Who are sitters in any case? Adults with a mobility disability, those recovering from trauma or accident, older sedentary adults, those of us with oodles sedentary leisure time, those of us abducted daily by the TV vortex, armchair athletes (social+beer+sport+gaming), and finally, office workers and students.

So whatever the reason, let’s explore some of the health vulnerabilities that come from this prolonged perching on our gluteus maximus. We can then interweave investigations and come up with some strategies that can healthfully help.

“High levels of sedentary time—or, too much sitting—have been linked detrimentally with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and premature mortality. In modern society, adults are highly sedentary, with the average self-reported sitting time ranging from 3.2 to 6.8 h/day and objective measures indicating 55–69% of adults’ waking hours are spent sedentary.”

While getting up and moving is the obvious antidote, nutritional interventions can also be of assistance. The quote above is from the an article in the European Heart Journal in 2015 and reading draws our focus onto consumption of sugar and carbohydrates in our diet.

If you have had family members, now or in the past, with diabetes, obesity, heart or vascular problems or if your waistline is slowly increasing, then we need to make sure our eating regime is not sending our insulin levels on a roller coaster ride.

Your doctor can check hidden blood sugar irregularities or pre-diabetes using a 2hr Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) that concurrently measures insulin levels.

Nutrients now known to play pivotal roles in stabilising body glucose and insulin levels are Chromium, Fibre, Omega 3 Fish Oils, Vitamin C and E, Vitamin B3, B6 and Biotin, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Potassium and Protein. These nutrients are all essential – meaning that we have to get them from food – the body cannot make them.

Sitting - Thomas Autumn - Flickr - 9oct2013photoaday

Sitting – Thomas Autumn – Flickr – 9oct2013photoaday

Also, several herbs and contingent nutrients have been used effectively over the years to improve insulin’s action and sensitivity while at the same time reducing the damage to nerves, skin and kidneys so often seen with advancing sugar irregularities. Some of these include Mulberry extract, Flavonoid-rich extracts from fruits and vegetables and Alpha Lipoic Acid (an antioxidant).

Foods rich in chromium include broccoli and grape juice (ironically high in sugar). Vitamin C can enhance chromium absorption while foods high in sugars can increase its excretion via the kidneys. Green beans, whole grains and oats, nuts, and egg yolk are also good sources of chromium.

Because food has widely variable amounts of chromium, some people supplement with this mineral. The very latest research, however, indicates the need for caution when supplementing and especially when going over the current RDI of 25-45 micrograms per day for adults. Upper limits have not been officially established. If in doubt, eat toxic-free food.

Adequate Omega 3’s are also essential for professional sitters who might have sugar/waistline issues. Generous levels found in oily fish (sardines and salmon) and plant seeds like flax and chia.

Next session we will show how sitting + high carbohydrate meals = increased waistline and how feeling satiated can change this equation.
We’ll look more at omega 3 and vitamin E and how they can also be helpful in those susceptible to deep vein thrombosis – a curse for long term sitters. Moreover, we’ll start exploring strategies and meals to keep energy levels up during a 9-5 office day.