Healthy Byte: The Unicorn for Women – Flat Belly

 

Image result for skinny fat pooch women

Originally Posted HERE

The idea that for a woman to be beautiful and healthy she must have a flat stomach has infiltrated mainstream society. Not only is this far from the truth – women are beautiful regardless of stomach size – but it is also a rarity to have a perfectly flat stomach.

“This belief is setting women up for failure because a woman’s stomach isn’t meant to be flat,” Ashley Wood, RN, BSN, contributor at Demystifying Your Health, told Grateful, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Over and over again, I see friends and strangers killing themselves to suck any bit of bulge from their stomach, feeling inadequate any time they see a stomach roll. For years, I felt the same way, terrified to put on a bathing suit, feeling exposed and ugly, desperate to fit the standards society had told me I needed to meet.

It feels like every day I see another article that perpetuates this narrative, promising a certain food or exercise move will finally allow me to achieve this mystical flat stomach. It suggests that any problems in life would be solved if I could simply accomplish that goal. Well, I can’t, and that’s actually OK. In fact, it’s great! Letting go of a goal you can’t achieve and allowing yourself to focus on those you can gives you back control of your life.

This may be hard to believe after what feels like a lifetime of hearing that a flat stomach is gold. So, as with any myth, the best way to tackle it is with facts. Here’s why some women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.

WOMEN HAVE EXTRA PADDING TO PROTECT VITAL ORGANS

There is a very big reason why some women cannot achieve a flat stomach, and it is called reproductive organs.

“The design of a woman’s anatomy is different than men,” Wood says. “In addition to having room for digestive organs, like your stomach, liver and intestines, it has to have space for your reproductive organs and needs extra padding to protect all of these vital organs. This process of naturally storing fat cells in the stomach area begins during adolescence and young adulthood in preparation for childbearing later in life.”

Yes, right when we enter adolescence and start being told exactly what our body should look like is when it starts to take on a mind of its own.

Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat
Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat

Men and women also lose fat in different ways.

“When men lose weight, they tend to lose their visceral fat, which is the layer of fat behind their abdominal muscles, while women typically lose subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just below the skin,” said Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health expert for Maple Holistics. “Both your visceral and subcutaneous fat contribute to your achieving a flat stomach, which is why some women find it harder to do so than others. Furthermore, factors like hormone regulation play a role in storing visceral fat, which is why many women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.”

TRUST HOW YOUR BODY IS BUILT

Just like it protects your organs, each thing your body does is for a reason. As you fight what your body does, it puts you at odds with what it needs, sometimes to the point of danger.

Ariel Johnston, a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders, cautions clients that they’ll likely see fat accumulate around their stomachs.

“When weight restoring through increased nutrition, the weight is distributed unevenly and goes to the stomach first,” she said. “This is amazing because it is the body’s way of telling us that it needs the extra fat layer there to protect itself. The mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood, but after adequate time and nourishment, the fat is redistributed throughout the body.”

Yes, your stomach will go up and down, looking different at certain times than others. “It is normal for the stomach to expand after a big meal to accommodate for the food nourishing your body. This isn’t necessarily bloating; just your body doing it’s work to break down food in the stomach,” Johnston says.

Having a flat stomach is not the key to being healthy or happy. There are some days in which I see my stomach poke out in my shirt or still cringe at first look when I’m in my undergarments, but life is simply too short to go after something unattainable while hating myself.

“I tell my clients that a slightly rounded tummy or some rolls is normal and that their worth is so much more than what they look like in a swimsuit,” Johnston says.

Instead of diets and habits that promise women something they don’t need to and can’t achieve, let’s start celebrating women for who they are.

Healthy Byte: New Year’s Resolution – Be Healthier

Originally Posted HERE

Related image

How is it that the United States spends the most money on healthcare, and yet still has the one of the lowest life expectancies of all developed nations? (To be specific: $9,400 per capita, 79 years, and 31st.)

Maybe those of us in healthcare have been looking at it all wrong, for too long.

Healthy lifestyle and longevity

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a massive study of the impact of health habits on life expectancy, using data from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). This means that they had data on a huge number of people over a very long period of time. The NHS included over 78,000 women and followed them from 1980 to 2014. The HPFS included over 40,000 men and followed them from 1986 to 2014. This is over 120,000 participants, 34 years of data for women, and 28 years of data for men.

The researchers looked at NHS and HPFS data on diet, physical activity, body weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption that had been collected from regularly administered, validated questionnaires.

What is a healthy lifestyle, exactly?

These five areas were chosen because prior studies have shown them to have a large impact on risk of premature death. Here is how these healthy habits were defined and measured:

1.   Healthy diet, which was calculated and rated based on the reported intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, and unhealthy foods like red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.

2.  Healthy physical activity level, which was measured as at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity daily.

3.   Healthy body weight, defined as a normal body mass index (BMI), which is between 18.5 and 24.9.

4.   Smoking, well, there is no healthy amount of smoking. “Healthy” here meant never having smoked.

5.   Moderate alcohol intake, which was measured as between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men. Generally, one drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That’s 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Researchers also looked at data on age, ethnicity, and medication use, as well as comparison data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research.

Does a healthy lifestyle make a difference?

As it turns out, healthy habits make a big difference. According to this analysis, people who met criteria for all five habits enjoyed significantly, impressively longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men (if they had these habits at age 50). People who had none of these habits were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Study investigators also calculated life expectancy by how many of these five healthy habits people had. Just one healthy habit (and it didn’t matter which one) … just one… extended life expectancy by two years in men and women. Not surprisingly, the more healthy habits people had, the longer their lifespan. This is one of those situations where I wish I could reprint their graphs for you, because they’re so cool. (But if you’re very curious, the article is available online, and the graphs are on page 7. Check out Graph B, “Estimated life expectancy at age 50 according to the number of low-risk factors.”)

This is huge. And, it confirms prior similar research — a lot of prior similar research. A 2017 study using data from the Health and Retirement Study found that people 50 and older who were normal weight, had never smoked, and drank alcohol in moderation lived on average seven years longer. A 2012 mega-analysis of 15 international studies that included over 500,000 participants found that over half of premature deaths were due to unhealthy lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking. And the list of supporting research goes on.

So what’s our (big) problem?

As the authors of this study point out, in the US we tend to spend outlandishly on developing fancy drugs and other treatments for diseases, rather than on trying to prevent them. This is a big problem.

Experts have suggested that the best way to help people make healthy diet and lifestyle change is at the large-scale, population level, through public health efforts and policy changes. (Kind of like motorcycle helmets and seat belt legislation…) We have made a little progress with tobacco and trans-fat legislation.

There’s a lot of pushback from big industry on that, of course. If we have guidelines and laws helping us to live healthier, big companies aren’t going to sell as much fast food, chips, and soda. And for companies hell-bent on making money at the cost of human life, well, that makes them very angry.

Healthy Byte: This Year’s Goal – Try Being ‘Basically Healthy’

How To Be a Basically Healthy Person
Here are the laziest-possible ways to shine up your diet and fitness
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Even if we have the best of intentions, the goals we set to get healthy (after this last slice of pizza, of course) sometimes fall by the wayside. It can be hard to stay motivated, or even properly informed, since the recommendations for what to eat and how long to exercise can be confusing and conflicting. (Fat, for example, was off the menu for years under official guidance that eating fat makes you fat, and now that advice is getting kicked to the curb.) As a result, truly healthy behaviors can have a hard time cutting through the noise. Despite everything we know about the health benefits of exercise, a recent study found that 43% of employed adults do not exercise often.

Yet getting healthier is still a worthy goal, and many experts in the fields of exercise, health and nutrition have clear ideas about how to get there. Here are some low-stress, bare-minimum ways to become a healthier person, even for those of us who love to eat and hit snooze.

How to eat

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a nutrient numbers game. And no: you don’t have to go vegan or adopt a Paleo diet. Just make sure your plate contains more than two different colors, says Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “If it’s not, it’s boring, and you won’t meet your nutrient requirements,” she says. “If it’s green and red and brown, you can.”

After coloring your plate, make sure to consume it—and enjoy it—with someone else. “Sharing a meal with friends and family impacts our health and how we age and fare as we get older,” Meydani says.

Some countries, like Brazil, follow just that advice. Their government recommends eating whole foods, avoiding processed ones and dining with other people.

How to exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that American adults do two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus some muscle-strengthening on the side.

Many people don’t do any of that. A 2015 study published in the The BMJ argued that older adults, especially, find it hard to meet that government advice. “Getting inactive people to do a little bit of physical activity, even if they don’t meet the recommendations, might provide greater population health gains,” wrote study author Philipe de Souto Barreto, a researcher at University Hospital of Toulouse, in the paper.

Yet new evidence suggests they don’t need to. Barreto points out that a study of more than 250,000 older adults found that getting less than an hour of moderate physical activity each week was linked to a 15% drop in death, which means that people do benefit from even a small amount of exercise. Studies have also shown significant health benefits fromsimple exercises like walking.

Some researchers are seeing how low people can go when it comes to time spent working out. Enter the one-minute workout, where you work out as hard as possible for 60 seconds, with some warm-up and cool-down exercises thrown in, too. Even though the time spent exercising is minimal, it’s meant to be hard, and is shown to improve health and fitness. “There might be time-efficient ways to get fit,” says Martin Gibala, chair of kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada. “The notion of meeting people in the middle is positive—but there’s no free lunch.”

The takeaway

Stressing out over meeting government numbers—whether for nutrient values of the number of exercise minutes—may not be worth the headache. Getting some exercise every week and eating colorful meals with friends can be an enjoyable way to live a healthier life. Doing something, it seems, is what’s important.

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig