Obesity in Ayurveda is referred as sthoulya. Ayurvedic herbs, medicines, home remedies and treatment help to reduce body weight.
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Definition of Obesity in Ayurveda
Obesity is called as ‘sthoulya’ in texts of ayurveda. Sthoulya results due to excess accumulation of body fat or medha dhatu . Cause for this accumulation is explained in detail by ayurveda acharyas. They have also suggested ayurvedic medicines and treatment for obesity or reducing weight.
Over weighted persons are at increased health risk than normal persons. They are more prone to chronic diseases like heart diseases, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and few types of cancers.
The process of body fat accumulation (modern science)
Adipose tissue is specialized connective tissue that functions as the major storage site for fat in the form of triglycerides.
There are two different types of adipose tissues. They are
- White adipose tissue.
- Brown adipose tissue.
Most adipose tissue is white. White adipose tissue does three functions:
- Heat insulation,
- Mechanical cushion. (Adipose tissue also surrounds internal organs and provides protection for these organs.)
- A source of energy.
The adipose tissue which is directly below skin (subcutaneous adipose tissue) specially acts as the heat insulator of the body. It conducts heat only one third compared to other tissues. The degree of insulation is dependent upon the thickness of this fat layer.
Lipogenesis is the deposition of fat or accumulation of body fat. This process occurs in adipose tissue and in the liver .
The excess calories (consumed more than what actually needed for the current physical activity ) is stored in adipose tissue. Carbohydrate and protein consumed in the diet can be converted to fat. The carbohydrates can be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle and can also be converted to triglycerides in the liver and transferred to adipose tissue for storage. Amino acids from proteins are used for new protein synthesis or they can be converted to carbohydrate and fat.
Fatty acids, in the form of triglycerides are consumed through the diet or synthesized by the liver . Very little synthesis of free fatty acids occurs in the cells of adipose tissue ( adipocytes ). Triglycerides are the most important source of fatty acids, because this is the form in which dietary lipids are assembled by the digestive system and liver.
Triglycerides are made up of long chain of fatty acids .These are hydrolyzed ( broken ) to glycerol and free fatty acids by an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). The free fatty acids are taken up by cells of adipose tissues and stored again as triglycerides through a complex process.
Insulin, a hormone secreted by the cells of the pancreas, plays an important role in the lipogenic process. The net effect of insulin is to
- Increase storage,
- Block mobilization and oxidation of fatty acids.
Insulin stimulates LPL formation. The LPL breaks the circulating to free fatty acids which can enter the adipocyte. Insulin is also required for the transport of glucose, which is needed for conversion of free fatty acids to tryglycerides in adipocytes. The conversion of glucose to fatty acids is accomplished by insulin’s activation of several enzymes.
Functions of body fat according to ayurveda
Certain amount of body fat does the following function
1. Heat insulation.
2. Absorption of shock.
3. Storage of energy. Etc.
Ayurveda describes the functions of body fat as
“Medaha sneha swedaudhrudatwam pushtim asthyancha”
This means in normal conditions the body fat or medha keeps the body moisturized , causes sweating , gives energy to body (by storing energy) and nourishes bones or asthi dhatu. (By protecting them from shock).
Pancha mahabhuta constitution of medha dhatu is as follows. Medha dhatu has pruthvi Maha Bhuta (earth element) and jala mahabhuta (water element) in excess. When Medha dhatu or medhas is in normal condition it nourishes body tissues and provides cushion to body organs. When it is increased in proportion, it blocks paths of Vayu (air) and srotas or micro channels. This imbalances normal body functions.
Distribution of fat in body ayurvedic view
Women have more body fat than men. In women usually the fat accumulates around hips giving them a pear shape. In men it accumulates around belly giving them an apple shape. The obesity related problems start when fat accumulates around waist.
In ayurveda the distribution of fat is described as follows.
Characteristics of obese person
Medastu sarvabhutaanamudarenvasthi thishtathi |
Ata evodare vriddhihi prayo medaswino bhavet ||
Fat gets deposited in and around belly in all living beings. It is also present in bone or asthi. Hence when a person becomes obese his stomach bulges out.
And also the characters of an obese person are described as
“Medo mamsa ativriddhatvaachalasphigudarastanaha”
Which means the hips, belly and breasts of an obese person sag and sagged parts flap as that person moves. An obese person will not be active.
Causes of Obesity
When a person consumes more calories than he burns then the excess calories get stored in the form of fat causing obesity.
Obesity tends to run in families. If parents are fat then the offspring also show a tendency to accumulate fat. Even the diet and lifestyle habits which are practiced in family also contribute to obesity.
A person’s eating habits and the level of physical activities a person has also contribute for excess deposition of fat. When a person eats food containing more calories and has a sedentary work then the calories consumed are more than calories burnt. The excess amount calories are stored as fat.
There is a tendency to over eat in response to negative emotions like boredom, sadness or anger. This leads to obesity.
Binge eating disorder.
Diseases and conditions like Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, Depression, and certain neurological problems lead to overeating which in turn leads to accumulation of fat.
Medicines such as steroids and some antidepressants may cause weight gain.
Causes of obesity according to Ayurveda
The causes of obesity are very clearly explained in ayurveda. The following reasons which are mentioned in ayurveda, increase the deposition of fat.
Madhuroannarasaha prayaha snehamedhovivardhati ||
According to ayurveda the causes of obesity are defined as :
Avyayama or lack of exercises lead to obesity
When a person does not exerting physically or do not exercise regularly, his doshas specially kapha dosha increases and enhances medha dhatu or body fat. When a person exercise it increases vata. Vata does opposite of kapha and this normalises kapha dosha and medha dhatu.
Divaswapna: Sleeping in day time.
Day time sleep increases kapha dosha which in-turn increases medha dhatu or body fat. Increased kapha dosha also imbalances agni and leads to improper digestion of food which results in obesity. Hence ayurveda stress on avoiding day time sleep for people who have a tendency to put on weight.
Shleshmala Ahara Vihara : The diet and life styles which increase Kapha
As told earlier increased kapha dhatu increases body fat. Consuming sweets (Madhura Annaha), oily , starchy foods increase kapha. Same way not exercising, sleeping in day time also increase kapha dosha. These types of diet and lifestyles lead to obesity.
Health risks due to Obesity
Obesity leads to the following problems.
- Type-2 diabetes
- Heart disease.
- High Blood pressure.
- Few types of Cancers
- Gall stones
- Liver diseases
- Osteo arthritis.
- Irregular menstruation in women as in PCOS. (Read Ayurvedic home remedies for PCOS)
According to Ayurveda obesity can cause the following diseases.
- Kidney related problems.
- Low libido.
- Low energy levels.
- Skin problems.
- Filariasis . etc
Ayurvedic Tips to reduce weight
Before starting an ayurvedic weight loss programme please follow these rules.
- Determine with the help of your ayurvedic physician how much weight has to be reduced.
- Set several short term realistic goals .
- Reward yourself each time you make progress (Not food items)
- Even small weight losses have shown to be beneficial.
- Make gradual changes in eating habits.
- You will lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume.
- Hence eating less and being more active help in losing weight
- Sound eating habits keep you out of putting on weight.
- Stay motivated to lose weight.
- Slow weight loss is the safest and most effective. ( one to one and half pound per week).
- Gradual weight loss, promote long term loss of body fat.
- A person who is moderately active needs daily, 33 calories per kg of body weight to maintain his weight .
- Reducing calories intake by 300 per day and increasing the physical activity to burn 200 calories per day results in weight loss of 400 Gms per week.
- To satisfy basic nutritional needs eat a variety of foods every day.
- Choose from each of the five food groups milk, meat, fruit, vegetable and cereals. Balanced food plans encourage making wise choices about everyday food choices. This type of diet helps to stay at your proper weight for life.
- Allow for an occasional treat.
- Evaluate your eating pattern.
- Try to cut down on foods high in fats and sugar.
- Most successful weight – loss plans stress on reduction in both calories and the amount of fat eaten
- Determine the type of physical activity that suits your life style.
- Regular aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jogging or swimming, is a key factor in achieving permanent weight loss and improving health
- Health experts recommend exercising 30 minutes or more on all, days of the week for maximum benefits. The exercises should be moderately vigorous to be most effective but not exhausting.
- Incorporate few simple measures to burn calories effectively. Like- taking an after dinner walk, using stairs instead of escalators or elevators, parking the car farther away to have a longer walk etc.
- Exercises also improve sense of well being ,decreases stress and decreases appetite in some.
Ayurvedic Treatments, Herbs and Medicines for Obesity
Numerous tips to reduce obesity have been mentioned in ayurveda. The following ayurvedic tips help you to reduce the obesity.
Very good exercises or vyayama.
Exercises like brisk walking, jogging, playing out door games etc help to reduce weight.
Physical and mental exertion.
Exerting physically like doing house hold works, walking to distant places to bring groceries, vegetables etc, walking long distances to bring the child back from school, walking to working place, climbing stairs etc are types of physical exertion. Exerting physically as much as you can help to burn more calories.
Mental exertion like worrying or involving in finding solutions to problems also restrict food consumption in some and there by reduces the intake of calories .
Having sex frequently is also a good physical exertion.
Honey for Weight Loss
This is advisable for non diabetic patients. Consuming 2 tea spoon of honey with a glass of nilobese ayurvedic weight loss herbal tea which includes 8 ayurvedic weight loss herbs which are powerful fat burners , help a lot in weight reduction. Honey along with these herbs scrapes and dissolves the Kapha and medha dhatu (body fat). Honey and lemon help in weight loss.
Sleeping for less hours
Avoid sleeping in afternoons. This helps to increase the burning of calories. This avoids slowing of basal metabolic rate.
Ayurvedic Diet for weight loss
Avoiding the food and beverages which increase kapha and medha. The foods which increase kapha and medha are sweets, sweetened drinks, large quantities of carbohydrates and oily food.
Bitter vegetables like karela or bitter gourd or bitter melon helps in weight loss. Include these in your diet.
Consuming wheat products than rice products help to reduce obesity.
Using Green gram and horse gram help to reduce kapha and medha. (Read Horse gram for weight loss)
Ayurvedic Herbs for weight loss
Follow ayurvedic daily routine or dinacharya without fail
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