Sunday, July 6, 2008

The mother of all battles

The above is an interesting image of obesity (increased belly fat) in children, and I got the image from HERE.

The latter half of 20th century and 21st century will be remembered for various military battles. However, the mother of all battles that is being waged now is the WAR ON EXCESS FAT. The body is now getting heavier. Across the world people are realizing that excess fat in the body is not only responsible for ungainly looks, but also
for disease. Low body fat is the key to healthy living and a healthy and beautiful (or handsome) body. There are several interesting dimensions of this battle against excess fat.

Omentum: TV show hostess Oprah Winfrey can take credit for popularizing the concept of omentum. The omentum is located in the abdomen. This abdominal tissue is a repository of fat. Located in front of the stomach is the greater omentum. And covering the liver is the lesser omentum. The omentum acts as a reservoir for not only fat but also stress hormones like cortisol. Greater the thickness of the omentum, (click here for an exciting photo) more the fat and other chemicals, and greater is the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. When the mass of omentum increases, inflammatory processes in the body increase - causing damage to the body inner organs and diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes. In fact, there are various aspects of the omentum that need to be investigated like free radical level in the body and thickness of omentum, relationship between kidney disease and omentum etc.

One can safely conclude on the basis of reasoning that the pranayama techniques popularized by Baba Ramdev (particularly Anuloma-viloma and Kapalbharati) exercise the body inner organs to reduce the omentum. This translates in to multiple benefits and better metabolism in the body. Hence, pranayama creates health and happiness.

There is a neuro-hormonal basis for our thoughts-words-actions. Baba Ramdev stresses that regular pranayama and Yoga creates chitta shuddhi meaning purer mind and thought flow. It is obvious that pranayama creates better neuro-hormonal functioning and this translates in to happy and purer thoughts. Baba Ramdev is a tele evangelist for Yoga and life management. His Yoga - pranayama programs are broadcast on Aastha TV channel to 169 countries.

It would also be interesting to understand the effects of various herbs on the omentum. There are herbs that help reduce body fat. Vrikshamla and Shuddha guggulu are some of them. In fact, globally the interest in herbs as healthy food and medicine is constantly increasing and now India and China are collaborating to research on Gymnema sylvestre for diabetes management.

Leptin: is a protein hormone secreted by fat cells. WHEN LEPTIN LEVELS INCREASE IN BLOOD, THERE IS INCREASED SATIETY, AND TENDENCY TO EAT COMPULSIVELY COMES DOWN. Thus, normal levels of leptin are crucial for reducing fat levels in the body. Recombinant leptin has been created and has helped people reduce body fat.

It is admirable that Swami Ramdev, who is pioneering Yoga and Pranayama as a robust science rather than as an abstract and mystical discipline, has started doing research on how pranayama helps influence levels of leptin positively, and thereby helps reduce the desire to over eat, and helps people reduce body fat and body weight. One can rightly suspect that Gymnema sylvestre may influence the blood leptin levels positively.

Fatty liver (including hepatomegaly): Increased consumption of alcoholic beverages, and other hepatotoxins (like drugs and other xenobiotics ie., non nutrient foreign bodies or chemicals) is leading to a condition called fatty liver. Essentially in this disease there is increased deposition of fats in the liver leading to enlargement of the liver (called hepatomegaly) and sluggish liver functioning that can manifest as loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, lassitude, irritability, and lethargy. Fatty liver causes abdominal distension or pot belly. In fatty liver, there is inflammation of the liver ie., swelling and loss of function.

The liver is at the receiving end because all the nutrients and xenobiotics absorbed from the small intestine or ileum through the mesenteric capillaries, passes first to the liver via the portal vein. Thus, all internal chemical insults are faced by the liver first. The liver is a detoxifying organ and tries to convert all toxins to easily excretible substances and the toxins are excreted via the kidneys or bile. In the process the liver gets affected and this manifests as fatty liver.

The liver is crucial to generation of fat. Excess glucose is converted by the liver in to glycogen (a storable form of glucose). This compound is stored in the liver. Excess glycogen is converted in to fat and sent for storage under the skin (subcutaneous fat).

Abdominal fat: refers to the excess fat stored in the abdominal region. This is of greater importance as far as influence on disease processes is concerned compared to fat located in other parts of the body. Now it is well known that pear shaped body is healthier than the apple shaped body. In fact, the healthy waist measurement for Asian men is less than 36 inches and for Asian women is less than 32 inches. For non Asian men and women the criteria are different - please click here. So it is clear that there is a lot of scope for marketers to market products and services that will help reduce waist circumference.

I am sure that humanity will win the battle against excess fat with Yoga, pranayama and ayurveda helping in this dimension. Thanks for reading this post, please scroll down and click on older posts, when required, to read other posts.

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