Fighting Obesity – An Ayurvedic Way
By Dr. Savitha Suri
Definition of Obesity
Excess amount of body fat is Obesity. Excess weight of muscles, bone, fat and water in the body (like body builders and athletes) is Overweight. Over weighted persons are at increased health risk than normal persons. They are more prone to chronic diseases like heart diseases, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and few types of cancers.
Is fat necessary to our body?
Certain amount of body fat does the following function
1. Heat insulation.
2. Absorption of shock.
3. Storage of energy. Etc.
Ayurveda describes the functions of body fat as
“Medaha sneha swedaudhrudatwam pushtim asthyancha” This means in normal conditions the body fat keeps the body moisturized, causes sweating, gives energy to body (by storing energy) and nourishes bones. (By protecting them from shock)
Distribution of fat
Women have more body fat than men. In women usually the fat accumulates around hips giving them a pear shape. In men it accumulates around belly giving them an apple shape. The obesity related problems start when fat accumulates around waist.
In ayurveda the distribution of fat is described as follows:
Medastu sarvabhutaanamudarenvasthi thishtathi
Ata evodare vriddhihi prayo medaswino bhavet
Fat gets deposited in and around belly in all living beings. It is also present in bone. Hence when a person becomes obese his stomach bulges out.
And also the characters of an obese person are described as “Medo mamsa ativriddhatvaachalasphigudarastanaha” which means the hips, belly and breasts of an obese person sag and sagged parts flap as that person moves. An obese person will not be active.
Causes of Obesity
When a person consumes more calories than he burns then the excess calories get stored in the form of fat causing obesity.
1. Genetic factors–Obesity tends to run in families. If parents are fat then the offspring also show a tendency to accumulate fat. Even the diet and lifestyle habits which are practiced in family also contribute to obesity.
2. Environment. – A person’s eating habits and the level of physical activities a person has also contribute for excess deposition of fat. When a person eats food containing more calories and has a sedentary work then the calories consumed are more than calories burnt. The excess amount calories are stored as fat.
3. Psychological disturbances.- There is a tendency to over eat in response to negative emotions like boredom, sadness or anger. This leads to obesity.
4. Binge eating disorder.
5. Diseases and conditions like Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, Depression, and certain neurological problems lead to overeating which in turn leads to accumulation of fat.
6. Medicines such as steroids and some antidepressants may cause weight gain.
Causes of obesity according to Ayurveda
The causes of obesity are very clearly explained in ayurveda. The following reasons which are mentioned in ayurveda increase the deposition of fat.
Avayamadivaaswapnashleshmalaaaharasevinaha | Madhuroannarasaha prayaha snehamedhovivardhati || According to ayurveda the causes of obesity are defined as:
1. Avyayama: Not exerting physically
2. Divaswapna: Sleeping in afternoon.
3. Shleshmala Ahara Vihara: The diet and life styles which increase Kapha
4. Madhura Annaha: Consuming sweetened foods.
Health risks due to Obesity
Obesity leads to the following problems.
1. Type-2 diabetes
2. Heart disease.
3. High Blood pressure.
5. Few types of Cancers
6. Gall stones
7. Liver diseases
8. Osteo arthritis.
11. Irregular menstruation in women.
According to Ayurveda the obese persons are more prone to the following diseases.
2. Kidney related problems.
4. Low libido.
5. Low energy levels.
6. Skin problems.
9. Filariasis . etc
Tips to reduce Obesity
1. Determine with the help of your physician how much weight has to be reduced.
2. Set several short term realistic goals .
3. Reward yourself each time you make progress (Not food items)
4. Even small weight losses have shown to be beneficial.
5. Make gradual changes in eating habits.
6. You will lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume. Hence eating less and being more active help in losing weight.
7. Sound eating habits keep you out of putting on weight.
8. Stay motivated to lose weight.
9. Slow weight loss is the safest and most effective. ( one to one and half pound per week).
10. Gradual weight loss, promote long term loss of body fat.
11. A person who is moderately active needs daily, 33 calories per kg of body weight to maintain his weight .
12. Reducing calories intake by 300 per day and increasing the physical activity to burn 200 calories per day results in weight loss of 400 Gms per week.
13. To satisfy basic nutritional needs eat a variety of foods every day. Choose from each of the five food groups milk, meat, fruit, vegetable and cereals. Balanced food plans encourage making wise choices about everyday food choices. This type of diet helps to stay at your proper weight for life.
14. Allow for an occasional treat.
15. Evaluate your eating pattern.
16. Try to cut down on foods high in fats and sugar.
17. Most successful weight – loss plans stress on reduction in both calories and the amount of fat eaten
1. Determine the type of physical activity that suits your life style.
2. Regular aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jogging or swimming, is a key factor in achieving permanent weight loss and improving health
3. Health experts recommend exercising 30 minutes or more on all, days of the week for maximum benefits. The exercises should be moderately vigorous to be most effective but not exhausting.
4. Incorporate few simple measures to burn calories effectively. Like- taking an after dinner walk, using stairs instead of escalators or elevators, parking the car farther away to have a longer walk etc.
5. Exercises also improve sense of well being ,decreases stress and decreases appetite in some.
Ayurvedic tips to reduce Obesity
Numerous tips to reduce obesity have been mentioned in ayurveda. The following ayurvedic tips help you to reduce the obesity.
1. Very good exercises. Exercises like brisk walking, jogging, playing out door games etc help to reduce weight.
2. Physical and mental exertion. Exerting physically like doing house hold works, walking to distant places to bring groceries, vegetables etc, walking long distances to bring the child back from school, walking to working place, climbing stairs etc are types of physical exertion. Exerting physically as much as you can help to burn more calories. Mental exertion like worrying or involving in finding solutions to problems also restrict food consumption in some and there by reduces the intake of calories.
3. Having sex frequently is also a good physical exertion.
4. Consumption of honey. This is advisable for non diabetic patients. Consuming 2 tea spoon of honey with a glass of herbal tea which includes weight reducing herbs help a lot in weight reduction. Honey along with these herbs scrapes and dissolves the Kapha and medha (body fat).
5. Sleeping for less hours. Avoiding sleeping in afternoons help to increase the burning of calories. This avoids slowing of basal metabolic rate.
6. Avoiding the food and beverages which increase kapha and medha. The foods which increase kapha and medha are sweets, sweetened drinks, large quantities of carbohydrates and oily food.
7. Consuming wheat products than rice products help to reduce obesity.
8. Using Green gram and horse gram help in reduction of kapha and medha.
Biography of Dr. Savitha Suri
Dr. Savitha Suri has been an Ayurvedic Practitioner since 1989. After getting a graduation degree in ayurveda (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) in 1988 from University of Mysore, India, she started practising ayurveda. Her articles about ayurveda have been published in news papers and websites. She is a regular health columnist to a regional news paper.
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