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AYURVEDIC APPROACH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF OBESITY

Obesity is a very complex condition that involving an excessive amount of body fat. Not just a just a cosmetic concern, obesity is a medical condition.

Usually, obesity will result from inherited, physiological and environmental factors in combination with poor diet, lifestyle and exercise choices. Along with affecting daily health, energy and wellbeing, obesity greatly increases the risk factors for numerous systemic health conditions which include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnoea and breathing problems
  • A number of cancers
  • Mental illness (i.e. depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders)
  • Body pain and difficulties with physical functioning
  • Sexual health problems
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • All causes of death

Risk factors for obesity innclude: genetic disposition, poor lifestyle choices (unhealthy diet, liquid calories and inactivity), certain diseases and medications, social and economic issues, age, pregnancy, quitting smoking, lack of sleep, stress and the microbiome (gut bacteria).


Conventional Treatments:
The goal of obesity treatment is to reach and stay at a healthy weight. One may need a team of professionals, i.e. a dietitian, behavioural counsellor or an obesity specialist to help make the mental, physical and emotional changes that are needed to achieve this.

  • Eating healthy foods from the five recommended food groups daily.
  • Aim for two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily.
  • Limit consumption of sugary, fatty and salty foods.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Make time for regular healthy meals, including breakfast
  • Avoid eating too quickly and stop eating when just comfortably full
  • Avoid crash/fad diets
  • Make the healthy changes to your shopping, cooking and eating habits
  • Become more active, including daily exercise.
  • Meal replacements
  • Counselling and support groups
  • Weight loss medication
  • Endoscopic procedures
  • Weight loss surgery


Ayurvedic Approach to Obesity (Atisthaulya):
In Ayurveda, Atisthaulya (Overweight/Obesity) is described as an excessive accumulation of fat/adipose tissue and flesh/muscle tissue, which leads to the flabbiness of the hips, abdomen, and breast. It is a disease due to the excessive consumption of calories. In this condition, excessive Kapha dosha is dominant. Excessive fat tissue blocks the nourishment of other tissues (making even daily tasks more difficult – see also symptoms below) and leads to further cyclic development of fat.

Symptoms include:

  • Breathlessness exertion / physical activity
  • Lack of interest in doing work
  • Profuse sweating with foul body odour
  • Excessive hunger
  • Feeling of tiredness.
  • Excessive sleep
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling of heaviness in the body
  • Snoring
  • Sexual depletion

Causes of the condition include:

  • Inappropriate diet and lifestyle habits, including poor food combining
  • Increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, carbohydrates, oil, heaviness
  • Overeating
  • Irregular food habits
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Genetics
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Medical Reasons
  •  Psychiatric illnesses
  • Daytime sleeping


BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR BEING OBESITY:
Vata Pitta Balancing:  Aloe vera juice, fresh ginger, coriander, amalaki, barley water, pippali, bhibitaki
Vata Kapha Balancing: Aloe vera juice, fresh ginger, coriander, amalaki, barley water, ajwain, guggulu, bhibitaki, agnimantha,  shilajat, vidanga
Pitta Vata Balancing: Aloe vera juice, fresh ginger, coriander, amalaki, barley water, bhibitaki, trikatu
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Aloe vera juice, fresh ginger, coriander, amalaki, barley water, daruhardira, bhibitaki, gentian, daruharidra
Kapha Vata Balancing: Aloe vera juice, fresh ginger, coriander, amalaki, barley water, ajwain, pipplai, guggulu, bhibitaki, agnimantha, black pepper, vidanga, trikatu
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Aloe vera juice, fresh ginger, coriander, amalaki, barley water, dariuharidra, bhibitaki, gentian, shilajat, daruharidra

Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Obesity:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:

  • Avoid causative factors
  • Balance Jataragni, and digestion
  • Remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body)
  • Balance doshic imbalances/blockages and facilitate weight loss through diet/lifestyle/herbs
  • Udvartana, abhyanga, swedana bodywork therapies
  • Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
  • Panchakarma detox therapies (where required and if appropriate)
  • Establishing a healthy relationship to food, self-care and exercise


General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Obesity:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:

  • One should eat the foods that one does not react to
  • One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. Food substances should be dry and light to digest, without too much oil or fat. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
  • One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
  • One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods, be sure to use some ghee in cooking.
  • Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks and aerated beverages, high fat foods, greasy foods, extra salty foods.
  • Avoid rice, sugar, wheat, minimise intake of white and sweet potatoes, dairy products, as well as red meat and aim to eat a light dinner by 6pm.
  • One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and avoid snacking. Aim to eat no solid food after 2.30pm.
  • Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be very light.
  • Buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
  • Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
  • Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
  • Use all of the five senses at mealtimes.
  • Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
  • Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly. 

General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Obesity:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:

  • Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
  • Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day, but still allowing for spontaneity. Try getting tasks completed in the morning, so that you do not run out of time nearing the end of the day, and to help one stay active and motivated.
  • Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid overexertion to the point of exhaustion.
  • Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
  • Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
  • Avoid smoking and minimise alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Stay motivated and use family and social network to help with this.
  • Find activities that allow for mental stimulation and challenges.


If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.

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Disclaimer:

The above information is for information and educational purposes. As such we are not, diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before taking any form of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

 

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