The Truth About Belly Fat How To Reduce Belly Fat

The Truth About Belly Fat How To Reduce Belly Fat

Surprise: Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs.That’s normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fat doesn’t.

Some of your fat is right under your skin. Other fat is deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs.

It’s that deeper fat — called “visceral” fat — that may be the bigger problem, even for thin people.

Deep Belly Fat

You need some visceral fat. It provides cushioning around your organs.

But if you have too much of it, you may be more likely to get high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.

The fat doesn’t just sit there. It’s an active part of your body, making “lots of nasty substances,” says Kristen Hairston, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

If you gain too much weight, your body starts to store your fat in unusual places.

With increasing obesity, you have people whose regular areas to store fat are so full that the fat is deposited into the organs and around the heart, says Carol Shivery, PhD, professor of pathology-comparative medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

How Much Belly Fat Do You Have?

The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But there’s a much simpler, low-cost way to check.

Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button, and check your girth. Do it while you’re standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.

For your health’s sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you’re a woman and less than 40 inches if you’re a man.At one time, we might have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of aging. But we’ve now been put on notice that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral, fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.

Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

Are you pear-shaped or apple-shaped?

Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape) is largely visceral. Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including heredity and hormones. As the evidence against abdominal fat mounts, researchers and clinicians are trying to measure it, correlate it with health risks, and monitor changes that occur with age and overall weight gain or loss.

The fat you can pinch is subcutaneous fat. The fat inside your belly (the visceral fat) can be seen and measured, but not pinched.

Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.

Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

The Truth About Belly Fat How To Reduce Belly Fat

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