Obesity (severely overweight) is one of the important risk factors for the health and mental well-being of people in the 21st century. The prevention of obesity in children and adolescents is therefore extremely important.
If the body mass index (BMI) is 25-29.9 kg/m², one speaks of being overweight. Obesity begins at a BMI of 30.
According to the Robert Koch Institute (as of 2014), two thirds of men (67%) and half of women (53%) in Germany are overweight. In fact, a quarter of adults (23% of men and 24% of women) are severely overweight (obese).
Obesity also leads to a variety of secondary diseases:
- Metabolic diseases, for example type 2 diabetes or gout
- Diseases of the cardiovascular system
- Diseases of the musculoskeletal system, e.g. arthrosis
- Diseases of organs, for example the kidneys, liver, gallbladder
- Male infertility
- Mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders or depression due to exclusion or stigmatization in everyday life due to obesity
According to conventional medicine, obesity is too much body mass and fat. The most common cause is eating more calories than your body needs while not getting enough exercise. The following causes of overweight and obesity can be distinguished:
- Genetics: Everyone has a so-called calorie basal metabolic rate, which they burn off in complete rest, and which is probably genetically determined.
- Disorders in eating behavior: In some people, the feeling of satiety comes too late, even with high calorie intake. This is possibly hormonally related: the fullness of the stomach is reported to the brain in the form of hormones and nerve stimuli and a feeling of satiety arises. If this transmission is disturbed, one eats more than necessary.
- Psychological causes: Unhappy people often eat more to feel better.
- Lack of exercise - leads to correspondingly lower energy consumption and disruption of digestion.
- Medications: The pill, cortisone and some psychotropic drugs can stimulate the appetite and lead to water retention in the body.
- Other underlying diseases of hormone-producing organs (e.g. hypothyroidism) can also lead to obesity.
All cells in the human body contain fat. For example, the cell membrane of a typical blood cell consists of half saturated fat and half unsaturated fat. The right ratio of saturated and unsaturated fats is important to ensure the correct functioning of a cell. In overweight people, on the other hand, the cell membrane contains a degenerated mixture of fat molecules. Excess saturated fat increases the risk of diabetes by putting constant stress on cells. If the lipid imbalance lasts longer, this even leads to programmed cell death (source: https://www.muk.uni-frankfurt.de/75018797/Wie_Fette_die_Zellmembran_unter_Stress_Set? ).
Obesity in Ayurveda
As with all health issues, Ayurveda always starts with determining the constitution of the individual. In the case of obesity, this initially provides information about the respective "ideal weight":
Vata-dominant constitutions tend to have a low body weight. However, they like to counteract stress with sweets and therefore easily put on belly fat, especially if they work predominantly sedentary.Kapha dominance basically stands for a high degree of body mass and therefore high body weight, which, unlike Vata dominance, is not only concentrated on the stomach but is distributed over the whole body. The body shape associated with the Pitta dosha is more athletic and powerful and stands for a medium body weight in Ayurveda. Pitta constitutions have regular and strong digestion. Only in combination with Vata or Kapha does he have weight problems - especially in the hip and thigh area.
It is important to understand that ALL basic constitutions can develop overweight in the course of life.
Obesity was identified as one of the eight difficult-to-treat diseases by Indian physician and classic Ayurvedic author, Charaka. When a human has an excessive accumulation of "Meda" (adipose tissue) and "Mamsa" (meat), it is called obesity
According to Ayurvedic understanding, adipose tissue, like kapha, consists of the elements earth and water. If we eat foods that are difficult to digest, cold, fatty, and sweet and do little to eat them, Meda will become overfed.
Obesity is therefore also referred to in Ayurveda as "Medoroga" and considered a Kapha disorder, caused by a disturbed digestive fire (Agni) and as a result the formation of Ama (incompletely metabolized food) in the body. The ama blocks micro-channels in the body, increasing medhas (fatty tissue).
Since the digestive fire Agni and ergo the metabolism weakens with increasing age, a lot of exercise and Dosha-appropriate nutrition is particularly important in the second half of life. But also an excess of Vata, e.g. due to too much stress, has a negative effect on the Agni strength.
Ayurveda provides a bundle of measures to reduce obesity:
Nutrition, lifestyle changes, medicinal plants, massages, yoga and a Panchakarma cure.
In the Ayurvedic understanding, the diet should primarily be Kapha-reducing. The preferred foods therefore have the properties light, bitter, astringent, pungent, clear and are mostly heating. For example hot spices, hot water, barley grain or mustard oil. Food containing yeast, white flour, frozen foods and red meat should be avoided.
Decisive in food intake in Ayurveda is not only the "what", but also the "how":
- The food should be freshly prepared and eaten in peace and well chewed.
- Regular meal times with lunch as the main meal are important.
- You shouldn't eat anything three hours before going to sleep.
- No cold drinks, but hot water or tea with food (ideally: boiled drinking water with a little cumin and coriander seeds).
- Eat only when you're really hungry. And then two handfuls per meal is enough.
In addition, there aremethods for stress reduction such as yoga and meditation, because nobody can lose weight with increased Vata. Any physical and mental activity also helps in stimulating the metabolism. Cleansing enemas with kapha-reducing herbs are also often part of panchakarma regimens.
Furthermore, Ayurveda provides special medicinal plants for reducing fat and ama. These must be pungent and bitter; therefore Trikatu is the first choice when it comes to igniting Agni and activating tissue metabolism.
Obesity in TCM
From the point of view of TCM, obesity is often associated with a weakness in the functional circuit "spleen" or in the functional circuit "stomach" (a so-called "heat" process).What both cases have in common is the disturbance of the inflow and outflow in the body's metabolism, so that there is an accumulation of "waste products"
Analogous to the Agni formation in Ayurveda, TCM speaks of "tan" formation. The tan impedes the supply of the cells with food and its disposal, so that cell starvation occurs at the same time as the food stores are overflowing. TCM therapy for obesity therefore always aims to eliminate tan.
As with every therapy in TCM, the anamnesis with pulse and tongue diagnosis is at the beginning, on the basis of which individual recipes are prescribed, which help the body to eliminate the tan. This is not a long-term solution to the problem, but provides short-term relief for changes in food intake and for the body's perception of individual satiety.
In the long term, even according to the understanding of TCM, obesity can only be countered with proper nutrition. Too much meat and dairy products, for example, promote tan accumulation. If the cause of obesity is a weakness in the functional circuit of the spleen, its qi can be strengthened, for example, by energetically warm foods with a neutral to sweet taste, such as grain, beef, mutton and chicken.
In addition, the metabolism can be specifically stimulated by acupuncture, massages (Tuina) and meditative movement techniques such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
Important nutrients for fat metabolism
According to studies, the Maitake could reduce the storage of fat and glucose in the liver and thus prevent weight gain.
A very recent study from 2020 examined for the first time in humans the effect of a daily dose of 9.2 g of maitake extract for 4 weeks on type 2 diabetes and obesity - with the result that there were significant positive effects on health by reducing triglyceride levels. In addition, an animal experiment on mice showed that maitake helps to lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels and breaks down adipose tissue. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32464000/
Choline contributes to normal lipid metabolism.
Trikatu is a mix of ginger, long pepper and black pepper that stimulates the metabolism. In Ayurveda, the digestive fire Agni is central to the breakdown of fat, so food should be as pungent and bitter as possible; both apply perfectly to Trikatu.
A 2004 animal study in rats postulates that Trikatu may reduce the risk of hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis due to its ability to lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Therefore, Trikatu can be used as a potent hypolipidemic agent and reduce atherosclerosis associated with a high-fat diet. Human studies are pending. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15742354/
L-carnitine is essential for the energy metabolism of human cells. It plays an important role in fat metabolism and, as a so-called acceptor molecule (allows the fatty acids to pass through the cell membrane of the mitochondria), ensures that the fatty acids are absorbed into the mitochondria, the so-called "power plants" of the cells, where they are converted into energy. L-carnitine accumulates mainly in the heart tissue and in the skeletal muscles, since it is needed where there is an increased energy requirement. The heart muscle, for example, covers up to 80% of its energy requirements from the breakdown of fatty acids.
A study as part of a dissertation at the University of Rostock from 2007 was able to determine a significant influence of L-carnitine on the orocecal transit time; further studies are required.Patients requiring dialysis often have to take L-carnitine because large amounts of L-carnitine are flushed out during dialysis http://rosdok.uni-rostock.de/file/rosdok_disshab_0000000031/rosdok_derivate_0000003432/Dissertation-Duerr-2008.pdf
The active ingredient in Garcinia cambogia is the calcium salt of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is found in such a highly concentrated form in hardly any other fruit. Scientific investigations focus on the potential inhibition of fat synthesis from proteins and carbohydrates and the possible inhibition of a key enzyme in fat metabolism, which means that excess carbohydrates can be converted into glycogen and thus no longer stored as fat. However, there are no meaningful clinical studies on this.
A 2003 study examined the effects of short-term HCA intake on endurance exercise performance and fat metabolism in untrained women. In two double-blind crossover tests, 6 subjects took 250 mg HCA or a placebo for 5 days and then participated in a workout on the bicycle ergometer. HCA tended to decrease respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and carbohydrate oxidation during one hour of exercise. In addition, the training time to exhaustion was significantly increased. These results suggest that HCA increases fat metabolism, which may be associated with a decrease in glycogen utilization during equivalent-intensity exercise and improved exercise performance. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12953793/
The active ingredient in bitter orange extract is synephrine, which is mainly found in the peel and pulp. Synephrine is a phenylethylamine that primarily activates β3-adrenoceptors in the body.
A 2016 double-blind study supports the hypothesis that synephrine helps burn fat if the user moves after ingestion. The study involved 18 young, healthy adults who took synephrine 3 mg/kg body weight or a placebo one hour before exercising on a bicycle ergometer. As long as the test subjects did not move, synephrine did not change their fat and carbohydrate burning. However, with light to moderate exercise intensity, synephrine significantly increased fat burning. The maximum rate of fat oxidation increased by ~38% with synephrine - i.e. translated into weight, 7g more fat was burned per hour workout without additional physical exertion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27038225/
The coenzyme Q10 supports the mitochondria in burning fat. The majority of our Q10 requirement is produced by the body itself; however, this decreases with age.
A 2016 randomized, double-blind study was conducted among 60 overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26385228/
Compared to the placebo group, Q10 supplementation of 100 mg daily for 8 weeks resulted in a significant reduction in insulin levels as well as a significant Increase in plasma total antioxidant capacity (TAC) concentrations.
2017 Study Background: The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of Q10 supplementation on adiponectin concentration (a peptide hormone produced in fat cells that regulates hunger and food intake) and glucose metabolism in overweight and obese diabetics. Coenzyme Q10 significantly reduced HbA1c levels in overweight and obese patients with diabetes. In addition, the possible anti-adipogenic effect of Q10 could explain the significant reduction in weight and waist circumference and therefore the decrease in adipoline.Further studies are needed to assess the precise role of coenzyme Q10 on adipose tissue and adiponectins https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27657997/
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German and European case law wants to protect consumers from allegedly misleading claims. The statements made here refer to the original Ayurvedic and TCM texts. This knowledge, which has been handed down for thousands of years, is based on experiences that are passed on from generation to generation. It should not be claimed that the products described here have any effect in the sense of western medicine. All products are dietary supplements; they are not medicines and have no medicinal effect. If you are ill and need medical care, please contact your doctor or pharmacist.".