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The Dangers Of Excess Belly Fat

Adipose tissue, more commonly called fat, is a loose connective tissue made up of a variety of cells like adipocytes. These fat deposits are concentrated mainly in five different parts of the body.

1. Subcutaneous Fat - Present beneath the skin.
2. Visceral Fat - Present around internal organs.
3. Marrow Fat - Present in the bone marrow.
4. Muscular Fat - Intermuscular fat.
5. Breast Fat

Fat is hormonally inert and is thus considered harmless. It stores energy in the form of lipids in our body, cushioning and insulating our body simultaneously.

Men and women who have excess belly fat can always be frustrated about it because it doesn't make them "look good." But the effect of this type of fat is rooted much deeper.

Belly fat can be of two types - Subcutaneous fat or visceral fat, the latter being the more dangerous one. Subcutaneous fat is easier to see and grab, but visceral fat is not.

Visceral fat has been called the "active pathogenic fat" over the years because it is present around all the major organs in the abdomen, like the heart, liver, lungs and stomach and excess of it adversely affects these organs.

Having an excess of belly fat can have really fatal consequences. Here are a few of them.

1. Increased Inflammation
2. Type 2 Diabetes
3. Cardiovascular Diseases And Stroke
4. Blood Pressure
5. Depression
6. Insomnia And Other Sleep Disorders
7. Dementia And Alzheimer's
8. Cancer

1. Increased Inflammation:

Visceral fat is seen to produce inflammatory molecules that directly go to the liver. This causes more inflammation and hormone-disrupting reactions in the body. And inflammation is the root cause of any disease in the body.

So if you have a lot of visceral fat around your belly, you're more prone to an inflamed and hormonally disrupted body, where your metabolism is affected majorly.

2. Type 2 Diabetes:

When compared to thigh fat or hip fat, people with more belly fat have been seen to be at a higher risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. This is because the visceral fat plays a major role in insulin resistance.

When foods with high levels of sugar are consumed, the level of sugar and insulin in the blood stream increases, which forces the cells of our body to take the sugars and insulin in to produce energy.

Overtime, the cells of your body get used to this spike and stop letting the sugars and insulin in. This causes a rise of blood sugar and insulin resistance.

3. Cardiovascular Diseases And Stroke:

Research has suggested that visceral fat produces certain molecular proteins that are harmful for our body. Some of these molecules tend to constrict blood vessels leading to a rise in blood pressure levels.

As we are already aware of the inflammation produced by visceral fat, these two put together can give rise to a condition where arteries start getting clogged.

If you're someone who has a lot of belly fat and you observe a rise in triglycerides, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, then you should know you're on the wrong path.

4. Blood Pressure:

Blood pressure rises when the blood sugar and insulin levels rise above normal. When we consume foods with high sugars, there's a spike in blood sugar levels along with insulin to convert the sugars to energy. When your body gets resistant to both these, the sugar and insulin level in the blood spike, causing high blood pressure.

5. Depression:

As we already know, visceral fat has been called the "active pathogenic fat" because it negatively impacts our body. Study has proven that belly fat reduces healthy neurotransmitter functioning. There are more hormonal changes as well. This imbalance leads to a high level of mood swings and if not treated can lead to depression eventually.

6. Insomnia And Other Sleep Disorders:

A big belly and a neck with large deposits of fats triggers loud snoring and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is where the person stops breathing for a few moments several times in the night. This is associated with the high levels of fat deposits around the lungs and air passage, making breathing difficult.

This pause in breathing disrupts the individual's sleep, not letting him/her get the restful sleep. This makes them sleepy and moody for the entire day. Sometimes it leads to a complete lack of sleep too.

7. Dementia And Alzheimer's:

People with bigger bellies are prone to dementia and Alzheimer's than the ones with smaller bellies. Extra pounds of the body equate to lesser brain volume, meaning, as you age, the functioning of the brain reduces.

There's no proven result yet, but the culprit here seems to be the hormone leptin which is released by fat cells. Leptin has adverse effects on brain cells, learning, memory and on appetite regulation. Thus, the bigger the belly, the more likely you are to experience a decline in brain function.

8. Cancer:

Cytokines released by visceral fat cells trigger cancerous activity in the healthy cells of the body. This risk is higher in postmenopausal women. This is because the estrogen production in the ovaries gradually declines which makes the fat cells to become the main source of estrogen.
For women who are overweight, more hormone gets produced due to more fat cells. Extra levels of this hormone could cause malignant tumors in the breast in women. Men are susceptible to getting cancers like colorectal cancer with excessive fat cells in the body.

Visceral fat is really hard to get rid of. It requires dedication and a healthy regime.

• Eating wholesome foods, a well-balanced diet, switching to low-fat cooking methods, like broiling, boiling, baking, choosing food wisely when you step out.
• Exercising regularly to banish visceral fat, a 30-minute full-body workout can blast the fat out. If you can't do that, a simple brisk walk can help rid of belly fat.
• The stress hormone cortisol is a troublesome one. It makes you eat unhealthy which could lead to visceral fat deposits overtime. Which is why, having a stress-free life by incorporating meditations and yoga is important.

It is not wrong to get professional help if you think you need it. If your waistline is above 38, it's best to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss some lifestyle changes for better health.

Story first published: Monday, July 9, 2018, 17:00 [IST]
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