The main causes of obesity are, on one hand, the change in feeds used to raise the animals we eat and the abusive enriching of our food with a long list of additives - in short, the general quality of our food - and, on the other, our sedentary lifestyles. To this must also be added the increase in overall stress that now affects society. Let's take a look at how these three factors work together to promote the gradual accumulation of fats in the body:
Excessive local or diffuse adiposity around the stomach or the buttocks has now become a problem for most women and men. It will soon become one for many children in our regions also.
More and more people are being diagnosed as "obese" at a medical checkup! These shape and weight problems have very negative consequences for physical health and for psychological well-being. They also have a negative impact on health (cardiovascular problems, for example, and the incidence these have on the INAMI's budget).
The first step to solving an adiposity problem as comfortably and for as long as possible is an evaluation based on current medical, nutritional, and psychological knowledge of weight problems.
There are, in fact, many reasons for weight gain. Most of them made their appearance along with the dietary drift that took place in the industrialized world. The human digestive system, biochemistry, and physiological needs have changed very little over the past three or four million years, since the beginning of mankind. However, for nearly a century now, and sometimes without even knowing it, we have been eating refined flour and many sweet foods and bad fats. We now also use our muscles much less than we used to!
These behavioral changes explain nearly all of our current weight problems. They also account for cardiovascular lesions and the increase in certain degenerative and inflammatory diseases…and in certain behavioral and mood problems.
In addition, stress promotes the production of insulin and the storing of fats. Growing insecurity in a world that has been in constant motion for the past half-century has contributed to this.
Remember that glycemia (the level of sugar in the bloodstream) must remain constant to convey stable and constant levels of sugar to the brain, among other areas. The insulin made by the pancreas is designed to incorporate sugars in fats and in muscles (particularly in those which do not move. Moving muscles process sugars naturally without the need for insulin).
Glucids ("sugars") in new foods are much more refined and digestible than those used in "traditional" foods. Some glucids have a sweet taste but most foods rich in "quick" sugars do not taste sweet. Quick and abundant sugars (like those found in bread and pasta) heavily stimulate the production of insulin by the pancreas. This insulin also promotes fat storage! (since muscles don't need them…and are sedentary muscles).
In order to return to the far less sugary effect of traditional foods, it is necessary to take into account the glycemic value of foods and redefine the standard household basket of foods.
The glycemic index reflects the power each food has to increase the level of sugar in the bloodstream (glycemia) and, therefore, to stimulate the secretion of insulin by the pancreas. This insulin controls fat storage in the body! Note: Insulin secretion depends both on the choice of foods and on the quantity eaten (a plate of noodles "sweetens" the blood more than a glass of Coca Cola!)
The fat cells around the stomach area are the most receptive to insulin. An excess of quick sugars and certain hereditary factors can lead to an accumulation of abdominal fat. The accumulation of fat over the stomach area is very harmful because it increases the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The medical evaluation will look for this type of risk factor, and dietary and hereditary risk factors.
The hunt to eliminate quick sugars does not exclude daily consumption of slow sugars that provide the glucose essential for certain metabolic processes. A diet without sugars will compromise the maintenance of good muscular mass, increase the risk of renewed and rapid weight gain, and promote the "yoyo" effect.
Some foods that do not taste sweet act more powerfully than beet sugar! A glycemic index table with reference foods is explained and given to patients to help them avoid the traps of the agri-foods industry
As a result, the sugars contained in a balanced meal have a lesser impact than sugars eaten alone.
The glycemic index of a food is lower when it is eaten as part of a complete meal. The more a "slow" sugar is heated (length and intensity of cooking) or refined, the more it turns into a quick sugar (for example: dark bread/white bread, raw carrots/cooked carrots, potatoes "al dente" and industrial mashed potatoes, etc.) In addition to quick sugars, certain foods contain bad fats which are quickly stored…
The nutritional drift associated with the relationships between dietary lipids is particularly difficult to gauge for consumers and health professionals who are not nutrition specialists. This drift is one of the main factors contributing to the appearance or aggravation of many "modern" pathologies including android and generalized obesity, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, certain depressive states, etc. The central phenomenon common to all of these problems is the dietary imbalance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 type fatty acids. The dietary ratio between these lipids (Omega 6/Omega 3) is normally about 1 in traditional diets and in regions where obesity and cardiovascular diseases are rare. It is around 20 in our "modern" diet!!!
Balanced lipid input is obtained by directing dietary choices to vegetables, fatty fish, Omega 3 eggs, and rapeseed and nut oils…and by avoiding foods which are too rich in Omega 6 including most other food oils (with the exception of olive oil consumed "within reason") and products which contain them (prepared foods, cookies, French fries and chips, etc.), "traditional" eggs (even "organic" ones), etc.
A diet with too many calories may not contain enough of the vitamins and antioxidants necessary for good weight management. Bad diets often worsen this situation and lead to even greater obesity! A dietary evaluation performed with a professional nutrition software package will reveal all of these poor dietary habits.
Lean body mass (mass without fat) must be improved in all people who have followed multiple "low calorie" diets in the past, in those who have not eaten enough fish or meat for several months or years, in those who have had a gastric ring for several months, in those who are very sedentary, in the aging, in people who are starting to exercise again, etc.
Improving lean body mass levels do not necessarily become visible in muscle mass (unless body-building exercises are done for this purpose) but rather in physical toning and weight. In the first weeks, making lean body mass (ideal for losing fat) can add pounds of muscle that have been lost in fat!
Eating and moving habits are directed to increasing muscle fiber which uses the most blood sugar. This is because new muscle mass and the way it is used enables better management of blood insulin and facilitates the reduction of fatty mass…
Excess weight can be the result, and the cause, of psychological problems. Certain psychological mechanisms can be either dietary or hormonal. The most common dietary problem is "forgetting how to eat". This includes forgetting the role food plays in group relationships at home and at work, the loss of dietary traditions based on using local resources adapted to maintaining a living and healthy body for as long as possible, etc. Extreme dietary negligence can be a consequence of low self-esteem, of depression, etc… In addition to weight gain, dietary chaos and the qualitative and quantitative dietary aberrations it entails is responsible for psychological disorders (which can themselves lead to a worsening of dietary behavioral problems…)
One very common problem is the use of food as a response to chronic stress (for example, the inability to respond to socially competitive situations). This is a plausible explanation for the increase in cases of obesity where there are many social frustrations and access to food ill-suited to physiological needs is easy and promoted.
Among other "dietary behavior problems" are bulimia and hyperphagia, sugar habits and dependencies, "chocolate mania", etc. Anamnesis of some of these problems can reveal serious psychological trauma suffered in childhood or adolescence.
The interdisciplinary approach proposed therefore includes all current knowledge on the mechanisms which lead to an increase in fatty deposits and to difficulties in reducing them.
The nutritional solutions proposed exploit innovations in the agri-foods field to facilitate the required corrective behavior.
Potential psychological solutions use innovations in the field of mind technologies and psychological approaches focused on a quick and durable solution.
Solutions that promote movement also use innovations in the field of quantitative and qualitative increases in lean body mass.
There are three reasons why repeated stress can lead to weight gain:
Stress and digestive problems
Relaxation is closely associated with digestion. When we relax, we also relax our digestive tract and, inversely, when we begin digesting we also begin to relax. The autonomic nervous system kicks off these two processes at the same time. Stress activates muscular tension to prepare for action. It causes digestion (which monopolizes a significant amount of blood) to slow in order to promote blood flow to muscles and the brain. This is the well-known survival mechanism described by Selye, who developed the concept that stress is an adaptive response to change and, particularly, to danger.
Relaxation and digestion are therefore processes that operate in concert. Many people unconsciously go to the fridge to seek deep relaxation and confuse their desire for food with a desire for peace and deep relaxation.
Relaxation and regular exercise help reduce this confusion to a large extent.
Stress and sugar in the blood
Stomach fat is particularly sensitive to insulin. When sugar increases in a physically average non-sedentary person, insulin is produced in the pancreas and is incorporated in muscles and fatty tissue. People who work out naturally process sugars for their muscles (without needing to produce insulin). Sedentary people, on the other hand, induce insulin production because their muscles no longer play their normal role of sugar "incorporators" and because sugar levels (glycemia) must remain stable in the bloodstream. When glucose increases in sedentary people, fat also increases.
In addition, stress has a tendency to increase glucose levels in the blood and to release insulin because sugar readies the body for action. The fuel is in place… People under stress make insulin more readily and it incorporates sugars into fatty tissue.
It's easy to see why the automatic response to stress is for blood sugar to move to fat.Stress can therefore lead to weight gain because:
The idea of creating a protein-poor low calorie diet is therefore misguided because muscles that do not have enough protein to develop or MAINTAIN THEMSELVES gradually degenerate and slowly become poor processors of glucose which naturally becomes part of fatty tissue.
In addition, this lifestyle, and way of eating and of acting promotes the appearance of type 2 diabetes, since this state of affairs causes insulin overproduction and hyperproduction by the pancreas.
Stress and a person's general emotional outlook influence dietary behavior and body weight. This is often seen over the lifespan of every normal person, even in those who are not overweight. It is often seen, for example, in the hours leading up to a school exam or following an emotional break-up. The psychological discomfort caused by these situations can lead to changes in dietary behavior. It will cut hunger in some, increase the desire for certain foods in others, and lead still others to snack on salty or sweet foods depending on the person.
For example, unhappiness can increase the desire for sweet foods that have an immediate "pleasure effect" because of their flavor and an indirect sedative effect on the brain's metabolism. Emotional discomfort can also come with an increase in certain stress hormones which can facilitate the storage of fats…
The poor nutrition encouraged by these psychological states of mind can in turn cause or aggravate psychological dysfunction. This includes chronic fatigue in people who favor sugar over "protein" foods, increased "depression" in those who lack good dietary lipids, longer and less effective sleep in those who eat high glucid content foods, etc.
All known cause and effect relationships between psychological states and the contents of the plate indicate that overall management of emotional and stress-related issues, and of obesity problems, can be achieved through training in emotional management and dietary correction. This global approach can be called "Psycho-Nutrition".
This global approach is obviously particularly well-suited to people who have inherited a predisposition to put on weight. However, today we are seeing the impact of weight gain on the overall population as a result of a combination of synergetic factors: societal changes, modified diets, and sedentary lifestyle.
These three factors have combined to lead to an increased tendency to obesity in the general population.
The interplay between psychology, degree of sedentary lifestyle, diet, and heredity is reviewed during the evaluation phase of a weight problem. It provides data that can be used to find the solution best adapted to a problem and for a long-term solution to that problem.
Dietary solutions include an adjustment of amounts consumed using as a reference the balanced diets consumed by humans for several million years until the changes that occurred over the past few decades.
This industrial shift and the use of so-called "slimming" diets have caused:
The proposed nutritional correction is adapted to the choices and dietary behavior of each person. Its goal is to re-establish an adequate balance between all of the dietary requirements of the human body.
The mobilization of fatty reserves and the maintenance of a suitable long-term weight level are also dependent on the quantity and quality of each individual's physical activity.
The aspartame issue (phenylalanine)
Phenylalanine is an amino acid (a basic protein component). To date, no serious study has concluded that aspartame is harmful or dangerous. At the most there are rumors on the Internet, probably put out by the sugar lobby which lost a great deal of market share following the massive introduction of various sweetener brands. Aspartame is an elegant replacement for the sweet taste of sugar. Replacing sugar with these harmless sweeteners is therefore recommended.
Soft drinks and drinks in general
Soft drinks are a real disaster in terms of their sugar content. Whether they are sweet or "diet", both categories have disadvantages. It is recommended that an effort be made to eliminate the taste of sweet insofar as possible in food and in drinks and, particularly, for children. Soft drinks should be avoided for children as long as possible. This recommendation takes on its full meaning when seen in the context of adipocyte synthesis in childhood. Limiting the amount of sugar consumed right from the start decreases the potential for the development of pockets of fatty tissue in the future. It is recommended that children be given natural fruit and water-based drinks without extra sugar added. The same goes for adults, plus vegetable-based drinks, or tea with honey (which is a natural sweetener and contains several other elements that are valuable for other physiological functions).
Several SOLUTIONS need to be combined to counter this social issue:
Exercise at least three times a week.
Practice relaxation to avoid food compulsions that are really only replacing the need for relaxation. This also minimizes the body's preparation for action and counters the creation of abnormal levels of stress-induced insulin.
Change to a diet rich in proteins to give muscles the ability to develop and to return glucose to its normal role of creating fuel from food.
Change to a low glycemic index diet. The small glycemic index table should be widely disseminated. Blood glucose levels increase very quickly with foods like bread, cookies, rice, pasta, and slow glucids. This is also true for cooked carrots.
Low glycemic index foods include raw carrots, strawberries, grapefruit, peas, celery, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, fish, and meat, among others.
Eat organic foods (this increases food quality and promotes a low glycemic index).
Eat less (do NOT take a second helping)!
Use sweeteners instead of additional sugar (diet drinks).
Promote dietary assessment in companies and with specialized doctors.