We are a nation of paradoxes. While more than half of the nation’s children are malnourished, there’s an increase in the number of people – young and old alike – who are now overweight or obese. According to data from the Obesity Foundation India, more than 3 percent of Indians are clinically obese and a whopping 25 percent are overweight. While healthy eating and regular exercise are the most important steps to lose weight, you can also harness the power of certain natural remedies that have shown beneficial effects in helping with weight loss.
Also known as Linseed or Alsi in Hindi, flaxseed comes with a mucilage coat surrounding the seed; when it contacts water, it swells, adding to the bulk in your stomach. Therefore, it can make you feel full with lesser volumes of food and this helps with weight loss. Flaxseed is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart. Pregnant women should avoid the use of flaxseed because it has estrogen-like properties and can cause undesirable hormonal fluctuations.
Health.india.com tip: Powder flaxseeds and add a little of the powder into soups, oats, breakfast cereal, juice, chapatti dough, dosa batter, chutneys, curds or butter milk. Since flaxseeds are naturally bland, they will not contribute any flavour to the dish.
Green tea contains several valuable components of which, the catechins are the most valuable because of their antioxidant activity. Research has shown evidence of the metabolism-boosting and fat-burning properties of green tea, making it a wonderful weight loss aid.
Health.india.com tip: Take the green tea leaves in a tea strainer and place it over a cup. Heat water until bubbles just start to form at the bottom of the vessel (around 80 °C) and pout it so as to cover the leaves, and allow them to steep for two minutes; then remove the strainer, and drink the green tea after it has cooled down a little.
Cinnamon has been found to activate insulin receptors as well as stimulate important enzyme systems involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Therefore, it can regulate the levels of blood sugar and increase metabolism and this, combined with its ‘bad cholesterol’-reducing action makes it a wonderful weight loss aid.
Health.india.com tip: Include about one teaspoon of cinnamon in your daily diet by sprinkling cinnamon powder on food you eat – breakfast cereal, tea and coffee, fruits such as apples and pears or curds.
Some people also combine cinnamon with honey in the form of a tea by mixing one tablespoon of each in half a cup of hot water. This tea should be drunk about 30 minutes before breakfast every day to see a noticeable weight loss.
The piperine in black pepper has been known for years as a digestive; recent research shows that it also helps burn fat and through action at genetic level, may help prevent the formation of fat.
Health.india.com tip: Freshly ground black pepper can be added to several regular dishes right from salads to meats. Make sure you add it at towards the end of your cooking because exposure to too much of heat can cause a loss of its flavour and reduce its effectiveness.
Indians have always used turmeric in cooking, religious rituals and as a beauty aid. Researchers all over the world are now finding that it can also help to metabolize fat and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Health.india.com tip: Besides the traditional way of adding turmeric to vegetable, rice, curry and dals, make a tea of turmeric. Add a teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of ginger powder into around 4 cups of boiling water; allow to simmer for 10 minutes; strain and drink when cool.
Well-known for its digestive properties, ginger also has thermogenic properties – it raises the body temperature by burning fat and this makes it useful for those seeking to lose weight. Research has shown it also has a satiating property which means you tend to eat less, and this contributes to the weight loss. Ginger has blood-thinning properties and it is wise to consult your doctor if you are on blood thinners such as aspirin before consuming it.
Health.india.com tip: Powder ginger and add about half a teaspoon to a cup of hot water, cool and drink. You can also mix a tablespoon each of cinnamon and ginger with water, boil for a minute or two and drink when cool. Adding peeled and grated or chopped fresh ginger into vegetable or rice dishes is yet another way of including it in your diet.
In recent years, being overweight or obese has come to be recognized as a risk factor for several lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes and as people grow more aware of this fact, weight loss is becoming priority number 1 on their ‘to-do’ list. Regular exercise – at least 30 minutes a day for five days in a week – is the best way to prevent weight gain. For effective weight loss, it is vital you combine exercise with the right diet. When you make these herbs a part of your diet, not only do they help with weight loss, they also help you keep lifestyle diseases at bay.
First Published: Jan 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM