Posts Tagged obesity

Dietary Choices and Physical Pain

A new study published in the journal Pain (2017) sought to establish the relationship between dietary choices, and physical pain, as chronic pain has been associated with higher body mass index (BMI).

What did the researchers do?
The researchers recruited healthy obese and non-obese adults, and 98 participants completed the study. Participants were interviewed on dietary habits, which were acquired via a 24 hour dietary recall. Using the information from the dietary recall, nutrient intake was assessed and quality of each participant’s diet was rated on a healthy eating score. Additionally, participants completed questionnaires to assess levels of bodily pain and BMI was determined.

What did the researchers find?
As was shown in previous studies, the researchers found that the greater the magnitude of physical pain reported, the higher one’s BMI. In addition, the study revealed that healthy eating (primarily characterized by seafood and plant protein intake) was associated with less physical pain. This reduction in pain was likely due to the anti-inflammatory components found in seafood and plant proteins.

What is the take home message?
Healthy eating can influence many aspects of one’s health. Specifically, healthy eating decreases and physical pain.
If you would like to know more about healthy food choices, healthy eating, or meal planning, please call 613-290-6115 to book an appointment.

Graham Beaton is a naturopath practicing in downtown Ottawa.

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Worth Reading: Meal Times May Affect Weight Maintenance.

A new study (May, 2015) in the International Journal of Obesity investigated the relationship between meal times and several factors known to be involved in maintaining a healthy weight (including: blood sugar levels, carbohydrate metabolism, resting energy expenditure and levels of certain hormones).

Key points:
The regularity of meal times may influence body weight and blood sugar control. The impact of irregular meal times on weight maintenance occurs both if a person has a drastic change in their eating pattern (for instance overnight shift workers who switch sleep/wake cycles) and if there are small changes in a person’s normal daytime eating schedule (for instance delaying the timing of a meal).

Why does this occur?
There appear to be multiple factors why eating meals at inconsistent times could impact weight. They include:

  • Decreased resting energy expenditure
  • Decreased burning of carbohydrates
  • Decreased glucose tolerance
  • Decreased thermic effect of food (i.e. the amount of energy used to digest, absorb, distribute and store nutrients from food)
  • Change in cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands that influences several metabolic activities of the body)

Take home message:
Meet with a Naturopathic Doctor to put together a plan regarding eating times and what foods to eat when, as eating healthy foods at regular intervals is important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Graham Beaton is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Ottawa. For more information on weight loss, healthy eating or Naturopathic Medicine, please call 613-290-6115.

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Worth Reading: Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Obesity

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity looked at the link between vitamin D deficiency and obesity.

Key Points:
Obesity is thought to contribute to low vitamin D levels circulating in the blood in a few possible ways:

1- Due to the increased number of fat cells in obese individuals, vitamin D (a fat soluble vitamin) is taken up and stored in fat cells at a higher rate compared to lean individuals. After being absorbed into fat cells, vitamin D may be broken down by enzymes within fat cells at a faster rate than would occur in lean individuals

2- Synthesis of vitamin D in the liver may occur at a slower rate in obese individuals as compared to synthesis in lean individuals.

The article also suggests that vitamin D may contribute to obesity or possibly inhibit weight loss due to vitamin D’s role in the regulation and metabolism of fat cells and by possibly affecting the body’s resting metabolic rate.

Take home message:
While the link between obesity and vitamin D levels needs to be further investigated, if you are overweight and are having trouble losing weight, it may be worth consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor and having your levels of vitamin D checked.

Graham Beaton is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Ottawa at the Ottawa Collaborative Care Centre. For more information or to book an appointment, please call 613-290-6115.

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Weight Gain – A Challenge to Health

By Graham Beaton

We are constantly hearing that the number of overweight and obese individuals is rising. The latest estimates suggest that 59% of Canadian adults are overweight and 25% of Canadian adults are obese. This trend for increasing weight gain among Canadians has had, and will continue to have, a dramatic impact on health care costs since being overweight or obese increases one’s risk of developing several chronic diseases. Specifically, increased weight can lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, and mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.

This article will discuss why being overweight or obese increases the risk of certain diseases and evidence that suggests that weight can influence mood and food choices.

Obesity and the altered function of fat cells
Fat cells (called adipocytes) have several functions. Firstly, they serve as energy stores. They can also influence the amount of food consumed and stored, inflammation, and various metabolic functions through the production and release of various proteins.

Adipocytes in obese individuals behave differently than adipocytes in non-obese individuals. Normally, adipocytes regulate the release of fatty acids when energy is required. In obese individuals, this regulation can be lost, and fatty acid concentrations increase, increasing cardiovascular disease risk1. Moreover, in many overweight and obese individuals, the function of adipocytes is further altered to release proteins that promote inflammation1-2. Normally, inflammation is a function of the immune system that allows our bodies to fight infections and to breakdown and repair cells and tissues of the body. This function is controlled and limited to the time required to make repairs. But, in overweight and obese individuals, the control is lost and there is often a low level of inflammatory cells that remain in the body. These cells may end up targeting healthy cells, which can increase risk of developing certain conditions (cardiovascular disease, arthritis, kidney disease, etc).

The risk of cardiovascular disease is further elevated in overweight and obese individuals due to changes in levels of adiponectin, a type of protein released by adipocytes1. Adiponectin helps regulate blood sugar levels (by increasing the insulin sensitivity of muscle, thus assisting in the uptake of blood sugar), and the uptake of fatty acids for use as an energy source. Normally, adiponectin levels remain consistent, signalling cells to take up and to either store or use sugar and fat for energy. But, in overweight and obese individuals, adiponectin levels decline so that improper signals are sent to fat cells. This results in reduced insulin sensitivity (increased risk of type 2 diabetes) and increased levels of fatty acids in circulation which can lead to plaque formation and higher risk of cardiovascular disease1.

Influence of obesity on mood and food choices
There is an increased prevalence of anxiety and depression amongst overweight and obese individuals. There are many reasons for this, including alteration in one’s mood due to a negative body image, socioeconomic status (Obesity and depression are more prevalent amongst people of lower socioeconomic status) and lack of physical activity. Unfortunately, when many people are depressed they often turn to “comfort food” (i.e. high fat, high sugar foods) to improve their mood. Why does this happen? This happens due to both short- term and long -term effects of high fat, high sugar foods on the brain and subsequently on mood. In the short term, these foods trigger a release of mood enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain, making a person feel good3-4. Feeling better while eating then reinforces one’s desire for comfort food, causing one to continue to eat high fat and high sugar foods.

Over the long term this eating pattern influences mood by changing the reward centres in the brain. When exposed to the consumption of high fat and high sugar foods over the long term, there is decreased function of certain neurotransmitters (specifically dopamine) in the brain4. Altered levels of these neurotransmitters impact mood (anxiety and depression), decrease one’s ability to respond to acute stress and increases one’s desire to use substances (high fat and high sugar foods) that will subsequently stimulate the release of the “pleasurable” neurotransmitters4. Interestingly, the changes in reward centres of overweight and obese individuals are similar to that seen in people with alcohol and drug addiction.

Given these changes within fat cells and in the brain, it is not surprising that losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can be a struggle for many people. If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to address all as the elements that contribute to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. These include eating a healthy diet, being physically active, managing stress and mood, promoting good sleep, and adressing possible medication side effects. These are factors that I address when trying to help a person to achieve a healthy weight.

Graham Beaton is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in practice at Ottawa Collaborative Care Centres. If you are concerned about your weight, how weight might be influencing your health, or if you would like guidance on how to promote and maintain a healthy weight, please contact Graham at 613-290-6115.

1. Greenberg, A. and Obin, M., Obesity and the role of adipose tissue in inflammation and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 83(suppl): 461S-465S.
2. Das, U.N., Is obesity an inflammatory condition?. Nutrition. 2001; 17: 953-966
3. Geiger, B.M. et al., Deficits of mesolimbic dopamine neurotransmission in rat dietary obesity. Neurosciences. 2009 April 10; 159(4):1193-1199
4. Sharma, S. and Fulton, S., Diet-induced obesity promotes depressive like behaviour that is associated with neural adaptations in brain reward circuitry. Int J Obes. 2013 March; 37(3): 382-389

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