Constant messaging about losing weight leads many people to equate weight with health: that is, they think that if you’re overweight you’re unhealthy, and if you’re slim you must be in perfect health. Unfortunately, being slim can give a false sense of security and can mask a range of potential health problems.
Common dietary patterns that are carb-heavy, high in junk food and/or sugar, low in protein and/or fat can leave people with nutrient deficiencies and with bodies that struggle to cope. They may look perfect on the outside, but the inside may be a different story. Regardless of weight, many are metabolically unhealthy.
“We can see weight gain but we can’t see what else is going on underneath the skin, to our blood pressure, the fat circulating in our bloodstream, our capacity to deal with excess sugar, the silent narrowing of our arteries as they get furred up. These factors measure our metabolic health, the invisible delicate mechanisms that keep us healthy and alive. Until they don’t, killing or incapacitating us from strokes or heart disease, diabetes or heart attacks.“ reports Jenni Russell, The Times (Jan 16 2019)
We all break out from time to time and eat foods that we know are not great for our weight or our health, and this is fine for metabolic health. It’s when those poor eating patterns happen more often than not (or all the time) that trouble starts.
Research last year in the USA tracked over 9,000 people and found that fewer than one-third of normal weight adults were metabolically healthy. This means that they are at higher risk of developing diseases that are commonly associated with obesity.
Being metabolically unhealthy means having more than one of: high blood pressure, impaired insulin control, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, or low levels of good cholesterol. If you’re unsure or concerned about your metabolic health, a GP can test for these conditions.
You can’t determine metabolic health simply by looking at a person, though a very large waistline can be an indicator. Of course, slim people with poor metabolic health won’t have a large waist, so what can they do to improve?
Regardless of weight, being active and avoiding junk food is a good start. Good metabolic health is associated with high levels of physical activity, not smoking, eating vegetables, not grazing all day, minimising sugar and alcohol, and focusing on foods that our great grandmothers recognise.
Changing day-to-day habits can be difficult. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you know what to do but have trouble sticking to it, you may need a coach. At dietflex, we can help you improve your dietary patterns and help you add exercise into your week – no matter what your size.
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