Being overweight can become a matter of life and death. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems. Also, the overall risk of death increases with obesity. If you are obese or overweight your health is at risk. It is important that you loose that weight and develop a healthy lifestyle. There are many weight loss programs out there and it is important to find a program that is fits your needs.
Nine dangers of being overweight:
- High Blood Pressure - 26% of obese people have hypertension.
- Diabetes - 80% of type II is related to obesity. Excess fat makes your body resistant to insulin. When your body is resistant to insulin, your cells can't get the energy they need.
- Abnormal blood fats - A diet high in saturated fats increases the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Stroke - the American Stroke Foundation listed obesity as one of the risks to stroke that can be controlled with medical treatment and lifestyle changes.
- Osteoarthritis - Excessive body weight adds pressure to joints and wears away at the cartilage that protects them.
- Sleep apnea - The more overweight a person is, the greater more severe the sleep apnea will be.
- Cancer - Men and women who are overweight have a higher risk of developing many different kinds of cancer.
- Gallstones - Gallstones are more common in people who are overweight. According to Chinese medicine gallstones are caused by "damp heat."
- Physical Discomfort - If fat accumulates, it crowds space occupied by your internal organs. People who are overweight may have difficulty breathing, walking or sitting.
Most weight loss programs in the US focus strictly on diet. Some medical statistics show that nearly 95% of dieters who use conventional weight loss programs either gain some or all of the weight they had lost back. However, with Chinese medicine we look at the root cause of being overweight. Excess weight is considered to be just one symptom of an underlying health problem. It is the outcome of a series of chain reactions in your body that usually begins with a Qi (pronounced chee) or energy deficiency or imbalance. Unless the root cause is addressed, the weight loss won't be permanent. According to Chinese medicine, to have good health you must have sufficient Qi (energy) and your organs must work together in harmony. If there isn't enough Qi, one or more of your organs can be out of balance and will develop an energetic dysfunction. When this happens, your organs cannot perform their responsibilities, like promoting healthy metabolism and ridding your body of excess fat and water.
Perhaps you have experienced problems like headaches, emotional problems, depression and/or allergies prior to a weight gain? Ever wondered why? Chinese medicine considers these as signs that your body is having functional difficulties. Often the problem is an imbalance in the relationship between your liver and your spleen. Both are crucial to proper digestion. Chinese medicine teaches that when your body is in balance, you won't have weight issues. When your Qi is strong and balanced, weight will be lost naturally and normal weight will be maintained.
Chinese medicine generally views being overweight as "dampness." Dampness is the body is not properly transforming and transporting fluids. Dampness is caused by the failure to burn off moisture in the body. Dampness primarily affects the middle and lower part of the body...hence putting on weight in these areas. We use herbs as well as foods that drain the dampness. Usually a formula is prescribed using many herbs together in a synergistic manner. It is important to get a proper diagnosis by a Chinese medicine professional. Diagnosis includes pulse reading, tongue diagnosis, and health history. Chinese medicine uses very individualized care. The fundamental prescriptive methodology is to treat the patient's personal pattern of disharmony. This kind of treatment is both safe and effective because it addresses that person's own metabolic reasons for being overweight. Using this method, each patient receives their own individually tailored treatment plan, using Chinese herbs, diet and lifestyle modifications. If you want to make your weight loss program even MORE powerful add acupuncture to your treatment regime. Chinese medicine tailors your treatment to your unique energetic disharmony instead of just treating symptoms.
Chinese medicine emphasizes building up your digestive energy. For weight loss, the importance of your digestive system cannot be over emphasized. You depend on your digestive system to absorb and assimilate the nutrients that you require in order to support and sustain your body's normal function. If your digestive system isn't working efficiently you will still gain weight. Frequently we use herbal formulas to help strengthen the energy of your stomach and digestive system. This helps speed up the process of digestion before the food has a chance to change into excess fat. Dieting without sufficient digestive energy results in lose of energy, dehydration and undernourishment of the body. This can eventually lead to further weakening and impairment of the digestive system. Once that happens permanent and natural weight control will become quite difficult
It is also important to maintain regular bowel movements. For weight loss with Chinese medicine, we sometimes use herbs and formulas to help facilitate regular bowel movements. Irregular bowel movements over a long period of time will cause stagnant/undigested food, toxins and other impurities to accumulate in the colon. Excess accumulation of waste material will ultimately overheat and weaken the digestive system, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients. This will gradually lead to symptoms of undernourishment as the body develops a craving for sweets and a constant urge to eat as well as gain weight.
Some herbs help suppress the appetite. Taking Chinese herbal formulas can aid weight loss. They help by increasing the body's metabolism as well as suppressing the appetite.
Sometimes we can treat other problems at the same time in conjunction with weight loss. Several examples are acid reflux, insomnia or depression. Here we may use 2 formulas together. When treating weight loss we also look at a person's emotional health, something Chinese medicine excels at. Chinese medicine treats body, mind and spirit as an integrated, interrelated whole. This means that to have true physical health you must be emotional health. Each of the five organ pairs has a corresponding emotion. For illustration, anger is related to your liver and gallbladder. Worry is associated with your stomach and spleen. Chinese medicine recognizes that chronically held in emotions set up imbalances in your organs function.
Are you serious about losing weight? Do you want lasting weight loss that brings the benefits of long term health? Chinese medicine, with its time tested methods of prevention and lifestyle modification, is a truly safe and healing weight loss resource. Don't let procrastination, hesitation or fear stop you from improving your life and looking better.
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By Steven Sonmore Licensed Acupuncturist, Dipl. Ac.
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