WHY FAT CAN BE FA­TAL

Kick-start­ing your body into burn­ing ex­cess weight will bring in­stant life-chang­ing ben­e­fits

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - COVER STORY -

‘YOU CAN’T BE TOO OB­SES­SIVE. IT’S NOR­MAL TO DIP IN AND OUT OR TO GAIN ONE OR TWO KI­LOS’

LOS­ING WEIGHT CAN HELP YOU LIVE LONGER

Fat is much more than an aes­thetic is­sue – it af­fects many as­pects of our health and well­be­ing, and car­ry­ing too much of it can ul­ti­mately shorten our lives, ex­plains Gabriela. ‘It’s never the weight alone that’s the con­cern – it’s what it can lead to.’

Decades of re­search has shown that be­ing over­weight or obese is a risk fac­tor for car­dio­vas­cu­lar diseases (re­sult­ing in heart at­tacks and strokes), cer­tain types of cancer, and is­sues as wide-rang­ing as in­fer­til­ity, asthma and pso­ri­a­sis.

One of the most well-es­tab­lished links be­tween obe­sity and ill health is the role it plays in di­a­betes, says Gabriela. Re­cent re­search has shown that fat tis­sue is more than just a stor­age sys­tem; it re­leases in­flam­ma­tory pro­teins which can trig­ger changes in our me­tab­o­lism and in­crease in­sulin re­sis­tance – lead­ing to such con­di­tions as type 2 di­a­betes (which oc­curs when your cells be­come re­sis­tant to in­sulin, the hor­mone that reg­u­lates how your body uses sugar and fat). Over time, the con­sis­tently high level of sugar cir­cu­lat­ing in your blood can lead to com­pli­ca­tions with your heart, eyes, kid­neys and feet.

‘When you lose the ex­cess weight, you lower your risk of all these ill­nesses – and ul­ti­mately, pre­ma­ture death,’ says Gabriela. There are other ben­e­fits, too. ‘You can also im­prove your en­ergy lev­els and qual­ity of sleep.’

WHY IN­FLAM­MA­TION IS THE BIG­GEST RISK TO YOUR HEALTH

Ex­cess fat can cause in­flam­ma­tion, which can set off a domino ef­fect of dam­ag­ing changes through­out the body. In­flam­ma­tion is part of our body’s im­mune response, bring­ing blood cells to at­tack in­fec­tion or heal in­juries. But when it be­comes chronic, as it can when we are car­ry­ing too much weight, it has a host of neg­a­tive ef­fects.

‘This sort of in­flam­ma­tion is a risk fac­tor for all sorts of diseases – not just di­a­betes but also hard­en­ing of the ar­ter­ies, stroke, skin con­di­tions, de­pres­sion and cancer,’ ex­plains Gabriela. But los­ing weight – re­duc­ing the amount of fat tis­sue – can re­verse in­flam­ma­tion as well as the risks it can pose.

‘Although our genes can make some of us more prone to weight gain than oth­ers, ul­ti­mately, we can take con­trol of our di­ets and life­styles and ef­fect the nec­es­sary changes,’ she says.

The food choices we make can also con­trib­ute to in­flam­ma­tion – or com­bat it, says Gabriela. She rec­om­mends avoid­ing added sugar and re­fined car­bo­hy­drates, which pro­voke in­flam­ma­tion by send­ing blood sugar soar­ing, and to in­stead eat more anti-in­flam­ma­tory foods. ‘These in­clude oily fish, nuts and seeds – the omega-3 fatty acids in these have been demon­strated to re­duce the pro­duc­tion of in­flam­ma­tory mark­ers in the body,’ Gabriela says. She also ad­vo­cates eat­ing ‘dark leafy greens in­clud­ing kale and sprouts, as well as pur­ple foods such as black­ber­ries and blueberrie­s’, as these all con­tain a va­ri­ety of chemicals, such as polyphe­nols, flavonoids and an­tho­cyanins that are linked to re­duced in­flam­ma­tion.

She’s also a huge fan of turmeric, which you can find in many curry sauces or as a stand­alone sup­ple­ment, be­cause it con­tains cur­cumin – said to be very anti-in­flam­ma­tory. ‘There’s also ev­i­dence it may al­ter gut mi­cro­bial com­po­si­tion; hav­ing health­ier gut bac­te­ria is also linked with lower lev­els of in­flam­ma­tion and good weight man­age­ment.’

HOW TO BAL­ANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR

‘Our blood-sugar level dic­tates how hun­gry we feel, as well as how tired or en­er­getic,’ says Gabriela. ‘If you have low en­ergy, if you can’t sleep, if you have crav­ings, if you strug­gle to lose weight – you need to bal­ance your blood sugar.’

Blood sugar is pro­duced when we break down the sugar from food we have eaten to pro­vide an en­ergy source for our cells. Sug­ary foods and sim­ple car­bo­hy­drates such as white pasta are bro­ken down quickly and ab­sorbed rapidly, caus­ing a quicker, higher rise in blood-sugar lev­els than a com­plex, high-fi­bre car­bo­hy­drate such as a sweet po­tato, or a pro­tein (such as cheese or meat). In response to a rise in blood sugar, in­sulin is re­leased.

‘In­sulin is like a taxi: it takes the sugar into our cells, where it is stored,’ ex­plains

Gabriela. ‘This pre­vents blood-sugar lev­els from get­ting too high. But when we eat lots of sim­ple car­bo­hy­drates, the pan­creas re­leases lots of in­sulin.

‘This not only pro­motes stor­age of blood sug­ars as body fat, but it also tells our body that there is plenty of en­ergy avail­able, and that it should not burn any fat.’

The key is to sta­bilise blood-sugar lev­els, says Gabriela, which means ‘we won’t pro­duce too much in­sulin and will al­low our body to utilise our stored en­ergy in­stead – the body fat.’

THE POWER OF PRO­TEIN

The best way to bal­ance blood sugar is by eat­ing com­plex rather than sim­ple car­bo­hy­drates – rye bread over white, for in­stance – but, cru­cially, Gabriela says you should al­ways bal­ance this in­take with pro­tein.

‘If you com­bine pro­tein and car­bo­hy­drate, it takes longer to di­gest and sug­ars are re­leased much more slowly, mean­ing there is less of a spike in blood sugar or in­sulin. So never have toast plain or just with but­ter or Mar­mite – have it with cheese or eggs. There is noth­ing wrong with big snacks as long as the carbs are matched with pro­tein.

‘My ideal snack in the af­ter­noon is oat­cakes with hum­mus or some nice toasted dark rye bread or pumper­nickel bread with loads of turkey or ham on it.

‘Within a day you’ll find your en­ergy lev­els have im­proved. It’s quite amaz­ing for some­one who was al­ways ex­hausted by mid-af­ter­noon and re­lied on that sug­ary crutch of a cake and a cof­fee.’

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit Gabriela’s web­site gp­nu­tri­tion.com

We strongly ad­vise con­sult­ing your doc­tor be­fore em­bark­ing on any diet plan. You should also dis­cuss your med­i­ca­tion if nec­es­sary. The eat­ing plan is not suit­able if you are preg­nant, breast­feed­ing or un­der­weight.

‘IF YOU HAVE LOW EN­ERGY, CAN’T SLEEP, HAVE CRAV­INGS, STRUG­GLE TO LOSE WEIGHT – YOU NEED TO BAL­ANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR’

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