High heels are flattering, but they also change the alignment of your body, alter the loading on your joints and push your body weight into the toes. All in all, wearing them regularly does not do your body any favours. Conversely, many people find flat soles uncomfortable. Hallelujah, then, for the new, gorgeous feet-and-body-friendly iQushion flipflops from FitFlop, the brand that has revolutionised footwear using biomechanical engineering, which calculates the movement of joints and limbs to create naturally comfortable shoes. The super-light iQushion has a moulded sole that matches the contours of the foot so that it aligns the body. There’s extra cushioning under the heel and ball of the foot, which are the high-impact areas. So it only remains to get a pedicure and choose your iQushion from the fabulous range of colours. £26/fitflop.co.uk.
Q. I am a fit 50-something, but my GP says I have excess visceral fat. What is it and what can I do about it?
A. Unlike the blobby, more benign subcutaneous fat just under your skin, visceral fat is stored deeply, wrapping itself around the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas and even creeping through muscles. ‘Visceral fat is the dangerous kind, caused by a high carbohydrate diet and sedentary behaviour,’ says Professor David Haslam of the National Obesity Forum.
‘Subcutaneous fat on the thighs, hips and stomach may create mechanical problems such as arthritis of the hips and knees, but doesn’t tend to cause metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer or Alzheimer’s disease,’ he explains. ‘Visceral fat pumps toxic chemicals called adipocytokines into the bloodstream. These create chronic low-grade inflammation and disrupt healthy metabolism [the way your body works to create energy and keep you functioning].’ Visceral fat may also affect your mood.
Unlike subcutaneous fat, you cannot see visceral fat. However, Harvard University notes that overweight or obese people are likely to have excess visceral fat, as it makes up about ten per cent of total body fat.
‘A pot belly on a man suggests visceral fat, but diagnosing it in a fit 50-year-old woman needs more complex analysis,’ says Professor Haslam. Simple measurements including body mass index (BMI ) and waist-to-hip ratio do not give an accurate picture ‘as they could indicate either type of fat’.
For your GP to diagnose visceral fat, it is likely that you had a bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), which is available on a GP budget. BIA estimates body composition, including fat, by measuring the impedance or opposition to the flow of an electrical current through body tissues. The gold-standard way to detect excess visceral fat is an MRI scan, but this is not cheap.
Just as a high-carb diet and lack of activity cause visceral fat, a healthy low-carb diet (plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, some lean protein and unsaturated fats) plus regular daily exercise will reduce levels of this hidden enemy. Limiting alcohol and managing your stress levels are important, as is getting a good night’s sleep. And if you smoke, please stop.
Dr Marilyn Glenville’s top ten nutrition guidelines to prevent heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes.
Gertie the Good Goose is waddling to the rescue of teething tots. Gertie is made from 100 per cent natural rubber (free of BPA, PVC and phthalates), is slightly vanilla-scented and designed so babies’ hands can grip her and sore gums can chew on her beak, feet, tail and body. Oh, and Gertie quacks when she is squeezed. £14.99/ gertiethegoodgoose.co.uk.