GET TO KNOW YOUR BODY BET­TER

Delve past the sur­face to reach the core of what you’re re­ally made up of. By Amanda Soh

Herworld (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

You’ll be equipped to make health­ier life­style choices!

Re­mem­ber that defin­ing mo­ment when you hit pu­berty? As the years go by, your body will in­evitably keep chang­ing. So, be­fore you go on that no-carb or liq­uid diet, and re­solve to work out at least once or twice a week, it helps to know more about your body and what’s nor­mal.

Your body com­po­si­tion

The hu­man body is com­prised of four com­po­nents: wa­ter, fat, mus­cles, and bones. “As the decades go by, you add two per cent to those com­po­nents ex­cept wa­ter, which de­creases over time,” says Dr Jas­mine Ruth, an aes­thetic physi­cian at Nexus Clinic. To com­pen­sate, it’s nec­es­sary to drink more wa­ter daily as you age. For the av­er­age woman, about 50 per cent of the body is wa­ter (it’s about 10 per cent more for the av­er­age man). The rest is fat and fat-free mass, un­der which your mus­cles and bones fall un­der. As a healthy per­son, around 30 to 40 per cent of your body com­prises of skele­tal mus­cles.

What’s fat got to do with it?

The re­main­ing 15 to 30 per cent is fat. What’s con­sid­ered a healthy fat per­cent­age de­pends “Moder­a­tion is the key and weight is not ev­ery­thing. It’s not about the amount of ex­er­cise you do, but mAIn­tAIn­InG A CEr­tAIn Amount oF fit­nEss. You need to have enough stamina to pull you through the day.” on your age: if you’re be­tween the ages of 20 to 39, your fat per­cent­age should be in the 19 to 22 per cent range. If you are 30 to 39 years old, fat per­cent­age can vary be­tween 20 to 24 per­cent. Place your hand on your stom­ach and pic­ture this: right be­neath your skin, there is the sub­cu­ta­neous fat, and be­low that, the ab­dom­i­nal cav­ity, which works like a sack made up of pro­tein tis­sue (it can only ex­pand to a cer­tain limit). In the ab­dom­i­nal cav­ity lie your or­gans: the liver, kid­neys, stom­ach, and in­testines. “Vis­ceral fat – vis­cera is the Latin word for ‘or­gan’ – is the fat around your or­gans, keep­ing them from rub­bing against each other. It holds your or­gans in place and also ab­sorbs shock,” ex­plains Dr Jas­mine. When you overeat, you’ll ac­cu­mu­late ex­tra fat around the or­gans. This com­presses them and can lead to var­i­ous chronic ill­nesses like diabetes, hy­per­ten­sion and stroke.

Dr Jas­mine adds, “It’s nor­mal for women to have a slightly higher fat per­cent­age than

men as we have breasts, which are made up of fat tis­sue, as well as a rounder bum and hips. We’re anatom­i­cally moulded to have more sub­cu­ta­neous fat.” Any in­di­vid­ual who has less than four to five per cent of body fat is dan­ger­ously ill. “You won’t have a suf­fi­cient amount of fat around your mus­cles and or­gans for shock ab­sorp­tion. You will also need the fat, stored within the skele­tal mus­cle, for en­ergy – used on a daily ba­sis to breathe, talk, walk, and more.”

What pre­vents us from los­ing weight?

Other than the usual con­trib­u­tors to weight gain – a seden­tary life­style, poor diet, and ir­reg­u­lar meals – your body also works against you when you’re try­ing to los­ing weight. “Phys­i­o­log­i­cal fac­tors, such as hor­monal and metabolic changes, af­fect your weight. When you’re un­der a lot of stress at work, you’re less phys­i­cally ac­tive and this di­rectly causes a hor­mone im­bal­ance. Your metabolic rate changes, and cou­pled with the fluc­tu­a­tion in your hormones, you start to gain weight even if you’re eat­ing right,” ex­plains Dr Jas­mine.

The fe­male sex hor­mone, oe­stro­gen, is re­spon­si­ble for reg­u­lat­ing your re­pro­duc­tive health and set­ting your body apart from a man’s. It’s linked to soft skin, curves, mood swings, beau­ti­ful tresses, and firm breasts and bum. So, nat­u­rally, your hormones af­fect how fat is dis­trib­uted through­out your body. “Those who need more of a cer­tain hor­mone, or have an ex­cess of it, tend to be top- or bot­tom-heavy.”

Dr Jas­mine

Ruth, aes­thetic physi­cian at Nexus Clinic

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