Obesity is a complex disorder with excessive accumulation of fat in the body. It is indeed a medical issue that can cause serious health problems including diabetes, high pressure, cancer & heart attacks. It is a result of personal diet, environmental factors, hereditary elements & exercise patterns. The good part of it is that even if you slightly reduce your weight there will be a lot more improvement in your health & general wellbeing.
Are you overweight or obese?
An individual is said to be obese if the body mass index is more than or equal to 30. Body mass index is calculated in a very simple way. BMI is weight divided by height in meter square.
|BMI WEIGHT STATUS|
|Less than 18.5 Underweight|
|18.5-24.9 Normal weight|
|25.0 -29.9 Overweight|
|30.0 or more Obese|
It is to be noted that BMI doesn’t represent the percentage of body fat. In athletes, the muscular body shows BMI in the category of obesity, even though they do not have accumulated fat in the body.
Even though there are metabolic, genetic, behavioral & hormonal influences on fat accumulation in the body, dietary factors are critical in this scenario. When more calories are consumed & not burnt through exercise or physical activities, there is the deposition of calories in the form of fat in the body. This gradually results in weight gain. A high-calorie diet, fast-food culture & processed drinks are major contributors to weight gain & impaired metabolism in today’s world. It is imperative to consider the causative factors before the medical intervention.
- Family influences & heredity- It is very important to understand the impact of your genes on fat storage as well as distribution. The transformation of calories to energy by exercise or physical activity is another factor. Family eating patterns or habits have a great impact on obesity. In most families, members follow similar eating patterns & activities.
- Lifestyle is another important factor. As discussed above the unhealthy diet pattern which can be explained as the oversized portions, ready-made foods, pre-cooked or frozen foods, processed meats, junk foods like pizza, burgers, fries, smoked foods, are loaded with mayonnaise & other high-calorie dips. The youth & adults are inclined towards spending pennies on such rich foods. These foods instantly provide a sense of satisfaction & create cravings whenever you feel hungry.
- Liquid calories like soda drinks, alcoholic drinks, canned juices, & energy drinks create addiction & invite all sorts of health issues.
- Inactivity or the sedentary lifestyle is the part & parcel of today’s job globally. The hours you spent in front of your working computers or phones is very much more than you spent on any physical activity. The calorie intake also is very much higher compared to the calorie burn.
- Certain disease like Prader Willi syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, arthritis decreases mobility & causes weight gain.
- Beta-blockers, steroids, anticonvulsants, anti-diabetic medicines can cause obesity
- As age progresses, the muscle mass also decreases, which lowers the metabolism in the body. This demands a lowering of calories.
In Ayurveda, obesity is described as staulya or medo roga & classified under diseases that are caused due to over nourishment. Breathing difficulty, swelling, snoring, painful joints, etc are the symptoms. Line of treatment focus on balancing the Kapha dosha. Due to excessive intake of a high caloric fatty diet, there is Kapha dushti& there is also a blockage in the medo vaha srothas or the channels. The accumulated ama or toxins create various systemic problems. There are very effective herbs that can relieve the symptoms. Lemon, honey, curry leaves, ginger-garlic, cinnamon, & aloe vera are very beneficial. The above herbs can be included in the diet or can be taken in the form of drinks.
Line of treatment
Treatment is chosen according to the strength of the patient & the disease or degree of the dosha involved. If there is high dosha vitiation, samsodhana or panchakarma therapies are indicated. Emesis, purgation, vasti, or enema therapy are chosen depending upon the dosha involvement. External therapies using dry powder or udwarthana are best recommended for fat mobilization.
Shamana therapy can be chosen if there is mild to moderate dosha vitiation. Rukshana , langhana(Fasting) therapies are beneficial. The main goal is to normalize the medho dhatwagni or correct the fat metabolism. Vata -Kapha has to be brought under balance. The medicines should be taken on an empty stomach & also in paste form in obesity conditions. Kashayas like vaaranadi kashayam, guggulutikthakam, aaragwadadi is very effective.
However, yoga asanas are very popular in the management of weight gain. Right asanas should be chosen according to the weight & the general health condition of the body. Similar asanas are not suited for different individuals. It should be done only after expert consultation to avoid complications. Generally, for moderate obese persons, mild warming up exercises should be done before yogasanas. This helps the body to be more flexible & stretchable. Padmasana, bhugangasana, dhanurasana, pavana mukthasana , are very much recommended. Breathing exercises can be practiced to improve lung capacity. Pranayama is best advised. Meditation or other mind relaxation techniques helps to relieve stress or anxiety.
Management of obesity is an integrated approach by avoiding the cause, modifying the risk factors & avoiding future complications.