As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase. Extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection. At one time, we might have accepted this as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems. The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels.
Though the term abdominal fat or belly fat might sound dated, “middle-age spread” is a greater concern than ever. As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more so in women than men. Extra pounds tend to park themselves around the midsection. CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES:
At one time, we might have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.
Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.
Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape) is largely visceral. Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including heredity and hormones. As the evidence against abdominal fat mounts, researchers and clinicians are trying to measure it, correlate it with health risks, and monitor changes that occur with age and overall weight gain or loss. .
The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist — the pinchable stuff — can be frustratingly difficult to budge, but in normal-weight people, it’s generally not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat is.
Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.
Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.
One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes. Now for the good news.
Exercise and dieting can help you get rid of belly fat:
So what can we do about tubby tummies? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.
Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help.
Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For example, studies of the weight-loss medication sibutramine (Meridia), have shown that the drug’s greatest effects are on visceral fat.
For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat. Source: Harvard Health Publication
Habitat : Panax ginseng is native to E. Asia – China, Korea.(Manchuria, Chinese Tartary and other parts of eastern Asia, and is largely cultivated there as well as in Korea and Japan.) It grows on mountain forests. Description:
Panax ginseng is a smooth perennial herb, with a large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length (occasionally twice this size) and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. Its main portion is spindle-shaped and heavily annulated (ringed growth), with a roundish summit, often with a slight terminal, projecting point. At the lower end of this straight portion, there is a narrower continuation, turned obliquely outward in the opposite direction and a very small branch is occasionally borne in the fork between the two. Some small rootlets exist upon the lower portion. The color ranges from a pale yellow to a brownish color. It has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching that of liquorice, accompanied with some degree of bitterness and a slight aromatic warmth, with little or no smell. The stem is simple and erect, about a foot high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five finely-toothed leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few small, yellowish flowers. It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) The fruit is a cluster of bright red berries.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES Cultivation:
Requires a moist humus rich soil in a shady position in a woodland. Ginseng is widely cultivated and also collected from the wild in the Orient for its root which is commonly used as a medicine. The root is prepared in a number of different ways, including by steaming it for 4 hours in wicker baskets over boiling water.
Seed – sow in a shady position in a cold frame preferably as soon as it is ripe, otherwise as soon as the seed is obtained. It can be very slow and erratic to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady positi Edible Uses: ...Root – chewed. This probably refers to its medicinal uses. A tea is made from the root.
Ginseng was considered for generations to be a panacea by the Chinese and Koreans, although there are some disorders, such as acute inflammatory diseases, for which it is not recommended. It usually is not taken alone, but combined in formulas with other herbs. One of ginseng’s key investigators, Russian I.I. Brekhman, coined the term “adaptogen” to describe ginseng’s ability to regulate many different functions. It can have different responses, depending on what an individual needs. Studies show that ginseng increases mental and physical efficiency and resistance to stress and disease. Psychological improvements were also observed according to Rorschach. Studies done at the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing, China, showed that the ginsenosides increase protein synthesis and activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. They are also probably responsible for ginseng’s dual role of sedating or stimulating the central nervous system, depending on the condition it is being taken to treat. Studies also show that ginseng improves carbohydrate tolerance in diabetics. When volunteers were given 3 grams of ginseng along with alcohol, their blood alcohol level was 32% to 51% lower than that of the control group.
Ginseng appears to stimulate the immune system of both animals and humans. It revs up the white blood cells (macrophages and natural killer cells) that devour disease-causing microorganisms. Ginseng also spurs production of interferon, the body’s own virus-fighting chemical, and antibodies, which fight bacterial and viral infections. It reduces cholesterol, according to several American studies. It also increases good cholesterol. Ginseng has an anticlotting effect, which reduces the risk of blood clots. It reduces blood sugar levels. Ginseng protects the liver from the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, and other toxic substances. In a pilot human study, ginseng improved liver function in 24 elderly people suffering from cirrhosis. Ginseng can minimize cell damage from radiation. In two studies, experimental animals were injected with various protective agents, then subjected to doses of radiation similar to those used in cancer radiation therapy. Ginseng provided the best protection against damage to healthy cells, suggesting value during cancer radiation therapy.
Asians have always considered ginseng particularly beneficial for the elderly. As people age, the senses of taste and smell deteriorate, which reduces appetite. In addition, the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients declines. Ginseng enjoys a reputation as an appetite stimulant and one study showed it increases the ability of the intestine to absorb nutrients, thus helping prevent undernourishment. This is a yin tonic, taken in China for fevers and for exhaustion due to a chronic, wasting disease such as tuberculosis. It can help coughs related to lung weaknessIn the 1960s, a Japanese scientist, Shoji Shibata, at the Meiji College of Pharmacy in Tokyo, identified a unique set of chemicals that are largely responsible for ginseng’s actions. They are saponins, biologically active compounds that foam in water. Ginseng’s unique saponins were dubbed “ginsenosides.”
Research reveals that ginseng can have beneficial effects on metabolic function, immunity, mood, and physiological function at the most basic cellular level. It does not benefit everyone; recent studies of elite athletes reveal that it has no demonstrable effects on athletic performance. Yet in older people, studies show that it reduces fatigue, improves performance, and boosts mood. This makes sense in classic terms because why would world-class athletes, with superior yang energy, want to take a root for people with “devastated ” yang? But if you are recovering from a drawn-out illness, feeling fatigued, or feeling the effects of age’ if you are experiencing a “collapse” of your “chi”, ginseng may be right for you.
As an adaptogenic, ginseng’s action varies. In China, ginseng is best known as a stimulant, tonic herb for athletes and those subject to physical stress, and as a male aphrodisiac. It is also a tonic for old age, and is traditionally taken by people in northern and central China fro late middle age onward, helping them to endure the long hard winters.
Ginseng has been researched in detail over the past 20-30 years in China, Japan, Korea, Russian, and many other countries. Its remarkable “adaptogenic” quality has been confirmed. Trials show that ginseng significantly improves the body’s capacity to cope with hunger, extremes of temperature, and mental and emotional stress. Furthermore, ginseng produces a sedative effect when the body requires sleep. The ginsenosides that are responsible for this action are similar in structure to the body’s own stress hormones. Ginseng also increases immune function and resistance to infection, and supports liver function.
In Asian countries, ginseng has long been recognized as effective n reducing alcohol intoxication and also as a remedy for hangovers. A clinical experiment demonstrated that ginseng significantly enhanced blood alcohol clearance in humans. In regards to cancer, a number of experiments have shown that ginseng can help restore physiological balance within the system and significantly reduce the side effects when used along with anticancer drugs. For diabetes, when patients are treated with ginseng at the early stages, conditions can return to normal. In advanced stages, the blood glucose level is significantly lowered. When combined with insulin, insulin requirements are reduced while still effectively lowering blood glucose level. Other symptoms such as fatigue and decreased sexual desire are also alleviated.
There is some evidence that ginseng, taken in small amounts over a long period of time, improves regulation of the adrenals so that stress hormones are produced rapidly when needed and broken down rapidly when not needed. Whole root is best. Extracts, even those that contain specific guaranteed-potency ginsenosides, don’t have some of the other compounds in ginseng that may be beneficial. Its not recommended to take even good quality extracts for more than 2-3 weeks at a time, but the whole ginseng root, in small amounts can be taken every day for a year or more.
At the Institute of Immunological Science at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, researchers have been studying a ginsenoside, Rb2. In mice given lung tumors,’ oral administration of ginsenoside Rb2 caused a marked inhibition of both neovascularization and tumor growth,’ they write. Neovascularization, also called angiogenesis, is the tendency of tumors to create tiny blood vessels that feed their malignant growth.
A case-control study in Korea compared about 2,000 patients admitted tot eh Korea Cancer Center Hospital in Seoul to another 2,000 noncancer patients. Those with cancer were about half as likely to use ginseng as those without cancer. Cancer risk was lower with those who took ginseng for a year but much lower for those who took ginseng for up to 20 years. Fresh ginseng, white ginseng extract, white ginseng powder, and red ginseng were all associated with reduced cancer risk.
Known Hazards : Side effects include inability to fall asleep, increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Overuse or prolonged use may cause over stimulation (diarrhoea, nervousness, skin eruption). Caution with other stimulants needed. Avoid in patients with psychosis and manic disorders. Not recommended during pregnancy and breast feeding
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Alternative Names: metabolic syndrome X, cardiometabolic syndrome, syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, Reaven’s syndrome (named for Gerald Reaven), and CHAOS (in Australia).
Suddenly, it’s a health condition that everyone’s talking about. While it was only identified less than 20 years ago, metabolic syndrome is as widespread as pimples and the common cold. According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it. That’s almost a staggering one out of every six people.
CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURE
Indeed, metabolic syndrome seems to be a condition that many people have, but no one knows very much about. It’s also debated by the experts — not all doctors agree that metabolic syndrome should be viewed as a distinct condition.
So what is this mysterious syndrome — which also goes by the scary-sounding name Syndrome X — and should you be worried about it?
Understanding Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a group of risk factors — high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat.
Obviously, having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for grave problems. These risk factors double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. They increase your risk of diabetes by five times.
Many people who have either diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity also have one or more of the other conditions, although it may have gone unrecognised.
Individually, each of these conditions can lead to damage to the blood vessels, but together they’re far more likely to do harm. People with these conditions in combination become much more likely to experience heart disease, stroke and other conditions related to problems with the blood vessels.
When a person has such a combination, they’re said to have metabolic syndrome. This is also sometimes called insulin-resistance syndrome (because one of the features is a very high level of the hormone insulin in the blood, which the body doesn’t react to or is ‘resistant’ to) or syndrome X.
There are currently two major definitions for metabolic syndrome provided by the International Diabetes Federation and the revised National Cholesterol Education Program, respectively. The revised NCEP and IDF definitions of metabolic syndrome are very similar and it can be expected that they will identify many of the same individuals as having metabolic syndrome. The two differences are that IDF state that if BMI > 30 kg/m2, central obesity can be assumed, and waist circumference does not need to be measured. However, this potentially excludes any subject without increased waist circumference if BMI < 30, whereas, in the NCEP definition, metabolic syndrome can be diagnosed based on other criteria, and the IDF uses geography-specific cut points for waist circumference, while NCEP uses only one set of cut points for waist circumference, regardless of geography. These two definitions are much closer to each other than the original NCEP and WHO definitions.
Metabolic syndrome is also becoming more common. But the good news is that it can be controlled, largely with changes to your lifestyle.
Symptoms: The problems found in metabolic syndrome include:
•Central obesity– fat is laid down around the abdomen rather than spread evenly around the body
•Abnormal fat levels in the blood– specifically, high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL (or ‘good’) cholesterol, which can lead to arteriosclerosis (fatty plaques) on the walls of blood vessels
Having one component of metabolic syndrome means you’re more likely to have others. And the more components you have, the greater are the risks to your health.
Experts aren’t sure why metabolic syndrome develops. It’s a collection of risk factors, not a single disease. So it probably has many different causes. Some risk factors are:
*Insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use glucose — a simple sugar made from the food you eat — as energy. In people with insulin resistance, the insulin doesn’t work as well so your body keeps making more and more of it to cope with the rising level of glucose. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance is closely connected to having excess weight in the belly.
*Obesity — especially abdominal obesity. Experts say that metabolic syndrome is becoming more common because of rising obesity rates. In addition, having extra fat in the belly — as opposed to elsewhere in the body — seems to increase your risk.
*Unhealthy lifestyle. Eating a diet high in fats and not getting enough physical activity can play a role.
*Hormonal imbalance. Hormones may play a role. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — a condition that affects fertility — is related to hormonal imbalance and metabolic syndrome.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you might be anxious. But think of it as a wake-up call. It’s time to get serious about improving your health. Making simple changes to your habits now can prevent serious illness in the future.
The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:
*Age. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting less than 10 percent of people in their 20s and 40 percent of people in their 60s. However, warning signs of metabolic syndrome can appear in childhood.
*Race. Hispanics and Asians seem to be at greater risk of metabolic syndrome than other races are.
*Obesity. A body mass index (BMI) — a measure of your percentage of body fat based on height and weight — greater than 25 increases your risk of metabolic syndrome. So does abdominal obesity — having an apple shape rather than a pear shape.
*History of diabetes. You’re more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or a history of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
*Other diseases.A diagnosis of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or polycystic ovary syndrome — a similar type of metabolic problem that affects a woman’s hormones and reproductive system — also increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.
Having metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of developing these conditions:
*Diabetes. If you don’t make lifestyle changes to control your insulin resistance, your glucose levels will continue to increase. You may develop diabetes as a result of metabolic syndrome.
*Cardiovascular disease.High cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the buildup of plaques in your arteries. These plaques can cause your arteries to narrow and harden, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Although doctor does not typically look for metabolic syndrome, the label may apply if you have three or more of the traits associated with this condition.
Several organizations have criteria for diagnosing metabolic syndrome. These guidelines were created by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) with modifications by the American Heart Association. According to these guidelines, you have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these traits:
*Large waist circumference, greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters, or cm) for women and 40 inches (102 cm) for men. Certain genetic risk factors, such as having a family history of diabetes or being of Asian descent — which increases your risk of insulin resistance — lower the waist circumference limit. If you have one of these genetic risk factors, waist circumference limits are 31 to 35 inches (79 to 89 cm) for women and 37 to 39 inches (94 to 99 cm) for men.
*A triglyceride level higher than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or you’re receiving treatment for high triglycerides.
*Reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol — less than 40 mg/dL (1 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women — or you’re receiving treatment for low HDL.
*Blood pressure higher than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) systolic or higher than 80 mm Hg diastolic, or you’re receiving treatment for high blood pressure.
*Elevated fasting blood sugar (blood glucose) of 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher, or you’re receiving treatment for high blood sugar.
The first line treatment is change of lifestyle (e.g., Dietary Guidelines for Americans and physical activity). However, if in three to six months of efforts at remedying risk factors prove insufficient, then drug treatment is frequently required. Generally, the individual disorders that comprise the metabolic syndrome are treated separately. Diuretics and ACE inhibitors may be used to treat hypertension. Cholesterol drugs may be used to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, if they are elevated, and to raise HDL levels if they are low. Use of drugs that decrease insulin resistance, e.g., metformin and thiazolidinediones, is controversial; this treatment is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A 2003 study indicated that cardiovascular exercise was therapeutic in approximately 31% of cases. The most probable benefit was to triglyceride levels, with 43% showing improvement; but fasting plasma glucose and insulin resistance of 91% of test subjects did not improve. Many other studies have supported the value of increased physical activity and restricted caloric intake (exercise and diet) to treat metabolic syndrome.
Restricting the overall dietary carbohydrate intake is more effective in reducing the most common symptoms of metabolic syndrome than the more commonly prescribed reduction in dietary fat intake
The clinical value of using “metabolic syndrome” as a diagnosis has recently come under fire. It is asserted that different sets of conflicting and incomplete diagnostic criteria are in existence, and that when confounding factors such as obesity are accounted for, diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome has a negligible association with the risk of heart disease.
These concerns have led to the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes to issue a joint statement identifying eight major concerns on the clinical utility of the metabolic syndrome.
It is not contested that cardiovascular risk factors tend to cluster together, but what is contested is the assertion that the metabolic syndrome is anything more than the sum of its constituent parts.
Lifestyle and home remedies:
You can do something about your risk of metabolic syndrome and its complications — diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Start by making these lifestyle changes:
Lose weight. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce insulin levels and blood pressure, and decrease your risk of diabetes.
Exercise. Doctors recommend getting 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, every day.
Doing Yoga :Doing Yoga exercise, meditation etc. under the guideline of a good yoga teacher
Stop smoking.Smoking cigarettes increases insulin resistance and worsens the health consequences of metabolic syndrome. Talk to your doctor if you need help kicking the cigarette habit.
Eat fiber-rich foods. Make sure you include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables in your grocery cart. These items are packed with dietary fiber, which can lower your insulin levels.
Various strategies have been proposed to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome. These include increased physical activity (such as walking 30 minutes every day), and a healthy, reduced calorie diet. There are many studies that support the value of a healthy lifestyle as above. However, one study stated that these potentially beneficial measures are effective in only a minority of people, primarily due to a lack of compliance with lifestyle and diet changes. The International Obesity Taskforce states that interventions on a sociopolitical level are required to reduce development of the metabolic syndrome in populations.
Although much more research has to be done to work out the relationship between different factors in metabolic syndrome, and how drug treatments might be used to help people, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, preventing or delaying the development of serious disease. Losing weight and getting active are the top priority. But make sure you get proper advice and support – research has shown that people who join a weight-loss group, for example, are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
In terms of getting fit, join a gym or find a sport you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick at it if you like what you’re doing.
Some preventive treatments are also available from your GP. It’s important to keep your blood pressure under control, and blood fat (cholesterol) and blood sugar (glucose) at healthy levels. But some blood pressure treatments, such as diuretics and beta blockers, can actually make metabolic syndrome worse.
A 2007 study of 2,375 male subjects over 20 years suggested that daily intake of a pint (~568 ml) of milk or equivalent dairy products more than halved the risk of metabolic syndrome. Some subsequent studies support the authors’ findings, while others dispute them.
Check with your doctor if you’re concerned. Drugs to control blood fat and cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels, are often needed.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose
“As long as total caloric and nutrient intake stays the same, then metabolism, at the end of the day, should stay the same as well. One study that carefully demonstrated this, published in 2009 in The British Journal of Nutrition, involved groups of overweight men and women who were randomly assigned to very strict low-calorie diets and followed for eight weeks. Each subject consumed the same number of calories per day, but one group took in three meals a day and the other six.
Both groups lost significant and equivalent amounts of weight. There was no difference between them in fat loss, appetite control or measurements of hormones that signal hunger and satiety. Other studies have had similar results.”
You’ll feel this exercise more in the abdominal muscles — and less in the hip flexors — by gripping a roller with the backs of your thighs. That’s because recruiting the backs of your legs will prevent you from overworking the front of your legs and hips. The result is an intense workout for your abs.
Lie on a mat or a padded surface. Cross your ankles and hug a 36-inch roller by squeezing your heels toward your hips. (Hold the roller behind your ankles, not behind your knees.) Place your hands behind your head. Inhale.
On an exhale, contract your abdominals and, without dropping the roller, raise your tailbone and hips slightly off the floor. Simultaneously roll your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor, moving your body into a tight ball. Pause at the peak of the contraction, then slowly release down to the starting position. Repeat 12 to 16 times. Rest, change the cross of your legs and repeat for another set.