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Belly Fat and Health

"Why being able to see your toes is a good thing."
By: Jose Maria M. Villarama IIBelly Fat and Health

Many people attribute gaining belly fat to age, and becoming parents, the excuse of most married men and women. Do not take the appearance of your mid-section lightly, since belly fat has been linked with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other metabolic disorders.

The wrap-around

Aging decreases the ability of some fat cells in the appendages to store fat.  Fat that is supposed to be stored in these areas therefore goes to the abdomen.  Lack of physical activity results in muscle loss, and decreased muscle mass also reduces one’s metabolism, increasing the chances of gaining more weight.

The amount of fat in one’s tummy is not only a measure of external beauty and symmetry but is more importantly an indicator of the health of an individual.  A research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has revealed that people with higher amounts of fat in their abdomens are likely to have fat surrounding or wrapped around their belly and vital organs, known as visceral fat.

The risks

Research has revealed that visceral fat cells pump out immune system chemicals called cytokines that produce substances that affect several biological processes, in the same way that hormones do.  These substances, called adipokines, affect biochemical pathways involving inflammation, blood pressure, and blood clotting, among other things, and, therefore, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Substances carried in the blood can influence the production of LDL or bad cholesterol, also increasing vascular problems and coronary disease.

Increased visceral fat, more than the fat that rests under the skin, may increase insulin resistance and lead to type 2 Diabetes.

The drill

Among the ways to reduce visceral fat are:

· Eating healthily – Dietingis the major factor in keeping the body healthy.  Increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and complex carbohydrates, as well as choosing the low-fat portions and variants of meats and other foods is the best way to go. Eating the recommended serving sizes and portions of these food items is critical.

· Increasing physical activity – It cannot be emphasized enough, that exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining external and internal body health.  Experts recommend engaging in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or 75 minutes of physical activity such as jogging. Exercising with weights also helps decrease overall body fat.

· Seeking medical intervention – In cases of obesity or morbid obesity, doctors can prescribe medication developed by researchers to target and eliminate abdominal fat.  Sibutramine and a few other classes of drugs that block appetite receptors in the brainare only some of these medical interventions. These are only dispensed by doctors and shouldn’t be taken without medical advice.

Staying motivated will surely be difficult, especially with all the temptations such as processed food, alcohol and smoking. But keeping goals realistic and moderate is a good way to start. Try to get enough hours of sleep and reduce your exposure to stress. Ultimately, a lifestyle change must be in order to ensure weight loss is achieved gradually and hopefully, permanently.

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