well. Rotate your foods, and be sure to eat a variety of foods, especially an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Eat meals consisting of a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and some fat. By eating balanced meals you get steadier blood sugar levels and the ability to burn stored body fat for long-term weight loss. Make sure you have some protein at each meal and snack to keep you feeling full until the next meal.
*Foods good to include in your diet are brown rice, whole grains, skinless turkey or chicken breast, and seafood. Poultry and fish should be broiled or baked, never fried. Fish is particularly important for overweight people who have high blood pressure.
*Eat fresh fruits and lots of raw vegetables. Use low-calorie vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, green beans, kale, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach, and turnips. Low-calorie, low-carbohydrate fruits include apples, cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon. The following are higher in calories and should be eaten in moderation: bananas, cherries, corn, figs, grapes, green peas, hominy, pears, pineapple, sweet potatoes, white rice, and yams.
*Eat foods raw, if possible. If foods are heated, they should be baked, broiled, steamed, or boiled. Never eat fried or greasy foods.
*Eat a healthful assortment of foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, and soy products. Soy is a good source of protein if you’re looking to lose weight. Soy may specifically promote the loss of body fat, reduce the risk of heat disease, and minimize bone loss.
*If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation only. Alcohol has lots of calories, but few nutrients. Wine and beer or a spirit with soda water are better choices than a Mai Tai, for example, which is made with juice and other ingredients.
*Limit your intake of foods and beverages containing added sugar. So-called fat-free and low-fat foods aren’t calorie-free. To add taste, food manufacturers often add sugars. You should always check food labels before purchasing products.
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