Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Big waists & fat bellies turn out to be danger signs....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 8-10-2010

Earlier this week and today, there were two online health news stories about this.

The one that ran in the most places reported that a study found that besides being ugly and visually obvious, large and very large waist sizes were predictive of a significantly higher death rate and shorter life.

Large waists are 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women.

Very large waists are 47 inches or more for men and 42 inches or more for women.

The second story, “Just a Little Belly Fat Can Damage Blood Vessels” by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter, was dated, Monday, Aug 9, 2010 from (HealthDay News).

The study was published in the Aug 17th issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

It found that as people gained weight and their waists got bigger, the inside surface of their blood vessels, the endothelium, was damaged enough to make their blood vessels stiffer and less responsive. Over time, that increases blood pressure and increases plaque and the risk of blockages such as strokes and heart attacks. (It also can cause ED and peripheral artery disease or PAD.)

In some ways this second study was the more important of the two because it helps to explain WHY getting a bigger or large belly is dangerous.

The other point that relates to why people get bigger waists and how they might be made smaller is the demographic information of who gets them most often.

The American Cancer Society in Atlanta study, that was the one that found the increased death rates, found that men and women with very large waists were "more likely than those with smaller waists to be less educated, to be physically inactive, to have a high BMI, to be former smokers" & likely to be current smokers I would suspect.

Since each of these factors independently causes blood vessel and heart disease. That’s significant indeed.

But it also suggests some ways to reduce your waist measurement and belly fat and a what NOT to do list.

1. Quit smoking if you smoke, avoid second hand smoke, eliminate hanging out with people who smoke or only do it in nonsmoking locations.

2. Don’t eat the foods or drink the drinks these people do. These include foods made with refined grains, foods with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils or oils high in omega 6, most fast foods, virtually all packaged snacks and desserts, and all soft drinks – both regular and diet. In many cases, it also means drinking 14 or more alcoholic drinks a week. Conversely, DO eat and drink non-fattening and health supporting things this group often fails to eat such as nonstarchy vegetables, whole fresh fruit, green tea, tea, and water.

3. Cut back until you watch 15 hours a week of TV or less and mute most of the commercials when you watch. The average American, I read recently, watches 35 hours a week of TV. This group tends to watch that much TV or more! But you burn fewer calories watching TV than you do sleeping, the things you are better off NOT eating or drinking are heavily advertised on TV and presented as normal and desirable foods. And, if you watch 35 hours a week or more of TV, it can be hard to find the time to exercise for a few hours a week.

4. Get regular exercise every week. Separately, it’s been shown that strength training and interval cardio and long walks both help keep you less fat and healthier and tend to be the best waist reduction exercises. Vigorous strength training and interval cardio tend to be the most effective for reducing your waist. And the key to doing such exercises safely is to start easy and then gradually but continuously doing just a bit more each week.

5. Get much of your oils and fats from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and avocados. These contain monosaturated oils. Those tend to keep your HDL high and your LDL low and they don’t increase inflammation. They also tend, I have read, to lower your level of insulin and excess levels of blood sugar. And, this last effect helps prevent or remove excess fat and fat on your waist.

6. To measure your waist, strike a close to normal balance between keeping your belly tight and keeping relaxed. Try to overdo neither super relaxing and sticking your belly out and tightening more than you normally do. Then measure parallel to the ground where the tape will cross your belly button.

(If your waist is large, you may have a smaller circumference a bit lower down and wear your pants at that lower and smaller line. But it is NOT an accurate place to measure your waist size.)

7. Measure once a month too keep track. Be consistent in when you measure. (I’ve found just before breakfast on a week-end day works well for me.)

And, take action if your waist is 40 inches or more if you are a man or 35 inches or more if you are a woman.

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