"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Targeting belly fat

No matter what your body shape is, excess fat isn't good on your health. But saddlebags and ballooning bells aren't equal. When it involves body fat, location counts, and each 12 months brings recent evidence that belly fat is more dangerous than fat you may pinch together with your fingers.

In most individuals, about 90% of body fat is subcutaneous, the sort that's in a layer slightly below the skin. If you stroke your abdomen, the fat that feels soft is subcutaneous fat. The remaining 10% – called visceral or intra-abdominal fat – lies out of reach, under the strong abdominal wall. It is present in the spaces across the liver, intestines and other organs. It can also be stored within the omentum, the apron-like flap of tissue that lies beneath the abdominal muscles and blankets the intestines. The omentum becomes hard and thick because it fills with fat.

Although visceral fat makes up only a small portion of body fat, it's a key player in various health problems.

As women move into their middle years, their body-weight-to-fat ratio increases—more so than men—and fat storage begins to favor the hips and thighs within the upper body. Even when you don't actually gain weight, your waistline can increase by inches as visceral fat pushes out from the abdominal wall.

Where is the fat?

Illustration of abdomen showing visceral and subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat is present in the spaces between the abdominal organs and in an apron of tissue called the omentum. Subcutaneous fat is situated between the skin and the outer abdominal wall.

Problems with visceral fat

Body fat, or adipose tissue, was once regarded as little greater than a storage depot for fat blobs that passively waited for use for energy. But research shows that fat cells — especially visceral fat cells — are biologically energetic. One of a very powerful developments [since the mid-1990s] It is known that the fat cell is an endocrine organ, secreting hormones and other molecules which have far-reaching effects on other tissues.

Before researchers recognized that fat acted as an endocrine gland, they believed that visceral fat's major danger was affecting cholesterol production by releasing free fatty acids into the blood and liver. . Now we all know there may be more to the story. Researchers have identified many chemicals that link visceral fat to a surprisingly wide selection of diseases.

Subcutaneous fat produces the next proportion of helpful molecules, and visceral fat produces the next proportion of molecules with potentially harmful health effects. Visceral fat makes more proteins called cytokines, which might trigger low-level inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease and other chronic conditions. It also produces a precursor to angiotensin, a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise.

git check

A tape measure is your best at-home option for keeping tabs on visceral fat. Measure your waistline at the extent of the navel—not on the narrowest a part of the torso—and at all times measure in the identical place. (According to official guidelines, the underside of the tape measurement must be level with the highest of the correct hip bone, or the ilium—see example—at the purpose where the ilium intersects a line vertically through the middle of the armpit. .) Do not suck in your gut or tape so tight that it compresses the realm. In women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or greater is mostly considered an indication of excess visual fat, but this will likely not apply if you have got a bigger overall body size. Instead of specializing in a single reading or absolute cut-off, keep track of whether your waistline is growing (are your pants sticking to your waistline?) This will provide you with a great idea of ​​whether You're gaining unhealthy visceral fat.

Example of how to measure waist

From fat to disease

Visceral fat will be measured in alternative ways. CT scans and whole-body MRIs are probably the most accurate, but they're expensive and barely available, so investigators often use estimates based on height-to-height ratio or waist circumference or waist size. are (see “Gut Check”). To make sure that they're not only measuring overall obesity, researchers also check whether an individual's waist circumference is higher than his or her body mass index (BMI) average.

Visceral fat is involved in several chronic conditions, including:

Heart disease. Several studies have documented this effect. For example, a big study of European women aged 45 to 79 concluded that those with the most important waists (and people with the most important waists relative to their hip size) I actually have greater than double the danger of heart disease. The risk was nearly double even after adjustment for several other risk aspects, including blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and BMI. Even amongst healthy, nonsmoking women, every 2 inches of additional waist size increased the danger of heart disease by 10 percent.

High visceral fat mass also has a detrimental effect on several other risk aspects for heart disease. It is related to hypertension, lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels, and lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Together, these changes, often called metabolic syndrome, create a serious risk for heart disease and sort 2 diabetes.

Dementia Kaiser Permanente researchers found that individuals of their early 40s who had the best levels of belly fat had a lower risk of developing dementia (including Alzheimer's) in midlife than those that had less belly fat at that age. disease) is about 3 times more prone to occur. From the 70s to the early 80s. Dementia was not related to increased thigh size.

Asthma In a big study of California teachers, women with a high amount of visceral fat (waist circumference greater than 35 inches) were 37 percent more prone to have asthma than women with a smaller waist — even in the event that they were of normal weight. The risks were biggest for ladies who were each large-waisted and obese or obese. Investigators consider that belly fat increases the danger of asthma greater than other kilos due to its inflammatory effects throughout the body, including within the airways.

Breast cancer. A pooled evaluation of several studies found that ladies with abdominal obesity (the most important waist size in proportion to their height) have the next risk of breast cancer. Larger waists were also related to breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, but this effect was not significant when BMI was taken under consideration.

Colorectal cancer. People with probably the most visceral fat have 3 times the danger of developing colorectal adenomas (precancerous polyps) than individuals with the least visceral fat. This relationship was found after accounting for a lot of other risks. The researchers also confirmed that adenomatous polyps within the colon are related to insulin resistance, which could also be a mechanism for increased cancer risk.

How to Lose (and Keep) Visceral Belly Fat

Where you are likely to gain fat will depend on your genes, your hormones, your age, your birth weight (younger babies placed on belly fat more easily later in life), and whether You've had children (women who've given birth develop more visceral fat than women who haven't).

As young adults, women on average have less visceral fat than men, but this changes with menopause. You can't change your birth weight or your genes, and you may't stop menopause. But there are several ways you may reduce the buildup of visceral fat. The excellent news is that since it is more easily metabolized into fatty acids, it responds more effectively to eating regimen and exercise than fat on the hips and thighs. Here are some methods that may also help:

keep moving. Exercise may also help reduce your waistline. Even when you don't drop some weight, you lose visceral belly fat and gain muscle mass. Engage in at the very least half-hour of moderate activity most days, akin to brisk walking or cycling at a cushty pace. Also create opportunities so as to add movement to routine tasks. For example, park far out of your destination and walk the remainder of the best way, take the steps as a substitute of the elevator, and stand when talking on the phone.

Studies show which you could help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with each aerobic activity (akin to brisk walking) and strength training (exercise with weights). Spot exercises, akin to sit-ups, can tighten the abdominal muscles but won't reduce visible fat. Exercise may help prevent fat from coming back.

Eat right. Choose a balanced eating regimen that helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid products that appear to encourage the buildup of belly fat, especially foods and drinks sweetened with easy sugars akin to fructose.

Do not smoke. The more you smoke, the more likely you're to store fat in your belly as a substitute of your hips and thighs.

Get your sleep. Too little is bad. A five-year study found that adults under the age of 40 who slept five hours or less an evening had significantly more visceral fat deposits. But an excessive amount of isn't good either — young adults who sleep greater than eight hours also gain visceral fat. (This relationship was not present in people over age 40.)

Forget the short fix. Liposuction doesn't reach into the abdominal wall to remove cosmetic fat.

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