Today, in the United States, we are seeing an epidemic of obesity. Obesity has enormous health risks, and many scientific journals are now stating that obesity may even be more risky than smoking. As such, it is no surprise that everywhere we look, someone is touting the “best” weight loss plan. With so many options available, how does one know which method to choose? In this article we are going to examine eight, scientifically sound, side effect free methods that are inexpensive and guaranteed to work. Excess body fat causes more than its associated undesirable appearance. Scientists have known since the 1940’s that when fat cells become too large from too much fat being stored in them, they will become “sick”, and begin to increase production of dangerous hormones. Part of this course involves excess fat being stored within internal organs, arteries, and/or muscle. The combination effect of these two processes leads to a host of diseases including cancer, accelerated atherosclerosis with its increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, autoimmune diseases, as well as diabetes.
As a Christian desiring to glorify God in our bodies, is there a perfect method to loose weight and keep it off? Are you tired of worrying about weight loss? God has a perfect prescription for weight control, guaranteed to work without side effects. Using the acronym WANT REST, we will examine how these “eight natural doctors” will improve your health.
Water A recent article in the Journal of Nursing Administration showed that drinking adequate water between meals, as part of the Nurses Living Fit lifestyle program, resulted in participants experiencing a greater reduction in weight. This fits my own long-time suspicion that we often try to satisfy our need for water with food, mistaking thirst for hunger! But, what about other types of beverages? According to an article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2007, the explosion in sugary beverages over the last 20 years has significantly contributed to the prevalence of obesity, both in the adult and pediatric populations. This underscores the importance of “snacking” on water between meals and not food or other sugary beverages.
Air Many may ask what role, if any, does fresh air have to do with obesity? According to the Hepatitis Monthly, October, 2011 issue, fatty liver disease is becoming the leading cause of cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. Because of the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, fatty liver disease is an increasing problem even within the pediatric population. New research indicates that the two main risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are air pollution and obesity. In fact, according to the CDC, air pollution can lead to obesity by increasing insulin resistance. Take home point, we need to get fresh air every day!
Nutrition We could easily write numerous articles on the link between weight loss and healthy nutrition, but let’s focus on four points. First of all, you can’t buy weight-loss without getting more than you bargained for, so forget about weight-loss supplements. If a supplement helps you lose weight, it’s because it either has caffeine or some other stimulant, or it causes your body to malabsorb nutrients, which will lead to other problems such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Secondly, rapid weight loss leads to rapid weight gain. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was excess fat storage, if you want to keep it off, it’s not going to come off overnight. The third and most important point about weight loss and nutrition is that a high fiber, low-fat diet is the best. But, what about the supposed success rates of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets? These diets place the patient in a starving state and as a result, they enter the “zone” of ketoacidosis which is very toxic to the kidneys. The ideal diet plan given in Genesis 1:29 is the healthiest and best weight loss diet and interestingly did not include any meat. Finally, as much as possible, we should stay away from processed foods, and instead get the bulk of our foods from the produce section or the farmer’s market. If affordably possible, organic produce is the best as it is more nutritious due to increased vitamins and enzymes.
Temperance The best definition of temperance is to, “dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.” (PP 562) In regard to temperance in weight loss, the timing and quantity of eating is vital to weight loss. In fact, in the August 2012 issue of Appetite, a study comparing normal-weight women with obese women revealed the biggest caloric difference between the two groups was snacking. In addition, the study also showed that shorter meal times correlated with overeating. This finding was collaborated by an article in the journal of Metabolism in May, 2012, which demonstrated that fast eaters were twice as likely to be obese. The take home point here is, temperance in the timing of eating by avoiding snacks, combined with slow eating improves weight loss.
Rest As most of us are aware, melatonin is the hormone of sleep, and it’s benefits are seemingly astronomical. In a recent publication from the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, it was stated that through various steps, melatonin decreases appetite. In addition, in the August, 2012, issue of Appetite obese women were found to be more likely to sleep less at night and nap more during the day. Putting these two studies together the vicious cycle of obesity and poor sleep becomes evident, in that, poor sleep leads to obesity and obesity then leads to worsened sleep and around and around the cycle we go! The take home point here is to maximize weight loss, we should get early, long sleep, at night, and avoid daytime “sleep snacks”.
Exercise It likely comes as no surprise to learn that the May, 2009 issue of Obesity Reviews, an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, stated that adding exercise to a weight-loss diet produces significantly greater weight loss. Interestingly, another study published in Obesity Research found that, compared to men on a weight-loss diet alone, men who were on a diet plus exercise program experienced additional restraint, less disinhibition, and less hunger. From this we learn that exercise improves metabolism, blood sugar control and assists in weight loss. In addition, as exercise improves self-restraint, it benefits our spiritual lives and can even positively affect characters!
Sunshine Sunlight causes our bodies to increase its own production of vitamin D which is vital to the prevention and treatment of many diseases. According to the May, 2012, issue of Metabolism, increased levels of vitamin D was associated with weight loss and a decrease in metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia) by up to 48%. Of course, this makes sunshine a treatment for obesity, and not just a preventive measure.
Trust in God As we have stated before, trust is best defined as, “God is in control” and stress as, “I am in control”. When stress is greater than trust we often see not only spiritual ramifications but also physical and mental effects as well. This is well supported in the prospective study in Health Psychology, which indicates that poor emotional functioning predicts obesity. The study showed that unhealthy eating is often used to regulate emotion, leading to obesity. Interestingly, it also noted that positive religious coping was a significant moderator of this effect. Easier said: if we have a framework that explains the world, based on the Bible’s description of a war between Christ and Satan, and we deal with difficulties by leaning on Christ, we will not need to run to food as a coping mechanism, and better yet, we can go to Christ for a fresh supply of grace to strengthen us in the battle of self gratification and temperance for improved health, claiming the promise, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
As you are reading this article, do you detect the Holy Spirit working on your heart? Is He calling you to turn your sleeping habits, eating habits, exercise routine and even the timing of your eating and snacking—over to Him? Our assurance is that if God can give thieves and liars victory over stealing and lying, surely He can give you and I the victory over obesity. Let’s go to Him right now in prayer, and daily surrender ourselves to Him throughout the day, leaning on Him and claiming His promises, and by His grace overcome all our maladies.