Our culture has come to make thinness synonymous with health. Although there are many individuals who are thin and healthy, the appearance of health is sometimes only skin-deep. The definition of health itself is freedom from ailment or disease along with soundness of body and mind. A properly functioning body creates true health, allowing us to more fully appreciate and participate in the good things of life. Unfortunately many health issues lie deep inside the body, making them difficult to identify. Individuals that are thin yet unhealthy most likely fall into two categories; nutrition deficiencies and hormonal imbalance.
Everyone knows someone who appears able to eat whatever they want with no negative consequences. They eat candy or processed foods and rarely eat their vegetable yet they remain thin. Maybe this describes yourself. Nutrition plays a vital role in health. Our bodies need essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals found in a diet of varied wholesome foods. These nutrients fuel the body to function as it should. Nutrition deficiencies result when individuals do not eat to fuel their bodies properly or skip meals in order to achieve a slim figure. Both types of people aren’t giving the body what it needs to survive and thrive and results in extra fat stores. Although hidden, these extra fat stores create health issues.
Subcutaneous vs. Visceral Fat
When it comes to health, the type and location of fat can make a difference. Subcutaneous means “lying under the skin” making subcutaneous fat the type that sits right below the surface of the skin. Subcutaneous fat is the most noticeable due to its location. Lower levels of subcutaneous fat creates a slender looking physique however does not mean automatic health. In reality, fat that isn’t easily seen creates many health issues.
Visceral fat, also known as “belly fat” is located around the midsection, deep in the body. Although not readily identifiable, visceral fat surrounds vital organs such as the pancreas, liver and intestines causing damage when in excess.The liver in particular is negatively impacted. One of the responsibilities of the liver is to break down fat cells to convert into energy. If the liver must constantly process higher amounts of these fat cells, overload of this vital organ occurs, leading to chronic inflammation.
Visceral fat cells are also physiologically different from subcutaneous fat cells. Visceral fat cells are larger in size and when left unchecked continue to grow until they atrophy. This change in the cell makes them overproduce a chemical called cytokines, resulting in hormonal imbalance. Researchers have found this hormonal disruption increases risk for cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and insulin resistance. Research has also pointed to the relationship between high levels of visceral fat and cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. A final word on fat. Fat is not inherently bad. The body requires certain levels of fat in order to function and thrive. Issues arise from elevated levels of fat. Elevated fat levels stem from unhealthy habits and is not the root cause of the problem.
There are also individuals who are thin and may even eat relatively well but remain unhealthy. Hormonal imbalances always create metabolic issues making hormonal health pivotal to overall health. Health issues that arise as a direct result of hormonal imbalances are; diabetes, thyroid problems,polycystic ovaries, low testosterone, osteoporosis, libido problems,cancer and digestive system issues, to name a few. Although hormonal health depends upon a number of contributing factors,two root causes include chronic stress and insufficient sleep. For more on hormones go to:
What can be done to fix the problem?
One of the amazing things about the body is its ability to heal itself. Just as unhealthy habits always create sickness, healthy habits always generate healing and health. When given the correct tools it needs,the body thrives like it was meant to. The four most important healthy habits one should develop regardless of size are:
- Nutrition- Consume whole foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meat. Limit red meat and animal fat. Avoid processed, sugar laden foods. Consume healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, natural nut butters and raw nuts. (in moderation) Also avoid eating three large meals a day or skipping meals. Instead eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours, 5-6 times a day. Do not eat late at night and remember to stay hydrated with water.
2. Stress Management- Individuals may overlook the importance of stress management for overall health, however chronic stress plays a major role not only to hormonal imbalances but a wide variety of other ailments. When the body cannot turn off the feeling of being threatened that accompanies chronic stress, the body and mind suffer. To learn more about stress at the cellular level go to: https://phytotherapi.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/stress-at-the-microbiological-level/
For a video on how stress affects the body go to:
3.) Sleep-we live in an age of multitasking and full schedules. Sometimes it may seem like the answer to get everything done on the endless to-do-list is to sacrifice sleep. Lack of sleep, however leads to hormone imbalance, elevated toxins in the body, inability to focus and irritability. Adults need 7-8 hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep a night, while children require 9-10 hours a night. To learn more about the importance of sleep go to:
4.) Exercise- Some people may dread this word, but exercise contributes much to overall health. Although some people may find enjoyment in lifting weights or joining a group fitness class, any intentional physical activity that keeps an individual active for 30 minutes or more a day counts. Some examples include going on a bike ride with family, hiking to explore the beauty outside, playing tennis with friends or walking your dog.
Remember the appearance of health and true health are not always the same thing. Thin doesn’t always mean healthy. Creating a healthy lifestyle by developing healthy habits is the only way to allow the body to function properly and heal itself. Developing these habits may seem overwhelming at first but if taken one habit at a time and one day at a time, you will come to realize the long term benefits far outway any immediate sacrifice. True health means more time with loved ones, more energy to play and explore the world around you. True health in body and mind means peace and happiness in your life, and who doesn’t want that?