The madness surrounding weight loss and slimness is becoming unstoppable as individuals are stooping to any levels to achieve this! Fasting, using supplements, weight loss pills and shakes, going on fad diets, making use of vibrator machines and succumbing to eating disorders have become the way of life for many of those individuals who love to stay slim. Each of these have their own side effects hitting hard on the person’s health. The occurrence of eating disorders is growing among individuals and anorexia nervosa has become a common problem.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or even lack of appropriate weight gain in kids) that prevents the individual from achieving the desirable weight for height, age and stature. Individuals with this disorder consume a calorie-restricted diet, exercise excessively, remove the food consumed via deliberate vomiting or binge eat. It affects anyone belonging to any ethnicity though symptoms start around teenage. There have been numerous cases detected in older adults too. Looks don’t matter though we have always had this misconception that those with anorexia generally look famished or underweight. Its high time we understand that weight is not a criteria and occurrence of this disease is equally possible in overweight individuals too. Whomsoever might be the victim such inappropriate eating habits leaves the person without many essential nutrients, high risk of cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal problems, kidney failure, anaemia and many other debilitating consequences. This has been clearly proven by a study led by researchers at UCSF according to whom adolescents and young adults with anorexia nervosa whose weight is normal, overweight or obese face similar cardiovascular and health consequences equally as those with low BMI.
The research team analysed two groups of patients aged 12-24 years enrolled for a clinical trial to the hospital for treatment-66 of them had anorexia nervosa and 50 had the so-called atypical anorexia nervosa. BMI of those in the typical group was around 20.7 and 25.2 for the atypical group. Soon after admission BMI of the typical group was not more than 15.7 and of the atypical group was not more than 19.4. All of them were enrolled in the StRONG trial for rehabilitation. Of the 116 admitted 105 were females and results showed that female atypical patients stopped menstruating just like their underweight counterparts owing to improper nutrition supply supressing hormones and impacting fertility. Once again, both groups suffered from electrolyte imbalance occurring as a result of purging that can seriously affect the brain, muscles and heart functioning.
Women in the atypical group scored around 3.8 in comparison to 3 (scores in normal women are less than 1) scored by women in the typical group in a questionnaire that assessed their eating disorder psychopathy. The scores were derived on the basis of certain criteria including avoidance of food and eating, preoccupation with calories and eating in secret, feeling uncomfortable or fat looking at oneself, always unsatisfied with the weight numbers and feeling mixed emotions when being weighed.
We are not in shortage of bullying and being at the receiving end of abusive remarks. Overweight/obese people have always been blamed, called names and teased which makes them feel bad about themselves adding to stress levels and some even go into depression. This might be the reason why some of the individuals become victims to such eating disorders while some others, genetically predisposed to weight-related issues might try such options to get rid off their excess weight as early as possible. Hence, it is recommended that family physicians do monitor patients who seem to lose weight rapidly and look normal while they were profoundly overweight just sometime back. It might not be obvious from the outside but is as dangerous as those suffering from traditional anorexia nervosa. These people need our attention, care and direction towards the right person to treat the problem and bring them into normalcy before they are gone too far off from a solution. If you are suffering from overweight/obesity problems get your problems resolved scientifically with the help of registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com thereby avoiding problems such as eating disorders and likewise.
Home décor stores sport pictures of waterfalls, a lush green forest or colourful flowers adoring the walls of the shop. Why don’t they fill the spaces with pictures of classy bungalows or laughing adults? Believe me, nature wins the hearts and minds of people belonging to any generation and any era. Our cities were flooded with independent houses decades back and most of them had a green space outside where we used to grow our favourite fruits, vegetables and flowers. There was no need to wander out in search of greenery but now, most of them have become concrete jungles where we yearn to see a pretty little rose pecking out of a house or even miss out on tiny little bushes lining out footpaths. Some of us can attain calm by staring at the free-flowing waters of the river while some others are enthralled by the unending ocean whose origin and end points remain an unknown secret.
Its well-known that spending some time with nature relieves stress and anxiety levels while helping to improve mood, happiness and peace of mind. The one point that has remained a mystery until now is ‘how much’ is good enough? Its possible for some to spend the entire day in love with nature but for some others hardly spending 10-15 minutes is a chore as their work schedules and activities for the day remain intact taunting them through the entire time spent bonding over trees and mountains! A new study published in a well-known journal helps us with accurate answers to our time-related questions on nature.
The participants were asked to take a nature pill for around 10 minutes at least thrice a week over the 8-week study period on nature’s effect on individuals. Researchers measured cortisol levels using saliva samples taken from each of the participants before and after the nature pill once every two weeks. Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s evoked during fight-or-flight situations and for more details regarding the optimal level of this hormone in the body please visit www.firsteatright.com. The participants were free to choose their preferred time of day, duration and favourite place (any place that gave them the satisfaction of being out surrounded by nature) with a few guidelines that minimized any stress-triggering factors. The guidelines included refraining from aerobic exercise, avoiding using the social media, internet, phone calls, conversations and reading, and taking the nature pill in the daytime. Results showed that taking only a 20-minute nature experience helped in lowering cortisol levels but taking more time around 20-30 minutes to engage with nature helped in further reduction of cortisol levels. Anything beyond 30 minutes did seem advantageous to relieve stress but the results were evident only at a slower pace. So, its time now that physicians can prescribe a nature pill in their prescription for reducing stress levels. Further studies on assessing gender, age and cultural influences can help in customizing nature pills that suits individuals’ needs.
Humans have evolved with nature and thought we might order home delivery of foods, watch a movie sitting inside and shop online for dresses our brains are still the same and they remain deeply connected with nature. Failing to vitalize this connection might lead to debilitating side effects in the future. Next time when you have a problem that you can’t get your mind out of it, feeling angry, demotivated, fatigued or disconnected take a walk outside and reignite your lost passion with nature as she is always ready to welcome you with open hands, a warm smile and a big hug!
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.