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Battle the bulge while you can!

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Several recent studies point to the importance of shedding excess weight-and keeping it off-for optimal health and enjoyment of life.

Several recent studies point to the importance of shedding excess weight—and keeping it off—for optimal health and enjoyment of life. People who are overweight in middle age are more likely than their normal-weight peers to experience physical, emotional, and social problems when they grow old.

Research conducted at Northwestern University in Chicago with nearly 6,800 overweight men and women indicates that young and middle-aged folk who carry extra pounds risk being unable to enjoy their golden years in good health.

The study published in the November 10, 2003 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who were average weight in middle age were more likely to consider themselves in excellent or very good health as they grew older. Overweight middle-aged study participants, on the other hand, reported more frequent problems with everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs years later. In addition, they more frequently demonstrated lower emotional well-being and impaired social functioning.

We need to take weight loss seriously. Adopting a natural, whole foods diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables, and eliminating refined and processed foods is an essential first step; increasing physical activity is the second. The results of a recent study at Duke University confirm that physical exercise can prevent further weight gain at minimum levels (30 minutes daily) and promote weight loss at increased levels of intensity and duration.

Tea and cigarettes

Green tea, which has already proven to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels and relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, has also demonstrated anticancer activity in a recent study at the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson. Heavy smokers who drank at least four cups of decaffeinated green tea daily for four months had a 31-per-cent reduction in the chemical 8-OHdG, released by the body in response to cancer-causing DNA damage. The good news: you don’t need to be a smoker to benefit from green tea’s health-giving properties.

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