The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently identified an area of the U.S. being called the “fat belt” because the obesity rates there were 30 percent or more. The biggest Americans live in 12 states in the southeast and Midwest and interestingly, most of those states also fall into the “stroke belt” and have high rates of diabetes, as well a lowest per-capita incomes.
But don’t worry if you can’t move. New research says if you do these five things, you can make yourself healthier wherever you are.
1. Lose 20 pounds.
A new study found that even if you have loads of weight to take off, dropping just 20 pounds can help you reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 50 percent.
2. Take a walk.
You could lose interest in that morning donut and even that mid-afternoon pack of cheese crackers. In a study published this month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, researchers at Brigham Young University used EEGs to track the neural activity of a group of women while they looked at images of food, first after a morning of exercise, and then after a morning of no exercise. They found that the exercise blunted the women’s responses to the food images.
3. Go low GI.
A low glycemic diet is abundant in foods that won’t raise your blood sugar — great for preventing diabetes, but also curbing cravings and now, says new research, losing weight too. A study by researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital compared three common weight loss diets (low-fat, low-carb and low-GI)and found that people on a low-GI diet burned on average 300 more calories a day than those on the other two eating plans. And that was even when they were eating the same number of calories. A low-GI diet contains lean protein, fish, low-fat dairy, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
4. Add some ginger tea.
While you’re burning those extra 300 calories on a low-GI plan, sip some ginger tea and burn 43 more. Researchers at Columbia University and the New York Obesity Research Center found that a cup of tea made with 2 grams of dried ginger powder not only burns that many calories, it also curbs your appetite.
5. Get more sleep.
Researchers have long known that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain — and worse, diabetes. People who don’t get enough sleep one night tend to binge on carbs the next day. Scientists at the Institute of Nutrition at Columbia University think they know why: In their study, sleepy folks (they only got 4 hours of sleep a night for 6 days) experienced elevated brain activity in the area of the brain associated with reward — the same ones linked to drug addiction.