Tag Archives: Metabolic Syndrome
It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat.
These past few weeks, I have been lacking a little in energy and bounce, and I decided that one reason for my lack of ‘get-up-and-go’ was that I’ve been putting on weight. So, I decided to look into what being overweight really was, and if I was actually overweight, what it was doing to me. Quite frankly, I was horrified at what I discovered.
I hate overweight, because it implies there is a weight standard I should be adhering to. ~ Camryn Manheim.
You know what? There is a weight standard, and we should all be adhering to it.
There are lots of health and fitness problems attached to being overweight ~ and the older you get the worse the health problems of being overweight become.
To begin with, are you overweight? How does one know the difference between a little curvier and softer than we used to be, and truly overweight? What is the difference between being overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. Well, the chances are you’re overweight or obese ~ in the UK 68% of men and 58% of women are overweight or obese. In the USA more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
One easy way to tell if we’re overweight is to forget the scales and just grab a tape-measure. Measure you height, and your waist at your belly button, (without sucking in your gut). Your waist should not be more than half your height. If your waist measurement is more than half your height you’re overweight with the worst kind of fat ~ visceral fat, (which will kill you). More scientifically you can calculate your Body Mass Index, (BMI), but that won’t tell you as much about visceral fat as will a tape-measure.
There’s also a cut-off point to assess the overall risks to health just by waist measurement. In men it’s 40 inches, and in women it’s 35 inches. So if your waist is bigger than that, you’re officially overweight / obese and in danger of suffering serious health and fitness problems. Having love handles is another bad sign, presaging heart and liver disease in your future.
Medically defined, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, overweight is having a BMI of more than 25, obese is having a BMI of more than 30, while morbidly obese is having a BMI of more than 40, (or 35 if you also have something like diabetes or high blood pressure). There are plenty of online BMI calculators.
- Breathing problems. Asthma, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension.
- Cancer. Being very overweight or obese dramatically increases your chances of getting the following cancers; breast, cervix, colon, esophagus, gallbladder, kidney, liver, ovaries, pancreas, prostate.
- Type 2 Diabetes ~ after going blind and losing an appendage or two, this will kill you. Being overweight or obese dramatically increases the chances of you getting type 2 diabetes. Doctors now know this illness can be controlled and reversed through weight loss and exercise.
- Damage to your joints. Being too heavy will most likely give you arthritis in your ankles, knees, and hips. You will also suffer from lower back pain and something nasty called vertebral disk disease / degenerative disk disease.
- Lack of physical fitness. The chances are that if you are overweight or obese, then you’re pretty inactive and not physically fit. You probably have a desk job, and that’s killing you too.
- Heart diseases and circulation problems.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol and something even nastier called metabolic syndrome.
- Liver diseases ~ trust me, I’ve seen people with serious liver problems, and you never, ever want to go anywhere near there.
- Neurological disorders. Headaches, strokes, vision problems and blindness, ‘false’ brain tumors, neuropathy.
- Psychological issues. Dementia, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sexual problems.
- Reproductive problems. In men being heavily overweight or obese can result in prostate cancer, infertility, and an inability to get a decent erection. In fat women there’s a long list of issues which include; period problems, infertility, several cancers, and something nasty called polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Sleep disorders. Nightmares, night terrors, sleep terrors, night sweats, sleep apnoea.
- Social problems. Not everyone treats overweight or obese people with consideration and compassion ~ and practically nobody likes to sit next to a fatter person in coach on a long-haul flight.
- Strokes ~ trust me, I’ve seen people who have had a serious stroke, and you never, ever want to go anywhere near there.
- Varicose veins. Nobody likes these, nobody wants varicose veins, and for fatter people they are damn difficult to treat. Varicose veins are also a lot more dangerous than most people think.
We know a great deal more about the causes of physical disease than we do about the causes of physical health. ~ M. Scott Peck.
The above are the worst of the medical problems. But look at it another way ~ just how fit are you? Can you walk up three flights of stairs without getting out of breath? Can you run for a bus? Can you walk five miles without collapsing? Can you easily find clothes that fit, or do you have to buy plus size? Can you still play sports, or are you limited to gentler activities? What’s your performance in bed like? The chances are if you’re overweight, then you’re not happy with your honest answers to any of those questions, because you know you’re not as fit as you would like to be. Maybe you should take an online test?
It turns out my BMI today, as I write this, is 25.7. However, according to another set of criteria I’m quite fit ~ much fitter than my chronological age, by 25 years or so. But do you know what? I’m going to lose some weight, starting right now.
I can do that yoga position, but I don’t look as good as that.
LIVE LONGER, LOOK BETTER, HAVE BETTER SEX, EAT MORE ALMONDS
Yet another series of studies has come up with the shocking news that eating nuts is insanely good for your body. This time the American Society of Nutrition Scientific Session said in San Diego that a daily handful of almonds will help stave off innumerable nasty diseases. It would appear that almonds are full of vitamin E, which protects against Alzheimer’s Disease and the bad effects of Ultra-Violet light. They do get an awful lot of sunshine in California. Eating some almonds seems a small price to pay to stave off abnormal moles and cancerous melanoma. Possibly because they like sunbathing and walking around with bare suntanned legs and arms, women get a disproportionate amount of fatal skin cancers on their shapely limbs.
Naturally, there has to be more benefits from eating almonds other than not being one of the 48,000 people a year who die of melanoma-related skin cancer. Luckily there are. Almonds are high in protein, suppress the appetite, help beat stomach flab and stave off heart diseases. Also, eating almonds reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood, which helps to prevent type 2 diabetes.
All nuts are also full of trace amounts of good stuff such as manganese, which helps prevent osteoporosis, again more common in women than in men. Manganese also helps the body to regulate blood sugar, and trust me, you do not want to ever get type 2 diabetes. Almonds also contain magnesium, and this mineral is essential for the proper operation of your nervous system, muscles, regulating blood pressure, and once again helping to control blood glucose.
As is usual with things from plants, the skin is the best part, so don’t buy blanched almonds. Get them brown and crunchy ~ lightly salted if you must. The almond skin has flavonoids, (secondary metabolites), which are antioxidants, (and free oxygen radicals are bad for you), and these flavonoids also enhance the effectiveness of the vitamin E in the nuts.
It seems that these pretty little nuts, (what man doesn’t love girls with almond eyes?), increase our intake of good nutrients, improve the overall quality of the diet, and somehow make people feel better, physiologically speaking. There is also evidence to show that snacking on almonds / other nuts, help to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol. Some say that all nuts are jam-packed with calories, and will therefore make you fat. The answers to that are; yes nuts are packed with calories, but no they won’t make you fat. The human digestive system is appallingly bad at breaking down hard plant material, so most of the calories in nuts pass straight through the GI tract. Don’t believe me, eat a lot of nuts and then examine your next day’s stool.
Because they don’t digest well, nuts make you feel full, which reduces your appetite, so almonds are good for adding into a healthier diet and moderate exercise.
Dr Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State University has studied the effects of adults snacking on a handful of almonds a day, as opposed to ‘calorie matched’ high carbohydrate snacks. Although the total body weight of the two groups stayed about the same, those snacking on almonds has flatter stomachs, less abdominal fat, and a narrower waist than those who grossed out on biscuits and crisps, (cookies and chips) So eating almonds helps to decrease abdominal fat, and that reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome ~ the technical / medical term for a mixture of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and coronary heart diseases. Seemingly all this almond stuff is generally good for your blood vessels, but I have no idea if almonds help stave of varicose veins.
Especially if you are fat, a woman, and pregnant, you should be snacking on almonds, (and / or other nuts). Some fairly respectable doctors and scientists think that snacking on almonds helps promote a healthier weight gain during pregnancy.
The best almonds are fresh, which means buying them in mid / late summer. But as long as they still have the brown skin on them the seeds of the almond tree, (cousin to the cherry, peach, and apricot), are full of good stuff. Almond oil can go rancid, so if you’re keeping them a long time, store your almonds in an airtight container.
A small handful of almonds has about 150 calories, (which you can’t properly digest), and contains about 1/8 of your daily fibre requirements, 1/4 of the copper your body needs, 1/5 of your daily vitamin B2, half of the vitamin E and biotins, (vitamin B7 & H), you need a day, and some 1/6 of your phosphorous, magnesium and molybdenum. Do not buy Californian almonds if you can avoid it. The Almond Board of California has decreed that all Californian almonds must be pasteurized, irradiated, or otherwise rendered totally dead, and these processes destroy a lot of the good stuff in the little nuts.
Allegedly there are nine major health benefits to be gained from eating almonds;
- Reduced risk of having a heart attack.
- Lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol.
- Protects the blood systems.
- Builds strong bones and teeth.
- Almonds aid in weight loss by providing healthy fats and fibre.
- Lowers the blood sugar and insulin after meals.
- Boost brain activity and helps stave of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Nourishes and nurtures the nervous system.
- They alkalize the body, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
The more cynical among us may believe that the health benefits of eating almonds is a little overstated by Californian medical and scientific professionals, given that the USA is the world’s largest producer of almonds and a lot of those are grown in California. As I said before, if you can get almonds that haven’t been totally killed-off, these should be better for you than the Californian grown nuts. (You can get things like salmonella from fresh almonds, but you can also get salmonella from chicken, eggs and alfalfa sprouts.)
Bitter wild almonds are to be avoided at all costs. In fact anything from the various trees of the species Prunus, should be left well alone unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Bitter almonds and the seeds of plums and cherries contain cyanide, which will kill you. What you need are sweet almonds, and if you soak them in vodka for a while you get a very acceptable drink.
The bottom line is; Almost all nuts are incredibly good for you in moderation. If you can, buy the fresh product as opposed to ‘dead’ nuts.