Abdominal Obesity The Cause and Cure

Many people gain weight around the belly and I am sure a lot of you world agree with me that it is quite embarrassing to have a potbelly! This not only takes away the charm of wearing the right clothes but it’s also mighty hard to get rid off!

What is abdominal fat all about?
Different people have different fat storage areas. Most men store fat around the abdomen, also called he stomach. This fat is stored in fat cells. As we store more fat, the cells grow bigger. The fat cells are stored between the skin and muscle and also in the deeper tissues called the visceral fat, which surrounds the vital body organs.

The mode of fat storage is different in men and women. Most men store abdominal fat first, followed by hips and thighs. Women store fat around the hips, thighs, arms and t hen in the abdominal area.

The Mind-Body Connection
Interestingly, there is a very direct mind and body connection. People who are chronically stressed produce large amounts of body steroid called cortisol. It affects the fat distribution by causing fat to be deposited in the abdominal and visceral areas.

The adrenal system is linked to the stress response of “fight or flight”. As we get more and more stressed, the body produces a large dose of this hormone, which not only results in weight gain on the belly but also many other disorders connected to insulin malfunctioning.

Diseases Connected With Abdominal Obesity
To name a few there are cardiovascular disorders, high cholesterol, diabetes and polycystic ovary. A study conducted by Yale University demonstrated a higher level of cortisol in postmenopausal women, leading to abdominal obesity.

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How Can One Lose This Fat
The biggest misconception is that one can lose spot fat by spot exercise! The truth is that the body has a complicated system of fat disposition and fat removal, so exercising a particular body fat area results in toning that area, which may initially look like some sort of inch loss due to the tightening of the muscle tissue! But to burn fat on the abdomen, one should follow a combination of a fat loss diet along with cardiovascular training and muscle conditioning, pranayam and de-stressing exercises.

A Few Fat Facts – II

There are few important questions people usually have about oil. First, how much fat should you have in your diet? The requirement of fat varies, depending on your weight, disease history, genetic predisposition, your age, and activity levels.

For Indians the requirement of fat is less than other genetic groups. Ten to 30 percent of your total calories should be from fat. In the case of over weight individuals, one teaspoon per person per day is enough. On the other end of the spectrum are children, under the age of two years, who have a higher requirement of healthy fat.

Another frequently asked question is which is the healthiest fat? To put things in perspective, the most important fact about all oils and fat is that they should never be over-fried. The act of deep-frying heats the oil to the extent where it changes its configuration and the oil becomes toxic and leads to many diseases. So instead of frying, the healthier thing to do is to sauté your vegetables. The second most important thing to remember is that we need a variety of oils in our diet.

Therefore consider a rotation of oil types while sticking to the quantity mentioned above. This is because each oil/fat has some unique essential fatty acids. When you include a variety of oils in your diet you have a better change of incorporating the health benefits of a range of fatty acids. The group of omega 6 essentials fatty acids is found in vegetables, grains, seeds, vegetable oils and meats.

Omega 3 fatty acids form the second group of essential fatty acids, which play an important part in keeping out body healthy. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease. They also lower blood pressure, keep the triglycerides at a safe level, function as natural anti inflammatory agents, are natural blood thinners and help you preserve good eye vision. Also linked to the regeneration of the neuronal sheath, they are found in green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, walnuts and fresh seaweed.

Now that you we know which oils are good for us, we come to the point of how to consume oil. If we use a healthy oil or fat, can we fry it?

Absolutely not, any fat/oil, which is healthy in its original state, will become toxic the moment it is deep-fried.

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So how do you get the most bang for your oil, so to say? The easiest way is to include nuts like almonds, walnuts, in your diet, while using seeds like flaxseed, sesame and other seeds, in your dishes.

Use ghee sparingly in the food. If you do, smear it lightly to enhance flavor, but not as the main oil base. Never fry it too much and if possible do not fry it at all.

Other good oils are rice brain oil (cool for the stomach), mustard oil (good for heart patients) and sesame oil (in winter for people with dry skin and low blood pressure). Oils which are cold pressed are healthy too since they have heart-friendly antioxidants.

A Few Fat Facts

As a food group, oils and fats have courted a lot of controversy. Health professionals declared fat to be the villain and the cause of many diseases. Now they say that fasts are not all that bad after all. Many have also said that fat is not to be blamed as it is all in your genes and eating or not eating fast does not make a difference.

To put things in perspective, it is not as extreme as it seems. The verdict on fats is still stable. But first we have to understand what is fat and why we need it. Fat is a waxy substance found in all planet and animal food. It is not just the extracted fat that we eat. We also consume the hidden fat in all foods.

Fats and oils are required by the human body for many functions – as part of cell membranes, hormones and as part of biological messengers, it is also part of skin and tissue and nerve coverings.

Fat imbalance can be in the form of deficiency or over consumption. In case of deficiency you have dry scaly skin, hair fall, eye problems, hormonal problems; and overdose can result in weight gain, inflammation, cholesterol, asthma and other problems.

There are two types of fats and oils – plant derived which are mostly liquid at room temperature with the exception of coconut oil and solid fats, which are mostly animal derived.

All oils and fats consist of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats. Plant oils have a higher ratio of polyunsaturates and monounsaturates vis a vis the saturated fatty acids.

There are some terms, which are used very frequently in describing fats and oils like saturation, hydrogenation and omega 3 fatty acids.

Saturation of any fat/oil refers to the number of atoms, which rebounded with hydrogen. Higher the saturation, more the likelihood of the fat being solid at room temperature.

These kinds of fats are the ones which have been linked with cholesterol deposits when we overboard eating them. Unsaturated oil means that the atoms have fewer bonds and such oils are liquid at room temperature. When the bonds are very few, then they are called polyunsaturated like corn oil, safflower oil and when the bonds are little more than that it is called monounsaturated like olive oil. Monounsaturated oils are beneficial to heart patients.

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Oils and fats can be derived from many sources like nuts – walnuts, almonds, (good for heart) seeds-sesame seeds, flaxseed (good for heart), cotton seed oil, grape seed oil, rapeseed oil, mustard seed oil (good for heart), cereals and pulses – soy oil rice bran oil (good for heart).

Oil consumption should be less than 30 percent of the total dietary calories. Secondly, oil rotation is a must because each oil has some essential fatty acids.
When the oil is heated beyond the smoking point it undergoes some structural changes and is unhealthy so deep-frying is toxic for the body.

Different oils for different diseases and more about omega 3 fatty acids in the next article.

What Ails Us?

There are several people who feel that they have a small appetite, and yet put on weight. So what is going wrong? Why is a normal diet not doing any good to the person? The answer to this question is based on some basic observations:

Most people assume that a normal diet consists of toasts, fruit, tea/milk for breakfast, two chapattis for lunch with vegetables, and two chapattis for dinner along with pulses/non-vegetarian and occasionally dessert. Not much, you would think. And yet, these are the people who have health problems.

Logic says that if one is facing weight gain or other health problems, it is directly related to the food and lifestyle one is following. Which means that even a normal diet is not of much help. Which in turn, demands that you change your diet.

What is a normal and healthy diet?
A normal or healthy diet is one, which is compatible with the person’s constitution and body. There is no fixed (perfect) diet that can be eaten by everyone. Instead, each individual should plan a diet that suits his/her body.

It is not a difficult proposition. Simply put, we should listen to our body signals, which constantly indicate and guide us on how we should eat. Today, in most of parts of the developing and developed world, there is very high consumption of refined foods, canned foods, foods with chemical preservatives and stabilizers. Eating this toxic concoction is playing havoc with our systems.

How to Attain Good Health
Health is a function of three key aspects: nutrition + mindset + exercise. If one eats reasonably health and exercises but is anxious and self-critical, then the body will fall ill. There will be problems relating to the heart, nerves and joints. Also, if one has a positive mindset and follows an exercise regime but does not pay attention to his/her diet, there are likely to be obesity and cholesterol problems.

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It one is exercising well but has a negative mindset and does not eat sensibly, then likely disorders is gout, backache, liver and other problems. In short, being healthy in just one way is not sufficient to stay healthy overall. The complete triad of health must be followed to achieve true and ever lasting health.

I have seen that only persistent people succeed in achieving good health. People who try to lose weight easily are the ones who are unable to develop long-term healthy habits, because they find it so simple to lose weight.