Is this you?
Fat is FABULOUS. It is important for so many aspects of our health, including brain functioning, stress management, hormone creation, insulation (for this chilly winter!), vitamin absorption, and so much more. But, this picture is not so fabulous. This picture actually shows a potentially dangerous side of fat that you need to know about.
What is a “beer belly”?
For starters, beer doesn’t always cause beer belly, but it’s often indicated because of its low nutritional value and high number of calories. Rather, a ‘beer belly’ is the name for a distended abdomen caused by elevated levels of visceral fat. Visceral fat = fat that exists in between and around your organs (like your liver, pancreas, spleen, etc). It’s not the squishy soft fat you find under your skin; this is called subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is a much more dangerous type of fat. Why?
Research shows visceral fat increases your risk for:
– impaired glucose metabolism (higher risk for diabetes)
– impaired lipid metabolism (higher risk for obesity and high cholesterol)
– higher risk of hypertension (high blood pressure)
What causes it?
Commonly factors are: age, hormones (low testosterone or high estrogen), smoking, excess intake of sugar and alcohol, stress, and lack of physical exercise. Fat cells, especially visceral fat cells, act like little hormone factories and can often start wreaking havoc on your delicate natural hormonal balance. A condition called “estrogen dominance” is common in men AND women, and has a suggested role in visceral fat accumulation as higher than normal levels of estrogens (from plastics, BPA, preservatives, chemicals, certain soy products, birth control pill, medications, or other environmental factors) can promote fat cell growth.
Sometimes constipation can lead to a distended belly, but this can be hopefully remedied by including more fibre, water, and probiotics in your diet. I like a combo of flax seeds, chia seeds, and sauerkraut!
How to help
- First, get moving somehow and some way. Find something you like and try and include it in your routine. I.e. go to the gym at work, take the stairs, go for walks/jogs, skip, bike, yoga, lift hand weights, sit on an exercise ball…..who cares! But if you aren’t physically exerting yourself at least once a day for at least 10 minutes, visceral fat accumulation may be the first of many issues you see arise – such as weaker bones, mental fogginess, higher stress, and decreased heart functioning.
- Next, start being conscious of how much sugar you consume on a daily basis, and work to decrease it. Do you add sugar to your coffee/tea? How much? Do you sprinkle sugar on cereal or fruits? Do you have a muffin/bagel/cookie with your meals or snacks? Are you a pop or fruit juice drinker? Too much sugar adds to the stress on your body and increases the likelihood of fat setting up camp between your organs.
- Third, make a liver-loving plan. Your liver is your best friend when it comes to eliminating excess fat and toxins. Stop drinking alcohol or at least significantly cut down on what you have now. If your have significant visceral fat, your liver is being insulated by a juicy layer of fat and may already be impaired – you don’t want to impair it even more. Invest in some digestive bitters to have with meals (little tinctures like this one you take with a bit of water to help your liver assimilate fat more effectively). Other happy liver foods include lemons, broccoli, onions, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, radish, beets, or raddichio.
- Finally, eat healthier fats your body can use to balance hormones and decrease inflammation. Essential fats are found in salmon, flax, chia, hemp, olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, and evening primrose to name a few 🙂