I remember as a child growing up with my grandparents, they would always call belly fat a ‘bread belly’, meaning eating too much bread was the cause. Little did I know at that time my grandparents were partially correct.
WHAT IS BELLY FAT
There are two types of fat in the human body. Subcutaneous fat and Visceral fat.
- Subcutaneous Fat– is the type of fat that is stored just under the skin, commonly found in the arms, legs, and belly. Subcutaneous fat is easy to see and can be pinched measured.
- Visceral Fat– is the type of fat that is harder to see, because it is a deep fat that collects around the body’s midsection and surrounds vital organs.
DANGERS OF BELLY FAT
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes.”
- Type 2 diabetes
- CHD (Coronary Heart Disease)
- Sleep apnea
- Insulin resistance
- Some types of cancer
Harvard Health Publishing also states: “Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.
One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids.
Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.”
A January 2013 study, Adipose Tissue Cytokine Release (Physiol Rev • VOL 93 • JANUARY 2013) indicates that belly fat contributes to low-grade inflammation which in turn may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
“The chronic, low-grade inflammation and macrophage infiltration found in visceral obesity may contribute to metabolic alterations observed in abdominally obese individuals, and subsequently to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD.”
WHAT CAUSES BELLY FAT
One study concluded that visceral fat is related to a high carbohydrate diet. Meaning foods consisting of a high glycemic index will cause a spike in insulin levels, then the body turns those extra carbs it doesn’t use for energy into fat. Mostly those fats are stored in the midsection. Which is probably the reason that most doctors say people with high belly fat will be prone to diabetes.
The common factor to remember here is Glycemic Index.
High Glycemic Food List Includes
- Alcohol (Note: Red Wine, when consumed in moderate amounts may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.)
- White bread
- Processed foods
- Fried Foods
- Sodas (Contain High Fructose Corn Syrup which has been known to cause inflammation)
- Trans Fats (which cause inflammation) doughnuts, and baked goods including cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and other spreads. Shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
A study published July 2, 2012, Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity. Mentions the link between bread, sugar and processed foods causing gut inflammation and insulin resistance.
Diet sodas negatively affect gut bacteria, insulin secretion, and sensitivity. They cause blood sugar levels to spike when consumed with carbohydrates, therefore increasing body fat and belly fat. This can be challenging for insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management.
The picture is clear.
GETTING RID OF BELLY FAT
There’s good news to get rid of belly fat. As always, the perception of food and eliminating the cause is the first and foremost key.
WHOLE FOOD CARBS. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), low density foods that are high in fiber and low in fat are recommended such as fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, and whole grains (whole wheat bread, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole grain cereals.
However, this information means to use non-processed, non-sugar and non-fat related foods. For example, choosing oatmeal that is not pre-packaged with added sugars. Not to mention some whole wheat breads may have sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Read the food labels.
First, don’t fall for the commercialized ‘weight loss pill gimmick’ or the “Eat, drink this and lose belly fat fast”. You know you’ve heard them. Fad diets and pills, there are so many out there, and some were meant for short term use to reduce weight for heart surgy patients—not a long-term thing. But, oh—more diets come on board as people are desperate to lose weight. These diet trends tend to fail in the long term because some of those diets focus on the wrong food types for the right reasons. Typically what happens is they temporarily throw the body out of balance to lose the weight. But without proper nutritional education for life-long health, nutritional needs, and gut health— the weight returns and sometimes brings a friend (more weight).
Second, it is suggested, based upon the case study mentioned above that we eat whole foods that have the good carbs. Make the choice to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Make your own broth soups. Remove the bad fats from your diet. Drop the soda (both diet and regular), sugar and any foods have high-fructose corn syrups. The body, as they have proven, can’t handle processed foods, and foods laden with sugar and even processed flour. It is an amazing study that I do encourage you to read and see for yourself. A good place to start, and they mention this in the study is the way the people eat in the Mediterranean. I jumped for joy when I read this, because John and I know from experience, this way of eating works and does really help you gain control of not only your weight, but lose the belly fat.
Our body and how it works is extraordinarily complex. But how can our bodies naturally heal us when we fuel it with unnatural foods? It’s a good question to contemplate. Even though the warnings are out there, we (the human consumers) are given a choice to eat what we want. The Western diet (way of eating) has failed all of us, yes, including myself. We get sucked in by advertisements and driven by our taste desires to consume foods that are not just inadequate, but dangerous our health and wellbeing.
The human body needs balance!
The body needs the correct food, whole and natural. No processed. Choices can be difficult at times, I know. John and I have our moments and downfalls just like anyone else. Normally for me, if I even eat the wrong thing, I’m sick for at least two days afterwards. But the body is forgiving, and if you go back to giving it the right foods again then the healing process continues.
Bloodwork should be in good balance, no high this and low that (you know what I mean). Just because a diet food is catering to ‘dieters’ doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. For example, the words ‘LOW FAT or NO FAT’, they usually have more sugars, which is worse for the body to process. Always read the food labels. Remember the key?
Lastly, before you begin any diet, PLEASE contact your doctor, and have the necessary bloodwork done. Have them review it thoroughly, and discuss with them your ideal diet plan. Remember gut health here, and discuss with them about proper measurements to creating better gut health. They can prescribe probiotics to help you get started quickly.
John and I sincerely hope this helps you make the right decisions on your health and nutritional values. I’ve been there, and still there combating the end results of bad gut health. The struggle can be real, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are a person who would like an added cheer leader, join us at our Facebook Group. We’ll be happy be your cheerleader!
Much love to you all! John and Tracey.
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