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The Set-Point Theory

Updated: Sep 26, 2022


Welcome to the science posts which are designed to help provide some foundational information and understanding of how our bodies function, and how implementing The Livy Method optimizes our health, wellness, and mindfulness, by providing an environment where our bodies no longer feel the need to store fat!


We will begin this journey by discussing the Set-Point Theory and other theories of weight loss that might help us explain how The Livy Method works, and why it is different from other diets that involve deprivation and calorie restriction. Let’s dive into this!!


The history of dieting


It may be assumed by some that obesity and dieting is a concern of more recent times. But upon delving deeper into this subject matter, it is interesting to note that the concept of dieting or “slimming” has been around for centuries. The Ancient Greeks and Romans already understood that food and physical exercise influence our health and our weight. The Greek word ‘diatia’ (from which the word ‘diet’ is derived) referred to a whole way of living focused on self-control and eating in moderation. Interestingly, the first best selling diet book was written in 1474 by the Italian humanist Bartolomeo Sacchi, aka Il Platina. Advances in printing techniques meant that his De honesta voluptate e valetudine was read throughout Europe, and high society became obsessed with his recommendations regarding the relationship between gastronomic pleasure (voluptate) and health (valetudine).


Throughout the ages, humans have been in pursuit of fitting the criteria of what was deemed beautiful or accepted by the society they lived in. For many cultures, and in different eras, being thin has been one of the main measures of beauty. Although this can be problematic for so many different reasons, there is a distinction that needs to be made between weight loss and overall health, as opposed to seeking it to fit societal norms.


Hippocrates, who is considered the founder of medicine born in 460 BC, was one of the first to document the association between weight and health with the statement, “Those by nature overweight, die earlier than the slim”. Today we know that obesity-related conditions which include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death.


Many health issues can be preventable by some degree of weight loss. From the ancient Greeks to current day, many of us have had some struggle with our weight and have likely tried many different diets in order to lose and gain the same weight, many times. There needs to be options for those that are looking to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way! This is why The Livy Method is designed with overall health in mind, which includes not only a physical focus, but includes the mental, emotional, and for some even their spiritual health. Let’s talk more about the impact of obesity on health and why one might consider trying to lose weight.


What are some health risks of being overweight and obese?


Type 2 diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose (or blood sugar), is too high. Your body cannot make enough insulin (a hormone that helps control the amount of glucose or sugar in your blood), or does not properly use the insulin it makes. Diabetes Canada (2022) reports that Type 2 diabetes is caused by several different risk factors and accounts for 90% of diabetes cases in Canada! According to the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2018) About 8 out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or have obesity. Over time, high blood glucose can lead to issues such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, nerve damage, and other health problems.


If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and participating in regular physical activity may prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. (NIDDK, 2018) There is more discussion regarding the precursor to diabetes in the science post Hormones Important to Weight Loss & Digestion Part 1-Insulin, so check it out for more details!


High blood pressure


High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition in which blood flows through your blood vessels with a force greater than normal. High blood pressure can strain your heart, damage blood vessels, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and even death. Being overweight and obese may raise your risk for high blood pressure.


Heart disease


Heart disease is a general term used to describe several problems that may affect your heart, such as those that have suffered a heart attack, heart failure, angina, an abnormal heart rhythm (also called arrhythmia), or sudden cardiac death.


High blood pressure, abnormal levels of blood fats (blood lipids), and high blood glucose levels may increase your risk for heart disease. Blood lipids include HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. See the science post on The Science of Fat and Fat Loss for a more detailed description of fats in the body!


According to the NIDDK (2018, February) losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight may lower your risk factors for developing heart disease. Weight loss may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood flow in the body.


Stroke


Stroke is a condition in which a blockage or the bursting of a blood vessel in your brain or neck, prevents blood flow from getting to the brain. A stroke can damage brain tissue, affecting your ability to speak or move parts of your body. According to the NIDDK (2018, February) High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. As discussed above, even a 5-10% reduction in weight can improve blood pressure, which could decrease the risk of stroke.


Sleep apnea


Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your breathing can be affected while sleeping. Sleep apnea may present as irregular breathing patterns, or where your breathing stops (apnea) altogether for short periods of time. According to Jonathan Jun, M.D., (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2022) a pulmonary and sleep medicine specialist at the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Centre, sleep apnea happens when upper airway muscles relax during sleep and pinch off the airway, which prevents you from getting enough air. Your breathing may pause for 10 seconds or more at a time, until your reflexes kick in and you start breathing again. This results in decreased oxygen to the body and vital organs. If left untreated, sleep apnea may raise your risk of other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.