The holidays are coming, and with them, the feasts, which are often followed by regret and resolutions to rid ourselves of the extra pounds. You should know that those excess pounds do a lot more to our bodies than taking up extra space in our clothes.
“Body fat is not just the jiggley stuff. It’s a storage place for all sorts of bad chemicals,” said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md. “Fat does two things: It actually stores fat soluble chemicals and it actually pushes out chemicals that cause inflammation.”
While excess weight can contribute to health problems like heart disease and diabetes, it can also contribute to diseases like arthritis and asthma.
“Those chemicals are like bleach on the skin. The chemicals end up causing a bad rash in the lungs or the heart,” Dr. Jackie said. “The chemicals that come from the fat end up scarring and causing a bad rash in the lungs or the heart, and as a result you get inflammation and things get all clogged up."
And all body fat is not equal. Belly fat not only makes it tough to fit into clothes, but it’s linked to breast cancer and colon cancer, and the reason once again, according to Dr. Jackie, is inflammation. She also said people who are overweight or obese are 145 percent more likely to develop dementia. And you are twice as likely to develop gall stones.
“Women whose waist size is greater than 36 inches will likely develop gall bladder problems,” said Dr. Jackie.
So as you plan your holiday menu, why not try a few low-fat dishes or resolve ahead of time to limit yourself to just one or two pieces of pie. Also, remember that you need both cardio exercise and weight training to fight inflammation.
“Increasing your muscle mass increases your metabolic rate,” said Dr. Jackie. “After you build and strengthen your muscles, they will continue to burn fat even when your body is at rest."
By the way, it’s okay to eat a little before you work out, although some people report reactions like itching and hives when they do. Foods like celery can cause such a reaction.
“It has to do with the cross reactivity between celery and pollen,” said Dr. Jackie.
If that happens to you, pass on the celery before hitting the treadmill.
Oh, and if eating turkey makes you sleepy, have at it.
“The more you sleep, the less stress you have, the better your metabolic rate will be, and the more fat you will burn,” said Dr. Jackie.
So you can have your turkey and your Zs!