EAT YOUR WAY TO HEALTHY BONES: ARE YOU AN APPLE OR A PEAR?

A pear-shaped figure (hips wider than waist) offers health benefits compared to an apple shape (waist greater than hips), which has been associated with higher rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes. Abdominal fat usually indicates more fat around the internal organs, which is part of the problem. There’s also apparently a connection to higher insulin levels and poor carbohydrate metabolism (due at least in part to too many simple carbohydrates in the diet). The increase in Cortisol and other stress hormones that results is what leads to the chronic health problems mentioned above—and, in all likelihood, to low bone density as well.
Beyond glancing in the mirror to see your general shape, the best guide to where you fall is your waist-to-hip ratio, which you find by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. (Take the measurements a few times, and average them, to ensure accuracy—tape measures are very fickle.) To be a “pear,” the number should be .8 or less for women and up to .9 or 1.0 for men. Anything higher makes you an apple.
If you find you have an apple shape, you should cut back on sugar and carbohydrates to protect your health. When you do, you’ll also probably lose weight and move closer to being a pear. If you need more motivation to make the change, get a fasting blood sugar level and a fasting insulin level, then a “two-hour postprandial” sugar and insulin test—your numbers after drinking a sugary drink your doctor prescribes—to see how your body handles sugar (a simple carbohydrate). Anything up to 22 is considered normal according to conventional wisdom, but issues surrounding carbohydrate metabolism are generally underrecognized, and I think you should be concerned about anything over 14 (or even a 9 or 10 fasting). Higher numbers are considered prediabetic.
The pear shape is more common in women, thanks to the wider hips childbearing requires. A pear can have just as much body fat as an apple, but the distribution lower on the body is not as dangerous as right around the middle (the spare-tire look).
Some women don’t fall clearly into one category or the other—big thighs, big tush, big stomach. If that’s you, I’d recommend playing it safe, and considering yourself open to the hazards of the apple shape and taking action accordingly.
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