By Dr Sajimon George BAMS, AAA, ATMS
Obesity Management and Weight Loss with Ayurveda – Obesity means having excess fat in the body mass.
Overweight and obesity indicate a weight greater than what is considered as healthy. Obesity is best defined by using the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI is calculated using a person’s height and weight.
The BMI equals a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared. Since BMI describes body weight relative to height, it is strongly correlated with total body fat content in adults. An adult who has a BMI of 25 -29.9 is considered overweight, and an adult who has a BMI over 30 is considered obese.
Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases, particularly high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease (heart attacks), cerebro – vascular disease (stroke), gout, gallstones, colon cancer, sleep apnea, non alcoholic fatty liver disease, arthritis etc. Obese persons are also likely to become the target of teasing, which can lead to social anxiety.
Genetics, over eating, diet rich in simple carbohydrates, frequency of eating, slow metabolism, physical inactivity, some anti depressants, anticonvulsants, antihypertensive and psychological factors results in obesity.
Obesity management – Ayurvedic approach
Obesity is primarily a Kapha humor and meda (fat) dhatu predominant condition. Kapha and fat dhatu increasing food and life style result in abnormal increase in fat dhatu and gradually develop blocks in subtle channel which transport dhathu, life force and fire principle or Agni. Impaired function of fire principle cause craving for food resulting in over eating which again increase accumulated fat.
Following are the steps for the management of this condition.
Avoiding the cause
Nidana parivarjana (avoiding etiological factors of a disease) is the primary and the most important principle of the Ayurvedic therapy. It has great importance in the management and as well as in the prevention of obesity. Food that causes imbalance in the Kapha Dosha must be avoided. Excessive intake of food those are difficult to digest, heavy, cold (frozen), leftovers and oily (fried) food need to be avoided.
Oversleeping results in the increase of Kapha and fat dhatu. So it is ideal to have a regular sleeping pattern. Avoid day sleep as well as late into bed. Both can lead to obesity. Bedtime around 9pm – 10.30pm and wake up before 5.30 am is ideal. Our forefathers have given the proverb (early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise) with a reason. Morning walk (brisk walking) especially in summer is very effective in obesity control.
Ayurveda being a holistic healthcare system suggest procedures which address both physical and mental aspects involved in this condition. Following procedures and effective in the management of obesity.
Udwarthana (Medicated powder Massage): It has fat burning properties, which is performed using herbal decoction and powder of suitable herbs. This is useful in dissolving subcutaneous fat and to stimulate the nervous system and glands.
Steam bath and other heating procedures: Oils are never used. It is useful in removal of blockage of subtle channels or srothas.
Virechana (Medicated purgation): It is a cleansing method, performed by giving some herbal purgatives which bring down abnormally increased fire principle or Agni.
Vasthi (Medicated enema): Designed to clean the lower alimentary canal and most effective in Ayurvedic treatment bringing cleansing of subtle channels or srothas spread all over the body. This is very effective in removing abnormally increased fire principle. Special ingredients may be added to it making it a Lekhana Vasthi which can cause scraping of fat.
Thakradhrara (pouring of medicated buttermilk): This is a very effective procedure to calm down brain activities and thus help in managing depression and other psychological problems arising out of impaired functioning of higher mental faculties.
Herbs for obesity management: Herbs with following properties are used here. Lekhana (Scraping extra Meda (fat)), normalizing function of digestive fire by removing blockage of subtle channels (srothas). This can regulate fire principle in cellular level (dhatwagni) and correct transformation of dhatus. Plumbago roseae (chitraka), Commiphora mukul (guggul), black pepper etc. are some useful herbs.
Yoga and meditation for obesity management: Practice suitable yoga postures after an Ayurvedic consultation. Yoga is not an exercise program, but a recommended Ayurvedic lifestyle habit. Yoga can make overall changes to your life, strengthens body, mind and helps to stay focused.
Diet Planning and recommendations for weight loss: Design an Ayurvedic diet chart suitable for your constitution. A qualified Ayurvedic doctor can help you in this regard. Follow it thoroughly. Some tips on Ayurvedic diet for obesity as follows:
- Increase usage of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Cook with spices like turmeric, black pepper, ginger and rock salt
- Fasting once a week is very effective. You can have fruit/ vegetable juices while fasting
- Avoid processed foods, intake of too much salt, milk products like cheese, butter etc
Precautions to prevent recurrence of obesity:
After successful management of obesity, still there are chances of recurrence in the absence of ongoing monitoring in diet and life style. It is important to take precautions to avoid obesity rather than undergoing treatment after its occurrence.
Once you are obese it is difficult to treat yourself.
- Avoid excess eating (emotional eating), eating during indigestion and eating while the previous meal is being digested
- Minimize sweets
- Have low fat/skim dairy products
- Avoid chocolates, ice creams, cheese, paneer, sugar etc
- Take non-vegetarian food like chicken, fish, eggs, and lean cut of meats etc in moderate quantity. Remove fat from meat and skin from chicken
- Minimize oil and ghee in cooking; Use a non-stick pan for cooking
- Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Change your cooking technique. Consume roasted rather than fried
- Do regular exercises (like brisk walking), running, swimming etc
- Avoid sedentary lifestyle.
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