9 health-related measurements that matter more than your weight
By Jessah Robinson, Adv Dip (Nut Med)
If there’s one number we tend to focus on, it is how many kilos we weigh. Even getting to the point where we start weighing ourselves on a daily basis, which is far too excessive and not always accurate, as several factors can cause these numbers to fluctuate. There are plenty of other measurements to consider if you are looking to lose weight and improve overall health, especially if you are wanting a stronger body. Here are 9 other numbers you should be focusing on:
1. Your waist measurement
The circumference of your waist is great for determining how much visceral (abdominal) fat you have. Visceral fat is referring to the type of fat that starts to impact around our organs and is linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. If you have a waist circumference greater than 94 cm for men and 80 cm for women this indicates a high level of internal fat deposits (visceral fat).
2. Your vegetable and fruit intake
Consuming adequate vegetables and fruits is linked to serious health benefits. It is best to consume a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruits to get a good dose of antioxidants which act as scavengers cleaning up free radicals before they can cause detrimental health effects. Interestingly, phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have been found to act as anti-obesity agents because they may play a role in suppressing growth of adipose tissue. For instance, in a 10-year follow-up study, high fruit and vegetable intake reduced long-term risk of weight gain and obesity among Spanish adults.
3. Your fasting blood sugar
Good blood sugar control is essential for all diabetics. However, it is not just diabetics that should be concerned with maintaining good blood sugar control. It is important for everyone to be mindful of their blood sugar to take care of your health. Meals high in refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and sugar, cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin. In some people, if this continues, the body loses the ability to respond to insulin and becomes “insulin resistant”. Excess levels of insulin are secreted as a result, which often causes weight gain as insulin is a ‘fat-storing hormone’. Blood sugar levels can become unstable and cause symptoms such as fatigue, mental fogginess, shakiness and strong cravings for carbohydrates. Tyrosine is an amino acid that stimulates the reward system of the brain and can reduce cravings for addictive foods.
4. Your blood pressure
Does your blood pressure consistently go over 140/90mmHg? Over the long term, elevated blood pressure or hypertension can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and heart failure. There can be a genetic component to high blood pressure, but often diet and lifestyle changes can make a big difference. In 2015, researchers found eight studies with a total of 2,100 participants that looked at the effect various diets had on blood pressure. Participants lost an average of 4 kg and in doing this were also able to lower their blood pressure.
5. Your weekly alcohol consumption
Not only can alcohol lead to that unflattering “beer belly”, but it is linked to a myriad of health issues such as: fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, depression, stroke and some cancers. Alcohol also irritates the lining of the digestive tract leading to malabsorption of certain nutrients, depletes the immune system, increasing susceptibility to infections, and is toxic to brain cells. While a glass of wine won’t likely affect your weight, ideally women should be having no more than one drink or less a day, and men should be having no more than two.
6. How many steps you take each day
As a general rule, more is always better. Because a more active lifestyle makes for a healthier you. Having a sedentary lifestyle is linked to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, and some cancers. Stress also promotes the release of endorphins – our “feel good” hormones. To reap these benefits, you don’t even need to go for an all out sweat session, an attainable and beneficial goal is to complete 10,000 steps a day. You can use a pedometer app on your phone or a Fitbit band to keep track.
7. Your cholesterol
It is true that overweight individuals are more likely to have high cholesterol, but you can be overweight and have normal cholesterol levels or even be of a healthy weight and have elevated cholesterol. This is because your cholesterol is affected by diet, age, genetics and your level of physical activity. While you can’t do much about genetics, you can make a world of difference by adopting simple diet and lifestyle changes. For more information about lowering cholesterol naturally see Dr Cabot’s book ‘Cholesterol – The Real Truth’.
8. How much sleep you are clocking each night
Not only is sleep critical for weight maintenance, but it’s also good for rest and restoration, energy levels, mood and a healthy immune system. Short-term consequences of sleep deprivation include a heightened stress response, pain, depression, anxiety, and cognition, memory and performance deficits. While long-term consequences include hypertension, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. It is recommended to get between 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If you are falling short of this you may benefit from taking magnesium, a powerful mineral that relieves sleeplessness and reduces disturbed sleep. Dr Cabot’s book ‘Tired of Not Sleeping’ provides practical strategies for the many factors that can affect your sleep.
9. How often you eat out or order in
It’s common knowledge that restaurant meals are much larger than a standard serving size, which means more calories, not to mention higher fat and sodium intake. Making meals at home is not only a great way to keep track of how much you’re actually eating, but is more economical and healthier, as you know the exact quality of your ingredients. If you are consistently eating the majority of your meals out, this can equate to a higher BMI, waist circumference, and higher blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating out is fun and can be healthy, but home-cooked meals should be your default.
Dr Cabot’s 15 Day Cleanse is a program designed to improve your energy, heal your gut and assist with weight loss. It comes with a healthy eating plan to set you on the right track for healthy eating.