Malnutrition of obesity

Dr Faisal Khan thinks food consumption patterns are a major reason behind poor public health in Pakistan

Malnutrition of obesity
Pakistan is a country full of people with fat bellies who are malnourished. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Pakistanis are generally classified as malnourished and at the same time the country ranks 9th out of 188 countries in terms of weight, as about 50 percent of the population is overweight. This is a major cause of many ailments, which include heart disease, gallbladder diseases, osteoarthritis, gout, breathing problems and asthma. Excess weight can also cause diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, coronary vascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer. In Pakistan, the most common reasons behind fat bellies are overeating, mental stress, physical inactivity, metabolic problems and unawareness of the need for a balanced diet. A person gains weight by eating too much and moving too little. If we consume high amounts of energy, particularly fat and sugars, but don’t burn it off through exercise and physical activity, much of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat. Other causes of obesity include consumption of processed or fast food, shortage of fibre and not enough consumption of fruits and vegetables. Many people also do not have good sleeping patterns - sleeping during the day and staying up all night is never good for health and can also cause weight gain.

Our culture proudly celebrates its love for food. We always entertain our guests with cold drinks and sweets. We are known as a major sugar-loving nation and most of our festivities include various locally prepared sweets. Unfortunately, when we compare data with that of other countries, we find that our health statistics are not very encouraging. If one meets an affluent Pakistani at a conference abroad, chances are high that despite their success in life, they do not take care of their bodies nor pay attention to what they are consuming. We love spicy food which has led us to develop a national habit of drinking too many beverages and cold water while having our meals. This article hopes to raise awareness of the disadvantages of drinking beverages and cold water while eating. We must get rid of this habit. Our stomach contains digestive acids that help in breakdown of food into essential nutrients. These juices are also responsible for killing infectious agents that might have been ingested along with food - also known as the ‘digestive fire.’ These enzymes are essential for our overall well-being as they also allow the stomach to process the food we eat. When this fire is diluted with water, it not only dulls the entire system but may cause cramping of the intestinal wall in some individuals. This inactivity of the entire digestive process allows food to remain in the stomach for longer and slows the process of passing digested food into the small intestine for the absorption of nutrients. Our stomachs have a knack of knowing when we will eat and starts releasing digestive juices immediately. If we start drinking water at the same time, what we are actually doing is diluting the digestive juices being released to digest our food and delaying the breakdown of food in our stomachs.
Drinking water 30 minutes before a meal is always good for health and helps one reduce weight

Saliva is the first step to digestion. Not only does it contain enzymes that help break down food, but it also helps stimulate the stomach to release digestive enzymes and ready itself for the process of digestion. When we drink water during our meals, our saliva gets diluted. This not only sends weaker signals to the stomach but also stops the breakdown of food in our mouth – making digestion that much more difficult. This situation is a major cause of acidity. If you suffer from constant sessions of acidity, then this habit might be to blame. Since drinking water dilutes our digestive system, it leads to a chain reaction of ill-effects. The stomach continues to absorb water till it gets saturated, after that this water starts to dilute gastric juices, making the mixture much thicker than normal. This leads to lesser digestive enzymes being secreted, causing undigested food to leak into our system, causing acid reflux and heart burn.

Drinking water while we are eating can also lead to a rush-flow in our insulin levels, much like high glycaemic foods would. This is because when our body is not able to digest foods well enough it tends to convert the glucose filled part of that food into fat and stores it. This process then requires a gush of insulin in the body, increasing our overall blood sugar deposits. Another common side-effect of drinking water with our meals is the fact that we tend to put on weight. As explained earlier, there is a surge in insulin levels and food is broken down to make fat which is stored. Apart from this, according to recent researchers, it has been proven that a weak digestive fire is one of the leading reasons for obesity. Not only does this lead to an imbalance between the digestive elements in the body, but it also leads to the disruption in the way our body works.

Although drinking beverages while having a meal is bad for health, there are a few ways through which we can overcome the urge. We should have meals with less spices and salt. Spices and salt tend to make us thirsty while eating our meals, so it is best we lessen the intake of these compounds. Don’t gulp down food, chew it well. Chewing food properly has a number of health benefits and one of them is that our saliva helps hasten the process of digestion. Moreover, well-chewed food is easier to breakdown, allowing our digestive system to do its job well. Apart from all this, one great benefit of this practice is that as we chew, the amount of saliva produced increases, beating the urge to drink water.

Drinking water 30 minutes before a meal is always best for health and helps one reduce weight. We should ideally drink water at room temperature before our meals if we wish to lose weight and have a healthy metabolism. This practice also beats the urge to drink water during one’s meals. We also can beat obesity by exercising regularly. We need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to intense activity every week to prevent weight gain. We have to follow a healthy eating plan and we should also know and avoid food traps that cause us to eat more than our body requires.

There is a need to educate the masses about disadvantages of belly fat, obesity, fast food, beverages and salty or sugary products. There is also a need for awareness campaigns with the help of print and electronic media to educate people regarding advantages of a healthy life style.