The phrase ‘middle-age spread’, by its own definition, is considered synonymous with aging. Unfortunately, for too many it has become an accepted part of life and growing older. It is as if we believe it is normal or inevitable, rather than a dangerous sign of poor lifestyle choices.
Distinguishing Subcutaneous Fat from Visceral Fat
Abdominal fat is also referred to as ‘visceral’ fat. If you have excess abdominal fat, you should do something about it, and the sooner the better. Abdominal fat has been linked to many health risks. Health professionals and organizations use waistline measurements as one indicator when performing health checkups.
Although subcutaneous fat is not as dangerous as visceral fat, neither of these should ever be allowed to accumulate in the midriff area.
Subcutaneous fat is the fat that you can grasp or pinch with your hands, located just below the skin. Visceral fat is much more dangerous to your health than subcutaneous fat.
Visceral fat is located deep within the body’s abdominal cavity, out of hands reach. Excessive amounts of visceral fat have been linked to different kinds of metabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, gallbladder problems and cardiovascular disease.
While where the fat accumulates in the body is partly determined by hormones, gender and genes, it also reflects a person’s lifestyle habits and choices.
The Dangers of Abdominal Fat
Studies reveal that abdominal fat cells are biologically active and any excess can significantly disrupt the normal functioning and balance of hormones.
Abdominal fat releases cytokines which are immune system chemicals, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The release of these bio-chemicals can also affect the body’s insulin sensitivity and it may lead to blood pressure issues and blood clotting.
Another reason why visceral fat can be dangerous to your health is due to its proximity to the portal vein. The portal vein is responsible for carrying blood from the intestinal area into the liver.
When visceral fat releases substances such as free fatty acids, they are carried into the portal vein and then travel to the liver, affecting the production of blood lipids.
An increase in the amount of visceral fat equates to increased insulin resistance, higher levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and lower levels of the good HDL cholesterol.
Visceral fat has also been shown to secrete proteins that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, which is a condition that leads to clogged arteries. This puts the person at a higher risk of having a heart attack.
How to Stop the Middle-Age Spread
If you are around middle age, living an unhealthy lifestyle, dining on processed foods, sitting in front of the television or computer all day, drinking high volumes of soft drink and/or alcohol, you will most likely be able to look down and see your very own ‘middle-age spread’.
Avoiding any physical activity and eating a diet high in carbohydrates is a surefire way to a bigger belly and putting yourself at a higher risk of lifestyle diseases.
A study showed that exercising vigorously for eight consecutive months helped participants reduce their visceral fat by as much as 8%. This may sound great to some people, but just watching what you eat and reducing your sugary, high carb foods can reduce that bulge even quicker than exercise can!
Sit-ups and other spot exercises may help in tightening the abdominal muscles, but it can’t reach visceral fat. Getting rid of excessive abdominal fat isn’t possible without paying attention to your eating habits. Plain and simple. So steer clear of refined grains, pasta, fizzy beverages, high sodium and sugary foods.
Instead, fill your body with real whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, fish and meat that hasn’t been processed. You can start your day with an egg or two, instead of pancakes and syrup. Making that one simple change will help reduce your midriff bulge, making you feel and look better too!
Yours in good health,