Karen Jensen, ND
The spare tire around your waist may be causing you more than embarrassment or frustration. It may be robbing you of health and longevity. Natural health supplements such as chromium, panthothenic acid, and vitamin C can help.
The spare tire around your waist may be causing you more than embarrassment or frustration. It may be robbing you of health and longevity.
Waist circumferences are commonly used to measure fat. For men a normal waist circumference is below 102 cm (40 inches) and, for women, below 88 cm (34.5 inches).
Another measurement used to determine a healthy weight is the body mass index (BMI). Calculated on a person's weight divided by the square of their height, the BMI is a good indicator of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and increased risk of cancer. It can also indicate metabolic syndrome (known as insulin resistance or syndrome X).
So which is a better determinant of health: BMI or waist circumference? Canadian doctors conducted a study to find out, publishing their results in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2004. Their study suggests that waist circumference is a better marker of health risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome than BMI.
Metabolic syndrome is associated with large fat deposits at the waistline - the "apple-shaped" profile.
As far as fat distribution is concerned, there are two basic body shapes: "apples" and "pears." Apple-shaped people carry excess body fat around the middle (abdomen), while pear-shapes carry most of their excess fat on their hips and thighs. The apple-shapes have a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and gallbladder disease. That being said, however, "apples" have an easier time losing excess fat. They can reduce their increased health risk and change their body shape with weight loss. Although "pears" do not have the same health risks as "apples," they usually lose weight in the upper body. Their overall shape doesn't change much.
Physical inactivity and unhealthy diets contribute significantly to the rise in the number of people with metabolic syndrome. It is thought that one in four people in North American suffer from this condition.
In addition to the risks mentioned, a study published in Hepatology in March 2004 showed that waist circumference rather than BMI is more closely related to elevated levels of two lab markers of liver function, the liver enzymes ALT and GGT.
Here's the Plan
I wouldn't recommend going back to corsets to reduce your waist size. Simple dietary and lifestyle recommendations are much less painful.
Even moderate weight loss from five to 10 pounds can help reduce risk factors. It is easier to deal with the first five pounds rather than wait until five pounds has become 25 pounds.
As a general rule, eat more fruits and vegetables, whole unrefined grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, and hormone-free animal products. Stay away from sugars and refined carbohydrates - in one study, these contributed to a three times greater waist circumference in study participants than did a healthy diet.
Intestinal health is important in determining waist size. If the intestines are toxic or the intestinal bacteria are out of balance, fermentation takes place. This leads to bloating and excess flatulence. Bowel movements should be substantial (12 to 14 inches once or twice daily). To ensure healthy intestinal microflora, take a probiotic supplement (available at all health food stores) regularly.
Exercise is equally important and doesn't have to be excessive. Staying active for 30 minutes every day can give great benefits.
Changing the spare tire to lean muscle may take some effort, but when you weigh out the alternatives, heart disease or diabetes, what do you choose?
What's your BMI?
For example, a woman who weighs 125 pounds would multiply 125 by 700 to get 87,500. If she stands 5 feet 5 inches, she would convert her height to 65 inches and get the square of that number (65 X 65 = 4,225). 87,500 divided by 4,225 = 20.71 BMI.
What's a Normal BMI?
18.5 to 25 is normal
25 to 30 indicates overweight
30 to 40 indicates obesity
+40 is severe and dangerous
Supplements that Help
Helps to regulate blood sugar levels
200 mcg once or twice daily
Supports adrenal glands, reducing levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone
2,000 to 3,000 mg daily
Lowers glucose and normalizes insulin's response to glucose
2,000 to 3,000 mg daily
Herbal combination adrenal support:
Helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels
2 capsules daily