Unfortunately, our generations are generally obese and lead mostly a sedentary lifestyle, but one study found that this might not be a result of the lack of physical activity and large meals only.
Researchers from York University in Toronto, Ontario, conducted a study which revealed that “If you are 40 years old now, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than if you were a 40 year old in 1971, to prevent gaining weight.”
The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and analyzed the dietary data of about 36,400 American adults gathered by the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 1971 and 2008.
They also used the available physical activity frequency data, of 14,419 adults in the period between 1988 to 2006.
They compared 3 crucial factors and discovered that even if these factors were identical, a person in 2006 would have a higher found body mass index by 10 percent higher than that of a person 8 years prior.
This indicates that if one eats the same food, and the same amounts of macronutrients, and exercises the same amount as a person in 1988, s/he would be heavier now.
Therefore, their study revealed rather surprising facts. As the lead author of the study, Professor Jennifer Kuk said, “[Our study] indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.
This is because weight management is actually much more complex than just ‘energy in’ versus ‘energy out’.
That’s similar to saying your investment account balance is simply your deposits subtracting your withdrawals and not accounting for all the other things that affect your balance like stock market fluctuations, bank fees or currency exchange rates.”
Hence, our weight is affected by numerous factors, including:
Nowadays, we live in a way different environment compared to the one our ancestors lived in.
We are exposed to various chemicals, pollutants, toxins, and pesticides on a daily basis, and the ingredients they contain, such as BPA, PCBs, triclosan, agricultural pesticides, phthalates, and fire retardants are structurally similar to estrogen, and thus lead to weight gain.
We have become victims of the busy lifestyles we lead, and we are constantly dealing with stress and problems. Stress initially leads to appetite loss, but then it triggers food cravings and hunger.
This comes as a result of the fight-or-flight response of the body. When the body reaches a certain level of stress, it responds with overeating.
For instance, the hormone cortisol increases the glucose supply in the bloodstream in order to be used as energy source. Yet, we do not use this energy actively these days, and this leads to blood sugar fluctuations and fat storage.
In comparison to the one of our ancestors, the food these days is of very lower quality. We consume processed foods, rich in preservatives and additives, and the foods grown in soil are lower in nutrients than before.
Furthermore, the use of GMO crops and pesticide sprays also led to weight gain.
The role of the gut flora is to neutralize some of the toxic by-products of digestion and prevent the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria and yeasts, thus stimulating the digestive process, and supporting the absorption of nutrients.
However, our diet is low in foods that support gut health, like prebiotics and probiotics, and on the other hand, it is rich in ‘dead’ foods like junk and processed foods.
Additionally, conventional, factory-farmed meat is loaded with antibiotics which destroy good bacteria in the gut and lead to an imbalance, which is a perfect environment for bad bacteria and leads to weight gain.
Today, we take much more medications than our ancestors, which are “additional novel factors that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic include increases in pharmaceutical prescriptions associated with weight gain, higher maternal age, reduction in variability of ambient temperature, decreased prevalence of smoking, inadequate amount of sleep and low calcium.”
Prescription drugs often cause various side effects and can be extremely harmful.
The following steps are helpful in the prevention of unhealthy weight gain:
- Consume fresh, real foods, and avoid packaged, processed ones, as they are rich in artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives
- Consume gut-friendly foods like prebiotics e.g. garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and probiotics e.g. organic yogurt, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi
- Eat organic foods to avoid the dangerous effects of the exposure to pesticides, fungicides, and genetically modified foods
- Replace the conventional personal care and household products with some natural alternatives
- Take prescription drugs only when necessary and avoid overusing antibiotics
- Manage stress to improve sleep and prevent blood sugar fluctuations and weight gain