Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Weight - Especially Now

Posted by Leyda Figueroa RD, LND on May 22, 2020 1:53:17 PM

Finding a healthy weight that works for you also means finding a weight that works for your health. When your weight is in a healthy range, you are able to prevent many diseases and conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Finding your healthy weight can also contribute to increased energy and strength, feelings of joy, and to greater self-esteem.

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Defining Your Healthy Body Weight

By finding your body’s healthy weight and maintaining it as much as possible, you will have a powerful tool to support a longer, more able life. So, how do you know what your recommended weight is? You can start by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. It doesn’t measure body fat directly, but instead uses an equation to make an approximation.

BMI can help determine whether a person is at a generally healthy or unhealthy weight. A high BMI can be a sign of too much fat on the body, while low BMI can be a sign of too little fat on the body. You can conveniently calculate your BMI to find out where you stand:

While BMI can be useful in screening, it does have its limits. BMI may overestimate the amount of body fat in athletes and other people with very muscular bodies. It may also underestimate the amount of body fat in older adults and other people who have lost muscle mass. That’s why at Pravan Clinic we also utilize other methods to measure body composition, including bioelectrical impedance analysis and skinfold thickness measurements (with calipers).

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As Pravan’s Nutritionist I work with our patients to help them meet health-related goals, including weight loss. I feel strongly that knowledge is power, which is why it’s important to be mindful of the many important reasons to maintain a healthy weight. As you’ll see, the weight we carry has a significant impact on our overall health and wellbeing - especially now.

 

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Lowering your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases should be major reasons (and motivating factors) for maintaining a healthy weight. High adipose tissue impairs the ability of hormones and other metabolites to get to their receptors to be able to do their job. This results in hormonal imbalances and initiates a cascade of unhealthy physiological changes that set the stage for chronic diseases.

 

Lower Risk of Complications and Death in the Event of COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Infections

It is well recognized throughout medical literature that excess body fat induces immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation, which is directly linked to the cytokine storm that is responsible for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome seen in influenza and other respiratory viruses. Beyond this, individuals with obesity can have lower operating lung volumes. If our bodies are not ventilating adequately at baseline, and we add a respiratory infection like COVID-19, we are at a physiological disadvantage in terms of our respiratory status as we work to fight the virus off. Additionally, obesity leads to chronic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes. Researchers have reported that approximately 90% of hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19 had one or more underlying conditions. The most common condition was hypertension, followed by obesity and diabetes. 

 

More Motivation to Exercise and Better Mobility

Our bodies are meant to move, and when we move our muscles pump oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. When you keep moving you’re keeping your heart healthy and your hormones in balance. As we gain weight, we move less and that often leads to more weight gain. And as we start feeling out of shape the practice of moving on a regular basis begins to feel more challenging. As a result, staying within a healthy weight range is crucial. It helps us feel energized and agile, which motivates us to get out to exercise and keeps us healthy and engaged in physical activities that we enjoy.

 

Protection Against Age-Related Diseases

We already know that keeping our BMI within a healthy range provides protection from chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, but we should also know that it lowers the risk of age-related diseases. The inflammation created by excess adipose tissue causes cell damage, which increases the risk of cognitive decline, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight as we age is just as important as when we were younger.

 

Better Sleep

Getting restorative sleep every night is a crucial part of staying healthy. It may come as a surprise, but being overweight increases the chances of experiencing disrupted sleep. Excess fat, particularly belly fat, interferes with lung function. With fat in the way it becomes harder for the lungs to expand, which prevents you from breathing deeply, and sleeping well. Being overweight also raises the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing multiple times throughout your sleep.

 

Higher Energy Levels

As we put extra pounds on our bodies, we are taking on a burden that depletes our energy levels. Excess body fat disrupts the metabolic pathways and the body’s ability to use energy efficiently. Carrying extra pounds makes it challenging to feel good and exercise, which leads to more weight gain. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight and doing exercise to avoid being sedentary will decrease fatigue and tiredness, resulting in a super “pick-me-up.” 

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Greater Emotional Wellbeing

Our bodies produce chemicals that help buffer stress and stimulate feel good hormones. So, feeling happy and having a sense of well-being is controlled on a biochemical basis. When there’s excess body fat our body produces inflammatory chemicals that interfere with those feel-good substances, while increasing stress-related hormones. Knowing this, we can theorize that obesity may increase the risk of depression. In fact, more than 40% of adults with depression qualify as obese. This is why maintaining a healthy weight has such important implications for your emotional wellbeing.

 

Increased Fertility

Excess body fat also impacts our reproductive health. Overweight or obese women are more likely to have irregular periods and take longer to become pregnant than women who maintain a healthy weight. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine actually estimates that 12% of infertility cases are a result of weight-related factors.

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Prioritize Prevention

At Pravan Clinic we are dedicated to helping you reach your optimal health, including body weight. Your qualified Concierge Doctors and Nutritionist are always just a message away through our Mobile app. You can reach your nutritionist at any time to schedule an appointment, ask quick questions regarding your nutrition and health, or to share pictures of your meals for feedback. With the advantage of telemedicine, you can have a virtual nutrition consultation from the comfort of your own home, including the option of a pantry evaluation. Whatever your needs may be, we’re here to support you along the way!

 

About the author: Ms. Figueroa has a Bachelors in Science and a concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Rio Piedras campus, and a Dietetic Internship from UPR's Medical Sciences campus, where she was recognized for clinical excellency. She's licensed in Nutrition & Dietetics and a Registered Dietitian since 2014. Read her full bio. 

 

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Topics: nutritionist, health, covid-19

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