How Can You Naturally Tighten Skin after Weight Loss?


Did you go through a weight loss regime recently? One serious problem faced by people getting rapid weight loss is loose skin. You might have loose skin on your stomach or on the thighs or arms. It is very important to tighten skin after weight loss. A certain amount of loose skin is present in the body of each and every person but you need to make sure that it is not excessive.

There are certain products like skin tightening creams such as skin tight, body sculpt and no more double chins and so on for this purpose. Body wrap is the other option available. But it is always better to use natural methods in the beginning because they are safe. In extreme cases you might have to go for surgery.
The surgery meant for tightening the skin after weight loss is risky as well as costly. Therefore, you should wait for at least 2 years before you consider the surgery. Here are certain tips which can help you start the process to tighten skin after weight loss.

1. Start with the right kind of exercises to tighten skin after weight loss. If you start toning your muscles it will make your skin firm. Some of the weight training exercises which can be of help are crunches, pushups, squats, sit-ups and lunges. You can even lift weights to build muscles. But before doing these exercises you need to talk to a fitness trainer. It is important to find out the right way to do these exercises. You might get injured if you do not know the right way.

2. Do you know you can use loofah to tighten your skin? Loofah is an inexpensive product which can exfoliate your skin. It has the power to dig deep inside the pores on the skin and clean the dirt, dead cells, grime and toxins. If you have loose skin then you should always keep it clean. It will also ensure a better absorption of the creams and moisturizers.

3. You need to pay attention to the food you eat. To keep your skin firm and elastic you need to stimulate the development of elastin and collagen. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, soy products and artichoke hearts have antioxidants, vitamins and biotins which are necessary for the production of collagen. You can also eat high protein food like legumes, fish, nuts, milk, beans and yogurt.

4. You can massage your skin with cocoa and shea butter to tighten it after weight loss. You need to cover the loose areas of your skin with organic cocoa butter. This is one of the ways to keep your skin moist as well as elastic. Shea butter can be massaged on the loose skin during the night as well as in the morning.

5. You must understand that you need to have patience to tighten skin after weight loss. Plastic surgery is an option but do not take hasty decisions regarding that. But surgery is one of the permanent ways of getting rid of loose skin.


Top Tips on How to Tighten Loose Skin on Stomach


How to tighten loose skin on your stomach is a common question among people who have recently lost lots of weight or among women who have been pregnant. If you are worried about the loose skin on your stomach then you need to find the best ways on how to tighten loose skin on stomach.

Some people have the idea of giving a call to the plastic surgeon to get rid of the skin but this is not the right decision. Instead of going the painful way you can always look up to some of the best abdominal exercises and yoga to get a perfectly shaped tummy.

Weight loss is a major issue and you need to deal with it cleverly. There are different kinds of weight loss programs available on the internet these days from,, fast track to weight loss, fit over 40, fat loss 4 idiots and the diet solution programs and much more.

But each of these programs might not offer the desired result in weight loss. When we are talking about the abdominal skin then it is important for us to find out some important facts.

The skin on the abdomen is different from the other parts of the body. This skin is known to contain subcutaneous tissue which stores fat. The skin can store at least 7 inches of fat. This is actually a natural method of storing food for the body in case a famine strikes.

A small amount of cushioning for the tummy skin is important for everybody even for the fittest of people. There are people who take up an excessive dieting routine to get rid of the loose stomach skin, and might fall seriously ill after a certain period of time.

Make sure you do not confuse the loose skin with excessive fat. You must always stay away from rapid weight loss programs. Rapid weight loss programs might be responsible for excessive loose skin on the stomach.

You should allow less than three pounds of weight loss every week. Do you know that you can help your stomach skin tighten with the help of a loofah? You can use the loofah twice every day. Lifting weights can also be a way to get rid of loose skin.

You can lift weights even as a method of weight loss. Practice stomach crunches because it is an important way to lose excessive stomach fat and tighten up the skin. There are yoga exercises which can tighten the skin just below the navel.

The two top exercises are cobra yoga which is the abdominal exercise and the upward facing dog exercise. The exercises might seem difficult in the beginning. In both these exercises you need to lie on your stomach and push yourself upwards with your hands.

Natural methods for how to tighten lose skin on stomach will have no side effects. You must follow a diet without sugar or sweet products. There are number of treatments available like the sagging skin treatment but the treatment can have bad impact on the body.

5 Natural Tips on How to Lose Stretch Marks


How to lose stretch marks is a common question these days. If you have stretch marks on your body then there can be two reasons for it. You might either have lost a considerable amount of weight recently or you have been pregnant. Women can have the marks for both the reasons while men will have the stretch marks only for the first reason.

We all are afraid of these marks because we know that it is not at all easy to get rid of them. These marks can either be reddish in color or even purple. When these marks start coming up they are not very bright but with time they tend to become visible. You should use methods to get rid of the stretch marks early because in the later stages it might not only become difficult to get rid of them but can also be expensive.

Rapid weight gain and loss can be a cause of these marks. The middle layer of the skin or the dermis is put under strain which in turn damages the supporting fibers. You must stay away from food which might result in rapid weight gain as well as from the rapid weight loss programs.

A balanced diet full of vitamin C and E can help you achieve a stretch mark free skin. Online programs like fast track to fat loss, 7 minute muscle, total body makeover and many more might offer great solution for weight loss but stretch marks might be common problem. Here are certain tips that can surely be helpful in losing stretch marks naturally.

    1.) Self maintenance is the key for getting rid of or preventing these marks. First of all, you need to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily to keep your body hydrated. You need to start the process from inside out. Drinking enough water will ensure that the toxins in your body get removed and the tissues remain hydrated.

    2.) Other than vitamin E and C your diet must also contain loads of protein and zinc. These nutrients will stimulate the creation of collagen in the body which can help you stop the growth of stretch marks after weight loss.

    3.) A number of anti stretch mark creams are doing the rounds in the market. Using the right kind of cream and lotion can be of some help. It is important to keep your skin moisturized regularly. Some of the top stretch marks removal creams are Revitol, TriLastin SR, Zenmed Stretta, Heal Stretch Marks, StriVectin – SD and many more.

    4.) To find out how to get rid of stretch marks naturally you just need to get vitamin E oil and massage it on the affected areas. Vitamin E has antioxidants which can prevent the damage. You can also use wheat germ, avocado and rose hip to get rid of the marks. Now you surely know how to get rid of stretch mark. Cocoa butter can also be used.

    5.) Aloe Vera gel can work because of its anti inflammatory effects.

What are the Top Steps for Firming Skin Effectively?


Are you worried about the loose skin on your body? Do you want to have a firmer skin? This is a common issue and lots of people want an answer to this problem. You usually get loose skin after sudden weight loss.

But loose skin is quite a common phenomenon and therefore you need not worry. There are various methods which can be effective in getting rid of loose skin. To get a firmer skin you need to follow certain tips. You must always try to stay in shape and follow some easy suggestions for a firm skin.

  1. 1. Do you think you take the right vitamins to maintain a firm skin? Vitamin C and E must be on your regular diet chart because they offer elasticity to the skin. Vitamin B is also helpful because it keeps the skin cells hydrated. You can tone your skin with the help of fatty acids, specially omega 3. You should eat lots of vegetables. Fruits like apples and oranges can also be of help.
  2. 2. Firming skin is not possible without exercise. Blood circulation is necessary for skin firming. To tighten the facial skin you need some facial exercises. There are exercises for the forehead, lips, eyes, neck, cheeks as well as double chin. Similar exercise routine should be followed for the rest of the body with loose skin.
  3. 3. Use of moisturizers is a good process for firming skin. Skin tight body firming lotion, emu moisturizing lotion and nivea skin firming moisturizer are some of the products which are used. Firming facials can also help you tone the skin and make it firm. It is important to choose the facial according to the need of your skin. It is therefore necessary to find out the skin type before applying the facial.
  4. 4. Flushing out the toxins from your skin can make your skin look firm and toned. Steam is one of the best ways to do this. You can either check out a steam room or even choose to go for a sauna bath.
  5. 5. Proper blood circulation on the skin can help you achieve firming skin. A good massage on the areas having loose skin can be helpful. The right kind of massage will also help in tightening the muscles and tissues under the skin.
  6. 6. Skin exfoliation is necessary for a firming skin. You should exfoliate your skin on a regular basis. You can use a loofah for this. This will not only remove the dead cells but will open the pores so that the skin can absorb the moisture.
  7. 7. Eat raw fruits like tomato, cucumber, coconut and olives to improve the elasticity of your skin. Losing elasticity can be one of the major reasons for getting loose skin.
  8. 8. Yoga exercises like lying on the stomach and pushing up with the help of your hands can have an effect on the loose skin. Yoga is also a great way to relax and get rid of stress.
  9. 9. You need to differentiate between loose skin and excessive fat to start with the process of firming skin.


How Can You Get Rid of the Extra Skin after Weight Loss?


Having extra skin after weight loss is a common problem among men and women these days. There are people who misunderstand the loose skin as excessive fat. Having a little bit of loose skin on your body is normal but you need to make sure that it is under control.

You need to work hard to get rid of the extra flab. Loose skin can be present in the stomach, face, neck, thighs as well as in the arms. You need to get rid of the extra skin after weight loss through a good diet regime, regular exercise and massage and moisturizers.

There are some more factors which can be responsible for the decrease in the elasticity of the skin. Age, amount of weight loss, genetics, sun exposure, water intake and nutrition are the factors that might affect your skin.

When you start off with your weight loss procedure you need to make sure that you move ahead slowly. Rapid weight loss programs must be avoided because they not only create loose skin but also has other harmful side effects. You can lose 1 to 2 pounds of weight every week and not more than that. This will help you stay away from extra skin after weight loss. Slow weight loss will allow the skin to adjust with the loss of the excessive fat.

Do you nourish your skin properly? To take proper care of your skin you need to exfoliate your skin to remove the dead cells and remove the dirt and toxins from the pores. Proper circulation of the skin is important to maintain the elasticity. A number of skin tightening creams and moisturizers are available these days such as skin tight body firming lotion, emu moisturizing lotion and nivea skin firming moisturizer and many more. Taking a hot bath with minerals and sea salts can also help you improve the condition.

To stop your skin from losing elasticity you need to stay away from certain things like harsh shampoos and soaps and detergents. Make sure you do not expose your skin too much to the sun as well as to chlorinated water. You must also stay away from hot water.

Hyaluronic acid is an important element found in the tissues of the body. This acid tends to decrease with time. It is important to maintain the elasticity of the body. The acid is also necessary to grow muscles. Therefore, make sure you include this acid in your diet and you should also include magnesium along with it because it helps synthesizing the effect of the acid. People who smoke regularly lack in hyaluronic acid.

To differentiate loose skin from fat you need to find out the percentage of fat that must be present in your body. This will help you find out regarding the growth of extra skin after weight loss. The fat percentage of the body is determined after you reach your desired weight.

Increase the intake of vitamin E and C to develop collage and elastin in your body.

Woman With Colostomy Bag Is Humiliated At Swimming Pool After Being Accused Of Scaring Children

Jade Hughes was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of17. The pain and discomfort was so severe that she spent hours doubled over in agony.

After years of physical and emotional torture, Jade opted for a major surgical procedure tohave her large bowel removed, and replaced with a pouch orcolostomy bag.

But just as Jade began to reap the benefits of the colostomy bag, which allowed her to be more active and “normal” than ever before, she was humiliated in public.

Jade bravely went to her local swimming club and, because of her pouch, was accused of “scaring” the children around her.

Scroll down to see Jade’s incredible reaction to being publicly shamed…

[H/T: Mirror]

At the age of 17, Jade Hughes began experiencing horrible stomach pains, so severe that they left her either bedridden or running to the toilet. But no medications seemed to work.

Doctors diagnosed Jade with ulcerative colitis,a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and sores in the digestive tract.

With no other options, Jade decided to undergo surgery to have her large bowel removed. Her bowel was replaced with a drainable pouch, or stoma.

At first, Jade was insecure about the stoma bag, but she hoped it would allow her to return to an active, normal life.

But Jade, now 23, never expected to be humiliated for swimming in public.

Because of her operation, Jade went from having to constantly carry around buckets and wet wipes to going on adventures and partaking in physical outdoor activities.

To celebrate her new sense of freedom and regain her health, Jade signed up at a swimming club in her community.

Not long after she got her membership, a fifty-something woman approached Jade in her bikini and began berating her in front of the other swimmers. She pointed to Jade’s colostomy bag and said, “Do you think that’s appropriate for the pool?”

Jade, speaking exclusively, said, “I think I was just stunned so I didn’t reply and then she said, ‘Well you know that shouldnt be on show in pool? Its not very nice for young children to see.’”

Despite the woman’s complaints to the lifeguard, Jade was allowed to continue swimming.

However, the woman kept glaring at her in disapproval, making her too uncomfortable to swim.


“That lady has no idea what I’ve been through for the last seven years,” Jade told the Mirror. “Luckily for me I love my bag and I love my body. It looks after me everyday, it fights infection it keeps my heart racing and my blood pumping.”

Despite the woman’s bullying, Jade continues to go swimming at her local pool.

Last year, Jade married Will and she attributes her newfound confidence to her husband’s unconditional support.

“The amount of times weve been out in public and hes had to pull over so I could go to the toilet in a field,” she says.

Jade is sharing her story to encouragedother girls to beproud of their bodies.

“People will always judge you, always drag you down when your starting to feel really good about yourself. Ladies love your body!! Fat, thin, scars, stretch marks, SH*T BAGS! Love your fricken body!!!!!”

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8 Clean Eating Tips You Should Follow If You Can’t Give Up Junk Food

After decades of fad diets and magic supplements, and with obesity still very much on the rise, our society is finally starting to grasp that a healthy lifestyle does not come with an easy pill.

Everyone seems to be trying to eat healthier and exercise, and I like to believe our generation has contributed quite a great deal to this sudden interest in living well-balanced, healthy lives.

Below is a list of eight simple, manageable, low-cost tips to help you get rid of some bad eating habits and replace them with newones:

1. Write down everything you eat.

In order to gain complete control over your diet, the starting point is having a complete overview of what you actually put in your body. You can start off by simply writing a food journal for a week.

Then, sit down and look for any patterns you can find. See if there is a specific time or day when you snack more, what your dinners usually look like and when you tend to eat the most.

Turn this end-of-the-week introspection into a habit. You can only write down what you eat, or you can actually begin tracking all of your macros.

Using one of the calorie-counter apps available makes tracking all of your macro- and micro-nutrients super easy, and you get a fantastic insight into what your diet actually looks like.

2. Avoid eating alone or in a hurry.

Besides enjoying good company, having a meal with other people will also help you avoid mindless overeating, which often includes gulping down meals in front of one of the many screens our 21st century lives have to offer, or even right there in our cars.

Sit down for every one of your meals and make an event out of it. Take your time and focus on the food in front of you.

Enjoy its smell, the richness of taste and even its appearance. Thoroughly chew every bite and pay attention to how your body responds. Notice when you feel full, and stop eating when you know youve had enough.

3. Be more active in everything you do.

I dont know about you, but for a long time, I was desperately trying to find the time for exercise in my busy schedule.

Often, that would naturally lead to the commonly known excuse of not having enough time to simply be active, when in fact, putting our bodies in motion is one of the most natural things a human does to exist in this world.

So, start using your legs more. Take the stairs (not the elevator), ride your bike to work if you have that option, play with your dog more often, take a walk instead of watching TV or spending useless time onthe internet and simply stretch every hour or so, especially if you spend your days cramped in front of the computer.

Basically, move out of your head and start using your body more.

4. Fill your plate with veggies first.

There is more than one upside to this habit.

Firstly, if you fill up your plate with low-calorie food (vegetables are ideal), you immediately perceive your plate as full and can barely find the place to add more food.

Secondly, if you eat those veggies before you attack that huge steak waiting for you, you just might discover your belly is actually quite full already.

And thirdly, vegetables are simply good for you. You might have heard the story of green veggies that are magicalbecause of their high-fiber content and tons of vitamins before.

And you might just hate me right now for stating this obvious fact again, but try eating two or three times as much vegetables than what you are used to, and trust me, your entire digestive system will thank you.

5. Feed your body with complex carbs.

Let go of the ancient belief that a low-carb diet is the best way to go.

The truth is, your body needs more carbohydrates than any other nutrient. The myth of getting slim by eliminating carbs from your diet is based on the fact simple carbs indeed do you no good, since your body processes them much too quickly, which leads to a rapid rise and then a rapid fall of your blood sugar.

This leaves you feeling sluggish, drained of all energy and, quite often, a bit bloated.

So, how to ditch this habit with little effort? Think in terms of substitutions, instead of eliminations.

Once you start tracking what you eat, focus on the meals where you consume most of your carbs, and make sure you substitute them with complex carbs. Some of the best choices are whole grains(oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, corn, quinoa), green vegetables, starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits.

6. Make sure you get enough healthy fats.

Much like carbs, fats also have a certain bad reputation with people trying to lose weight. Over the past couple of decades, everything diet-worthy seemed to be either low-fat or low-carb.

So, I cant stress enough how essential fatty acids are actually crucial for your well-being. The situation is again similar to carbs: You have bad fats (trans fats and saturated fats)and good fats (monounsaturatedand polyunsaturated fats).

Bad fats really are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol level, and they are the reason most people trying to eat right are avoiding all fats.

But mono- and polyunsaturated fats are good for your health, since they actually help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. My tip is again the same as with carbs.

Find substitutions you will fall in love with. For example, coconut oil, olive oil, cod fish liver oil, nuts, avocados or nut butter are all great options to add to your diet.

7. Eat plenty of lean protein.

Protein is the macro that plays a crucial role in every single function of our bodies.

It also plays a very important role in your diet, if you are trying to lose or even maintain weight, since it boosts your metabolism and helps to reduce appetite. It keeps you full and satisfied longer.

Some great options are Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, quark and eggs. Try soy milk, tofu, tempeh or legumes if you want to avoid animal proteinaltogether.

If you eat meat, then go for chicken or turkey breasts, tuna, tilapia, salmon, etc.

8. Find balance in everything you do.

Last but not least, dont restrict yourself and dont torment yourself over every single thing you didnt do according to your plan.

Once you accept the only person in the world you should explain yourself to is you, it will be much easier to treat your body the way it deserves to be treated.

If you want to lose weight, get fit, eat clean or anything else, you most probably already know what you need to do. The only reason youre still not doing it is because you feel you should play by other peoples rules to achieve that goal.

But its your body, your life, your goal and your rules.

If you know you cant live without chocolate, then dont put yourself on a restricted diet that doesnt allow you to eat anything but fruits for a month, just because a friend supposedly lost 20 pounds doing it.

And then dont beat yourself up when you binge on chocolate after a really good week. Find what works for you and you alone.

Read more:

Your Commute Is Probably Making You Eat An Extra 800 Calories A Week

Wasting hours commuting to and from work every week is a total drag.

Luckily, places like Starbucks ease the pain with quick breakfast options when youre rushing out the door and cant even think about eating.

But based on recent data, commuters actually arent so lucky to easily grab a muffin or bagel on the way to work. Health chiefs in the UK calculated that on average, commuters eat 767 extra calories per week while commuting.

So, we commuters paythe price in calorie intake for the convenience of bagels, pastries and filling coffee drinks. Great.

In the UK, based on polls done by theRoyal Society of Public Health, 33 percent of the 24 million commuters snack on the way to and from work. Twenty-nine percent specifically snacked at fast food places.

RSPH chief executive, Shirley Cramer said,

For some, the daily commute can be a pleasurable experience, giving time for reflection or an opportunity to relax, but for an increasing number it is having a damaging effect on our health.As the length of our commute increases, this impact is getting worse.

If you have a job, chances are, youre one of the millions of people who commute, unless youre one of those lucky people who work remotely.

In the US, around 139 million people commuted to work in 2014. The average commute is approximately 26 minutes,according to data from the US Census Bureau.

So, in 2014,Americans collectively spent roughly 3.4 million years commuting.Thats a lot of time wasted on commuting, and it can seriously affect our health.

But what is 767 calories per week, exactly?

Well, at Starbucks alone, thats approximately two multigrain bagels or two maple walnut muffins.

So, if a quick toasted bagel from Starbucks is a twice a week occurrence for you because its the easiest way to fill your stomach before work, thats probably why you arent able to lose weight.

Bagels and muffins are not your friends if youre trying to be healthy, especially twice a week.

Trust me, as someone who conveniently ate free bagels three times a week at work, I would know. They were free, convenient and fresh, yes. Good for my body and health? Absolutely not.

Instead, you should keep fruit in your kitchen to grab before work to eat while commuting or at your desk.

Other great breakfast options are instant oatmeal with healthy toppings, like nuts and honey and protein-rich yogurt.

Grabbing breakfast from your own fridge will also save you time on your way to work.

That way, you can avoid the long lines of other commuters at Starbucks who didnt have time to make healthier decisions either.

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Gut reaction: the surprising power of microbes | Ed Yong

The Long Read: Most of us think of microbes as germs to be feared and killed. In fact they hold the key to improving our health and may be the key to tackling obesity

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So, whats in the thermos? I asked.

I was standing in a lift at Washington University in St Louis, with Professor Jeff Gordon and two of his students, one of whom was holding a metal canister.

Just some faecal pellets in tubes, she said.

Theyre microbes from healthy children, and also from some who are malnourished. We transplanted them into mice, explained Gordon, as if this was the most normal thing in the world.

The lift doors opened, and I followed Gordon, his students, and the thermos of frozen pellets into a large room. It was filled with rows of sealed chambers made of transparent plastic. Peering inside one of these chambers, I met the eyes of one of the strangest animals on the planet. It looked like just a mouse, and that is precisely why it was so weird. It was just a mouse, and nothing more.

Almost every other animal on Earth, whether centipede or crocodile, flatworm or flamingo, hippo or human, is a teeming mass of bacteria and other microbes. Each of these miniature communities is known as a microbiome. Every human hosts a microbiome consisting of some 39 trillion microbes, roughly one for each of their own cells. Every ant in a colony is a colony itself. Every resident in a zoo is a zoo in its own right. Even the simplest of animals such as sponges, whose static bodies are never more than a few cells thick, are home to thriving microbiomes.

But not the mice in Gordons lab. They spend their entire lives separated from the outside world, and from microbes. Their isolators contain everything they need: drinking water, brown nuggets of chow, straw chips for bedding, and a white styrofoam hutch for mating in privacy. Gordons team irradiates all of these items to sterilise them before piling them into loading cylinders. They sterilise the cylinders by steaming them at a high temperature and pressure, before hooking them to portholes in the back of the isolators, using connecting sleeves that they also sterilise.

It is laborious work, but it ensures that the mice are born into a world without microbes, and grow up without microbial contact. The term for this is gnotobiosis, from the Greek for known life. We know exactly what lives in these animals which is nothing. Unlike every other mouse on the planet, each of these rodents is a mouse and nothing more. An empty vessel. A silhouette, unfilled. An ecosystem of one.

Each isolator had a pair of black rubber gloves affixed to two portholes, through which the researchers could manipulate what was inside. The gloves were thick. When I stuck my hands in, I quickly started sweating.

I awkwardly picked up one of the mice. It sat snugly on my palm, white-furred and pink-eyed. It was a strange feeling: I was holding this animal but only via two black protrusions into its hermetically sealed world. It was sitting on me and yet completely separated from me. When I had shaken hands with Gordon earlier, we had exchanged microbes. When I stroked this mouse, we exchanged nothing.

The mouse seemed normal, but it was not. Growing up without microbes, its gut had not developed properly it had less surface area for absorbing nutrients, its walls were leakier, it renewed itself at a slower pace, and the blood vessels that supplied it with nutrients were sparse. The rest of its body hadnt fared much better. Compared with its normal microbe-laden peers, its bones were weaker, its immune system was compromised, and it probably behaved differently too. It was, as microbiologist Theodor Rosebury once wrote, a miserable creature, seeming at nearly every point to require an artificial substitute for the germs [it] lacks.

The woes of the germ-free mouse vividly show just how invaluable the microbiome is. Most of us still see microbes as germs: unwanted bringers of pestilence that we must avoid at all costs. This stereotype is grossly unfair. Most microbes do not make us sick. At worst, they are passengers or hitchhikers. At best, they are invaluable parts of our bodies: not takers of life but its guardians. They help to digest our food, educate our immune systems, protect us from disease, sculpt our organs, guide our behaviour, and maintain our health. This wide-ranging influence explains why the microbiome has, over the last decade, become one of the hottest areas of biology, and why Gordon arguably the most influential scientist in the field is so fascinated by it.

By studying our microbial companions, he is trying to unpick exactly how the microbiome is connected to obesity and its polar opposite malnutrition. He is studying which species of microbes influence these conditions, and how they in turn are influenced by our diets, our immune systems, and other aspects of our lives. Ultimately, he wants to use that knowledge to manipulate the microbial worlds within us to improve our health.

Jeff Gordon may be one of the most respected scholars of the human microbiome, but he is also one of the hardest to get in touch with. It took me six years of writing about his work to get him to answer my emails, so visiting his lab was a hard-won privilege. I arrived expecting someone gruff and remote. Instead, I found an endearing and affable man with crinkly eyes, a kindly smile, and a whimsical demeanour. As he walked around the lab, he called people professor including his students. His aversion to the media comes not from aloofness, but from a distaste for self-promotion. He even refrains from attending scientific conferences, preferring to stay out of the limelight and in his laboratory.

Ensconced there, Gordon has done more than most to address how microbes affect our health. But whenever I asked Gordon about his influence, he tended to deflect credit on to students and collaborators past and present a roster that includes many of the fields biggest stars. Their status testifies to Gordons hes not just a king, but a king-maker, too. And his figurehead status is all the more remarkable because long before the microbiome crossed his mind, he was already a well-established scientist who had published hundreds of studies on how the gut develops in a growing human body.

Professor Jeff Gordon, one of the worlds leading experts on the human microbiome, talks to students at Washington University in St Louis. Photograph: Mark Katzman

In the 1990s, he started to suspect that bacteria influence this process, but he was also struck by how difficult it would be to test that idea. The gut contains thousands of species of microbes. Gordon aimed to isolate parts of this daunting whole and examine it under controlled conditions. He needed that critical resource that scientists demand but biology withholds: control. In short, he needed germ-free mice and lots of them so he bred them himself. He could load these rodents with specific microbes, feed them with pre-defined diets, and do so again and again in controlled and repeatable conditions. He could treat them as living bioreactors, in which he could strip down the baffling complexity of the microbiome into manageable components that he could systematically study.

In 2004, Fredrik Bckhed, a member of Gordons team, used the sterile rodents to run an experiment that would set the entire lab on a focused path one devoted to understanding the connections between the microbiome, nutrition, and health. They inoculated germ-free mice with microbes harvested from the guts of conventionally raised rodents. Normally, the sterile rodents can eat as much as they like without putting on weight, but this ability disappeared once their guts were colonised. They didnt start eating any more food if anything, they ate slightly less but they converted more of that food into fat and so put on more pounds.

Mouse biology is similar enough to that of human beings for scientists to use them as stand-ins in everything from drug testing to brain research; the same applies to their microbes. Gordon reasoned that if those early results apply to humans, our microbes must surely influence the nutrients that we extract from our food, and thus our body weight. That was a powerful insight. We typically think of weight as a simple balance between the calories we take in through food and those we burn through physical activity. By contrast, the idea that multitudes of organisms in our bodies could influence that balance was outlandish at the time. People werent talking about it, says Gordon.

And yet, in 2004, team member Ruth Ley found another connection between microbes and weight, when she showed that obese people (and mice) have different communities of microbes in their guts. The most obvious difference lay in the ratio of the two major groups of gut bacteria the firmicutes and the bacteroidetes. Obese people had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes than their leaner counterparts. This raised an obvious question: does extra body fat cause a relative increase in firmicutes or, more tantalisingly, does the tilt make individuals fatter? Is the connection, as Gordon likes to put it, causal or casual? The team couldnt answer that question by relying on simple comparisons. They needed experiments.

Thats where Peter Turnbaugh came in. Then a graduate student in the lab, he harvested microbes from fat and lean mice, and then fed them to germ-free rodents. Those that got microbes from lean donors put on 27% more fat, while those with obese donors packed on 47% more fat. It was a stunning result: Turnbaugh had effectively transferred obesity from one animal to another, simply by moving their microbes across. It was an Oh my God moment, said Gordon. We were thrilled and inspired.

These results showed that the guts of obese individuals contain altered microbiomes that can indeed contribute to obesity, at least in some contexts. The microbes were perhaps harvesting more calories from the rodents food, or affecting how they stored fat. Either way, it was clear that microbes dont just go along for the ride; sometimes, they grab the wheel.

They can also turn it in both directions. While Turnbaugh showed that gut microbes can lead to weight gain, others have found that they can trigger weight loss. Akkermansia muciniphila, one of the more common species of gut bacteria, is over 3,000 times more common in lean mice than in those genetically predisposed to obesity. If obese mice eat it, they lose weight and show fewer signs of type 2 diabetes.

Gut microbes also partly explain the remarkable success of gastric bypass surgery a radical operation that reduces the stomach to an egg-sized pouch and connects it directly to the small intestine. After this procedure, people tend to lose dozens of kilograms, a fact typically accredited to their shrunken stomachs. But as a side-effect, the operation also restructures the gut microbiome, increasing the numbers of various species, including Akkermansia. And if you transplant these restructured communities into germ-free mice, those rodents will also lose weight.

Experiments on mice using gut microbes could lead to a greater understandinding of the causes of obesity. Photograph: Deco Images II/Alamy

The worlds media treated these discoveries as both salvation and absolution for anyone who struggles with their weight. Why bother adhering to strict dietary guidelines when a quick microbial fix is seemingly around the corner? Fat? Blame the bugs in your guts, wrote one newspaper. Overweight? Microbes might be to blame, echoed another. These headlines are wrong. The microbiome does not replace or contradict other long-understood causes of obesity; it is thoroughly entangled with them.

Another of Gordons students, Vanessa Ridaura, demonstrated this in 2013 by using mice to stage battles between the gut microbes of lean and obese people. First, she loaded these human microbial communities into two different groups of germ-free rodents. Next, she housed the mice in the same cages. Mice readily eat each others droppings and so constantly fill their guts with their neighbours microbes. When this happened, Ridaura saw that the lean microbes invaded guts that were already colonised by obese communities, and stopped their new hosts from putting on weight. The opposite invasions never worked: the obese communities could never establish themselves in the gut when the lean ones were already there.

Its not that the lean communities were inherently superior at taking hold in a mouses gut. Instead, Ridaura had tipped the battles in their favour by feeding her mice with plant-heavy chow. Plants contain a wide variety of complex fibres, and microbe communities from lean guts contain a wider range of fibre-busting species than those from obese guts. So, when the obese communities colonised lean guts, they found that every morsel of fibre was already being devoured.

By contrast, when the lean communities entered obese guts, they found a glut of uneaten fibre and flourished. Their success only evaporated when Ridaura fed the mice with fatty, low-fibre chow, designed to represent the worst extremes of the western diet. Without fibre, the lean communities couldnt establish themselves or stop the mice from putting on weight. They could only infiltrate the guts of mice that ate healthily. The old dietary advice still stands, over-enthusiastic headlines be damned.

An important lesson emerged: microbes matter but so do we, their hosts. Our guts, like all ecosystems, arent defined just by the species within them but also by the nutrients that flow through them. A rainforest isnt just a rainforest because of the birds, insects, monkeys, and plants within it, but also because ample rain and sunlight fall from above, and bountiful nutrients lurk in the soil. If you threw the forests inhabitants into a desert, they would fare badly. Ridauras experiments emphasised that although the microbiome can help to explain what makes us fat or lean, it offers no simple solutions. And thats something the team learned a second time, by studying a very different condition, in a very different part of the world.

Malawi has among the highest rates of child mortality in the world, and half of these deaths are due to malnourishment. One form of malnourishment, known as kwashiorkor, is especially severe and hard to treat. From an early age, a childs fluids leaks from their blood vessels, leading to puffy swollen limbs, distended stomachs, and damaged skin.

Kwashiorkor has long been shrouded in mystery. It is said to be caused by protein-poor diets, but how can that be when children with kwashiorkor often dont eat any less protein than those with marasmus, another form of severe malnutrition? For that matter, why do these children often fail to get better despite eating protein-rich food delivered by aid organisations? And why is it that one child might get kwashiorkor while their identical twin, who shares all the same genes, lives in the same village, and eats the same food, gets marasmus instead?

Gordon thinks that gut microbes are involved, and might explain the differences in health between children who, on paper, look identical. After his team carried out their groundbreaking obesity experiments, he started to wonder: if bacteria can influence obesity, could they also be involved in its polar opposite malnutrition? Many of his colleagues thought it unlikely but, undeterred, Gordon launched an ambitious study. His team went to Malawi and collected regular stool samples from infants until the age of three; some had kwashiorkor, while others were healthy.

The team found that babies with kwashiorkor dont go through the same progression of gut microbes as their healthy counterparts. Typically, these microbial communities change in the first years of life, in dramatic but predictable ways. Just as new islands are first colonised by lichens, then shrubs, then trees, so too is the infant gut colonised by waves of species that arrive in standardised patterns. But in kwashiorkor infants, microbiomes fail to diversify and mature correctly. Their inner ecosystems become stagnant. Their microbiological age soon lags behind their biological age.

When Gordons team transplanted these immature communities from children with kwashiorkor into germ-free mice, the rodents lost weight but only if they also ate chow that mirrored the nutrient-poor Malawian diet. If the mice ate standard rodent chow, they didnt lose much weight, no matter whose bacteria they were carrying. It was the combination of poor food and the wrong microbes that mattered. The kwashiorkor microbes seemed to interfere with chemical chain reactions that fuel our cells, making it harder for children to harvest energy from their food food that contains very little energy to begin with.

The standard treatment for malnutrition is an energy-rich, fortified blend of peanut paste, sugar, vegetable oil and milk. But Gordons team found that the paste only has a brief effect on the bacteria of children with kwashiorkor (which perhaps explains why it doesnt always work). As soon as they reverted to their normal Malawian diet, their microbes also boomeranged back to their earlier impoverished state. Why?

All ecosystems have a certain resilience to change, which must be overcome to push them into a different state. Thats true for coral reefs, rainforests, grassland and a childs gut. A poor diet could change the microbes within the gut. The dietary deficiencies could also impair the childs immune system, changing its ability to control the gut microbiome, and opening the door to harmful infections that alter the gut communities even further. These communities could themselves start to harm the gut, stopping it from absorbing nutrients efficiently and leading to even worse malnutrition, more severe immune problems, more distorted microbiomes, and so on.

This is what microbiome scientists call dysbiosis a state where the entire microbial community shifts into a harmful configuration. None of its members causes disease in its own right; instead, the entire community is at fault. Its not clear exactly why the microbiomes of malnourished infants stall in their development in the first place. There are many possible reasons including antibiotic exposures, gut diseases, and poor diets, which vary from person to person. Whats clearer is that once microbiomes end up in a dysbiotic state, it can be hard to pull them back.

But Gordon is trying. His student Laura Blanton, the same woman who I met carrying that thermos of mouse droppings in the lift, recently implanted mice with microbes from either healthy infants or underweight ones. She then housed rodents from both groups in the same cages, allowing them to swap their microbiomes. When they did so, the normal communities from the healthy infants invaded and displaced the immature communities from the malnourished ones.

Blanton found that five species of bacteria from the healthy microbiomes were especially good at colonising the immature ones. When she fed this quintet to mice carrying the microbiomes of malnourished children, the rodents put on weight in a normal, healthy way. Rather than breaking down the amino acids in their diet for energy, they instead converted these nutrients into flesh and muscle.

This promising experiment suggests that the team might be able to create a probiotic cocktail of specially chosen bacteria that can turn a dysbiotic gut into a healthy one. But theres reason to be cautious. Despite the hype that surrounds them, current probiotics products that contain supposedly beneficial microbes confer few big health benefits, because they contain small amounts of bacteria and consist of strains that are bad at taking hold in the gut. Gordon knows that if he wants to concoct better products, he must find ways of giving the incoming microbes a competitive advantage in their new homes. Maybe that means pairing the probiotics with foods that will nourish them. Maybe it means treating the human hosts as well as the microbes they carry, or training their immune systems to accept the newcomers.

Gordon is optimistic but cautious. As he sees it, studying the microbiome will ultimately help us to better treat conditions that are still mysterious and often intractable. But as he has said to me on more than one occasion, hes wary of the intense hype that clouds the microbiome world. I talk about the importance of sobriety and humility, he says. Theres lots of hope and expectation around this transcendent view of ourselves. But he and other microbiome researchers still need to show that their discoveries can help people.

Bifidobacterium are used as a probiotic to promote good digestion, boost immune function, and increase resistance to infection. Photograph: Phototake/Alamy

Discoveries by Gordon and others have created the perception that the microbiome is the answer to everything. It has been linked to an absurdly long list of conditions that includes Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, coeliac disease, allergies, atherosclerosis, autism, asthma, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and many more.

Many of these proposed links are just correlations. Researchers often compare people with a particular disorder to healthy volunteers, find microbial differences, and stop. Those differences hint at a relationship but they dont reveal its nature or its direction. Studies by Gordon and others go one step further. By showing that transplanted microbes can reproduce health problems in germ-free mice, they strongly hint at a causal effect.

Still, they provide more questions than answers. Did the microbes set symptoms in motion or just make a bad situation worse? Was one species responsible, or a group of them? Is it the presence of certain microbes that matters, or the absence of others, or both? And even if experiments show that microbes can cause diseases in mice and other animals, we still dont know if they actually do so in people. Beyond the controlled settings of laboratories and the atypical bodies of lab rodents, are microbial changes really affecting our everyday health? When you enter the messy, multifaceted world of dysbiosis, the lines of cause and effect become much harder to untangle.

There is still a lot about the microbiome that we do not understand, and some of what we think we know is almost certainly wrong.

Remember how obese people and mice have more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes in their guts than their lean counterparts? This famous finding worked its way into the mainstream press and the scientific literature and its a mirage. In 2014, two attempts to re-analyse past studies found that the F/B ratio is not consistently connected to obesity in humans. This doesnt refute a connection between the microbiome and obesity. You can still fatten germ-free mice by loading them with microbes from an obese mouse (or person). Something about these communities affects body weight; its just not the F/B ratio, or at least not consistently so.

It is humbling that, despite a decade of work, scientists are barely any closer to identifying microbes that are clearly linked to obesity, which has received more attention from microbiome researchers than any other. I think that everybody is coming to the realisation that, unfortunately, a really compelling simple biomarker, like the percentage of a certain microbe, is not going to be enough to explain something as complicated as obesity, said Katherine Pollard, who led one of the re-analyses.

These conflicting results naturally arise in the early days of a field because of tight budgets and imprecise technology. Researchers run small, exploratory studies comparing handfuls of people or animals in hundreds or thousands of ways. The problem is that they end up being like the Tarot, said Rob Knight, another leading microbiome scientist. You can tell a good story with any arbitrary combination.

Human geneticists faced the same problem. In the early 21st century, when technology hadnt quite caught up with ambition, they identified many genetic variants that were linked to diseases, physical traits, and behaviours. But once sequencing technology became cheap and powerful enough to analyse millions of samples, rather than dozens or hundreds, many of these early results turned out to be false positives. The human microbiome field is going through the same teething problems.

It doesnt help that the microbiome is so variable that the communities in lab mice can differ if they belong to different strains, come from different vendors, were born to different mothers, or were reared in different cages. These variations could account for phantom patterns or inconsistencies between studies. There are also problems with contamination. Microbes are everywhere. They get into everything, including the chemical reagents that scientists use in their experiments. But these problems are now being ironed out. Microbiome researchers are getting increasingly savvy about experimental quirks that bias their results, and theyre setting standards that will shore up the quality of future studies. They are calling for experiments that will show causality, and tell us how changes in the microbiome lead to disease. They are looking at the microbiome in even greater detail, moving towards techniques that can identify the strains within a community, rather than just the species.

They are also setting up longer studies. Rather than capturing a single screenshot of the microbiome, they are trying to watch the entire movie. How do these communities change with time? What makes them resilient or unstable? And does their degree of resilience predict a persons risk of disease? One team is recruiting a group of 100 volunteers who will collect weekly stool and urine samples for nine months, while eating specific diets or taking antibiotics at fixed times. Others are leading similar projects with pregnant women (to see if microbes contribute to pre-term births) and people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes (to see if microbes affect their progression to full-blown disease).

And Gordons group has been charting the normal progression of microbes in healthy developing babies, and how it stalls in kids with kwashiorkor. Using stool samples collected from Bangladeshi and Malawian children over their first two years, the team has created a score that measures the maturity of their gut communities and will hopefully predict if symptomless infants are at risk of developing kwashiorkor. The ultimate goal of all of these projects is to spot the signs of disease as early as possible, before a body turns into the equivalent of an algal reef or a fallow field: a degraded ecosystem that is very hard to repair.

Children wait for water at a borehole near Malawis capital Lilongwe. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Professor Planer! said Jeff Gordon. How are you? He meant Joe Planer, one of his students, who was standing in front of a standard laboratory bench, complete with pipettes, test tubes and Petri dishes, all of which had been sealed in a transparent, plastic tent. It looked like one of the isolators from the germ-free facility but its purpose was to exclude oxygen rather than microbes. It allowed the team to grow the many gut bacteria that are extremely intolerant of the gas. If you write the word oxygen on a piece of paper and show it to these bugs, theyll die, said Gordon.

Starting off with a stool sample from a Malawian child with kwashiorkor, Planer used the anaerobic chamber to culture as many of the microbes within it as possible. He then picked off single strains from these collections, and grew each one in its own compartment. He effectively turned the chaotic ecosystem within a childs gut into an orderly library, dividing the teeming masses of microbes into neat rows and columns. We know the identity of the bacteria in each well, he said. Well now tell the robot which bacteria to take and combine in a pool.

He pointed to a machine inside the plastic, a mess of black cubes and steel rods. Planer can programme it to suck up the bacteria from specific wells and mix them into a cocktail. Grab all the Enterobacteriaceae, he might say, or all the Clostridia. He can then transplant these fractions back into germ-free mice to see if they alone can confer the symptoms of kwashiorkor. Is the whole community important? Will the culturable species do? A single family? A single strain? The approach is both reductionist and holistic. Theyre breaking down the microbiome, but then recombining it. Were trying to work out which actors are responsible, said Gordon.

A few months after I saw Planer working with the robot, the team had narrowed down the kwashiorkor community to just 11 microbes that replicate many of the diseases symptoms in mice. None of these were harmful on their own. They only caused a problem when acting together and even then, only when the mice were starved of nutrients. The team also created culture collections from healthy twins who didnt develop kwashiorkor, and identified two bacteria that counteract the damage inflicted by the deadly 11. The first is Akkermansia, which is being studied as a way of reducing body weight, but seemingly guards against malnutrition too. The second is Clostridium scindens, which tamps down inflammation by stimulating certain branches of the immune system.

Opposite the tented bench, there was a blender that could take foods representative of different diets and pulverise them into rodent-friendly chow. (On a piece of sticky tape, affixed to the blender, someone had written Chowbacca.) Gordons lab could now explore the behaviour of Akkermansia and C scindens, either in test tubes or in the gnotobiotic mice, and work out which nutrients the microbes needed. This allowed the team to compare the effects of the same microbes when fed a Malawian diet, or an American one, or on sugars from breast milk that have specifically evolved to feed beneficial microbes. Which of these foods works best? And which genes do the microbes switch on? The team can take any one microbe and create a library of thousands of mutants, each of which contains a broken copy of a single gene. They can put these mutants in a mouse to see which genes are important for surviving in the gut, liaising with other microbes, and both causing or protecting against kwashiorkor.

What Gordon has built is a causality pipeline a set of tools and techniques that, he hopes, will more conclusively tell us how our microbes affect our health, and take us from guesswork and speculation to actual answers. Kwashiorkor is just the start. The same techniques could work for any disease with a microbial influence.

It is the right time to be doing this work. Our planet has entered the Anthropocene a new geological epoch when humanitys influence is causing global climate change, a loss of wild spaces, and a drastic decline in the richness of life. Microbes are not exempt. Whether on coral reefs or human guts, we are disrupting the relationships between microbes and their hosts, often pulling apart species that have been together for millions of years. Gordon is working hard to understand these partnerships to better forestall their untimely end. He is not just a scholar of the microbiome; he is one of its stewards.

Main photograph of faecal bacteria: Science Photo Library

This is an edited extract from I Contain Multitudes, published by Bodley Head

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New Study Pokes Hole In The Idea Of ‘Healthy Obesity’

The most current conventional wisdom among doctors and obesity researchers goes something like this: While people who are obese are at high risk for metabolic syndrome a constellation of symptoms that increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more there is also a significant group of obese people who are totally healthy and will remain healthy. This so-called “healthy obese” idea has been somewhat controversial a departure from decades of medical science that held obesity will, more often than not, had adverse effects on health. 

Now new genetic research from scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests “healthy obesity” isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

A genetic analysis showed that people who were obese but qualified as metabolically healthy still had fundamental differences in the way that genes in their fatty tissue express themselves. It’s unclear whether or not these genetic differences correspond to different disease risks, but the fact that genetic expression is altered on a cellular level suggests that there’s a lot more to healthy obesity than we think. 

“Insulin-sensitive obese individuals may not be as metabolically healthy as previously believed,” said study author Mikael Rydén in a statement.

Genetic differences between obese and never-obese people

To see how genes expressed themselves in different types of people, Rydén recruited 65 people to participate in the study. Fifteen had never been obese, while the rest were obese people who were part of a clinical study on gastric bypass surgery and preparing for an operation. 

Rydén and his team tested the obese patients for metabolic health by checking their insulin response; those who were sensitive to insulin are considered metabolically healthy, while the insulin-resistant are not.

Then the researchers took biopsy samples of abdominal white fat tissue from each participant for genetic sequencing. 

Rydén found a big difference between the mRNA in samples from the never-obese and the obese. But abnormal gene expressions in biopsies from the group of obese participants were “very similar,” he said, with almost no difference between insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant participants.  

This suggests that obesity may drive this unique gene expression even in cases when it doesn’t drive insulin resistance, Rydén explained.

Healthy obese people are distinct from the never-obese 

While the results don’t offer any clear takeaways for obese people, Rydén says his research could indicate that people who are obese but healthy may still need medical surveillance for obesity-related conditions. Further study is needed to determine what the gene expression differences actually mean for health.

Other researchers praised the study’s design, but agreed its implications are not yet clear. Dr. Caroline Kramer, an endocrinologist and obesity researcher at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, pointed out that it remains to be shown whether or not the genetic differences in fat tissue are responsible for or even linked to metabolic differences in people of different weights.  

Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Washington University School of Medicine, felt the study affirmed the current thinking on “healthy obesity” through the insulin response tests. 

“It shows clearly that there’s a real subset of metabolically healthy and unhealthy obese people, but it may not be so easily explained by differences in fat tissue biology,” Klein said.

Why the controversy over healthy obesity is so important

More than a third of U.S. adults, or about 79 million people, are considered obese and at higher risk for conditions like Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

But research that raises the possibility of metabolically healthy obesity has not yet agreed on a definition of what exactly metabolic health is, which is why studies estimate that anywhere from six to 75 percent of obese people may be metabolically healthy, according to a 2014 review on the issue. Harvard professor Dr. Frank Hu outlined four criteria for healthy obesity in a 2013 op-ed: a normal waist size, sensitivity to insulin, normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and good physical fitness. 

But to be clear, most scientists agree that people who clock in at 30 or over on the body mass index scale are probably at risk for serious health conditions if not now, then perhaps down the road. The reason researchers are so interested in the concept of healthy obesity is that obesity doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all condition. And the more we learn about how obesity affects different types of people, the more precise doctors can be when it comes to recommendations for patients who aren’t sure if they should try to lose weight or just keep exercising and eating well while maintaining their weight.

“Further exploration of metabolically healthy obesity could help us fine-tune the implications of obesity,” Hu told Harvard Health. “It supports the idea that we shouldn’t use BMI as the sole yardstick for health, and must consider other factors.” 

Rydén’s study was published in the journal Cell Reports.

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Why You Should Never Comment On Your Teen’s Weight

Experts agree that talking about the need to diet and lose weight is one of the most unhealthy, counterproductive things a parent can do for a teen who is struggling with weight issues.

Now, new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics formally endorse those findings. In order to prevent obesity and eating disorders, parents should focus less on diets and the scale and emphasize family togetherness and exercise for fitness, not weight loss. The AAP included both obesity and eating disorders in their recommendations because these often share unhealthy behaviors such as dieting, bingeing and having a dissatisfied view of one’s body.

Obesity in adolescents has quadrupled in the past 30 years; in 2012, 21 percent of young people aged 12 to 19 were obese. Teens who are obese are more likely to have bone or joint problems, as well as sleep apnea. They’re also more likely to develop prediabetes, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. On top of that, teens who are obese are more likely to grow up to become obese adults who will face heightened risks for diseases including cancer and stroke. 

Tweens and teens make up the bulk of eating disorder hospitalizations. In 2012, children aged 10 to 17 years old accounted for more than 90 percent of all hospitalizations for children with eating disorders, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). The AAP report was compiled, in part, over growing concern about the unhealthy way teens are trying to lose weight. 

Here are six takeaways from the report, published in the journal Pediatrics. These recommendations are for both doctors and parents, and they apply to all teens — not just those with weight problems.

What not to do:

Never encourage dieting. 

Dieting packs a double whammy because it’s a risk factor for both obesity and eating disorders. Girls who weren’t obese but dieted in the ninth grade were three times were likely to be overweight by 12th grade, compared to girls who didn’t diet. And young people who severely reduced their caloric intake and skipped meals were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who didn’t diet. Even just moderate dieting increased a teen’s risk of developing an eating disorder fivefold

”A 3-year-old may not be worried if she’s a bit overweight, whereas an adolescent may try unhealthy weight-loss methods like fasting or diet pills and end up in a vicious circle of more weight gain,” explained lead author Dr. Neville Golden, a pediatrics professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in a statement.

Don’t comment on your child’s weight, or even your weight.

What you say matters; teens who talk about weight with their parents are also more likely to diet, binge eat and have unhealthy weight control behaviors, but this risk lessens if the subject matter is about healthy eating behaviors. 

No matter how well-intentioned or seemingly benign you think your comments are, studies show that comments parents make about either their own weight or their child’s weight is linked to a child’s risk of being overweight and developing an eating disorder.

It’s important to note here that a teen doesn’t have to look excessively thin for a parent to be concerned that they might have an eating disorder, said Golden.

“This is a dangerous category of patient, because they’re often missed by physicians,” he said. “At some point, these patients may have had a real need to lose weight, but things got out of control.”

Never tease teens about their weight.

This seems obvious, but bears repeating since a significant minority of overweight teens say they’ve experienced weight-related teasing from friends or family members. Cruel taunts about weight increase a child’s risk of both being overweight and developing eating disorders, and the pain can last into adulthood.  

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a researcher who focuses on teen health and nutrition, previously told HuffPost that parents should make their homes a sanctuary where kids feel safe from weight-related teasing. 

“Our children need to know that they can tell us what happened without receiving advice on how to lose weight,” she said.

What to do instead:

Eat together.

While eating meals together as a family has not been shown to reduce obesity rates, it does improve the nutritional content of a child’s diet and it allows parents to model healthy eating behaviors in front of their children, the report said. One study found that families who eat meals together seven or more times per week eat more fruits and vegetables compared to families who never eat together, and for the kids, this increased intake of fruits and veggies persisted into young adulthood. Another study found that eating family dinners most days during the previous years seemed to protect kids from binge eating, dieting and purging behaviors

Focus on a balanced diet and exercise  not weight loss.

Encourage healthy body image by encouraging kids to eat healthfully and exercise for fitness not for weight loss. Teens who have these positive influences are more likely to report being happy with their bodies and less likely to say they had weight-related concerns. Kids who are dissatisfied with their bodies, on the other hand, are more likely to develop eating disorders, diet and have lower levels of physical activity. 

Create a healthy home environment.

While it may seem from the AAP recommendations that a parent is more hemmed in about what they should or shouldn’t say to encourage a healthy lifestyle in children, the truth is that what a parent does says volumes about the best way to approach eating, exercise and body image.

The report says that parents can create a healthy food environment at home by buying and serving fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and water, while keeping artificial sweeteners, sugar-sweetened drinks and refined carbs away. Parents can also encourage physical activity by keeping TVs out of children’s bedrooms. Indeed, health interventions for both obesity and eating disorders are most effective when the whole family is involved in the treatment — not just the child who needs help. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story reported that eating disorders caused more than 90 percent of hospitalizations in teens. This is mistaken, and we regret the error. 

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Why is it so hard to keep weight off?

You finally reach your desired weight, only to find it creeping back up. Now, researchers think they have discovered why

Why is it so much harder to lose weightthan to regain it? The findings of recent research, published in the journal Obesity, suggest that our bodies actually resist weight loss. While dieting, we reduce our resting metabolic rate, which lowers the number of calories we burn when we are not doing much. The authors of theresearch warn that keeping weight off requires vigilant combat against metabolic adaption.

The study followed 14 participants of the US version of the TV show The Biggest Loser. The researchers found that, after six years, all but one of the contestants in their study had regained weight. On average, they weighed 20st10lb (131.5kg), compared with theaverage starting weight of 23st 6lb (149kg) and the 14st 4lb (91kg) at which they finished the show.

The solution

Six years is a long time, and being, on average, 2st 10lb (17kg) lighter is not insignificant. But the odds were stacked against the participants. Thestudy showed that, before the competition, the group burned a daily average of 2,600 calories at rest, but this fell to around 2,000 calories a day when it finished. Six years later, instead of creeping back up to its normal level, their resting rate had slowed further to 1,900 calories a day. On average, the resting metabolic rate was 500 calories aday less than you would expect for the age and body composition of the person. So, the contestants had to eat less to stay at their lower weight. While researchers knew that dieting reduces the resting metabolic rate to save energy, this study shows how savagely your body subverts weight loss.

This was a small study without controls, though, and weight loss is influenced by factors such as genetics and hormones. Other studies show that some people are less affected thanothers. The report on The Biggest Loser participants cites another study showing that obese people who have weight-loss surgery seem to escape this metabolic adaptation. Somehow, the body resets to a new normal weight and the resting metabolic rate doesnt fall. For the rest of us, being vigilant about what we eat, and building up muscle mass (which is lost with age) through aerobic exercise and strength training are the only ways to fight back.

Your resting metabolic rate determines only a proportion of your energy expenditure. If you burn off more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. Other research suggests that reducing calories by 20% and doing moderate exercise for 20 minutes a day will keep weight off.

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How This Couple Lost More Than 40 Pounds Each In Five Months

Five months ago, Faith and Nick came on the Dr. Phil show because Faith wanted to lose weight and feared her husband would die if he didn’t drop his extra pounds. During his appearance, Nick said, “I would rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable.”

Explaining to Nick that his life was hanging in the balance, Dr. Phil told the couple about his new book, The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision into Reality, where he reveals why some diets don’t work and how 20 key foods can lead to weight loss success.

Did Nick decide to turn his life around? Watch their update in the video above.

*A typical user of the Dr. Phil 20/20 Diet Plan can expect to lose about one to two pounds per week. 

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Dads Bare All While Mourning The Loss Of Their Pre-Baby Bodies In Clever Australian Ad

As most momsknow, bringing a baby into the worldcan change your bodies in ways you never expected. Yes, it’s a beautiful, wonderful miracle,of course, but it can also be a difficult adjustment for some when they see themselves in the mirror.

Weight gain is a given, of course, but the transformation can take many other paths while they wait to meet their little one and continue after the cutie is finally in their arms.

That’s why I love seeing moms who embrace their body’s new features rather than allow themselves to feel shame. Even supermodels like ChrissyTeigen are able to deal with frustrating things like stretch marks popping up with humor and pride.

But hey, what about the dads? That’s what the hilarious ad below asks in their silly sketch which gathers new fathers for a post-baby body support group. Let’s just say, they bare alot more than justtheir souls by admitting their vulnerable insecurities.

As they go around the circle explaining their stress-eating, jealousy toward fit dads like David Beckham, and understanding of their wives getting a good look at non-dads on the street, all of them are wearing nothing more than a pair of boxer briefs.

Produced by Australian Clothing Company, the comical commercialfocuses on the comfort these dads are at least able to find while donning their underwear.

Take a look atthe hysterical table-turning confessions.

And don’t forget to SHARE the goofy guys with your friends!

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Man Proves That Nothing Is Impossible By Losing 330 Pounds The Good Old-Fashioned Way

Like many, if not most people, I’ve found myself wishing I could lose a couple of pounds. Maybe it was to fit into clothes better, or maybe it was to look good in pictures at an upcoming event.

There are a number of reasons why millions of people want to loseweight, but the first and foremost one should be for better health, of course!

But life for people with a need for extreme weight loss differs from those who want to lose just a couple of vanity pounds. Finding motivation may be hard, and seeing the desired results may take a lot longer than others. It would also take longer to learn new habits in order to become the best possible version of one’s self.

It’s easy to resort to pseudoscientific ways to lose weight and to fad diets that seem to give you immediate results. But one man’s extreme weight loss journey is proving that none of these ways will sustain the weight loss results you crave: only hard work and determination can.

More specifically, “Possible Pat,” as he is nicknamed, shed 330 lbs.the old-fashioned way: by eating right, and by sticking to an exercise regimen. And that’s definitely a fitness path I can get behind!

He stuck to a rigorous workout schedule, and ate clean, whole foods. It’s all about cooking clean and cooking food the healthy way!

Now, he’s on the final step of this journey and will be getting skin-removal surgery to remove all the excess skin after shedding so much weight!

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