Reviewed by Mohammad Nazri Zulkafli, MD and Physician Kong Teck Chuan
Ideal Body Weight: Understanding the Importance for Your Health
Published | 7 min read
Let’s identify the importance of having ideal body weight, the benefits for your health, and what contributes to it.
Ideal body weight is important for reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It can also help to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
However, the ideal body weight for each person depends on several factors. These include age, gender, height, body shape, and muscle-fat ratio. One of the most common formulas used to measure body weight is the Body Mass Index (BMI). It can indicate body fatness for most people that may lead to health problems. There are 4 Asian BMI categories – underweight (BMI below 18.5), ideal weight (BMI between 18.5 and. 22.9), overweight (BMI between 23 and 24.9), and obese (BMI above 25).
On the contrary, being underweight can have many negative health implications. These include a nutritional deficiency, weakened immune system, fragile bones, and fatigue. It can also cause fertility problems in women. Similarly, being obese can put you at increased risk of diseases or mental health illnesses.
“How much should I weigh?” This is the one question many of you would like to know the answer to. However, there is no one correct answer, as several things play a role in ideal body weight.
Factors That Contribute to a Healthy Body Weight
The ability to achieve and maintain a healthy weight depends on the harmony between your mind and body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view of health, it relates closely to your lifestyle, emotions, a smooth flow of qi, and a balanced yin and yang.
For instance, if a person undergoes emotional stress, it can weaken the spleen functions. This is evident from digestive imbalances, and a result of the Liver not being able to regulate qi flow properly. Hence, this will lead to Blood Stasis, fluid retention and a slow metabolism, which contributes to weight gain.
You may not have control over natural factors that influence your body weight. However, there are certain changes that can be made to gain control over factors related to your lifestyle habits.
Elderly people will lose muscle mass and bone strength over time. This means that any additional weight you gain in late life will most likely consist of fat.
Alternatively, if you are young and physically active, most of your body weight may consist of strong muscles and dense bones. For that reason, it is not advisable to use a BMI calculator as age may affect how it computes your body fat percentage.
What you eat and how frequently you eat have a direct influence on your ability to achieve a healthy weight. If you consume a diet that revolves mainly around foods that are high in calories and unsaturated fats, you are at a greater risk of being overweight or obese as compared to people who consume nutritious foods. High consumption of these foods can also increase your risk of certain types of cancer.
“There is strong evidence that eating red and processed meat causes bowel cancer. Reduce your consumption of red meat and fill at least half your dinner plate with a variety of different, colourful vegetables. Vegetarian diets can be healthy and balanced too. However, if you don’t eat meat or other animal foods, it is important to ensure you are getting enough protein, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids,” says Kong Teck Chuan, a TCM physician for Eu Yan Sang.
In the same way, a higher daily intake of processed meat products, barbecued or grilled meat is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer in women.
One of the best ways to keep your body weight in check and strengthen your immune system is to consume a beverage containing apple and honey vinegar mixed with water.
Your level of physical activity contributes directly to your metabolic rate and ability to achieve a healthy weight. A sedentary lifestyle can accelerate muscle loss and reduce metabolism, thus increasing your risk of weight gain.
Certain medical conditions
Obesity increases your risk of health comorbidities, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and breathing problems like sleep apnea and asthma.
If your parents face obesity issues, you are likely to deal with them as well. Obesity can also be caused by insulin use or the use of certain medications. In this regard, making healthier eating choices or switching to a plant-based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes may help you achieve the ideal body weight and reduce your risk of obesity-related diseases.
“Through diet changes and weight loss, you may be able to reach and hold normal blood sugar levels. However, do note that type 2 diabetes is an ongoing disease, and its symptoms may return if you don’t control glucose intake,” adds Physician Kong.
The Benefits of a Healthy Body Weight
It is not easy to maintain a healthy weight. In the long run, however, accomplishing the weight goals you’ve set for yourself will set you up for a lifetime of wellness.
Efficient blood circulation
Maintaining a healthy weight helps to promote good blood circulation. Healthy circulation is necessary for efficient oxygen transport throughout the body. In turn, this allows your lungs, heart, and muscles to function properly.
Healthy circulation can also increase your resistance to infections and diseases and rid your body of waste from different organs. A vegetarian-friendly supplement that contains pine bark extract may help to promote healthy venous blood flow.
According to Physician Kong, acupuncture and cupping therapy can help suppress cravings and increase the flow of blood and qi. These treatments can also help to manage stress and improve sleep in general. Common acupoints include tian shu (ST25, 天枢), shui fen (CV9, 水分), and feng long (ST40, 丰隆).
Relieves physical discomfort
Being heavyset can cause you to be less active physically and increase your risk of experiencing aches in your joints, bones, and muscles. Therefore, it is important for you to maintain a healthy weight, as it reduces the strain on these areas of the body. It can also help to improve your overall mobility.
Improves immune system function
The immune system consists of different cells that protect the body from germs, viruses, and foreign pathogens. These cells need to be in equilibrium to ensure you stay healthy. Different lifestyle factors, including your diet and excess body fat, can tip this balance and trigger these cells to harm your body.
Consuming herbs like Cassia seeds (jue ming zi, 决明子), hawthorn berries and tangerine peel (chen pi, 陈皮) can help with weight loss. Cassia seeds are effective for detoxifying the Liver, dispelling Wind Evil, clearing Heat and relaxing the bowels. Hawthorn berries can promote an increase in coronary artery blood flow, improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Tangerine peel helps to ensure a smooth flow of qi in the spleen and Stomach by removing phlegm.
Maintaining an ideal body weight has proven to carry many health benefits. Hopefully this guide will motivate you to achieve your weight goals.
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