You’ve seen your friend remain obese/overweight since high school days and when you meet her after a decade or so, still she is the same! She doesn’t suffer from high blood pressure, cholesterol or heart disease risk nor does she refrain from daily chores and activities citing overweight issues as an excuse. Life goes on happily and you remain unbothered about her weight issues as she ‘seems’ to look hale and healthy.
Healthy Obesity: A Paradox
Obesity brings along numerous health risks such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and several types of cancer along with physical changes to your body structure. Body shaming is commonly observed. Recent times have witnessed the use of the term ‘metabolically healthy obesity’ for obese/overweight woman having high body mass index (BMI) but not having any health conditions that occur as a health risk of obesity. There have been quite a number of varying study results supporting and denying the existence of ‘metabolically healthy obesity’. Latest of them is a research that warns such individuals to lose weight as early as possible to avoid any risk of heart disease.
Its been commonly accepted even medically that some obese people live a healthy life and are devoid of heart disease risks and have not been advised to lose weight or take preventive steps to stay wary of developing a heart disease anytime in the near future. But the entire medical community was doubtful whether this pattern will continue forever or if these individuals might suffer from metabolic syndrome over time.
Metabolic syndrome includes risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels and abdominal fat which are leading causes for cardiovascular diseases and have the potential to increase the risk of diabetes by five times. The current study included more than 6,500 participants who did not suffer from cardiovascular disease but had a BMI greater than 30 and two or few risk factors. The main idea of the study was to check whether metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) at baseline remained stable or led to metabolic syndrome thereby increasing risk of heart disease. They were followed up for 12 years with a clinical evaluation done once in two years to check this risk.
Results showed that baseline MHO was not associated with incident cardiovascular disease but almost 50% participants developed metabolic syndrome over the study period and were at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with stable MHO and healthy weight ranges.
To confirm this, the research team conducted yet another study that involved close to 1,00,000 women who were free of CVD at baseline. The participants were categorized into different groups based on their BMIs, metabolic health status and change in metabolic health status and followed up for 30 years. Different risk factors such as age, smoking and drinking habits, activity levels and family history of heart attack/diabetes was also adjusted. Results showed that women with MHO who were free of metabolic diseases for decades were at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. These women were at a 39% increased risk of CVD compared to healthy study participants. Almost 84% women with MHO at baseline and 68% metabolically healthy women with a normal BMI developed some metabolic condition over a 20-year period. But even those who managed to stay free of metabolic disease over a 20-year period had a 57% increased risk of CVD if they were obese compared to women with a healthy body weight.
‘Healthy obesity’, ‘obese but active’ and ‘fit but fat’ are good to hear but practically they offer no perks and are as bad as simply telling that a person is obese and he/she is at a risk of diseases. Its up to each of us to take the right measures and start leading an active lifestyle to maintain our body weight in normal healthy ranges. Get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to get a personalized diet plan suiting your body type.
Choose between CBSE or ICSE syllabus? Enroll for abacus or Kumon classes? Piano or guitar during weekends? Our minds keep racing over these choices repeatedly and rarely do parents take special interest in their kid’s physical activity needs such as finding the best coaching center for their cricket-loving boy or zeroing upon the best ballet school for the dancing beauty! We barely focus on physical activity classes and worse, even schools ignore much of the physical education periods swapping them for science or math classes. While the guidelines say that people aged between 5 and 19 years should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity everyday to improve and safeguard their health the common man has no time or patience to pay heed to such suggestions, they fall a prey to different illnesses and reap the fruits of their misdeeds.
If Not Now, then When?
Ironically, the world cribs about underperforming in the exercise domain where kids don’t meet their daily exercise requirements-not even a game of hopscotch, frisbee or badminton while we have research results that its vigorous-intensity activity and not moderate-intensity activity that reduce cardiovascular risk. Many of them forget that they have physical friends existing outside their four walls, seek the companionship of gadgets or at most or play a game of cricket during weekends. What do we expect of such kids? Lift the dumbbell, run a marathon or jog in the sun?
Cardiovascular disease is one of the major killers today. Although heart disease risk might run in the family its always factors such as exercise and diet that enhance or decrease the probability of occurrence. A group of researchers studied adolescents between 12 and 17 years on the impact of the different intensity exercises on heart health.
It has always been either moderate-intensity exercises for a longer time or vigorous-intensity exercise for a shorter duration when it comes to saving heart health. We have never differentiated between the effects of each as long as the respective durations were fulfilled. It has always been 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week to fulfill activity requirements. This study wanted to do exactly this-separate these two exercise forms and observe the effects. Likewise, they found exacting differences between the forms. While moderate-intensity exercises had different health benefits it was vigorous-intensity exercises that appeared to create the needed change in cardiovascular risk domain. Brisk walking or light aerobic steps are moderate-intensity exercises while running vigorously in a playground, swimming, dancing, cycling or practicing some team sports are vigorous-intensity exercises. Basically, we expel six times the energy that we use at rest while involved in vigorous-intensity exercise while it is only three times the energy when we practice moderate-intensity exercise.
So, getting into a normal routine of swimming, dancing or running is not going to be tough for your little one nor your adolescent kid. Ensuring to pursue such activities are the only important ways to become fitter to minimize heart risk. The same research team also found a stronger link between time spent watching TV and the risk of developing diabetes or heart disease in life. Watching TV has serious health effects on the body which have been explained in detail at www.firsteatright.com. It might be a coronary heart disease, heart attack, congenital heart attack, angina or stroke that strikes someone in their 40s, 50s or 60s but the roots of these can be traced back to younger years or childhood years in fact. Rather than wasting time on the Internet or smartphone get out with your kid, encourage him/her to play out, teach them the importance of activity and nurture them into healthy citizens.
There’s a reason to fear every other season in life. Blood pressure and diabetes created a catastrophe in human lives a decade back and we have become used to the fact that these ailments are common to any of us irrespective of the age group. Of late is the mystery, hype and sensation surrounding stress. The most-often used word for reasoning out the base behind many healthy conditions these days is STRESS. Its surprising to see 12-year-old children, 25-year-old youngsters as well as 50-year-old individuals quoting stress as the reason behind their failures and lack of interest in life. At the tender age of 12 when kids are blessed with a life to enjoy there are many children who wish to end lives owing to academic pressure and peer pressure. At the age of 25 when youngsters must be brimming with overpouring energy to explore the beauties of life and command great success in their jobs many wish to commit suicide as a result of love failure and job dissatisfaction. At the age of 50 when parents/individuals are almost settled and looking forward for a calm retired life many are suffering from neck-deep loans and economic crisis. Loans, suicide and pressure existed decades back too, but the rates were never as high as now.
Give Rest to Stress
It was obesity, high BP and inactive lifestyle conditions that prevailed as risk factors for Type 2 diabetes but now stress has joined the list. Latest research shows that stress might prove to be a major diabetes predictor.
Diabetes rates are almost said to tripe by 2030 affecting more than 552 million people from where it was in 2011. Diabetes was associated with modifiable risk factors such as smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, hypertension, obesity and abnormal cholesterol levels until now and the latest addition is psychological stress. Non-modifiable risk factors such as family history and age also play a role in causing diabetes. Most of the risk factors mentioned here are controllable but still the rates are increasing like never before.
Characterized by an inefficient blood sugar regulation when too much of glucose remains in the body diabetes can pave way for bigger diseases such as heart problems, stroke and kidney disease. While physiological factors took the front seat in driving the person towards diabetes until now, scientists and researchers are now focused on understanding the basic link between diabetes and stress. Its not something new and previous studies have focused on individual stressors such as work or depression, but the latest study tried to link multiple stressors and its impact on diabetes.
The study included more than 27,000 women aged around 72 years who were devoid of heart disease. The research team followed these women for three years after fetching data about their acute and chronic stressors. Acute stress included life events that were traumatic/negative while chronic stress included work-, finance-, relationship-, family- and discrimination-related stress. The team found that women who experienced maximum chronic and acute stress were at a two-times higher risk of diabetes than others. Another Swedish study found that chronic stress increased the risk of type 1 or type 2 diabetes by 45% while an Australian study sometime back found that high levels of stress was associated with abnormal glucose metabolism in women but not men.
We are well aware that lifestyle changes can prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes but if there is some form of stress that affects the individual’s day-to-day routine and prevents him/her from following healthy routines (such as eating healthy and exercising daily) it becomes quite challenging to combat stress. But it is not long before type 2 diabetes surpasses cardiovascular disease as the numero uno chronic disease affecting people. Isn’t it wise to get things under control and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes as much as possible with timely intervention before diabetes disaster rules over the world? Get in touch with reputed dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who specialize in diabetes-friendly diets to get a healthy diet plan and exercise schedule to meet your requirements.
How many of you have heard about the story of two prisoners whose attitude towards things made their life better or miserable? If not, let me present it to you in a nutshell and this story is going to form the base for our attitude toward carbohydrates. There were two prisoners locked inside a cell which had a tiny window. One prisoner looked out of the window and was fulfilled with the sight of a wonderful night sky outside filled with stars. He called onto his cellmate and asked him to enjoy the same experience as himself. But alas, all that his mate could see were the prison bars. He could not look beyond them and enjoy the beauty that nature had to offer! You can either be a master or a prisoner of your attitude! Choose what you want to be! I feel most of us approach carbs the same way (seeing their disadvantages and not picking on their advantages) the second prisoner approached nature-seeing the bars instead of the stars.
Fiber: A Complex Carbohydrate
A fiber-rich diet has been on the list of every health professional, dietitian and nutritionist dispensing enriched suggestions to individuals. Fiber been associated with everything good-right from good health to avoiding chronic diseases. Even a study in the Lancet shows that people with a fiber-rich diet are at a 15-30% lower risk of death due to heart problems or any other problems comparatively. A diet rich in fiber also helps in controlling weight, reduce weight gain and high cholesterol and also avoid type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and coronary heart disease. But when I mentioned about carbs initially why are we suddenly talking about the benefits of fiber? Only because fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate. Sugar and starch are the other two types of carbs. I think by now most of you would have been able to find the analogy between the story of the prisoners and carbs-while we have been avoiding (or in fact cursing) carbs mostly during weight loss programs, talking only about the processed foods and baked goods rich in sugar and starch we have been missing out on the goodness of the fiber part!
The Necessary Evil?
Despite its bad rap, carbohydrates are inevitable for our health and dietary guidelines too suggest that carbs constitute of 45-65% of daily calorie needs. For example, if you take a 2000-calorie diet, 900-1,200 calories should constitute of carbs-healthy carbs. They occupy a prime role in your life supplying your body with energy, protecting it against diseases and also controlling weight. But what type of carb you eat defines your health. People have blindly been following different low-carb diets such as the Keto or Atkins diet that might help in weight loss but neither do you sustain the loss nor does it help you stay healthy in the long run. Most low-carb diets avoid including whole grains and also restrict the intake of fiber-laden fruits and veggies.
Fiber-rich Carb Intake
Bread, pastry and other processed foods are all carbs but any sane person would realize that eating them is not going to do your body any good. Natural sources of carbs include fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, milk, nuts and seeds which are all healthy and some of them remarkable sources of fiber. Focus consuming your carbs in the form of fiber for the benefit of your body. A latest research backed by WHO on the recommended daily amounts of fiber shows that consuming between 25 and 29 grams of fiber a day is sufficient. The study found that for every 8 grams of increased fiber intake the risk of death from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer reduced by 5-25%. When the fiber intake increased by 15 grams, rate of death, colorectal cancer and heart disease risk reduced by 2-19%.
While it is not healthy to follow a low-carb diet if you have been doing so increase your fiber intake by choosing plant-based foods that contain high fiber. If you have been following a Mediterranean diet plan kudos to you as this kind of a plan focuses on including plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, grains and seeds in abundant quantities. Get yourself a personalized diet plan that has all the macronutrients perfectly planned suiting your body type with the help of dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
For anyone whose diet is low in fiber, add them gradually to your diet as suddenly overpowering your food with fiber can lead to constipation, diarrhea or gas. Give your body sufficient time to adopt to the changes. Introduce a piece of fruit for breakfast, one portion of fruit and one portion of veggie for lunch and so on. Ensure to drink plenty of fluids in between to help the fiber move through the body. Brown rice, instant oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, raspberries, green peas, chia seeds, black beans and split peas are all great sources of fiber apart from your regular carrots, beans, apples, melons, kiwis, etc. Potatoes are the only exception as they promote weight gain. You needn’t refrain from eating potatoes but minimize their consumption.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.