We all know that being overweight leads to chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, high blood and type 2 diabetes. With over 100,000 Australians diagnosed with diabetes last year1, medical professionals are particularly concerned about the increase of obesity amongst people in their 20s and 30s, with many remaining undiagnosed or untreated for risk factors.
There is increasing evidence that obesity is overtaking smoking as the major cause of preventable death in Australia2, and while the exact cost of obesity is difficult to determine, a conservative estimate placed the cost of obesity at $8.6 billion3.
There are many factors that can lead to being overweight or obese, some within our control through diet, lifestyle and exercise, yet there is growing evidence of other contributing factors that we may not be so aware of that is keeping us fat:
The human gut contains tens of trillions of bacteria; many more of our cells are bacterial than human. Gut bacteria influence the absorption of nutrients in a variety of ways: for instance, by slowing the movement of food through the gut to allow more complete extraction of nutrients, and by increasing the production of an enzyme that moves glucose from the small intestine into the blood.
They also suppress an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase that limits the ability of fat cells to take up fatty acids and triglycerides from the blood; suppressing this enzyme leads to an increase in fat storage.
Minerals & Nutrients
Often through no fault of our own, most Australians are mineral and nutrient deficient, which can cause digestive problems. affect metabolism and compromise our immune systems. When our bodies are deficient, we usually have a lack of energy to exercise and find controlling fatigue is easier done with increased caffeine, processed food and sugar intake.
Being overly tired for long periods is likely to raise your stress levels (and affect your mood, libido, memory and concentration) causing your body to produce more cortisol. Your body then needs more serotonin to calm you down – often this comes in the form of cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and fats.
Sleep deprivation also means you aren’t breaking down calories, particularly sugars. Large amounts of calories are burned within the first hour of the REM cycle. Irregular sleep cycles can lead to high blood sugar and a slowed-down metabolic system.
Overuse of Antibiotics
Although often necessary, antibiotics disrupt the environment in your digestive system by destroying good bacteria in your GI tract that aid in the healthy breakdown of calories and keep your digestion on track. If you do find you really need an antibiotic, ensure you take a good probiotic.
Growth Enhancers in Foods
Even when you’re eating healthy, you may be accidentally ingesting unnatural substances through consumption of hormones, antibiotics and growth enhancers in livestock and produce. Not only can these hormones and enhancers disrupt your digestion and add extra weight to your body, they also increase your chances of developing cancer. It really is important to eat organic whenever possible!
Eating Too Quickly
Sit and take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. This gives your stomach time to catch up with your brain and to fill up properly, this also helps to avoid overeating unnecessary calories.
For more information please call Elevate at 9252 2225 to make an appointment with one of our GPs.
Note: If you feel that you have a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnoea, please make an appointment with Dr Blaj for a referral to our Sleep Clinic.
Hocking S, Draper G, Somerford P, Xiao J, Weeramanthri T. The Western Australian Chief Health Officer’s Report 2010.
Pricewaterhouse Cooper. (2015). Weighing the cost of obesity: A case for action.