Know Your IBM - And How To Keep It On Track - Business Media MAGS

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Know Your IBM – And How To Keep It On Track

Having a healthy weight is essential to protect your overall wellbeing, and measuring it can help you achieve and maintain this, writes Glynis Horning.

Being overweight or obese raises your risk of everything from a heart attack or stroke to high blood pressure, diabetes, gallstones, certain cancers, sleep apnoea and degenerative joint disease. 

Yet in South Africa, 68 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men are overweight or obese – as are 13.5 per cent of children aged 6–14, reports Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa. “This puts these children at a raised risk of developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease sooner, and of remaining obese throughout their adult life.” 

Obesity is a complex issue, she says. The condition can be caused by factors outside your control, such as family history, genetics, certain medical conditions or medication side effects and changes in hormone levels. “In many cases, obesity results from eating an unhealthy diet and low physical activity, which leads to your body taking in more kilojoules than it burns and storing excess as fat.” 

Measuring your weight is important to establish the extent of your problem – and to track progress when you address it. Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to classify your weight in relation to your height and assess if you are too heavy for your height. To calculate BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in centimetres squared. Then because height is mostly measured in centimetres, divide height in centimetres by 100 to get height in metres. So, for example, if you weigh 68kg, and your height is 65cm (1.65m), use the calculator on your phone and calculate 68÷(1.65)²=24.98.  

If your BMI is below 18.5, you are underweight; 18.5–24.9 is a healthy weight, 25–29.9 is overweight, and 30 or above indicates obesity.  

But the distribution of excess weight is also important – the type of fat that accumulates around your abdomen is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat laid down under the skin elsewhere. “Visceral body fat, also called hidden fat, is fat stored around the stomach and organs such as the liver and intestines,” says Shani Cohen, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa. “Carrying too much is extremely harmful – it’s a key player in several health problems as it influences how hormones function in the body and is also a source of inflammation. It’s more likely to cause diabetes and heart disease.” 

 A waist circumference of 102cm or more in men and 88cm or more in women is defined as obese, and it’s important to keep track of this (measure it at the level of your belly button) and to take steps to reduce it – and keep it down. 

Ways to reduce BMI – and keep weight off

• Set a realistic target, preferably with a registered dietitian, aiming for gradual, sustained weight loss, says Naidoo. 

• Change your eating habits to a nutritious, balanced, eating pattern that suits your personal preferences, for example, a Mediterranean diet, high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, including fish or raw nuts and seeds for omega 3 fatty acids, and limiting sugar and saturated fats. Aim to have about 2000KJ less a day than you’re currently having so your body begins to use its stored fat reserves for energy. Reduce portion sizes, eat slowly and mindfully, and drink lots of water, says Cohen. “Be careful of your alcohol intake – your glass of wine may be equivalent to eating two slices of white bread.” 

increase your activity, aiming for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity that raises your heart rate (brisk walking, gardening, swimming). Include activity that strengthens muscles to maintain muscle mass – if you lose muscle, it can lead to a plateau in weight loss, then you may regain weight. Start slowly, preferably with an exercise professional such as  a biokineticist or personal trainer, says naidoo. “they can draw up a personalised plan and give ongoing supervision.”

The surprising health benefits of dark chocolate 

“Dark chocolate contains a high concentration of cocoa solids, which are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. 

“However, when consuming dark chocolate, choosing high-quality chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids is essential to maximise its health benefits. Dark chocolate with added sugar, milk, or other ingredients may not offer the same health benefits. And remember, dark chocolate is still high in calories and fat, so limit yourself to a small serving.” 

From helping reduce harmful cholesterol levels to improving vision, dark chocolate has many surprising health benefits.

Rich in antioxidants

Medical News reports that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body against damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and contribute to the development of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Dark chocolate’s antioxidants can help neutralise free radicals and reduce the risk of these diseases. 

Heart health 

Several studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can benefit heart health. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, compounds that help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. This can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, dark chocolate can help reduce LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels, another risk factor for heart disease. 

Mood booster 

Dark chocolate contains a compound called phenylethylamine, which can help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Dark chocolate also contains small amounts of caffeine and theobromine, which can help to boost energy levels and improve mental clarity. 

Brain function 

Eating dark chocolate may also be beneficial for brain function. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive function and memory. And, dark chocolate’s caffeine and theobromine can help improve mental alertness and focus.

Vision health 

Dark chocolate flavonoids can improve vision and lower the risk of age-related
macular degeneration by reducing oxidative oxidative stress and inflammation in the retina and improving blood flow.

Skin health

Dark chocolate is also beneficial for skin health. Dark chocolate’s antioxidants can help protect the skin against damage from the sun and other environmental factors, reducing the risk of wrinkles and other signs of ageing. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the skin, enhancing skin hydration and texture.

Weight management

While chocolate is often considered a food to avoid when trying to lose weight, dark chocolate can be beneficial for weight management. dark chocolate is rich in fibre, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Additionally, the flavonoids in dark chocolate can help reduce cravings for sweet and salty foods, making it easier to stick to a healthy diet.

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