When we think of obesity, we imagine an overweight person with flabby skin and a gait that is hardly graceful. It brings to our mind a history of loaded calories, lethargic life-style and extreme neglect of the physical body. But obesity is not that simple.The body is known to come to this effect after a long- term pathological process. Here, Nidhi Pandya discusses how one’s body becomes a fat and flesh manufacturing factory and what precautions and remedies can be taken to effectively manage this effect.
Most of today’s treatments for obesity are seen to be ineffective in the long term since the focus here is more on getting rid of the physical fat rather than shutting down the fat factory. Liposuction and other surgical procedures may leave you lean for a while, but, you are sure to go back to your usual self very soon. The only way to effectively solve this problem is to understand how this factory works and then to shut it down.
Reasons behind obesity
In Ayurveda, obesity is known as a Santarpan Janya Vyadhi or a disease of over-indulgences. It is also a Bahudosh Avastha or a state where all your elements are out of balance. It can be caused by one or more of the following factors over a long- term period.
- Eating excessive amounts of sweet, oily and heavy foods.
- Day-time sleeping
- Being overly complacent
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of sexual activity
- Genetic components
What processes lead you to obesity?
Since fat cells multiply faster than they are broken down, they tend to block all the channels in the body. This blocking creates a cushion around the digestive fire or agni which then can burn sharply. The result of a sharp agni leads to a strong insatiable hunger resulting in the problem of over-eating and low metabolism. This then becomes a vicious circle. Large amounts of food are taken in but are not broken down leading to fat and flesh being lodged at unwanted places in the body like the abdomen, buttocks and breasts.
How this cycle can be broken according to Ayurveda?
The primary line of treatment for obesity is Langhan or Fasting. The logic here,is to allow the agni to burn strongly without any additional food. As a result, the very same agni will begin to digest the excess tissues and fat, cleaning the blocked channels and restoring its own original nature. In reality, long- term fasting is not always possible and other procedures are also highly recommended.
Shodhan Detox or Panchkarma is one of these procedures. Here, the doshas are forcefully expelled out of the body to clear the channels and the patient is put on the fast track to get rid of his obesity. Procedures include purging, enemas and even induced vomiting. However, these should be done under strict supervision, following all the desired rules and precautions.
For obese patients who are unable to undergo Shodhan detox, Shaman or Pacification of the doshas that include curbing the fat growth and minimizing it by the use of right diet and herbs.
An Integrative Approach to Fighting Obesity
It is possible to fight obesity by using the Ayurvedic understanding and integrating it with some of the modern- day methods. The result of the combination is more powerful than each one alone.
Udwartan – Dry massage with any of the combinations below can be effective in stimulating the stubborn fat tissue and breaking it down.
- Mixture of haldi, neem, lodhra, dadima peel and karanja bark powder
- Mixture of shirisha, nagakeshar and lodhra
- Mixture of priyangu, lodhra, khus and chandana
Single herbs or formulations – Certain herbs are known to have a special action towards the production of fat. They allow for the breakdown and absorption of fat tissue. Silajit, guggul, loha bhasma, neem, chitrak, pippali, haridra (haldi), haritaki, punarnava are particularly useful.
Some effective and readily available formulations are vyosadi guggul, tripahla guggul, chandraprabha vati, amrutadi guggul, vidanga churna, mustadi churna.
Periodic Fasting – By depriving your digestive fire of food, you give it a chance to digest and clean up unwanted material and restore digestive health. Fasting on Mondays after the week-end indulgence is highly recommended.
Mindful Eating and Counseling – Over-eating can often be a result of stress or depression. It helps to establish mindful eating routines and even writing a journal of everything that is consumed. Also, weighing yourself every single day can keep intake under check. Often counseling can help resolve internal conflicts and the patient can do away with binge eating.
Exercise – Exercise is an important aspect of weight loss. While certain Yoga asanas can help the metabolism and digestion of fat, cardio is also beneficial in losing the existing fat. For those who are severely obese, a minimum of 60 minutes are recommended everyday. This can include walking, swimming, biking, dancing or any other cardio activity. It is important to undertake exercise that is enjoyable in order to keep it sustainable.
Pranayam – Pranayams like Kapal Bhati and Bhastrika help to boost metabolism and regulate the fat production in the body.
Acupuncture – Accupuncture in tandem with a healthy life-style is found to be an effective solution to balance the fat input – output. However, it must be accompanied with some sort of exercise and appropriate diet.
Foods – Include lighter, drier and spicier grains in your diet. The cheat sheet below can serve as a basic guideline for obesity.
|Ideal waking time||Half hour before sunrise|
|Exercise (never on full stomach)||Any form of Cardio. Zumba, Biking, Swimming|
|Cooking Fat||Limited amounts of Ghee with Mustard Waghar, Groundnut oil, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Mustard oil in cooler weather. Ghee is preferred over all oils.|
|Breakfast||Warm water (not hot) with honey and lemon or Small cup of spiced milk. Oatmeal, Paddy Puffed Rice Items, Jowarchilra, Mung beans, Mung Dal Chilra, Spiced upma, Barley porridge.|
|Lunch||Cup of herbal tea before or after lunch. Small Quantity of Balanced meal. Avoid heavy, dense and cold food items. Avoid pickles and fried. Well churned Chaas with Jeera and sanidhav salt is ok an hour later.|
|Dinner||Eat Early – Warm lentil soup or dal with grilled vegetables. Can avoid grains or favor only barley, jowar or corn flour.|
|When you don’t follow the rules above||Skip a meal and drink some warm spicy tea or soup instead. Exercise well the next morning.favorTriphala as a tea or churna.|
|Massage||Dry Massage and exfoliation is the best|
|Fruits to Eat||Sour and light fruits such as berries, pomegranate, amla and jamun|
|Fruits to Avoid||Sweet and heavy fruits such as avocados, bananas, grapes, melons, grapes and coconut|
|Spices to favor||kesar, ginger, cumin, black-pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, mustard, cloves or garlic, bay leaves, cloves, garam masala|
|Spices to Avoid||amchur and regular salt. (Himalayan Salt or saindhav is ok)|
|Vegetables to favor||Bitter, hot and drier vegetables like methi, brinjal, mustard greens.|
|Vegetables to avoid||Excess zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber and sweet potatoes|
|Grains and legumes to favor||Lajja, jowar, barley, kulattha|
|Grains to Avoid||White rice, excess consumption of wheat|
|Teas||Tulsi, Chamomile, Lemon Ginger, Cinnamon|
|Water||Always Boiled and Cooled – Infused with either Cinnamon, Pinch of Ginger, Cloves|
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