Every day I discuss with my clients about obesity and insulin resistance and the conversation invariably slips into how it leads to diabetes and other metabolic disharmony.
At some time, we could have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of aging, but we now know of a definite correlation between our growing waistlines and the associated 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 see on someone and 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.
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
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.
Studies also show 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.
One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance
Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes.
Now for the good news.
The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist — the pinchable stuff — can be frustratingly difficult to budge, but in normal-weight people, it’s generally not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat is
Exercise and Eating mindfully can help you get rid of excess belly fat
So what can we do about growing waistlines in check?
A lot, as it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. Strength training (exercising with weights or body weights ) may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, too many crunches can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.
Eating sensibly is very important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize on simple homemade fresh wholesome meals like Roti + Sabzi + Dahi /Dal/Chicken/Fish …the usual good food culprits!
No brainer that fad diets such as high saturated fat diet , tetra packed sugar free juices , diet foods , packaged foods are a ‘no-no’.
Rather than cutting on food , bring about changes in your lifestyle, especially waking up early , sleeping early , eating sensibly and exercise, all of this together is the best antidote to fight visceral fat.