I’m a 30-year old woman, weigh 70kg and am 1.56m tall. I have a lot of fat around my stomach. I exercise regularly and have gone on diets, but in vain. I also have stretch marks. Can Ayurveda help?

I wish there was a quick-fix remedy, but let’s get this clear: there is no exercise to spot-reduce fat from the body.

Fatty tissue around the abdomen carries a greater health risk than fat located around the hips and thighs. Where we store fat is largely a combination of gender, age and genes. Stress, too, could lead to abdominal fat, according to some studies.

Losing 10kg would bring you into the healthy weight range and losing a kilo a week is a sensible goal.

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For that you’ll need to increase physical activity or decrease food intake or both. An hour’s walk can burn around 130kcal, which is just equivalent to the calorie value of a croissant. So what you eat is more important in a weight-loss programme. The Ayurvedic approach to weight reduction is person-specific rather than one-size-fits-all. During an Ayurveda consultation, your body type will be determined and the right kinds of food for each body type – vata, kapha or pitta – will be prescribed.

The hormone melatonin is produced from 7-8pm, which helps prepare our body for rest and sleep. However, many of us start exercising after 7pm and have dinner much later – a major lifestyle mistake. Exercise in the morning or daytime is healthier.

You need to consult a doctor to rule out any gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, which can result in bloating of the stomach or thyroid conditions that could be causing weight gain.

Monitor and revise your food habits. Increase non-calorific items like green leafy vegetables and fruits (except bananas). Reduce uncooked foods. Follow a healthy weight-loss diet programme, combined with fitness exercises and a stomach-toning exercise to tighten and strengthen abdominal muscles. Reducing stomach fat takes time – especially if you are an apple shape. Please be patient. Here are a few more tips:

■ Eat healthy foods according to your body type. Have smaller portions, and aim for slightly more protein and slightly less processed carbs and oils.

■ Drink as much water as possible; it aids digestion and fat burning.

■ Remain active, be it at home or in the office.

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■ Eliminate fizzy drinks from your diet.

■ For stretch marks, apply Kumkumadi lepam or vitamin E oil or butter.

■ There are several Ayurveda medications and therapies that can improve metabolism and deplete fat. You may take a decoction of five grams of Venga (Pterocarpus marsupium) powder boiled in water once daily. Triphala choornam (five grams) can also be used in the same way.