Why we are getting fatter?

copyright Debra Langley

The simple explanation for why South Africans are gaining so much weight is that we are overeating “calorically dense” foods (foods high in calories and mainly from fats) and we are leading incredibly sedentary lifestyles.

Our ancestors could only eat when food was available after hunting and gathering, all we need to do is order Uber eats or visit our local supermarket for an endless supply. In a nutshell, we are biologically programmed to eat when food is available. In todays times, we live in a food-rich environment, and it is freely available wherever we turn. As we are programmed to eat when it is available, it happens most of the day in our 24-hour society. Eating has never been easier!

Many studies have highlighted the link between obesity and infertility in men and women. Obesity can impair ovulation, cause irregular menstrual periods, lower response to fertility treatments and increase risk of miscarriages in women. In men obesity can affect hormone and semen production.4 Improving obesity improves reproductive health.

How do our satiety signals work? What are they?

The most obvious satiety signal is filling up the stomach until it’s full, and this is usually what most people do which can cause irreparable damage if we don’t understand how this process works correctly.

Let me explain.

Our stomach is lined with receptors that tell us how much food we have eaten. The first kind, called the stretch receptors, measure the volume of food in our stomach. The second kind, the density receptors, measure the caloric density and nutrient quality of the food.

When these receptors sense that the stomach is full, a message is sent to the hypothalamus, an almond sized region in the brain that controls body functions such as hunger, thirst, body temperature, blood pressure and other processes. It is also the brain behind your metabolism. The hypothalamus receives signals from the stomach, intestines, fat tissue and from other areas that turns your hunger switch off and tells you that it is time to stop eating.

When we eat 500 calories of plant-based food like vegetables and fruit the stomach is filled to capacity and both the stretch and density receptors are triggered sending messages to the brain that you have had enough to eat and it’s time to stop. 500 calories of processed food only half fills the stomach and not all the receptors are triggered, even less receptors are triggered with 500 calories of fats and oils that only fill up 1/5 of the stomach. Understanding how these volume and nutrient density receptors work it is quite easy to see how we can overeat on processed foods and fats consuming over 2000 calories in one sitting without feeling full.

Figure 1: Caloric Density of Different Foods
Figure 1: Caloric Density of Different Foods

What is Caloric Density?

Caloric density simply put is the number of calories (energy) in a given amount (volume) of food.

All foods vary in the number of calories they contain per pound (0.453kg), this can vary from 100 right up to 4000. Up until now, we have all been lead to believe that in order to lose weight we have to restrict our calorie intake. This means eating a lot less food than you are accustomed to and of course, with that we are required to burn more calories than we take in. This means more exercise.

On paper this seems quite simple and when put into practice you will lose weight. However, what inevitably happens is that as soon as you stop restricting calories and go back to eating normal size portions the weight creeps right back on.

Putting caloric density into practice you can eat a lot more food, still your hunger and cravings, lose excess weight easily and effortlessly and most importantly keep it off for good, no more roller coaster dieting.

Feeling full and quieting toxic hunger is not only about the calorie content of the food you eat, the weight and volume matters too. If you fill up on foods that have a lower caloric density, you can eat more and satisfy your hunger. A high caloric density food has many calories in a small weight of food, whereas something that is low in caloric density has fewer calories in the same weight of food. Foods lower in caloric density have also make you feel fuller. Foods that are lower in calorie density such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are also the foods that have the highest nutrient density. This is a double whammy, they help you lose weight and fight disease at the same time.

Research done by Dr Barbara Rolls at the Pennsylvania State University found that people eat approximately exactly the same weight of food every day. Thus by changing the caloric density of the food eaten, her test patients lost weight without the deprivation and restriction of portion sizes that was usually required.

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  • Start every meal with a salad, vegetables, soup and/or fruit. Make sure they make up at least half of your plate. This will help you to fill up on foods that have the lowest calorie density.

  • Eat food as close to its natural state as possible and avoid juicing or liquefying them. Reducing the volume of food will not fill you up as much as the whole unprocessed form. Rather chew your calories instead of drinking them.

  • Stick to the 50/50 guideline, make sure that half your plate is made up of non-starchy vegetables and/or fruits and the other half with starchy vegetables, whole-grains and or beans.

  • Eat until you are comfortably full without starving or stuffing yourself.

  • Lower the overall caloric density of any meal by adding more non-starchy vegetables; avoid adding unnecessary fats and oils to your dishes. Fats and oils have the highest caloric density of any food and they increase overall calories.

  • Avoid calorie dense foods such as dried fruit, processed grains (bread, bagels, crackers, cereal, muffins, puffed cereals, chocolates, sweets, fizzy drinks etc.) and limit the healthier high caloric density choices such as nuts, seeds, olives, nut butters and avocado. Add them to dishes that consist mainly of low-calorie-dense foods in small quantities if you are unable to cut them out totally

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Risk of insulin resistance

The most important function of adiponectin is the control of energy metabolism, but it has a critical role in reproduction as well. The G genotype is associated with lower adiponectin levels, which increases the risk for obesity and reduced fertility.

1. WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THIS GENE? Adiponectin (AdipoQ) is a hormone secreted almost exclusively from fat cells but also reproductive organs. Adiponectin modulates pathways related to:

• fat storage and metabolism • sugar and fat metabolism by increasing insulin sensitivity and fatty acid breakdown • anti-inflammatory (protective against the effects of low-grade inflammation are associated with obesity) • oocyte maturation

2. LINK TO MALE FERTILITY In males, adiponectin modulates several functions such as:

• sex hormone production (steroidogenesis) • cell growth (proliferation) • apoptosis • oxidative stress

3. LINK TO FEMALE FERTILITY Although it is made in adipose tissue, the more fatty tissue a person has, the lower the adiponectin levels. Lower adiponectin levels, which may be found in GG genotypes, are associated with an increased risk of:

• inflammation • obesity • insulin resistance • PCOS and hyperandrogenism • interference on folliculogenesis • modulation of sex hormone secretion • endometriosis • gestational diabetes mellitus • idiopathic recurrent pregnancy loss as influenced by obesity

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What makes us unique is our DNA - and that is the key ingredient to the success of Supreme Fertility. Designed to provide you with more information as to what is right for you as an individual. This is why Supreme Fertility uses DNA testing to determine the root causes of infertility in both potential mom and dad. This involved a simple buccal swab from the mouth and samples are sent to the Geneway laboratory in Pretoria. Using the results of this test, your Supreme Fertility practitioner will give you a personalized programme, to assist you on your fertility journey. Contact us today to find out how we can help you. Email: info@supremefertility.co.za or call 012-940 1569 or visit www.supremefertility.co.za

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