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Ancient Ayurveda text Charaka Samhita described the four pair of characteristics that are not considered as ideal for good health viz. obese - asthenic, long-short, excessive dark complexion - excessive fair complexion, excessive hair growth - no hair growth. Out of these four pairs of odd and non-ideal, the first, i.e. excessive obesity and excessive asthenic, is considered as the worst as it has an adverse effect on an individual's health than the other three pairs. The later three pairs of odd make the appearance of individual ugly but have a limited adverse effect on individual's health.
Obesity and asthenia both are not good, and individuals are prone to disease. It is known that weight, height, skin colour, iris, etc., were the expression of the genetic make-up of the individual. Bodyweight is affected chiefly by the weight of bones, muscle and fat. Fluid accumulation also increases body weight.
Benefits of Ideal Weight
The health of the individual is dependent on the ideal weight. Immunity, resistance against diseases, ability to perform work & routine were possible by the ideal weight. Bodyweight of the individual depends on the distribution of muscle & fat in the body. Bodyweight ought to be as per the height.
Excessive low body weight and excessive obesity were associated with serious medical problems. Obesity has been considered a genetic, lifestyle-related and metabolic illness and similarly underweight is due to similar factors.
What is the Ideal Weight?
As discussed above, an individual's weight depends on genetic composition, lifestyle, diet, amount & type of work, and hormonal status. Therefore, it is not difficult to know whether the weight properly or not the best one is the BMI, i.e. body mass index. It is calculated on the basis of height and weight; the formulae is weight divided by the square of height in meters.
BMI = weight (in kilogram)/height (in meters)2
|19 - 25||Normal body weight|
|25 - 29||Over weight|
|30 - 39||Obese|
|> 39||Excess obese|
The other measurements like skinfold thickness, arm circumference, thigh circumference, hip circumference, abdominal circumference are also useful for assessing obesity. The BMI between the values of 19 to 25 is considered ideal weight; this implies that the average weight of average Indian male ought to be between 55 - 65 and the weight of average Indian female of 48 - 55 kg.
Factors Deciding Weight
As discussed above, an individual's weight is affected by diet, exercise, celibacy, genetics, and hormonal factors.
Diet is the first and foremost factor that affects an individual's weight. Food rich in fats, excessive carbohydrates, butter, cheese, milk products, sugar, animal products, flash tends to increase weight. The extra calorie intake is converted into fats, i.e. extra sugar that is not used gets converted into fats that are deposited in the form of fats in different areas. On the other hand, the food unctuous food, rough foods, and excessive fasting reduce weight and asthenic makeup or low body weight. Among these factors, Ayurveda described one eating habit that may also increase body mass, i.e. Adhyashana. Adhyashana means eating the food before digestion of previously taken food, i.e. observing fasting of at least 4 hours then only taking any food.
The following illustration may explain this.
If the food is taken before the digestion of previously taken food, the food remains undigested and un-metabolised as there are not enough acid and digestive juices. This undigested food can lead to different metabolic ailments. This may also increase body weight as only fats are nourished from the ingested food.
2. Genetic Factors
Genetic factors affect the weight of the individual the most. The number of adipocytes, i.e. fat cells, are predicated. Obesity can be increased fat in these fat cells or an increased number of these cells. Obesity is correctable & reversible in case one, but in case two, the effect of weight reduction remains ineffective. The weight of an individual may increase without external factors even, and with an active lifestyle and strict diet regimen, one may have obesity. The genetic factors may be corrected by proper planning of progeny by the science of Garbha Sanskar.
3. Physical Activity & Exercise
Physical activity and exercise burn the calorie, and thus a proper balance between intake and exercise is maintained, then the weight of the individual remains normal. Yoga, Yogic exercise, gym, pull-ups, Danda-Bethak, Surya Namaskar, swimming, brisk walking, treadmill, sports are the different means of performing the exercise. Brisk walking is an easy exercise that all age groups can perform. Brisk walking burns approximately 450 calories, jogging approx-seven hundred calories, and running 900 calories. Over and above this, one ought not to indulge in overexertion, i.e. the maximum limit of performing an exercise the half of the strength that can be decided by certain signs like perspiration of forehead & underarms, increased respiratory rate & shortness of breath, and feeling of fatigue. If exercise is performed even after this, it may lead to vitiation of Vayu that eventually lead to the morbid condition.
Hormones are biochemical compounds that regulate the body's different functions and regulate body metabolism. The most important hormones are the thyroid, gonads, and growth hormones, which impact body mass. Thyroid dysfunctions were the most common cause of endogenous obesity - hypothyroidism (low thyroid secretion) leads to an increase in body weight and swelling. Obesity is also observed post labour (after delivery of a baby) resulting from hormone imbalance (often not detectable in hormone essays, and diagnosis mostly remains on clinical grounds). This may be due to not following post-natal hygiene & regimen. This change is observed in or after menopause (physiological or induced - i.e. hysterectomy). Weight loss may also be associated with hormonal causes; the commonest disease is thyroiditis & hyperthyroidism (increased thyroid secretion). If the hormone functions are regulated, then the weight would be normal.
5. Weight Management
Proper body weight is thus necessary for proper health, immunity, resistance against disease, ability to perform normal and routine activities. Therefore, proper weight management needs to be planned with the use of wholesome diet, exercise and mental peace.
As per the data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), approximately 40% population are at the risk of developing obesity and developing countries or countries of the third world has the bigger problem of deficiency disease (low body weight) that counts to approximately half of the population. This implies that improper weight is the biggest health problem.
Obesity is the cause of metabolic diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, paralysis, prone to infectious diseases etc. Low body weight is also the cause of major illness, viz. easy fatigability, lowered immunity, lowered vitality, etc.
6. Wholesome Diet
You are never late to start and act for achieving proper weight. To curb obesity, have a proper and wholesome diet - avoid fast food, junk food, complex food, food made up of the refined floor, avoid alcohol, start regular exercise, take healthy food, walk (morning - brisk walking and after meals leisure walk). Weight reduction is a planned process, and continuous effort is needed to achieve the goal. In addition, there is a phenomenon of shape memory in the body tissues, and thus if a person leaves the strict regimen, there may be an increase in weight.
Sthylya Karshya Varam Karshyam
The quotation was narrated in ancient Ayurveda classic Charaka Samhita it better to have low body weight than obesity. It is easier to manage low body weight than obesity and there are more complications of obesity than low weight lastly increasing weight is easier than decreasing weight.
Disclaimer: It is advisable to have proper weight. This article is meant for information and you may feel free to contact any Ayurveda physician or Ayurveda hospital for further assistance or consultation.
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