Obesity: Reasons and Implications

Don’t tell us that you haven’t ever given it a thought that why are you gaining weight, what’s wrong with your lifestyle and why you can’t get rid of excess weight that easily? Also, what happens when you keep ignoring your health for a long time and just ‘accept’ your weight as ‘natural’ part of your body? Read this article to know about the practical reasons behind and implications obesity.

Obesity is known as excess accumulation of fat to an extent which may have adverse effects on Health. Obesity is prevalent worldwide and is considered the major cause of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes & Cancers. The CVD and Diabetes are now consisted as epidemic disease affecting close to 20 million & 400 million people worldwide which is approximately 20% of world population. 

Reasons of Obesity

  • Lifestyle – sedentary lifestyle, lack of inactivity, stress & lack of sleep.
  • Nutrition – Unhealthy food choices, excess calories, sugar, processed foods, gut health.
  • Genetics - Genetic Mutations (SNP’s).
  • Environment – Toxins, food chemicals, plastics, pathogens and microbes etc. 
  • Medicines – Anti depressants, stéroïdes, diabetic, médications, psychotic médicine.

Lifestyle

Today’s sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep and stress levels are highest as compared to what it was a decade ago. The lack of exercise and sitting desk job with added stress make people more prone to obesity. If we are not active throughout the day there is less requirement of carbs and those excess carbs are then either stored in body as triglycerides or fat.

We need to understand that less active we need the fewer amounts of carbohydrates. Stress leads to excess body fat accumulation due to increases in cortisol levels, fluctuation in blood sugar levels and excess production of excitatory neurotransmitter like adrenaline and nor adrenaline. Your sleep is disturbed when you are unable to relax and calm down. These all lead to insulinresistance which ultimately in combination with bad food choices led to obesity.

Nutrition

Nutrition is one of the important causes of obesity. Eating highly processed foods, fast foods, high sugar, excess caffeine intake, all add to excess calorie consumption and more over it causes intestinal dysbiosis (micro flora imbalance in the gut).

This imbalance in the gut micro flora leads to overgrowth of certain pathogenic microbes which ultimately impair digestion. The impaired digestion leads to nutrient deficiencies in long run which affect the metabolism.

Genetics

Though there are certain genes which make your more prone to obesity but there is also link that you can turn of these genes by consuming less calorie dense and highly nutritive food along with physical activity. We are not slave to genes anymore especially the ones associated with obesity. There is an emerging science called Epigenetics which study the effects of food, lifestyle and environment on genes.

Environment

The toxic burden has increased many folds in last two decades. We are exposed to 100 of chemicals, toxins and pollutants on daily basis. The source of these toxins or chemicals are usually plastics, paints, personal hygiene and care products, pollutants, pesticides, food colors, preservatives, flavours, cooking utensils, heavy metals, cigarettes smoke, alcohol etc. These chemicals are not easily processed & detoxified by our body if our systems are not functioning optimally. These toxins then increase the toxic load and increases free radical production in body and oxidative stress.

The inflammatory conditions lead to insulin resistance, compromised liver function impairs détoxification of these toxins and hormonal metabolites which are then recirculate in body acting as Xenoestorgens. This all cascade slow down metabolic rate, impair digestion, increase cortisol production to counteract the inflammation which then leads to excess fat accumulation. The pathogenic microbes in the digestive system also lead to obesity by changing the intestinal micro flora which helps in foods metabolism and detoxification.

Medicines

It’s been proven that certain medication cause excess weight gain and obesity. Nowadays Acid blockers are also in that list and personally I have seen people consuming Antacids for more than 10 years on daily basis, suffering from diabetes, have digestive issues, and obese and impaired liver function. Most of psychotic medicines generally come at a price of excessive weight gain and other side effects as well.

Implications of Obesity

  1. Diabetes – You are at risk of developing diabetes type IIwhen you have excess fat accumulation especially visceral fat because higher the fat cells high is your chances of being insulin resistant and leptin resistantwhich increases the risk the of getting diabetes.
  1. Cardiovascular Disease – Obesity is considered one of the markers for Cardio vascular disease. Obesity leads to increase of blood pressure, increase oxidative stress and inflammation, buildup of plaque in arteries by changing the Lipid profile thereby increasing risk of cardiovascular events. Obesity increases inflammation which can further propagates the cardiovascular diseases risk. 

  1. Cancer – Obesity related cancer is on the rise because of the inflammation and excess oxidative stress related to obesity. The inflammation cascade believes to damage the cell’s DNA over period of time. Most common types of cancer associated with obesity are breast cancer, colon, kidney and pancreatic cancer. One of the reasons for obesity is sugar in different forms and high consumption of sugar has been directly linked to various types of cancers and their proliferation.Ketogenic diet excludes any kind of carbs and is effective to optimized blood sugar levels which help to inhibit the growth of tumors& cancers as proven in various studies 

Ways to reduce Obesity

  1. Eliminate Sugar – The first thing to control the obesity you need to eliminate all kind of sugars specially the refined ones from your diet. If you are already insulin resistant and is not good at tolerating the carbs well then it’s good to avoid all kind of sugars even fructose from fruits for a certain period of time to optimized Insulin sensitivity in order to aid fat oxidation. Fat is effectively utilized as a source of energy when body has scarce of sugar levels in blood.
  1. Limit Carbohydrates – Limiting processed carbohydrates in the form of breads, pastas, rice and starchy vegetables prevent the sudden spike in blood sugar levels because all carbohydrates get converted into sugar when digested. Lower carb intake limits the rise of blood sugar and hence the conversion of this excess sugar into fats when un-utilized. Limiting carbs intake to less than 100gm from unrefined, complex and low GI sources of carbohydrates like non starchyvegetables, tubervegetables, whole grains such as millets and buckwheat is good way to start.

  1. Increase Fiber – Fiber has been shown to decrease and stabilize blood sugar levels during the day. It also gives you a feeling of fullness and promotes healthy micro flora in the intestine which is important during any anti-obesity program. This healthy microbes in intestine serve multiple pathways like neutralizing toxins, production of short chains fatty acids, production of immune cells, reducing the inflammation and aids in nutrient absorption. The soluble fibre in the form of legumes, seeds and nuts while insoluble fibre in the form of vegetables should be consumed on daily basis to control or prevent obesity.
  1. Reduce Toxins Exposure – Now a day Toxins are considered as one of the reason for increasing incidence of Obesity. Toxins are considered as Pro inflammatory by increasing the free radical production as body don’t know how to deal with them and they are neither metabolized or digested. Toxins can affect the DNA and interfere with normal functioning of liver and other organs. Controlling toxic exposure by avoiding excessive use of plastics, preservatives, food colors, artificial flavours, smoking cessation, limiting alcohol intake, heavy metal exposure from cooking utensils, paints, room fresheners etc. is recommended while dealing with obesity.

    Certain foods, nutrients and supplements support detoxification of these harmful toxins such as chlorophyll containing foods like kale, wheat grass or broccoli which carry extreme green colors. Liver is the primary organ for detoxification and in order for liver to detoxify it needs vitamins, minerals, amino acids which are provided by a well-balanced diet and healthy intestinal flora.
  1. Physical activity – Physical activity is one of the most important tools you can use to reduce obesity level to a great extent when combined with proper nutrition. It is best to include any kind rigorous physical activity at least for 30-60 minutes 4-5 days per week along with being active throughout the week by using stairs instead of lift, walking to office or even a stroll at work place, playing with kids or engaging in some light sports. Rigorous physical activity like sprints, running or resistance training improves insulin sensitivity thus controlling Obesity.

  1. Improve Sleep – Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep shown to increase insulin resistance and increases the oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Sleeping and waking same time everyday prove beneficial to optimizemetabolism and better neurotransmitter signaling thereby reducing craving and stress levels. Lack of sleep increase cortisol which is direct marker for increased visceral adiposity.

Higher cortisol levels cause blood sugar to fluctuate, increase insulin and leptin resistance which has direct impact on excess fat accumulation. By turning off Wi-Fi devices, waking up early morning, reducing exposure to TV or phone screens, making bedroom as dark as possible, using herbal teas like chamomile or calming essential oils in diffuser at the end of day aids in improving the quality of life. Yoga or meditation also helps you to sleep better when done at the end of day.

  1. Gut Optimisation – Gut/Digestive Health has been correlated to amount of fat your accumulate around waist. Obese people usually have history of gut inflammation or gut dysbiosis. The lack of HCL, presence of pathogenic microbes, imbalance between healthy and unhealthy micro flora, reduced pancreatic enzyme production, Leaky gut syndrome, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) all are linked and known causative factors for obesity. It is advisable to work under a qualified Functional Medicine Practitioner to find the root cause of obesity and work on optimizing the Digestive functions with the help of food and removing any infections in order to improve metabolism and control Obesity from root level.
  1. Stress – Long term Stress leads to chronically elevated Cortisol levels which make adrenal gland to work harder what they are not supposed to. Chronically elevated Cortisol levels cause fluctuation in blooded sugar levels and interfere with insulin signaling leading to Insulin Resistance. Excess Cortisol and Insulin Resistance is responsible for visceral Adiposity.

Pranayama, mediation, short term high intensity exercise all aids in lowering the stress levels by activating parasympathetic system which is inhibitory system ( induces relaxation) and a part of Autonomic Nervous System. Certain herbs and nutrients also helps to lower down stress levels like magnesium (nuts, seeds and green vegetables), L-theanine (green tea) and Ashwagandha by reducing cortisol levels which is important to reduce obesity and improve overall health.

About The Author

Dr. Parshantt J. Wadhawan

He is a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer and Functional Medicine Practitioner. 15+ years of experience in training and nutrition, 4+ years in functional medicine. Dr. Prashantt J. Wadha.... Read More..

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