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Make New Year’s weight-loss resolution one that doesn’t damage immune health

Posted Dec 21 2009 2:42pm
Forty-six percent of  U.S. adults make New Year’s resolutions, and the most popular one, according to information portal USA.gov, is losing weight. Some people attempt to do it the right way: slowly, steadily, not denying dietyourself good nutrition, getting exercise, good sleep habits, and staying with it over the long term. Others will do it the wrong way:  starvation diets, skipping meals, cutting out multiple food groups (meat only, etc.).  Eventually they’ll gain it back, and maybe then some.

But wrongful dieting can do more than just lead to erratic weigh fluctuations. It can impair your immune response as well, making you even more susceptible seasonal illness.  In a women’s study in 2004, researchers found that “long-term immune function decreases in proportion to how many times a woman reportedly intentionally loses weight. They also found that immune function — as measured by natural-killer-cell activity — was higher among women who had been fairly weight stable over several years. There are indisputable health benefits to reducing body weight among those who are overweight and obese. Our concern is really the pattern of weight cycling or yo-yo dieting that many Americans go through.”

Speaking in Heath.com, Linda Bacon, a nutrition professor at the City College of San Francisco and the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight says, “Early June and January are the two times of year people do crazy, desperate things to get thin fast.  They go on fasts, yo-yo diets, detox programs, and ‘cleanses’ without realizing that there are serious consequences to weight loss and nutrient restriction.”

Sites like CrashDiets.com are really, really questionable, if not because of the name alone, because of tips like this:  “The most impressive thing about the oil is its ability to strengthen the immune system, its does this by increasing the number of lymphocytes in the body, this happens when it is absorbed directly through the skin.”

That’s right. Do a skin press of castor oil and up your immune defense that you’ll otherwise compromise by going on crash diets. Actually, some of the tips on this site are very good: lots of fruits and vegetables, reasonable exercise and consuming 6 smaller meals/snacks a day, rather than 1-2 larger meals.  Thing is, if you do this , I don’t see how it’s a crash diet where you’ll lose lots of weight in “weeks, not months or years.” Seems like you’d be likely to drop pounds the smart, non-crash way.


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