Being overweight is not just an appearance and self-esteem issue. Many studies have shown that being overweight or obese increases your risk of certain diseases such as heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
We have discovered in recent years that fat in the body does not just sit there looking ugly. It actually releases several chemicals in the body which cause inflammation, and releases hormones that actually make it harder for you to lose weight, such as cortisol.
Inflammation is a key component of disease in our body, particularly cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is found in animal products we eat, and for most people it is not a problem unless they eat too much of it, or produce too much in their body.
When this happens, the cholesterol in the body begins to circulate in the blood and builds up inside arteries, leading to a condition known as atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis.
If too much cholesterol builds up, an artery can become blocked. If a piece of the blockage breaks off and becomes a blood clot, it can travels through the bloodstream, and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Luckily, by eating healthy fats like olive oil and walnuts, we can try to keep our arteries clear and free from inflammation and avoid abnormal clotting.
Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, in which the body is producing more and more insulin to try to cope with the carbohydrates in the foods we eat. The low-fat food craze of the past twenty years in the US has led to foods high in sweeteners and salt to try to make the food more tasty, and stay on the supermarket shelves longer. Cutting down on storebought foods and extra calories can go a long way to reversing diabetes-even by losing as little as 10 pounds.
Extra salt in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure, and high blood pressure to heart attack and stroke. Again, even losing 10 pounds has been shown to diminish your risk factors and lower blood pressure by up to 10 points.
Trigylcerides, a component of cholesterol, helps us keep up our energy levels between meals. If you stay active through exercise, your body will be able to process the fat to give you energy, not store it as fat on your body.
High trigylcerides in the blood are a sign that you are not getting enough exercise, and are prone to heart attack or stroke.
In addition, high triglycerides are part of a dangerous basket of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome. The 5 symptoms are being overweight; high blood pressure; high triglycerides; insulin resistance; and inflammation in the body as measured by the C-reactive protein test, which is a good predictor as to whether you are at risk of a heart attack.
Taking off even ten pounds of weight using the DASH diet and avoiding high sodium foods like those found in canned goods can lower your health risks significantly.
If you look at the Food Pyramid from the US Department of Agriculture, it recommends people have no more than 7 teaspoons of fat per day in all of the food they consume, and depending on age and gender, and no more than one teaspoon of salt. Following these guidelines can improve your heart health in small but significant ways.
In addition to all the heart and metabolic issues cause by obesity, the excess weight on the joints can cause arthritis in the hips, knees and ankles and also cause misalignment of the body, leading to pain.
If the muscles in your legs are not strong, your posture and way of walking will be altered, leading to more pain, and therefore decrease the likelihood of you doing any exercise. If you don't change your eating habits, you will gain even more weight, leading to a vicious cycle of being overweight and suffering poor health.
People who have what is termed "abdominal roundness" are at particular risk for diabetes. In addition, not having good abdominal and back muscles can also lead to a great deal of pain, and even slipped disks in the back which can result in debilitating pain and even less exercise to stay fit.
When you go on a diet, the objective is to reach a healthier weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions. The Body Mass Index can help you determine the correct ratio of weight to height for your body type, and see where you stand on the obesity scale, rather than just using your weight alone. There are many free online BMI calculators that can help you determine your BMI and take steps to start losing weight for better overall health.