There are so many weight control programmes flooding the market, it has become increasingly difficult for the average member of the public to determine what strategy might be most appropriate in their circumstances. While it may be too simplistic to contend the overweight simply eat too much, it is undeniable that in parts of the world where food is scarce and considerable distances regularly travelled by foot, most of the population is slim.
There are many psychological reasons why some people eat too much. There are physiological reasons why some function at a level which requires less food to maintain normal activity. There are environmental reasons why some find the challenge of maintaining their ideal weight or losing weight one they cannot meet.
There are three major food categories; proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Proteins are a group of complex molecules required to maintain the structure, function and regulation of body cells.
Carbohydrates are defined as being simple or complex according to their chemical composition, and are the body’s primary energy source.
Fats are also a source of energy, with some types recognised as being healthier than others.
Digestion, as most people appreciate, begins in the mouth, when saliva laden with enzymes and supported by the chewing action of the teeth, begins the breakdown process. From there it passes down the tubular organ assisted by muscular movement, which propels food toward the stomach.
The stomach further churns food and adds a strong acid complemented by digestive enzymes, which are specific to the type of food consumed, to further break it down. From here it proceeds to the large intestine, which is perhaps one of the most misunderstood parts of the body, as it relates to food processing and weight control.
There are other interesting organs along the way, for example the liver which produces bile, contributing to the breakdown of fat and filtering some toxins from the body.
The large intestine is the final part of the digestive tract where undigested food is delivered. Water is reabsorbed here, which can cause the faeces to become hard and difficult to expel in some circumstances. There are organisms in this part of the digestive tract, “good bacteria” which contribute to the complete breakdown of food, and maintenance of the health of this part of the system.
Many of the problems of overweight people and sometimes others, can be traced to the inefficient function of this part of the system. Antibiotics can kill off much good bacteria, while preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals can also cause havoc.
The maintenance of the delicate balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria, so critical to health, is often compromised by the excessive intake of refined sugar, chlorinated water, food additives, environmental pollutants as well as the excessive use of antibiotics.
Some slimmers, and not only the most grossly overweight, may be carrying a substantial part of their excess weight in their abdomen, i.e. in the colon. Whatever weight loss strategy is being employed, this aspect should be borne in mind.
Slimmers may find it helpful to appreciate that enzymes are necessary for virtually all life processes, not simply digestion. The body’s enzyme store tends to become depleted with age, so an appropriate supplemental intake is desirable to maintain optimum health. In this regard, it is important to bear in mind that many food processes, including cooking, may reduce or totally eliminate enzyme content.
The more you understand about weight control and weight loss, the more likely you are to achieve and maintain your desired weight. I am aware that few slimmers see a need to be concerned about the physiology of digestion, or potential problems in this regard. However the potential benefits of optimum weight; better health, longer life, more energy and that feel good factor; are such that a modest investment of time makes good sense.