What Exactly Is Belly Fat?
Here are the Facts you REALLY need to understand (and do something about).
Here is Part 1 ……just in case you missed it.
Many people I talk to think ‘belly fat’ is just that……a big belly or as some say, middle age spread.
Using the scientific name, belly fat is known by the title of visceral fat.
It’s also been called intra-abdominal fat (and also known as organ fat – it is fat of the worst possible kind). So you can see why it is important to know about the dangers of visceral fat.
Translated, it means this is fat you carry in your abdomen and its deep in the body surrounding your vital internal organs. And the reason most people know so little about this killer fat is because they can’t actually see it. They just tend to put it down to middle age spread.
So this is why you need to know that visceral fat is a greater health concern than subcutaneous fat.
If you’re thinking all the medical warnings about the dangers of this fat are mostly hype, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
Take what this fat does to your liver as an example. Your liver works to transform this fat and this fat then becomes cholesterol in the body. Not the good kind either. We all know what cholesterol does to arteries.
Its fat turned into plaque carried in your blood that sticks to the artery walls and in the heart, this plaque constricts the amount of blood able to flow through the arteries. When the plaque builds up enough, the blood can’t pass through the artery and it leads to a heart attack.
As you can see it doesn’t happen because of one or two bad food choices occasionally but is a build up from over twenty or thirty years of bad lifestyle selections.
This is one reason why I am so concerned for the younger generation. Many people in the twenty to forty year age group do not appear to understand what they are letting themselves in for later on in life and yet are in a perfect position to remedy the problem before it even happens.
Fat actually has two labels – visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.
The word subcutaneous means beneath the skin.
The subcutaneous fat is the fat you can see as what’s commonly called cellulite. Some people refer to cellulite as lumps or flab, but it’s all the same. The subcutaneous fat, while unsightly, is not nearly as dangerous to a person’s health as visceral fat.
Do family genetics play a part in the amount of fat you carry?
Yes, but only a small part. You can still choose to be in the driver’s seat with your health and do something about your belly fat.
“I’m a Man – I Can Carry More Belly Fat!”
Actually, this is a myth that most men choose to believe.
And why wouldn’t they?
This myth is something society has created. It is okay for men to have more belly fat than women, it’s not as unhealthy, and it’s not as attractive … so goes the myth.
Any belly fat that reaches the point of being overweight is bad for you. Having too much belly fat is a threat to your health whether you’re a man or a woman. Belly fat leads to a host of problems that aren’t simply confined to your gender.
Belly fat isn’t just something hanging around, forcing you to buy bigger clothes and cut another hole in your belt.
That fat is working hard to take years from your life; time away from your loved ones.
That fat on your abdomen means there’s fat around your internal organs.
Having fat around your internal organs, visceral fat, translates into health risks and it’s not a matter of if it will affect your life, but when will it affect you.
Someone whose ideas and opinions I have a lot of time and respect for is Dr Gabe Mirkin. The good Doctor says, “Visceral Fat is Harmful, Subcutaneous Fat is Not Harmful.”
You have two primary locations for fat cells: subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcutaneous fat is fat that is stored underneath your skin and on your hips, buttocks and thighs. While you may not like its appearance, subcutaneous fat does not harm your health.
Visceral fat is the fat that is stored in and around your belly, liver, pancreas, heart and other organs.
Excess visceral fat can cause diseases that will shorten your life.
Full visceral fat cells cause inflammation.
The Dangers of Visceral Fat
As visceral fat cells fill with fat, they send out messenger chemicals that turn on your immunity to cause inflammation that increases your risk for heart attacks, cancers, strokes, diabetes, and premature death (Cell Reports, January 3, 2017;18:225–236).
Visceral belly fat cells are loaded with markers of inflammation and have almost no brown fat or cGMP, the fat-burning messenger signaler. On the other hand, subcutaneous-fat cells demonstrate hardly any markers of inflammation, have high levels of fat burning cGMP and increased numbers of brown fat cells.”
Further research I have come across states that even carrying twenty pounds of belly fat puts you in a higher risk bracket for heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes to name a few.
Having belly fat has also been proven to have ties to erectile dysfunction as men age, which in turn can affect your romantic relationships and lead to depression.
Excess belly fat is one of the main causes of death by heart attack because of the problems it’s directly linked to.
Carrying excess belly fat not only makes you more susceptible to a host of medical conditions which can affect the way you live your life, it can also lead to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea has been directly linked to having belly fat and this condition took the life of a famous athlete several years ago.
The good news for you if you’re a man is that men do have a tendency to be able to get rid of belly fat faster and easier than women do.
Because a man’s metabolism is higher than a woman’s.
What Belly Fat Means For Women
A lot of women gain belly fat, even if they’re still young. But as women grow older, if you are not diligent about your weight then weight gain leading to belly fat can slow everything down – especially your metabolism.
Just like men, when a woman carries belly fat, her odds of having a stroke, heart attack or getting diabetes becomes higher. Diabetes, especially Type 2, develops because the pancreas can’t produce the insulin the body needs to work properly.
There have been many studies done by leading medical universities proving that belly fat and diabetes go hand in hand.
Also, there are other gender-specific health risks for women that can be even more dangerous than the risk of diabetes. Belly fat is instrumental in helping cause so-called female cancers, too.
One scientific study linked visceral fat with the odds of developing breast cancer as greatly increased.
So when a woman carries belly fat, it doesn’t simply mean she won’t look good when it’s time to hit the beach during the summertime.
Belly fat has also been said to raise a woman’s possibilities of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, one of the silent cancers. Getting rid of the excess belly fat lowers your overall risk of these cancers.
When you’re not carrying excess belly fat, you feel better about yourself, you look better and shopping for clothes that fit certainly becomes a whole lot easier.
But leaving the outer appeal aside, it’s far too risky being a woman with excess belly fat.
The fat around your abdomen doesn’t just sit there idly. It’s hard at work releasing hormones that trigger a hunger response – even if you don’t feel hungry. Makes you think about the extreme dangers of belly fat, doesn’t it?
Continue reading Part 3.
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
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