Know The Major Health Risks of Belly Fat
September 20, 2019 | Abigail Mckay

Know The Major Health Risks of Belly Fat


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The majority of the population is well aware of subcutaneous fat because this particular fat is visible on your waistline, thighs, and back of the arms.  However, did you know that there is another type of fat that is found within the abdominal cavity?  This other type of fat is referred to as visceral fat, and while it is unable to be pinched by your fingers, it can be measured. Those with excess weight around the belly usually have higher levels of both subcutaneous and visceral fat.  


An excessive amount of fat, particularly visceral fat, has been linked to metabolic disturbances, such as diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.  While hormones and genetics do affect fat accumulation, it is evident that diet and exercise play a significant role.  Many people equate fat to appearance, but fat does have a unique roll in the body.  Research is ongoing, but it seems that visceral fat is similar to immune tissue, meaning that it helps regulate, produce, and filter hormones.  Visceral fat is found in every individual, but in excess, both visceral and subcutaneous fat can wreak havoc on hormone processing and other life-sustaining factors.


Type II diabetes, a disruption of endocrine function impacting the insulin/glucose relationship, is caused primarily by diet and obesity. When there is too much fat, the body is overwhelmed, thus leading to an inflammatory response. The inflammation leads to the release of specific proteins called cytokines. Cytokines block insulin receptors, and overtime, the receptors become resistant. Resistance to insulin perpetuates high blood sugars, and an elevation in blood sugar over an extended period is considered diabetes.  


Not only does inflammation caused by excessive fat lead to complications regarding blood pressure, but it can also initiate changes in the cardiovascular system.  Cytokines, in addition to impairing insulin reception, contributes to high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease.  The visceral fat found throughout the abdominal cavity is incredibly close to major arteries and veins.  Fat can be transported through the portal vein to the liver, impairing the production of lipids.  Despite the bad rap, not all lipids are dangerous to our health, rather some lipids, such as high-density lipoproteins help rid the body of excess cholesterol.  Cholesterol leads to plaque build-up inside the blood vessels, which can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.  


So, how do you combat the adverse effects of an excessive amount of belly fat? Exercise and a proper, well-rounded diet.  Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about genetics, but diet and exercise are two things that can be altered to achieve positive results.  Aim to eat whole foods, with few ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Also, steer clear of processed, non-organic foods, especially those from fast-food restaurants.  By eating foods primarily cooked in the home, you will have a better understanding and control of what is in your food and how it is cooked.  In regards to exercise, strive to exercise at least thirty minutes, five days a week. Exercise can include walking, biking, yoga, pilates, running, or swimming, to name a few.  Any activity that gets the heart rate up for an extended amount of time can be considered exercise. 


To discuss further impacts of belly fat on your overall health, speak with a physician today at Shifa4U.

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Abigail Mckay

Abigail has been a nurse for five years, and throughout her time as a nurse, she has worked in multiple medical-surgical units as well as spent time in the infusion therapy clinic and endoscopy lab. She is passionate about preventative medicine through patient education regarding nutrition and exercise. Due to her passion, Abigail has gone on to earn two certifications including a certification in medical-surgical nursing (CMSRN) and a certification in holistic nursing (HNB-BC), in hopes of being able to better serve her patients. Abigail earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA and now bettering patient education in the healthcare system through partnering with American TelePhysicians.