Tag Archives: obesity

Get Moving!

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Wellness tips to maintain a healthy weight

Has it been a long time since you’ve stepped on a scale and got excited to see how many pounds you weigh? If you answered “yes,” then you struggle with your weight, so the scale is not likely your friend. With millions of Americans struggling with their weight, the nation’s obesity epidemic is a public health crisis.

And it’s a problem that continues to increase in spite of all the physical fitness messages that we are inundated with in our society. We have so many opportunities to lose weight from dietary regimens to planned meals to workout classes. So why aren’t we, as a nation, healthier?

While many people are able to lose weight, keeping the weight off is another matter entirely. If you’re relying on a test of wills to help you lose weight, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Willpower, as it turns out, isn’t the best approach to facilitate weight loss. Because in our junk food packed society, temptations are everywhere.

And data show that relying on willpower as a strategy to attain a healthy weight will undoubtedly set people up to fail. Why? Willpower is reduced over time. Think of it this way, you spend your day making all kinds of decisions: Easy decisions like what to wear to work to more difficult ones that affect our health and finances. With each decision, researchers theorize that we deplete the limited amount of willpower we have as our day moves along. So when we’ve tapped out our willpower reserve, we tend to make poor decisions like snacking on chips, donuts, and candy bars or trading in our workout to lounge on the couch in front of the television.

So if willpower isn’t a reliable strategy for a healthy diet and weight, what is? It’s essential to find what physical activity means to you. Tailor strategies for a healthy lifestyle around things you enjoy. Also, be flexible in the process of achieving a healthy weight because wellness is a lifelong endeavor and what may have worked at one stage in your life may not be cutting in anymore. Here are some healthful tips that you can use to trim down your bulging waistline and achieve a healthier life.

What’s it Worth to You?

When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, shift your focus away from a desired dress or pants size and place your attention on life-improving strategies. Use meaningful goals to fuel your passion for health and fitness to help you achieve a healthy weight. For instance, perhaps you want to feel energized throughout your day or you want to keep up with your children when it’s playtime.

Let’s Get Physical!

Physical activity isn’t the same for everyone. So while your spouse may love running, maybe you enjoy swimming or walking. Take the time to figure out what you like and don’t like. Think long and hard before you invest in a gym membership. Have you signed up for a gym membership only to pay a monthly fee and you rarely make an appearance? If this sounds like you, don’t repeat history. Try something new.

Find Walking Buddies.

While hitting the gym is a time-restricted activity, there are many opportunities to walk throughout your day. Try to identify those times in your day when you can walk. It may be during the lunch hour at work. Ask someone at work if they want to walk with for a couple of minutes during your lunch hour.

Be “Step Wise.”

I know you’d rather take the elevator. It’s faster. If your office or apartment is in a reasonable distance from the ground floor, take the stairs — it’s good cardio!

There are many benefits to engaging in regular physical activity. Shedding those extra pounds helps to keep a healthy weight; lowers the risk of high blood pressure; reduces the risk for chronic disease like type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke, and cancer; and improves symptoms of anxiety and depression. And while physical activity helps to curb weight gain, eating a healthful diet is an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle. Watch my healthy weight video for tips on foods that prevent weight gain.

Photo credit: Sergey Nivens/shutterstock.com

Baumeister RF and Tierny J. Willpower – Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. New York: The Penguin Press, 2011.

5 Things to Prevent Obesity

Fruits and Veges

Based on the USDA’s MyPlate initiative, the recommendation for a healthy diet is that people should consume about 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits. One of the long-held views about eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is that it helps to also promote weight loss. Fruits and veggies contain loads of fibers that cannot be broken down by digestive chemicals in the gut. So that means these foods aren’t absorbed quickly and take a long time to travel through to the gut. And that’s a good thing — fiber in plant-based foods keeps people feeling fuller for a longer period of time.

But all the slicing, dicing, and chopping of fruits and veggies that will be either tossed in a salad or dropped in a juicer may have lots to offer as far as nutrition is concerned, but little to do with weight loss. One study showed that incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet doesn’t help you shed those pounds.

Yes, fruits and vegetables will make you feel you sated longer.

Yes, by eating plant-based foods, you’re getting the benefits of loads of phytonutrients.

No, you’re not going to lose weight if you rely solely on fruit and vegetable intake.

Weight loss is a complex issue that is based on the amount of energy consumed as food and the amount of energy burned during exercise. To lose weight and keep it off you can’t rely on diet alone.  You have to combine a healthy diet and physical activity to help you maintain a healthy weight — not just as a short-term goal but for years to come. You can fight obesity, an epidemic in the United States, by doing the following:

  1. Drink a lot of water:  Organic juices are good, but our body, which is made up of over 70% water, needs plain old H2O for many of its cellular activities.
  2. Consume foods high in fiber: It lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
  3. Avoid processed foods: To give foods a longer shelf life, foods are stripped of important nutrients and often too much salt and sugar are added back in order to enhance the taste.
  4. Steer clear of fizzy drinks: Sodas contain a lot of sugar and unhealthy additives.
  5. Engage in daily physical activity: Whether it’s walking the dog, running on a treadmill, or taking a yoga class, find an activity that you enjoy doing that will also help to keep your weight in check.

Good nutrition and physical activity help to promote a healthy lifestyle. While fruits and vegetables contain various components such as bioactive compounds, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, you also need to exercise to burn calories and keep a healthy weight. In my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle, which will be published by Viking in April, I explain how you can prevent and reverse conditions like obesity. I also offer plenty of nutritional recommendations and include recipes, so you can implement the Plan into your daily routine. Do this, and you’ll be well on your way toward achieving longevity and good health.

Bacterial Enzyme Overpowers Obesity and Conquers Cholesterol

Gut Bacteria

Obesity is a complex health problem. Many factors contribute to obesity: diet, genetics, and lifestyle choices. While there are no quick fixes to weight loss, gut bacteria do play significant roles in our health. Microbes in our gut help to regulate fat metabolism, maintain cholesterol levels, and block weight gain.

In fact, a study has shown that the gut microbial environment of obese individuals is different from those of lean people.  What’s even more interesting is that an obese person who loses weight has gut bacteria that resemble the bacteria found in a lean person.

Further studies in the area of gut bacteria have shown that these bugs produce an enzyme called bile salt hydrolase (BSH) that changes bile acid in the digestive tract. The modification of bile acid by BSH has been shown to improve fat metabolism. In one study, a group of researchers in Cork, Ireland examined lab mice and found that BSH significantly affects cholesterol and lipid metabolism to control obesity and prevent elevated cholesterol. High-level BSH expression in mice resulted in significant weight loss.

So what does all of this actually mean? While the exact mechanism of BSH activity is not clear, the enzyme’s influence on lipid regulation is apparent—BSH controls cholesterol and weight gain. To understand why the bacterial production of this enzyme is important to our health, you have to understand the function of bile acids.

Bile is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It’s a fluid that comprises many molecules such as water, electrolytes, cholesterol, and, of course, bile acid. When we eat, the gallbladder contracts to release bile and the acid in bile is essential for the digestion and absorption of fats. As a result, bile acids are involved in maintaining an intricate balance in regulating fats in the body to prevent obesity and other metabolic conditions associated with excess fat storage (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes).

The regulation of fats by bile acids is influenced by BSH, which is produced by bacteria in the gut. The study demonstrates the importance of gut microbiota in health. In particular, BSH production and its affect on regulating weight gain and cholesterol are strong indicators for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Bacteria in the gut compose 99% of the body’s genetic information, which is why it’s important to ensure healthy intestinal bacteria.

To maintain a healthy gut (1) stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, (2) eat foods that are high in fiber, and (3) consume foods like yogurt and kefir to boost good gut bacterial populations, and (4) add probiotic supplements to your diet. My latest book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny Through Diet and Lifestyle, will be released in April from Viking and includes many healthful foods to beat obesity and rein in high cholesterol levels.