There are a lot of misconceptions about what being “healthy” actually means. Pop culture magazines and movies have convinced most of the public that “skinny” is synonymous with “healthy,” but doctors know that’s not the case.
Although weight has been used as an indicator of health for a long time, doctors and scientists are finding that weight isn’t the most important factor or indicator of risk. Because weight is external, visual, and easy to see, it’s the metric we most rely on. However, it’s the internal factors, the things we can’t see, like cholesterol and blood pressure, that are turning out to be better indicators of health and life longevity.
Nature’s Sunshine knows that “health” is a comprehensive characteristic. While weight and body fat certainly shouldn’t be ignored, it’s important for even those who are thin to be aware of the internal factors that constitute their health.
Here, we’ll use an independent study done on Nature’s Sunshine’s IN.FORM health program to look at how this program not only provides body weight and fat mass benefits, but also affects triglycerides, blood pressure and cholesterol in a way that truly defines health. We’ll explain the importance of maintaining these factors to reduce risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease and how you can be aware of these factors in your body in order to live a long and truly healthy life.
The IN.FORM clinical study looked at five factors to determine the effect the program had on trial participants. Each of these is an important indicator of overall health and risk for serious diseases. Here are the factors and how they affect your health.
Body weight is the total weight of a person. Ideal body weight, or IBW, is a weight that is believed to be maximally healthful for a person based on their height, gender, age, build and degree of muscular development.
An accurate measurement of your body weight can be done by finding your BMI, or body mass index. To find your BMI you need to know your height (in centimeters) and your weight (in kilograms). Start by squaring your height and then dividing that number by your weight. That number is your BMI.
A healthy BMI range is determined by age and gender, but these ranges are just estimates. The standard may change depending on ethnicity or other health factors. While your BMI could be an indicator of your being underweight, at weight, or overweight, it’s not the only factor you should consider to determine your health.
Fat mass is the portion of the human body that is composed strictly of fat. It is added up and measured as total fat mass.
Fat mass is a good way for more athletic people to calculate health because BMI charts don’t take muscle mass into account. Keep in mind that both too much and too little fat can be dangerous for the body. Too little fat is especially dangerous for women because it can affect fertility.
However, it’s obvious that too much fat is the real risk indicator, which is unfortunate because two-thirds of all Americans are overweight and one-third are obese. The consequences of too much fat, especially around the stomach, can be dire.
Those who are overweight are at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and even cancer. Furthermore, there are serious day-to-day concerns such as sleep apnea and pain in the hips and knees that can make life difficult when you’re overweight.
Even those who aren’t overweight should be aware of their body fat. For those with a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or high triglycerides, maintaining a healthy fat mass can stave off these serious conditions.
Triglycerides are the major form of fat stored by the body. A triglyceride consists of three molecules of fatty acid combined with a molecule of the alcohol glycerol. They are the backbone of many types of lipids (fats).
Elevated triglycerides can be caused by being overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates (more than 60 percent of total calories).
Although it’s unclear how, high triglyceride levels may contribute to the hardening of arteries or thickening of artery walls (atherosclerosis). This increases your risk for stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
Normal levels are less than 150 milligrams per deciliter. Borderline high is 150 to 199 mg/dl, high is 200 to 499 mg/dL, and very high is 500 mg/dL. You can get your triglycerides tested by your doctor, but make sure to fast for nine to 12 hours before to get an accurate measurement.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers called systolic and diastolic. Systolic blood pressure is the top number in the blood pressure ratio. It’s always the highest number and it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
Diastolic is the bottom number and it measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood). Normal blood pressure features a ratio where your systolic number is less that 120 and your diastolic number is less than 80.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, increases your risk of damaging the arteries, which can lead to the development of heart disease, kidney disease, atherosclerosis, eye damage, and stroke. On the other hand, low blood pressure can also be dangerous as low blood flow can permanently damage organs.
The American Heart Association encourages everyone over 20 to get their blood pressure tested by a doctor every two years to maintain healthy levels. They also suggest that even those with normal blood pressure should consider making lifestyle changes to prevent the development of hypertension and improve your heart health.
Currently, one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. That’s about 70 million people. In a country where heart disease is the leading cause of death, this number is significant and worrisome. Worse yet, studies have found that only about half (52 percent) of these individuals have their hypertension under control. Many people don’t even know they’ve fallen victim to this silent killer.
Cholesterol is a substance that gets transported out of our body through our bloodstream by two different vehicles: HDLs and LDLs. LDLs are known as the “bad” cholesterol because they contribute to plaque, which clogs arteries. HDLs are known as the “good” cholesterol because they help remove LDLs from arteries and shepherd them to the liver, where they’re broken down and passed from the body. One should strive to have low LDLs and high HDLs in order to stay healthy and avoid issues like heart attack and stroke.
Just like the other factors on this list, high LDLs is a major indicator of risk for heart disease. But, you can use diet and exercise to help manage your cholesterol. Start by lowering your consumption of saturated fats, like those found in meat and dairy products. Eggs, cheeseburgers, and mac and cheese, for example, can be high in saturated fats.
The IN.FORM Clinical Study
The clinical trial of Nature’s Sunshine’s IN.FORM program monitored two groups of generally healthy individuals for 90 days. Both groups followed diet and exercise recommendations, but only the second group received the added benefit of the IN.FORM product protocol. The results were significant.
At the end of 90 days, the group who followed the IN.FORM program received improvement in all of the health factors we’ve outlined:
- 12% reduction in body weight
- 21.5% reduction of fat mass
- 51% reduction in triglycerides
- 15/10 mmHg reduction in blood pressure (11% reduction in systolic and 12% diastolic)
- 18% reduction in total cholesterol
- 19% reduction in LDL cholesterol
When you understand the significance these factors have on your overall health and life longevity, it’s hard to ignore these significant improvements. Regardless of your weight loss goals, results like these are beneficial for everyone.
When looking to improve your health, it’s important to start where you are and go from there. Nature’s Sunshine’s IN.FORM program is for everybody and every body—you can always improve to get to an optimal health level.
The body works as a system. Every piece affects the other pieces. When you’re unhealthy in one area, you adversely affect the other areas of your body and health. Take charge of your health, internally and externally. You’ll look and feel better than you ever have before.