By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Obesity, asthma
are connected

Question: Does being overweight increase my risk of developing asthma?

Answer: Many asthma sufferers are overweight. It's believed that asthma, which makes it difficult to exercise, contributes to weight gain because the disease encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Research-ers are now looking at the possibility that it's the other way around - that being overweight increases the risk of developing asthma.

Obesity is on the rise in the U.S., and this may be one explanation for the increase in the number of people suffering from asthma.

Whether asthma leads to obesity or vice versa, it's not necessary for people who suffer from asthma to remain overweight due to a sedentary lifestyle. Today doctors are encouraging individuals with asthma to exercise as long as they follow precautions.

If you have asthma, whether you are overweight or not, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Q: I know fasting is not a good way to lose weight, but what about fasting as a means of cleansing out our bodily systems?

A: What systems are you referring to? If you're talking about the digestive system, then fasting, in fact, does just the opposite. Fasting can be more toxifying than detoxifying.

About two thirds of the energy burned while fasting is fat; the other third is protein. This means that the person fasting is actually metabolizing one third of his or her energy in the form of muscle tissue.

This causes the by-products of muscle breakdown, ammonia and nitrogen, to concentrate in the blood because the liver and kidneys can't clear these chemicals from the blood fast enough.

Starving your body speeds the loss of calcium and magnesium, minerals important to bone density and strength. Also, going without food leads to imbalances in blood electrolytes, which are responsible for regulating heart rhythm.

Fasting will make you feel certain things, but I doubt if clean is one of them.

Tired, light-headed, weak, fatigued and spaced out better describe someone who has been fasting for more than a couple of days.

You mentioned that you knew fasting wasn't an effective way to lose weight, but for my readers who don't know why, I'll briefly explain it.

Fasting, for even one day, can slow down a person's metabolism, making it harder to burn dietary calories when you do start eating again. If you've seen fasting as a way to lose weight, know that it works just the opposite.

The longer you fast, the slower your body burns calories. The speed of your metabolism doesn't pick up very quickly after ending a fast, so when you do start eating normally again, your body continues to burn calories at the slower rate.

Because of this fact, fasting is most likely to cause weight gain, not weight loss.

Short term fasting, i.e., one or two days, is usually safe - not recommended, but usually safe.

If you desire a clean system, cut way down on dietary fat, especially saturated fat, limit your intake of processed foods and sugar and drink lots of water. Eat tons of fresh fruit and load up on the vegetables.

This way, you won't be depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to remain healthy. You'll also be increasing physical well-being and you may possibly even lose weight.

Health Events

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin