Belly Fat Linked to Early Death, Study Finds

Belly Fat Linked to Early Death, Study Finds

It’s more bad news for America’s growing waistline: Excess belly fat is associated with a higher risk of early death from any cause, regardless of how much overall body fat you have, a new study finds.

In women, each 10-centimeter increase in belly fat raised the risk of death from any cause by 8%. For men, each 10-centimeter increase in girth raised the risk of by 12%.

The better news: Larger hips and thighs are associated with a lower risk of early death, according to the study published by the The BMJ on Wednesday. That may be due to a protective effect that fat on those areas provide toward higher cholesterol and blood sugar levels, according to prior studies.

Those findings are a result of an analysis of 72 studies involving more than 2.5 million participants who were studied from three to 24 years. All of the studies explored various measures of weight around the middle of the body, long thought to be a significant risk factor for metabolic resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes, heart disease and more.

“Our results suggest that measures of central adiposity (fat) could be used as a supplementary approach, in combination with body mass index, to determine the risk of premature death,” the authors said.

The Role of Belly Fat
Most measurements of weight focus on the body mass index or BMI, which takes your weight in kilograms and divides it by the square of your height in meters. (there are online tools you can use to calculate your BMI).

If your BMI is less than 18.5, you’re considered underweight. Your weight is considered normal if your BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9. You are deemed overweight when your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 — over 30 BMI indicates you are obese.

But critics point out that BMI doesn’t differentiate between lean body mass and fat mass and doesn’t give an indication of where the fat resides. That’s a problem because existing evidence suggests more fat around the middle — and abdominal fat often known as “beer bellies” in men and belly fat in women — are more associated with chronic disease than an overall rating of obesity.

Here’s why the fat around the middle is so dangerous. Too much belly fat points to a buildup of a unique type of fat, called visceral fat, around various internal organs, such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. Visceral fat is called ‘active fat’ because it affects hormone function by secreting a protein that leads to an increased resistance to insulin, thus setting us up for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, excess cholesterol, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

Visceral fat is different from the pinchable fat we see in our arms, legs, thighs and “love handles” on the hips. That’s called subcutaneous fat, which doesn’t affect hormones. Besides eating too much and exercising too little, just why does belly fat occur? Scientists think cortisol, the stress hormone, may play a role — cortisol increases insulin resistance, which adds to fat deposits.

Do You Have Excess Belly Fat?
To tell if you have potentially dangerous abdominal fat, take out a soft tape measure. Then, while standing straight with a relaxed stomach (no sucking in allowed), measure your tummy a few inches above your hips.

Are you in belly fat danger?

For women, the key figure is thought to be 35 or more inches (89 centimeters) around the stomach, for men it’s 40 inches (102 centimeters).

What to do?
Doing crunches isn’t going to melt visceral fat; that will only tone your abs. Diet and exercise, however, seem to be better at tackling visceral fat than subcutaneous fat. You need to make sure you have more calories going out than calories in to make that happen — by either limiting your calorie intake or exercising more:
  • Focus on a plant-based diet full of fresh or frozen veggies and fruits
  • Choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products
  • Eat only whole grains — not processed cereals, breads, muffins and the like
  • Cut back on sugar — avoid processed cakes, cookies and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Watch your portion sizes (Tip: use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate) Add muscle strengthening and weight training to your routine. Muscle burns more calories than fat.
  • Jump start exercise by doing moderate aerobics, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as running, fast biking, swimming or team sports, for at least 75 minutes a week

Tip: Use the talk test to check your level of intensity, suggests the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Can you talk but not sing? Then you’re exercising at a moderate level. Can’t say more than a few words without stopping to take a breath? You’re doing a vigorous exercise. You may not see the results on the scale, so experts suggest taking a waist measurement before you begin your war on belly fat and measuring periodically to check.

You may find inches dropping off your waist before your hips — and that’s a good thing.

Contributor: Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Sylvia’ Back (Virtually)!

Sylvia's Back (Virtually)!

Claremont Colonic Event
Silvia Calisaya Chuquimia… is a traditional Aymara spiritual healer, teacher, and direct descendant of the pre-Incan people who still inhabit the southern Lake Titicaca region. Silvia was born and raised in a small highland village. She left when she was a young woman to pursue her education and professional life, but later returned to the traditional spiritual teachings of her people. She is an expert in the ancient art of reading coca leaves for divination and healing, and is the proprietor of the Coca Leaf Museum in Puno, Peru. Coca is a sacred plant for the inhabitants of the Andes, which is still held in veneration among the indigenous and mestizo peoples of South America.

Starting Wednesday September 16th…This 4-part series with Silvia Calisaya speaks to the needs of the challenging times we are in and provides us with valuable spiritual teachings, practices, and ceremonies to help us heal ourselves, our families, and our Mother Earth.

Sign-up for individual classes or the whole series!

Hosted by Pat Cockrell and Petra LeBeau- Shamanic Practitioners and Medicine Women.

4 consecutive Wednesdays at 7:00pm EST- September 16, September 23, September 30, and October 7 FEE – Sliding scale offerings of $25.00 to $50.00 per class (or $100 to $200 for the whole series). Greater offerings are welcomed as this money will directly benefit Silvia and her community who have been hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic. Classes will be held on Zoom, and will last 75- to 90 minutes. Classes will be recorded and available for 4 days following each class Zoom link will be provided after you have registered and paid for each class. These class offerings can be taken as a whole series or a single class. Register now to reserve your spot! Email: or September 16th- AWAKENING THE AMARU MEDICINE: In this class Silvia teaches us how to connect and awaken the Amaru (serpentine) medicine; the powerful life force that resides within us and the Mother Earth, which activates rejuvenation, rebirth, life, and healing.. We will learn how to connect to this powerful energy through ceremony with the 4 elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. For this class you will need to have a glass of water, a feather, and a candle. September 23rd- CEREMONY AND RITUAL: Silvia will explain the importance of ceremony in our lives. In her tradition, every single day is lived in ceremony. When we connect to the sacredness in life, and develop a practice of honoring it with gratitude, our lives transform in wondrous ways. The Aymara Peruvian spiritual concept of “Ayni,” which means living in a state of gratitude and reciprocity is an essential ingredient of living a sacred life in harmonious balance with all of creation. September 30th- THE SEVEN TEMPLES: We are not alone, every one of us lives in constant relationship with all the beings of Pachamama, our Mother Earth. From people, plants, animals and stones to the elements, the ancestors and constellations; we are all part of the matrix that makes up this life, even across time. Silvia will teach us about the seven sacred temples or domains of our existance in relationship to all that is, so we can deepen our love and respect for all beings for healing and growth. October 7th- CREATING AN “AYNI” CEREMONY: The Aymara Peruvian spiritual concept of “Ayni” means living in a state of gratitude and reciprocity, and is an essential ingredient in living a sacred life in harmonious balance with all of creation. In this class Silvia will teach and lead us in creating our own Ayni despacho; a beautiful offering of gratitude made with different ingredients and designed to restore greater balance in our lives, and so much more… For class you will need a few flowers, sage, rainbow colored wool/yarn, grains, dried beans, candies and a square piece of white paper (or even a paper towel). *The contents of these classes are not to be shared or taught without expressed consent of Silvia Calisaya Chuquimia. Questions? Email:

Ayurveda and You: A Guide to Treating Fatty Liver

Ayurveda and You: A Guide to Treating Fatty Liver

More than three million cases of fatty liver are diagnosed each year in the United States, and most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 60.

It is perfectly normal to have some amount of fat in the liver. However, an overabundance of fat can interrupt the normal liver function. “Fatty liver” occurs when the fat in the liver accounts for more than 5 to 10% of your liver’s weight. In many cases, fatty liver has no symptoms and does’t usually cause permanent damage unless it progresses. Unfortunately, it can become harmful to the liver if its underlying causes aren’t recognized and treated in a timely fashion.

There are two main types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Alcoholic liver disease is relatively straightforward: its caused by an over-consumption of alcohol. That being said, ALD can also be caused even by a short period of heavy drinking.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is more likely to affect those who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. Some causes include: diabetes, medications, viral hepatitis, autoimmune liver disease, fast weight loss, malnutrition, and improper diet. These are the most common causes cited in medical literature. However, I would like to add one other very important etiological factor: the consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils. I am stating this based on my years of experience in treating fatty liver disease. I have treated many patients who held a good diet. They eat home-made foods, stay loyal to good milk and yogurt, practice vegetarianism, and avoid leftovers. And yet, they developed a fatty liver. The only mistake they made was cooking with vegetable oils (thinking that ghee was bad for them since it contains cholesterol). These oils, such as peanut, mustard oil, safflower, sunflower, canola, corn, margarine, etc., are highly unstable since they are polyunsaturated, and hydrogenate when heated, forming free radicals and oxidation.

When you swallow these oils, they damage the liver (and when they get into the arteries, they damage the lining there as well, causing a buildup of plaque). Ghee does not hydrogenate when cooked and is very easy for the liver to digest.

The truth is that many people are harboring some level of a fatty liver, especially if they grew up on vegetable oils (which is most of us!). In the beginning, it occurs at just the cellular level. If you stop eating bad fats and clean up the diet in other ways, it is fairly easy to reverse the fatty liver. However, if poor eating habits continue, or if the person continues to drink alcohol, a fatty liver will continue to worsen. Though you may not get symptoms in the early years, if the liver damage continues, you can develop symptoms such as fatigue, loss of weight or appetite, weakness, nausea, confusion or trouble concentrating.

The good news about the liver is that it is very good at rejuvenating itself. And the best herb to use for this is Mankand. This extremely rare herb is available in glyceride drop form. You can take three drops in 24 oz room temperature alkaline spring water. It could take a few years to totally reverse a fatty liver, so just keep taking it long-term to insure the best healing.

Vaidya also gives us other good herbs for the liver, such as bhumi alma, which is great for cooling the heat in the liver and bringing the intelligence back to the organ. Also, if the liver is too hot (hot ranjaka in the pulse) you can put DGL Cream down the spine and on the liver to cool it down. In much the same way, you can put liver clay on the liver for 10 minutes a day to pull the heat out of the liver.

Liver Pro glyceride drops are recommended for cleaning the liver. The best foods are bitter gourd (karela or bitter melon), Loki squash and beets. Artichokes and dandelion are also very good as well.

A couple of cautionary notes: Vaidya always warned us not to buy turmeric from Indian markets as there is a chance, they could be a white powder with a yellow dye sprayed on them. Make sure your turmeric is organic. Vaidya ground up the turmeric and dried it for us. He also recommended avoiding eating the fresh turmeric root, which was too warm for the liver to heal. Also, be careful and select in your purchase of ghee. Much of the ghee produced in India is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils and are contributing to much of the coronary artery disease we are currently seeing in many people from India. As this ghee damages the liver, it is causing much of the diabetes we are also seeing in our Indian patients (in addition to the fact that Indians, like Americans, continue to eat vegetable oils, heating them at high temperatures as they fry their spices in them).

The ancient doctors were correct in stating that one should take very good care of the liver, since it was deemed the most important organ in the body. This is because the liver cleans the blood for the brain and other organs, it controls cholesterol, blood sugar, breaks down hormones, makes bile, is the seat of digestion and detoxification, makes glutathione, processes Vitamin D and thyroid hormones, to name a few of its many functions.

If you take care of this very important organ, eating good fats and oils, avoiding leftovers, and cooking at home – you will be rewarded with excellent health, avoiding heart disease, diabetes and many other diseases plaguing mankind today.

Contributor: Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum-Holistic Healing News .

Five Ways to Eat Yourself Healthier

Five Ways to Eat Yourself Healthier

Dietary supplements and so-called “superfoods” have become big business in the food, health and sports nutrition industries, bringing connotations of health, wellbeing and overall improvement — both physically and mentally.

But the term superfood is not recognized clinically nor readily acknowledged among nutrition experts and the evidence for supplementation has now moved in favor of balanced diets over popping pills of single nutrients.

Experts maintain that the right diet can not only control weight, but also help to keep diseases at bay by fighting the stressors our bodies encounter on a regular basis, including lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise and general stress at work. These stressors can reduce our physical and mental performance and even lead to chronic diseases such as heart failure or diabetes.

So rather than which foods are “super,” we asked experts which foods are useful to include as part of a balanced diet, to keep our bodies fit and healthy.

Bold berries

Be it blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or others, the berries are the most researched food group in terms of health benefits to both mind and body. Cranberries are recognized in fighting urinary tract infections and blueberries have been found to protect the brain from stress and improve cognitive factors such as memory. “Blueberries have been shown to even lower blood pressure,” says Joy Dubost, spokesperson for the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Scientists at Tufts University, including Barbara Shukitt-Hale, have been researching the cognitive benefits of consuming berries on a regular basis. “The berries are the top … they seem to have a multitude of neuronal benefits,” she says, referring to her team’s findings of blueberries improving the communication and signaling between nerve cells. “We’ve shown that blueberries improve your memory.”

So how much is enough? “A cup a day,” suggests Shukitt-Hale.

The actual components improving brain functions such as memory are not yet understood but trials in animals, and more recently humans, have shown a link between the two and the berries are known to be packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can protect against stressors such as aging, smoking, or consumption of high-fat diets. But eating them doesn’t offset the impact of a poor overall diet “They’re not going to make you superhuman,” warns Shukkitt-Hale.

Research into the benefits of berries in the fight against cardiovascular conditions has been led by Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “There really is a strong association with decrease in blood pressure, heart disease and stroke,” he says. The anti-inflammatory compounds in the berries are thought to fight the inflammation caused by daily stress. In research conducted with NASA berries have also shown protection in rats against radiation damage in space, according to Shukitt-Hale.

Go nuts

Whilst this food group as a whole provides benefits to your health, the team at Tufts have identified the perfect storm of compounds inside the walnut. As well as improving memory, they have also been shown to improve bodily movement and control. According to Shukitt-Hale, the walnut contains a multitude of compounds including polyphenols, melatonin, folate, and omega-3. “Systematically they all work together,” she says. If these compounds were consumed in high doses individually, they could be toxic, but “there’s something about the matrix that works together to prevent being toxic.”

Dubost points out the benefits of nuts in general. “It’s all about healthier oils in the body to help protect against heart disease,” says Dubost, although she warns of caloric intake if consuming too many nuts. “[there’s a] high level of fat in them.

” The presence of omega-3 fatty acids can help offset deficiencies in those who dislike eating fish as the version found in the nut can be converted within the body. “If you hate fish, that fatty acid can help substitute for that,” adds Rimm who believes eating the right oils should be a message made loud and clear. “A high fat diet is not bad, you just need the right fats.”

Marvelous mushrooms

“The fungal kingdom is amazing,” says Dubost, whose previous research explored the beneficial antioxidants found in mushrooms ranging from the more common button mushroom, to Portobello, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

“A lot of people don’t think of mushrooms as being nutritious,” she says. “But they’re really nutrient-dense.” Dubost is keen to stress the importance of compounds other than essential nutrients, such as protein and vitamins, and to highlight those such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and others which aid with gene regulation in the body. Mushrooms have been found to be high in potassium, B-vitamins, and antioxidants such as ergothioneine, as well as low in calories, according to Dubost.

However, research into this food group is in its early stages meaning long-term studies of their impact are yet to take place.

Hidden depths of wholegrain

Wholegrain has long been advocated as a component of a healthy diet but its often thought of as a source of fiber, Rimm is keen to point out a lesser appreciated component, in the form lignin.

Lignin is the tough component found in grains which can be broken down by gut bacteria to produce polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties. This in turn can aid towards lowering blood pressure. The greater the grain, the greater the benefit. “The more grain you can physically see in the bread, the better,” says Rimm.

Coffee break

“A lot of studies have been initiated trying to find something wrong with coffee,” says Rimm, who explains that it has instead been found to be linked to lower rates of diabetes.

The polyphenol in coffee — chlorogenic acid — is a strong antioxidant. “It’s likely to be influencing insulin,” says Rimm, who thinks its protective effects against diabetes stem from this influence, aiding the body’s ability to absorb glucose more readily and put less stress on the pancreas.

Of course, coffee doesn’t agree with everyone and causes side effects such as headaches and insomnia in some people.

The Big Picture

At the core of it all is regularity, as these nutrients are quickly cleared out of the body once consumed. But equally crucial is the variation as highlighted by all three experts. “With superfoods, people want exotic, but many products in your back yard will be beneficial,” says Dubost. “It’s all about major food groups and a variety.” Or as Shukett-Hale puts it, “It’s not about should I eat blueberries or mushrooms, it’s about, ‘should I eat blueberries or chips?'” Not even a food claiming to have superpowers can compensate for a bad diet alongside it.

Contributor: Meera Senthilingam- CNN