Pineapple Tarts, Kueh Lapis, Ba Kwa, Sugee cake, Steamboat!!! How many of you over indulge during Chinese New Year? Well we did. Such goodies can definitely alleviate one’s mood, but overconsumption can have an adverse effect on us- OBESITY!
In recent years, WHO (World Health Organization) classified obesity as a disease due to its steady increasing numbers and complications which comes along with it. Obesity is seen by the excessive accumulation of body fats. Excessive body weight can bring about various conditions, especially cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep disorders and so on.
How does TCM view obesity?
For us, we do not aim to treat obesity, but rather the cause of the obesity. We look deeper into what actually caused an over-accumulation of fatty tissues around the body and aim to restore the balance to the organ involved. We take the holistic approach of looking at one’s entire body function before deciding on the root cause.
What is the root cause of obesity?
There are two more common causes of obesity.
1. Weak spleen and stomach functions
Overconsumption of oily, greasy and spicy food can take a toll on the spleen and stomach, whose function is solely at digestion and metabolism. A weak spleen/stomach function is one of the most common cause of obesity. When the digestive and metabolic function slows down due to weakness, the food consumed will not be easily metabolized, causing fat to accumulate easier, increasing one’s body mass.
2. Qi (Vital energy) stagnation
The stressful society we live in can cause one’s emotional state to be affected. This can in turn affect the liver, whose function is to regulate the qi flow around the body. When that happens, qi gets stagnated around the body, causing dampness and phlegm to form.
How does TCM help with obesity?
The type of treatment is primarily dependent on the diagnosis. There are 3 main forms of treatment for obesity.
Acupuncture targets the qi (Vital energy) flow around the body by stimulating certain meridian and acupoints. This in turn will affect the autonomic nervous system to regulate one’s metabolism.
The acupoints selected would be dependent on the diagnosis. Should a patient be diagnosed with weak spleen and stomach, acupoints would be selected to help to regulate and boost the spleen and stomach function, which will help to increase one’s metabolism.
Cupping has a primary function to remove dampness and phlegm around the body, which is one of the leading cause for obesity. Cupping also aims to improve the blood circulation around the body, which can help those who has sluggish digestive functions or qi stagnation.
In my practice and experience, TCM medicine is a must to have when we are dealing with the causes of obesity. These herbal prescriptions are prepared according to one’s diagnosis. Why TCM medicine is a must to have is because of its deep rooted and long-lasting effect on the body. Should the right prescription be given and the organ functions are balanced back to homeostasis, the effects are generally long lasting. Furthermore, it takes a holistic approach and can have a positive impact on one’s immunity as well.
Is TCM treatments sufficient should I want to lose weight?
NO. There are lifestyle changes that one needs to adopt should he/she want to successfully lose weight for better health. In my opinion, lifestyle changes are very much more important as compared to any treatments that you can undergo.
Our body’s metabolism is heavily dependent on the frequency and types of exercises we let our body go through. Exercise should be part and parcel of life, just as eating is. A good exercise regime not only brings about positive effects for the body but the mind as well.
An ideal exercise regime would constitute a good mix of aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises. One should aim to do up exercises at least 3 times a week, each session about 30-45minutes. One factor that can maximize your exercise regime is to allow your heart rate to reach 120 (100 for elderly) for the period of 30-45 minutes. This way, you are allowing your heart to work hard for you
One important note is to start off slow. Do not be overambitious as that can lead to injury, be it physical injury or internal injury. Listen to your body, if your body is telling you that it cannot go on, stop!
Another important change that needs to be made. Eating is a daily affair, and as discussed, if not done properly, can lead to all sorts of diseases. Below are some tips to healthy eating
Cut back on red meat (pork, beef, mutton, duck) and consume white meat (fish, chicken) for protein
Cut back on carbohydrate intake. Instead, increase fiber intake
Consume more fruits and vegetables (especially dark green leafy ones)
Cut back on sugary food and pastries
Keep an eye on portions. It's always better to eat more meals in smaller portions
Get more whole grains
Reduce sodium intake and boost potassium intake (i.e. citrus fruits, banana, potatoes, beans)
Cut back on fruit juices (Essentially you are only consuming the sugar from the fruit)