The INSIDER Summary:
- Numbers associated with health are important, but the most essential one is not necessarily your weight.
- Health professionals agree that other numbers, such as the steps you take per day and your blood pressure, are more telling of your overall health.
- It’s advised that you keep an eye on all of these numbers instead of placing so much importance on the scale.
People count everything from calories to steps. But there is one measurement that’s constantly counted, addressed, and criticized when it comes to health — a person’s weight.
Because of the emphasis placed on this digit, people tend to think it’s the only one that matters when it comes to your health. And it’s not. Your wellbeing actually comes down to a few different things that registered dietitian Nutritionist Malina Linkas Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle, calls biomarkers.
“Following all of the health biomarkers […] can help determine whether clients are making progress and reaching their nutritional goals,” she told INSIDER.
Instead of hopping on the scale, you can actively count a few other aspects of your daily life to better measure your health. INSIDER spoke to Malkani and Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, a physician and health and wellness expert, to learn what literally and figuratively counts when it comes to your health. Here’s what the experts had to say.
Both Malkani and Okeke-Igbokwe measure waist circumference in order to look at the big picture of someone’s health. Okeke-Igbokwe said that this number is helpful in assessing the risk of other serious health conditions like stroke, sleep apnea, and heart disease.
Malkani also explained that this measurement can tell her more about a patient’s potential disease risk than weight.
“Waist circumference is an indicator of visceral (or, ‘belly’) fat, which is the fat that surrounds the internal organs,” Malkani said. “Visceral fat is a much more accurate predictor of obesity-related disease risk than overall body fat.”
Glasses of water
Malkani prioritizes hydration for her clients, and is concerned that people don’t know how much water their body needs.
“Staying hydrated is also essential for our overall health and wellness, although it’s a common misconception that everyone needs to drink eight glasses of water per day,” she said. “A lot of factors go into how much water an individual needs to stay hydrated, like age, gender, activity level and climate, so rather than give my clients a number of cups they should aim for per day, I recommend that they check their urine.”
She said that the “goal” is to have a pale yellow color or lighter; anything darker is a good indicator that you aren’t drinking enough water.