The building up of the excess amount of fat in our body is what we call ‘Obesity’ or ‘Medoroga‘ in Ayurveda. Obesity is synonymous with corpulence which means fatness of the body and is one of the most common non-communicable and nutritional disorders in the present scenario. To an extent, it may have a negative effect on the health of an individual, because it is analogous with increased susceptibility to the occurrence of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer, osteoarthritis, respiratory and gynecological problems and so on. The development-evolution- and expansion of technology and globalization/urbanization in the last decade has led to the refinement and enhancement in the quality and status of life. But at the same time, it has also brought some unfavorable conditions like inactive lifestyle and improper dietary habits which have reduced chances of success and effectiveness drastically. As a result, obesity has become a major health hazard since people who are obese have become a laughing topic for others in today’s beauty conscious society. Resulting which they may have a depressed mood and poor self-esteem and will have difficulty in following a regular exercise program.
As said above ‘Medoroga‘ is the accessible clinical existence for Hyperlipidaemia or ‘Sthaulya Roga‘ for Obesity in Ayurveda. Therefore obesity is an anatomical explanation (Prodromal stage of medoroga) and medovriddhi is the physiological imbalance or disproportion in fat metabolism which occurs after the patient has gained from 20% to 30% over average weight for his or her age, sex, and height.
The nearest and immediate cause of obesity is energy disparity i.e. energy input is more than energy output. It means, that the person eats more than his/her requirement. Although the underlying cause is usually complex and difficult to diagnose and treat because one has to find answers as to why the person eats more than he requires? According to Ayurveda, here are some reasons for obesity:
- Avyayama [lack of exercise]
- Divaswapan [daytime sleeping]: sleep apnea
- Intake of heavy/slimy food which increases Kapha Dosha : as a result of above factors the end product of digestion is not properly digested and because of blockage of channels results in accumulation of fat resulting in the person facing difficulty to perform his daily activities.
- Beeja dosha (genetic factors)
- As said earlier because the muscle and fat tissue (Mansa/ Meda Dhatu) is nourished normally thus Sthaulya people have bulging pendulous breasts, abdomen, and hips since the increase in muscle and fat bulk is not matched by a corresponding increase in energy.
- Because of excess weight: problem with respiration (shortness of breath), snoring.
- Because of excess Meda [lipid]: excess perspiration leading to bad odor.
- Since only mansa/meda Dhatu is replenished and not the subsequent tissues after Meda, thus results in sexual dysfunction as Sperms (Shukra Dhatu) are not nourished.
Types of Obesity
In Ayurveda literature, although there is no systemic classification of Sthaulya Roga. But Acharya Vagbhatta (principal contributors to Ayurveda text) has described three types of Sthaulya as:
Hina Sthaulya: mild overweight
Madhyama Sthaulya: moderate overweight.
Ati Sthaulya: excessive overweight.
In modern science, Fat is deposited in the adipose tissues in every form of obesity, and mainly two are recognized:
- Apple shape obesity: obesity occurs chiefly around the waist and is more frequently associated with metabolic disease(s) and complications.
- Pear-shaped obesity: fat deposition occurs chiefly over the buttocks.
Pathya [wholesome diet]: old brown rice, barley, chickpea, pigeon pea, green gram, horse gram, brinjal, drumstick, buttermilk, cardamom, amla, mustard oil, lukewarm water, Guggulu, lauha bhasma, shilajitu, water before meals, bitter-astringent-pungent herbs, exercise, late night awakening, mental thinking, walking, fasting, lukewarm bath.
Apathya [unwholesome diet]: newly harvested rice, black gram, potato, milk, curd, meat, fish, ghee, and jaggery, drink water after meals, cold water, daytime sleeping, and lack of exercise.
DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
- One should compare the amount of exercise considered essential to eat a food article, i.e. there is a fixed point/level in humans to which one can exercise every day, which means an average (non athlete) person cannot run or exercise energetically for more than 30 minutes i.e. you cannot burn more than 300 calories through EXERCISE every day! So it is important to have a check on the tongue, along with whatever exercise you do:
- ½ hour of walking burn 130 calories
- ½ hour of jogging/running burn 300-350 calories
- ½ hour of swimming burn 250 calories
- ½ hour of cycling burn 150 calories
- ½ hour of aerobic exercise burns 250 calories
- ½ hour of light exercise like writing/driving burn 50 calories
- i.e. when you don’t exercise you consume about 2000-2500 calories per day, so if you can add any of the above exercise protocol you can keep your calorie consumption below 2000 per day and you will be losing weight.
Tips on Eating:
Starvation/fasting/undernourishment is not the right way to lose weight, one has to take the right type of diet and eat heartily:
- Sedentary lifestyle, day time sleeping especially after meals, newly harvested rice, curd, butter, ghee, cheese, cream, chocolates, cakes, pastries, ice-creams, jams
- Oils should be reduced to the least amount possible, avoid deep-fried foods like poories, bhajis, potato chips.
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, yam, nuts, fruits with sweet pulp like mango, chickoos, bananas, and grapes.
- Frozen/ canned and tinned foods, instead prefer fresh foods.
- Remove all cold food and drink; prefer nothing that is refrigerator cold.
WHAT TO EAT:
- Kick start your any main meal with a large bowl of thin soup, preceded by good volume of salads prepared with green vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, cucumber, sprouted pulses).
- Roti or phulka (Indian Bread), without oil or ghee. The bhaji servings should be prepared from green leafy vegetables and oil may be replaced with gravy for taste.
- For morning and evening snacks, take recommended fruits, vegetables, and low fat (skimmed) milk, black tea without sugar has negligible calories.
- Carbohydrates: fat requires carbohydrates to burn, so take them in moderation like grains.
DEVELOP HEALTHY EATING HABITS:
- Eating slowly, chewing properly and by avoiding overeating, not only gives a feeling of satiation but also prevents consumption of extra calories.
- Do not eat only 2 large meals a day which may lead to overeating due to hunger make sure to take snacks in between.
- Keep a calm and friendly atmosphere in the room where one prefer(s) to eat meals since heated arguments, angry discussions, talking and watching television while eating, all lead to overeating.
- Do not be tempted to finish up the leftovers.
- Use nonstick cooking ware for cooking.
Ayurveda though is a slower process, but in case of weight loss, haste makes waste, so one has to be gradual in his approach. Although the internet is flooded with home remedies slimming foods/tablets but one should remember that weight loss does not depend only on reduced calorie intake. But the practical and sensible approach will be to observe the effect of diet-lifestyle-medicine-herbs on serum lipids, body weight and its efficacy in relieving features of Medoroga. It is wise to take vitamin and mineral supplementation during this period, to ensure that your body does not lack any nutrients. Remember that every healthy person has some FAT in his adipose tissues which can be utilized when there is a shortage of energy, so some extra fat is desirable since insufficient FAT weakens and damages your Immunity, Fat is an essential Dhatu and is good for you.
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