The Three Keys to Wellness

The Three Keys to Your Wellbeing

The message that the overconsumption of calories and lack of exercise results in overweight, unhealthy people may be too simplistic.  Over the past 5 – 10 years 3 areas of research in particular have brought to light factors that may contribute to unwanted excess body fat and disease beyond the obvious.  Those factors include inappropriate sleep (too much or too little), sitting too much (even when you have a regular exercise program), and an inadequate intake of plant foods as part of a healthy diet.

Inappropriate Sleep and Weight Gain

Sleep deprivation or an excess of sleep has been associated with weight gain. Inadequate sleep is defined as less than 5 hours and excess is defined as greater than 9 hours.  In one study, recurrent sleep deprivation in men increased their preferences for high-calorie foods and their overall calorie intake. In another study, women who slept less than six hours a night or more than nine hours were more likely to gain 11 pounds compared with women who slept 7 hours a night. Other studies have found similar patterns in children and adolescents. It has been hypothesized that the hormones regulating hunger (ghrelin and leptin) are released when sleep is inappropriate resulting in increased appetite. Furthermore, fatigue often results in skipping exercise and excessive sleeping results in fewer calories burned.

Sitting around Adds up to More Fat

Researchers have discovered that sitting for extended periods of time contributes to increased body fat.  According to the research by Tel Aviv University, people that sit around for long periods of time put pressure on the preadipocyte cells, causing the body to produce 50% more fat than usual. Scientists believe that the precursors to fat cells turn into flab when subjected to prolonged periods of sitting down, otherwise known as “mechanical stretching loads”. Researchers found that when amounts of force extended is put upon a particular area in the body, fat tissue is encouraged to expand.

To investigate this further, scientist placed individual cells in a cell-stretching device, attaching them to a flexible, elastic substrate. The cells were stretched consistently, mimicking long periods of sitting down while other cells were left alone. Researchers found that after two weeks of stretching, the cells developed a significantly larger amount of fatty liquid droplets than those that weren’t stretched. By the time cells reached maturity, the stretched cells had 50% more fat than the normal cells.

“Obesity is more than just an imbalance of calories. Cells themselves are also responsive to their mechanical environment. Fat cells produce more triglycerides (the major form of fat stored in the body), and at a faster rate, when exposed to static stretching,” says Professor Anit Grefen from the study at Tel Aviv University . “There are various ways that cells can sense mechanical loading. It appears that long periods of static mechanical loading and stretching, due to the weight of the body when sitting or lying, has an impact on increasing lipid fat production.” The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, warned that even those who took regular exercise were at risk of gaining weight if they spent a long period of time sitting down.

Plant Foods Protect Our Health

We innately crave the taste of sugar, fat, and salt and convenience foods make an excessive consumption of this problematic trio too easy.   Foods eaten raw or minimally processed have taken a back seat to fast-releasing sugar, causing our blood sugar to remain high most of the day. Additionally, the lack of adequate plant foods in our diet means we lose the protection of important antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent damaging chronic inflammation caused by excessive sugar (some studies show a higher consumption of high-sugar beverages, and foods is associated with evidence of increased inflammation and oxidative stress).

Free radicals exist naturally inside the body. They are a product of oxidation, a process involved with respiration and other chemical reactions such as metabolism, digestion, energy production and consumption. The more we use oxygen, the more we are likely to produce free radicals. In other words, just the basic actions of living life will create free radicals in your body: breathing, digesting food, exercising, and exposure to sunlight.

Damage to healthy cells signals the immune system for additional help and while inflammation is a necessary part of the immune process, a continuous autoimmune response promotes chronic inflammation and tissue damage, commonly referred to as oxidative stress. The results may be diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

There is a connection between inflammation, obesity, and diabetes.  Preventing obesity with more of a plant-based diet like the Mediterranean Diet is recommended by registered dietitians.

Put the Three Keys to Wellness on Your Key Chain

A healthy body weight for a lifetime is possible when you get adequate rest, stay active throughout the day and eat a plant-based diet.  Eating more plant foods, which are rich in substances called phytochemicals, seems to prevent oxidative stress in the body, a process associated with obesity and the onset of disease. Fill at least half your plate with colorful, low-calorie, varied-texture foods derived from plants. Save a quarter of your plate space for a whole grain and the other quarter for fish, beans, or poultry with red meat only twice weekly.  Nuts and seeds can be on the plate or part of a snack. Plant oils like Olive oil or Canola oil can be used for sautéing.  This lifelong eating plan will help ensure that you get the variety of protective, disease-fighting phytochemicals you need while helping you keep a healthy body weight. A Mediterranean-style diet is much higher in fiber and provides a feeling of satiety while eliminating sugary processed foods that raise blood sugar and cause dangerous belly fat.

CSL nutritional services can help you achieve your wellness goals. Come see us and join our recipe of the month club to get your “Mediterranean-Style” diet in place:

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