Two out of every three Americans is overweight, which is not only bad for your waistline, but also your health! With summer here many people are focused on reducing belly fat to stay trim and thin for bathing suit season, however, the extra weight around your hips and abdomen points to drastically increased rates of heart disease and diabetes. Our national waistline needs to decrease, but many weight loss methods flooding the market today are unnatural or out-of-balance, and do not have your best long-term interests at heart. Here are five tips that will flatten your belly and lengthen your years.
Check for Hidden Sugar
Ever take a bite of a "sugar-free" energy or granola bar only to find it tastes sweeter than regular candy? It says it is sweetened only with fruit juice, but a closer look at the label reveals that it is actually concentrated fruit juice—which contains even more calories than sugar. Don't be tricked: when it comes to managing your weight, calories are calories and an excessive amount of sugar, even from fruit, will still lead to weight gain.
Try naturally low- or no-calorie substances from nature rather than artificial sweeteners. Both the natural herb stevia and erythritol, a sugar alcohol from fermented fruits, contain no calories. A Chinese herb traditionally used for cough and sore throat, Luo han guo is now available as an extract combined with the vegetable fiber inulin in a mixture sold under the name Sweet Fiber, a no-calorie natural sweetener—with added fiber to boot.
A Melon for Natural Weight Loss
A traditional remedy for losing weight and helping treat diabetes is bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or balsam pear. Resembling a zucchini with a bumpy surface, its cleansing and mildly laxative properties flush the system of toxins and promote weight loss. Bitter melon contains vitamins A, B1, B3, and C as well as several phytonutrients—including antioxidants like lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. It is a good source of dietary fiber, plus it has two times the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and double the potassium of bananas!
Slim Down with Whole Grains
There is no question that refined carbohydrates—refined bread, rice, pasta, corn, among others—contribute directly to weight gain and play a role in serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, attention deficit disorder, and allergies. Instead of eating refined carbohydrates, try refining your palette to enjoy the taste of whole grains and complex carbohydrates that better benefit your health. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole grain pasta are great foods to launch your new diet.
Or try a new grain? Quinoa and amaranth are two tasty grains that are rich in protein and easy to cook. Millet, sorghum, and buckwheat are packed with B vitamins. While whole grains are an essential part of our diet, and not to be neglected, eat them in moderation for optimum weight management. Instead of starting your day with a bagel or pancakes, try Dr. Mao’s Beautiful Herbal Cereal, which is a nourishing and satisfying hot cereal I have created. It is made with herbs, grains and seeds for sustained life-force energy (chi) and includes select Chinese herbs to promote long life; grains, legumes and beans for healthy digestion; herbs and seeds for beautiful hair and skin.
Choose Health Fats
In many countries, lard and butter are automatically used as cooking oil—no wonder heart disease is the number one killer in the world. Animal fats are saturated fats, which contribute to bad cholesterol, weight gain, and plaque buildup in our delicate circulatory system. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from vegetable, nut, and seed sources, increase good cholesterol and protect you from heart disease. These include flaxseed oil, olive oil, peanut oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, and walnut oil.
Trans fats are a category of fats you want to avoid at all costs. These unnatural fats are manufactured by partially hydrogenating plant oils to give them a longer shelf life. Two examples are margarine and shortening, widely used in fast food restaurants and packaged snacks. It is difficult for your body to process trans fats, which increases bad cholesterol and your risk of diabetes and stroke. And some studies directly implicate trans fats in producing the rippling fatty deposits known as cellulite.
Burn the Fat
There's no getting around the fact that you need physical activity to drop the belly fat. A good way to reduce cholesterol and to stimulate circulation is to do moderate cardiovascular exercises every day for at least 30 minutes. I suggest walking briskly at 3 to 4 miles per hour, general calisthenics, racket sports, swimming, cycling at a moderate speed of 10 miles per hour, canoeing, or rowing. If the idea of a formalized exercise program seems impossible, consider other ways to get active in your life: walk more, take more stairs, get physical while housecleaning or yard cleaning, participate in walkathons—anything that gets you moving.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
--Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310-917-2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at firstname.lastname@example.org.