Reason #5: Your knees and elbows will thank you.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, in which we lose cartilage and gradually destroy the bones of our joints.
Imagine two rocks grinding together and you get the idea of how fun that is.
Like most chronic illnesses, osteoarthritis is a vicious cycle.
Your joints hurt, so you move less.
Moving less means your joints don’t get loaded.
Less joint loading means muscle weakness.
Muscle weakness means force doesn’t get cushioned correctly.
Less cushion means the condition worsens.
More osteoarthritis means more pain.
And, onwards, we circle the drain.
The point? Obesity makes it much more likely that you’ll get osteoarthritis.
In one study comparing the heaviest patients to the lightest, the chance of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee was more than 6 times in the heavy group. For both knees it was almost 18 times.
Osteoarthritis comes from a combination of excess joint loading plus the inflammatory chemical and hormonal environment that having too much body fat creates.
Bottom line: One important reason to lose excess fat is to reduce joint pain and improve your movement. These are things you can benefit from almost immediately.
Reason #4: You’ll get a good night’s sleep.
Think of what happens when a rockslide blocks a tunnel.
That’s sleep apnea: The upper airway collapses while you sleep, cutting off that oxygen tunnel.
Just so you know, sleep apnea is more than a little snoring.
Sleep apnea means you stop breathing. Over and over and over. As you sleep.
Which is bad.
More body fat means more potential for sleep apnea. This comes from a few combined factors:
Fat in your airway narrows the space available. This makes your airway more prone to collapsing.
Fat in your upper body puts excess fat on your lungs and reduces the space available to them. You need more oxygen but you can’t get it as well.
Fat — a hormone-producing organ — changes your hormonal signals. This rewires your respiratory systems.
While around 25 percent of adults have sleep apnea, 50 percent of obese adults have it.
Even more scary: If you have mild sleep apnea, and you put on excess fat, the chances of you graduating to moderate or severe sleep apnea are:
- 5 percent excess fat gain = 250 percent increase of severe sleep apnea
- 10 percent excess fat gain = 650 percent increase of severe sleep apnea
- 20 percent excess fat gain = 3,700 percent increase of severe sleep apnea
So, why is sleep apnea bad?
Sleep is a major regulator of our metabolism. If our sleep is bad, so is our metabolic health.
This means things like elevated inflammation, rapid cell aging and oxidation, and hormonal disruption (and, yes, higher risk for all kinds of nasty chronic diseases in the long term).
Bottom line: Another important reason to lose excess fat is so that you can sleep better. Not only does this help regulate metabolism, hormone systems, and more. It helps you feel, think and live better right away.
Reason #3: You’ll actually start to taste your food.
This may sound weird, but it seems that people who struggle with their excess fat don’t taste food as well.
People vary in how well and sensitively they can perceive different flavors and textures such as fattiness or sweetness.
One hypothesis is that if we can’t taste as well, we eat more food to compensate.
On the flip side, people with high BMIs seem to avoid bitter foods more, and have a stronger “disgust” response. As it happens, many vegetables are bitter or astringent (think of kale, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, etc.).
So there seems to be a relationship between excess body fat;
- wanting and liking fat / sweet foods and pleasant tastes;
- eating fat / sweet foods; and
- avoiding unpleasant tastes.
Put simply, what this mean is:
Many people with excess body fat also have altered flavor perception.
The flavor perception could pre-date gaining fat.
Or, the flavor perception could be caused by gaining fat. Or both.
The only observation I’ll add is that the foods we consider to be the most responsible for obesity just happen to pander directly to this dysfunction by having aggressively over-sweet, over-salty, over-fatty, etc. flavor profiles.
We eat and eat and eat them, but they never seem to satisfy. It’s a Sisyphean irony.
The good news is that tastes are changeable.
This means that losing fat, getting fit, and consistently building healthy habits can actually change how we perceive flavors. In a good way.
(One day, you might just find you like Brussels sprouts after all).
More importantly, when you truly enjoy food, you eat less, but you feel much more satisfied.
Bottom line: Obese people have altered taste perceptions leading to eating more and eating more of the wrong foods. By losing excess fat you’ll end up craving less high-sugar and high-fat food. You might even enjoy an extra veggie or two.
Reason #2: Your immune system will work properly again.
We tend to think of body fat like an ATM: a place where we deposit or withdraw energy. It isn’t.
Instead, fat is an active endocrine organ. That means it secretes hormones and cytokines (cell signaling molecules).
Hormones and cytokines have effects throughout the body. They “talk” to one another chemically.
Like all things, balance is important. If we have a healthy amount of fat, our hormones and cell signals work properly. If we have too much, things go wrong.
For example, with too much body fat our immune systems get off kilter.
There’s a huge, scary pile of evidence here so let’s keep it simple.
Increased BMI and more body fat is associated with greater risk for several kinds of infections including:
- gum infections,
- nose and sinus infections,
- stomach infections, and
- herpes (thankfully, the mouth kind).
Why? Too much adipose (fat) tissue can release large amounts of immune chemicals. Over time, this chronic high exposure can interfere with the body’s ability to spot and stop actual outside infections.
Bottom line: Losing body fat can mean a healthier, more responsive, more robust immune system. And that means fewer colds, fewer infections, and a healthier daily life.
Reason #1: You’ll survive surgery and childbirth.
People with a lot of body fat:
- are harder to incubate,
- have a higher risk of incisional hernia post-laparoscopy (i.e. popping open again),
- have a longer operation time,
- have a higher risk of catheter site infection, and
- have a higher rate of serious postoperative complications.
Surgery is a risky business for people who are obese.
This is a double whammy because people who struggle with obesity also struggle with more health issues that may require surgery.
So obese people may need surgery… but not be able to get it, or not recover as well when they do.
Pregnancy is a good example of this.
Among women who are significantly obese, about 50 percent of them must undergo Caesarean sections, compared to only about 20 percent of the general population.
Even if they give birth vaginally, obese women may have to have a lot more instruments and medical procedures involved.
After surgery, mothers with obesity may end up with more surgical site infections.
This is aside from other pregnancy complications, which also go up significantly as body fat increases.
Bottom line: Every surgery patient wants a safe and speedy recovery. And every mother wants a safe birth and a thriving, bouncing baby. Having a healthy range of body fat makes those happy outcomes much more likely.
If you would like to learn more about your health and how to lose excess body fat feel free to join my group https://www.facebook.com/groups/PentagramofHealth/ where you can find complimentary information how you can start living healthier today