Not all fat is created equally. Have a waist larger than 35 inches if you are a woman (larger than 40 inches for men) means you are holding on to too much abdominal fat, and this particular condition comes with some very serious health risks.
While the fat that pads your arms, thighs, and butts may seem like a big deal when you look in the mirror, it’s the fat you harbor in your midsection that is actually the most dangerous to your health and longevity. This belly fat, also known as visceral adipose or visceral fat, is strongly linked to some severe disease risks and conditions, so shedding this excess fat is crucial to ensuring your long-term health. Here are the top five reasons you should start working on eliminating that extra belly fat today.
Belly Fat Affects Your Hormones
Subcutaneous fat, like the kind in your arms and butt, behaves differently than belly fat. The fat in your midsection acts much like another organ in your endocrine system, secreting hormones and affecting how well your body regulates hormone levels. These fluctuations can negatively impact metabolic functions as well as your mood. Shifts in hormones impact neurotransmitters, which can lead to an increase in depression and other mood disorders. Women with excess belly fat are especially vulnerable to this effect.
Belly Fat Raises Your Risk for Heart Disease
Those who carry around excess weight in their middle, particularly for extended periods, are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. Even when you adjust for all other heart disease risk factors, those with larger waists have a risk factor that is two or more times those of others of similar age and gender.
More Belly Fat Means A Higher Chance of Cancer
Your risk of cancer also rises sharply when you have visceral fat. Excess fat in the middle raises your risk for developing colorectal cancer and breast cancer. This type of fat is associated with increased levels of leptin, estrogen, and inflammatory proteins, thereby raising cancer risks. When you lose weight and decrease belly fat, these biomarkers all fall as well.
Your Belly Fat Can Cause Dementia
Long-term research has confirmed a link between people with high amounts of abdominal fat in midlife and the development of dementia later in life. Even considering other risk factors known to contribute to dementia risk, those with a larger waist circumference are still more likely to end up with dementia as they age.
Belly Fat Leads to Many Chronic Diseases
Those with the highest amounts of belly fat also have the highest incidences of Type 2 diabetes, migraine headaches, respiratory disorder, and other chronic conditions that can shorten your life and severely impact the quality of life. Those with larger waists are more than twice as likely to die prematurely, even when their overall weight is healthy.
Reducing your belly fat is, therefore, critical to your longevity and health. Losing the spare tire or those love handles, though, is not just a matter of doing more crunches. To eliminate visceral adipose, you need to limit your intake of calories and burn more calories through exercise. Severely cutting back on sugar, which is a significant contributor to belly fat is essential. Also, limit your intake of alcohol, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates, like bread and pasta.
You should eat plenty of dietary fiber and protein, especially fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Be sure you are getting enough sleep each night, which can help regulate your hormones and assist in shedding that excess fat.
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