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Many people may think that the fight against obesity is a matter of willpower, but medical research indicates otherwise.
The BBC program The Truth About Obesity discovered five factors that may be affecting your weight that may surprise you.
1. Intestinal microbes
Gillian and Jackie are twins. But there is something that, at first glance, differentiates them.
One weighs 41 kilos more than the other .
For 25 years, Professor Tim Spector has followed them both as part of a study on twins that takes place in the United Kingdom and is known as Twins Research UK .
Spector believes that many of the weight differences are due to the tiny organisms (microbes) that live in the depths of the intestine .
“Every time you eat, you feed a hundred billion microbes, you never eat alone,” he says.
A stool sample from each of the twins revealed that Gillian, the thinnest of the sisters, had a very diverse range of microbes , while Jackie had very few species of these small organisms living in her gut.
” The greater the diversity, the weaker the person is If you are overweight, your microbes are not as diverse as they should be,” says the professor, who found the same pattern in a study in which 5,000 people were analyzed.
Having a healthy and varied diet, rich in different sources of fiber, has proven to be key to creating a very diverse range of intestinal microbes.
Among the good sources of dietary fiber are:
- Whole grains for breakfast
- Fruits, including berries and pears
- Vegetables like broccoli and carrots
- The beans
- the nuts
2. The gene lottery
Why do some people diligently follow diets and exercise regularly, but still suffer from seeing results, while others do not work so hard and do not accumulate kilos?
Scientists at the University of Cambridge believe that the variation of the genes we inherit has an effect of between 40% and 70% on our weight.
“It’s a lottery,” says professor Sadaf Farooqi.
“It is now very clear that genes are involved in the regulation of our weight and if you have a particular failure in some genes, that may be enough to stimulate obesity .”
Certain genes can affect the appetite, the amount of food you want to eat and the type of food you might prefer.
Genes can also affect the way we burn calories and if our bodies can handle fat efficiently.
There are at least 100 genes that can affect weight , including one called MC4R.
It is believed that 1 in 1,000 people have a defective version of the MC4R gene, which, through the brain, helps control hunger and appetite. People with a flaw in this gene tend to be hungrier and crave more fat foods.
“There really is nothing you can do about your genes, but for some people, knowing that genes can increase their chances of gaining weight can help them deal with changes in diet and exercise,” says Farooqi.
3. The trick of the hour
There is something true in the old adage: “Eat like a king, have lunch like a lord and dine like a beggar,” but not for the reasons you could imagine.
Dr. James Brown, who is an expert in obesity, points out that the longer we eat, the more likely we are to gain weight.
Not because we are less active at night, as is commonly believed, but because of our internal clocks.
” The body is programmed in such a way that we handle calories more efficiently during the day period , when there is light, than when it is dark, when it is dark,” he explains.
For that reason, people who work shifts at erratic times could face a particular battle to avoid gaining weight.
During the night, our bodies find it difficult to digest fats and sugars. So consuming most of the calories before 19:00 can help you lose weight or avoid acquiring a few kilos.
During the last decade, the average dinner time in Britain went from 5:00 PM to around 8:00 PM and that has contributed to the increase in obesity levels in the country, says Brown.
But beyond the work patterns and hectic lifestyles of today, there are things we can do that will make a difference in our waists.
Skipping breakfast or simply eating a piece of toast is not an option for Dr. Brown.
A better alternative is to eat something with lots of protein and some fat as well as carbohydrates. Eggs on whole-wheat toast is a good example. That will make you feel fuller for longer.
At lunch, eat something substantively nutritious and for dinner leave something lighter.
4. Trick your brain
Hugo Harper, a British scientist dedicated to the study of behavior, says there are ways to change our unconscious eating behavior instead of just focusing on counting calories.
One strategy, says the expert, is: eliminate visual temptations . That could be more effective than if we left all the work to our conscious willpower.
So it is highly recommended that you do not have unhealthy snacks in your purse, purse or kitchen.
It is better if you remember to put a fruit in case you get hungry at work or on the way back.
In your kitchen , have a bowl of fruits and healthy foods in view.
Do not sit with a package of cookies in front of the television. Instead, put on a plate the number of cookies you want to eat . Close the package and save it.
Harper also encourages substitution behaviors: opt for less caloric alternatives to our favorite foods instead of eliminating them altogether.
Appeal for the dietary versions of soft drinks and try to reduce the portions of your snacks more than to run out of them.
“People do not tend to notice a difference when the size of their portions is reduced by 5%, 10%,” says Harper.
There is a tendency to eat without thinking. So it’s a good idea to follow the suggestions that the food packages have on the portions and use a smaller platewhen dinner time arrives.
The success of bariatric surgery is not only about reducing the stomach of the patient, but about the change of hormones that it causes.
Our appetites are controlled by our hormones and it has been discovered that bariatric surgery, the most effective treatment against obesity, increases the hormones that make us feel old and that decrease in number those that make us hungry.
But it is a major operation that involves reducing the size of the stomach by up to 90% and only takes place in people with a body mass index of at least 35.
Researchers at Imperial College London have recreated the intestinal hormones that cause changes in appetite after bariatric surgery has been performed in order to conduct a new clinical trial.
Every day for four weeks, a mixture of three hormones is given to patients as an injection.
” Patients feel less hungry , are eating less and are losing between 2 and 8 kilos in just 28 days,” says Dr. Tricia Tan.
If the drug is shown to be safe, the plan is to use it until the patients reach a healthy weight.