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Herbal Supplements Spotlight, Issue #002 -- Obesity the Silent Killer
November 16, 2004

Obesity the Silent Killer

New link between obesity and serious heart problems

We are all aware of the fact that it's not healthy to be overweight, but many of us are unaware of just how serious the health risks are.

Obesity has been conclusively linked to the onset of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, and a new study by Australian researchers shows that obesity is now a "silent killer" as well.

According to the study, which involved individuals in three separate groups: normal body weight, overweight and severely obese individuals, there was a direct relationship between the degree of obesity and the loss of pumping ability of their hearts.

Specifically, they found that the blood-pumping left ventricle of the severely obese group had a "significantly weakened ability to expand and contract", which could lead to serious cardiac problems down the road.

It's also interesting to note that these individuals had no existing health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or any current heart-related issues, which shows that even if you feel like you're healthy, it doesn't mean that you are not setting yourself up for disaster if you are significantly overweight.

Can the effects of obesity on the heart be reversed?

Researchers are still trying to determine if the damaging effects of obesity can be reversed, but it is still too early to tell.

One of the main hypotheses held by experts is that the heart weakening effects are caused by insulin resistance, which negatively affects energy being delivered to cells (heart muscle). They are hoping that exercise can help reduce insulin resistance and normalize heart pumping ability.

In any event, it is safe to conclude that the sooner you lose excess weight, the less damage you'll be doing to your heart and its ability to pump blood effectively through your body.

Even if you are not obese, studies show that any excess weight can cause health problems, so make sure you watch what you eat on a regular basis. Here are a few basic tips for you:

1. Try to eat several small meals throughout the day, rather than two or three larger meals. it is much easier for your body to digest and effectively break down the nutrients for your cells, tissues and muscles to use.

2. Try to stay away from fried food, fast food, trans fats (margarine, dressings) and processed grains, pastries, sugary snacks and sodas, etc. These foods are not only easily converted to fat but also have damaging effects on your body's cells and tissues.

3. Try to exercise moderately at least three days a week for at least 30 minutes at a time. It will help you keep your weight in check as well as improve blood flow and metabolism.

These are just a few of the general ways to lose weight; there are many more specific guidelines you should follow.

If you are interested in finding out more about maintaining a healthy heart, we found a great resource, Healthy Heart Guide, which discusses the top 5 ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, along with diet and exercise recommendations.

Until next time, here's to your health!

Herbal Supplements Spotlight

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