Decrease fat, increase mood, memory, energy
By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
Obesity is on the rise in the United States especially during the pandemic. Obesity is directly linked to over 60 chronic diseases. It is associated with an increased risk of 13 types of cancer, which in 2014 accounted for about 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. Obesity also puts you at a greater risk for a poor outcome and even death if you contract the SARS-CoV 2 virus. Aside from those reasons, there are numerous other reasons to get rid of unwanted fat. Depression is reduced by over half when you lose fat. Conditions like Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, asthma and cardiovascular disease have approximately an 80% reduction in risk from just losing fat. Other conditions like migraines, GERD, incontinence, degenerative joint disease symptoms, gout, varicose veins, and high cholesterol all improve by at least 50% when you lose fat. Here are some strategies to lose fat and gain wellbeing. You are worth it, and your long-term health depends on it.
Eating more plants and plant-based foods will have a positive effect on fat loss. Vegetables and fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber. They are also low in calories and will fill you up. Make sure that veggies fill at least half of your plate and are of different colors. Eat at least a half-cup serving of legumes or quinoa daily for a plant-based protein or 2 tablespoons of chia seeds or hemp hearts. It is recommended you eat 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruit daily.
Americans consume on average 160 pounds of sugar every year and is a major contributor to weight gain and obesity. Sugar is also highly addictive which is why it is challenging to give it up. You know the saying “you can never eat just one cookie.” Eliminating added sugar from your diet will also eliminate a major source of unwanted fat storage. Sugar that is not used for immediate energy will likely be stored as fat. Just switching from soda pop to water can add up to almost 15 pounds of fat loss in a year. Sugary drinks are one of the most fattening things you can ingest and if you eliminate a soda a day, that adds up to 51,000 calories in a year. Reading labels and cutting back on packaged and processed foods will get rid of another large source of added sugar.
Avoiding fat is counterproductive to losing fat. Your body and brain need good fats to function properly. All the trillions of cell membranes in your body are made of fat. Your brain and nerves are more than 60% fat. Low and non-fat foods often contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, and preservatives that can increase fat storage, cause inflammation, and decrease satiety. Eating cold water, wild caught fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring and mackerel (SMASH) at least one to two times each week will add healthy fats that are good for your memory and mood as well as your waistline. Snacking on nuts and seeds, and cooking with avocado oil, olive oil and coconut oil will benefit your brain and body as well.
The stress and worry associated with the pandemic life can keep you up at night. A decrease in duration of sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. Lack of sleep can affect hormone balance, especially the hormones that stimulate and suppress your appetite. Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, increases when you are deprived of sleep. On the flipside, leptin the hormone that suppresses appetite decreases when you are sleep deprived. You are likely to eat less and make better food choices when you get adequate and good quality sleep.
Feeling rested and refreshed is also great for your mood and mental wellbeing. Creating a consistent nighttime routine can aid in better quality sleep. Remember to turn off all electronics including the TV and e-readers at least 30 minutes prior falling asleep. A bedroom temperature around 65F will ensure a restful night as cooler temperatures have been shown to improve sleep quality and duration. Program your thermostat to a lower temperature a few hours before bedtime to create a restful sleep environment. Avoiding food and alcohol for at least two hours prior to falling asleep will also improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Exercise has been long known to help burn fat and improve your mood. Exercise will also improve your quality of sleep. Some movement is always better than none so even if you do not think you have time for a workout you can still get some form of movement or activity. A fifteen-minute walk, and a 10-minute body weight workout does not seem like much but the benefits to your health and waistline will add up over time. Work at increasing your active time to at least 30 minutes, five days each week or 150 minutes of exercise.
Obesity is a silent killer leading to an increased risk for chronic disease, cancer and it can decrease your quality of life. Take charge of your health today and lose the fat by adding in more plant-based foods, decreasing your added sugar, processed and fast-food intake, eat more good fats, and add more movement and activity into your day. You will whittle your waistline, decrease your risk for chronic disease and cancer, and your memory, mood and energy will improve as well. Remember, it is never too late to make a shift in health.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit Timberland Chiropractic.com, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or call 715-362-4852.