By guest blogger Dr. Mao Shing Ni, DOM, PhD, ABAAHP, LAc; author of the bestselling book Secrets of Longevity.
Two out of three people in the United States are overweight. Lately, there has been a lot of focus on reducing belly fat—and with good reason, as accumulated fat around the hips and abdomen points to drastically increased rates of heart disease and diabetes. 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.
1. 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!
2. Look out 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 weight, calories are calories and an excessive amount of sugar, even from fruit, will still lead to weight gain.
3. Combat belly fat 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.
Starting your day off with a healthy meal is also important. I have created a cereal called Dr. Mao’s Beautiful Herbal Cereal, which is a nourishing and satisfying hot cereal made with herbs, grains and seeds for sustained life-force energy (chi). The cereal includes select Chinese herbs to promote long life; grains, legumes and beans for healthy digestion; herbs and seeds for beautiful hair and skin.
4. Know your 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.
5. Physical activity fights belly 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.
I hope this article helps you get trim and slim down!
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!