Can Dieting Make You Sick?

Ok, so those last few pounds can’t seem to stay off. You return to the scale only to find yourself losing and then gaining the same few pounds over and over again. Of course, it is natural for weight to fluctuate in a five to ten pound range, but when does this yo yo effect become harmful?

Researchers at the Fred Huchinson Cancer Research Center have found that the long term effects on gaining and losing weight actually have a negative impact on immune function. The studies done by Ulrich and colleagues have found that the more a woman intentionally tries to lose weight, the more her long term immune function as measured by natural killer cell activity decreases. Compared to women who maintain a stable weight over a period of years, yo yo dieters are more likely to suffer from colds, flu, pneumonia, and other immune system diseases.

According to Ulrich and his findings on women who dieted five or more times in the last twenty years, his research subjects had a third lower natural kill cell function. Conversely, women who maintained their weight over five or more years tended to have a 40% greater natural kill cell activity.

Natural kill cell activity is the most important part of the immune system, functioning as virus killers, they have been shown to stave off cancer cells in laboratory tests. When someone has a lower than usual natural kill cell activity, it is associated with a higher cancer incidence and a sever susceptibility to colds and infections.

Ulrich cautions that these tests are preliminary and there are still more tests that need to be done over a longer period of time.

Exercise is the most promising solution to losing weight, as many studies conclude that at least 60 minutes of aerobic exercise is optimal to lose weight and improve immune function.

With all the different diets out there today, many people do succumb to trying them out at a desperate attempt that this or that diet will finally work for them. There are a few sure fire ways to lose weight and keep it off. The only ingredient for most people to include is self control, will power. Here are some tips from Ms, Shade, a participant in the research at the Fred Huchinson Cancer Research Center:

Tips to Losing Weight and Keeping it Off:

*Eat only when you’re hungry
* Take smaller portions when eating at home
* When eating out, ask for a carry out bag for half of your food to eat later
* If you decide to give in to the occasional sugary or fatty snack, throw or give the other half of it away.
* Don’t eat from a large container or bag, put smaller portions on a plate and rest a bit to see if you are really still hungry for more.
* Eat at home.
* Eat smaller but more frequent meals.
* Include at least one vegetable of fruit in each meal or snack.
* Eat whole grain instead of refined grains.
* Avoid high calorie sodas and juice drinks made from mostly sugar.
* Get plenty of sleep. Sleep loss increases the levels of hormones such as cortisol, growth hormone, and insulin, that can promote fat storage.
*Drink plenty of water.

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