Plenty of cereal commercials have been encouraging us to change our habits and lose excess weight for years. But does all body fat have a bad effect on our health?
It’s easy to find information on healthy body fat percentages based on age, which confirms that it’s perfectly normal to have some body fat. But not all fat is created equal. This is where the problem arises.
Certain types of fat can be even more harmful than we may realise, especially if we accumulate too much of it.
Today, we are talking about visceral fat, which is stored around vital organs like the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, heart, etc. When accumulated, it can lead to various dangerous health conditions, such as cancer, fatty liver disease or even liver failure, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease and dementia.
Read on and find out everything you need to know about visceral fat, all its risks and dangers, and science-backed ways to reduce it.
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What Is Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat, which many people call ‘active’ due to its ability to actively increase the risk of health issues, lies deep inside your abdominal cavity and wraps around such vitally important organs as the stomach, intestines, and liver. It makes up nearly one-tenth of all the fat stored in your body.
Visceral fat is also often referred to as ‘hidden fat’ because it’s not visible, and you can’t normally feel it. Even thin people with pretty flat tummies may have it. In this case, it’s known as TOFI, which means “thin outside, fat inside.” Visceral fat is also more common amongst men than women.
Please discuss with one of our physicians regarding visceral fat. We have the Inbody 570 which will break down your body weight and let you know how much visceral fat you have.
What Are the Health Risks of Visceral Fat?
After turning into cholesterol and circulating in the blood, visceral fat can get stuck inside the arteries. It may lead to numerous inflammations, which damage the arteries and adversely affects how our bodies break down sugars and fats.
Also, visceral fat produces toxic chemicals and hormones that may be extremely dangerous. Having visceral fat in your belly is likely to raise the risk for serious medical issues like metabolic syndrome, a bunch of disorders that include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and obesity. In addition, these increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The redundancy of visceral fat in the belly can also lead to:
- liver disease
- gall bladder disease
- fertility problems
- lower back pain
Five Ways to Reduce Visceral Fat
The risks of storing excess visceral fat can be immediate and severe, so it’s important to make diet and lifestyle changes urgently. The great news is that visceral fat is highly susceptible to changes. So let’s look at the ways to minimize it.
Start Eating Smart
One of the easiest ways to minimize visceral fat is to change your eating habits. We are not talking about exhausting diets. Start absorbing more calcium and vitamin D, which are linked to less visceral fat. Include more leafy greens like spinach and collards in your daily routine.
Whole foods such as fish, poultry and plenty of vegetables and low-sugar fruits will also help reduce visceral fat.
Avoid products with trans fats and added sugar. Exclude deep-fried or processed foods as well as candies, sodas, foods sweetened with fructose, etc.
If you have serious weight problems, consult a weight loss doctor or obesity doctor, who can advise on the most effective diet.
Exercise is an extremely effective way to lose both visceral and subcutaneous fat. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises. It may be after-dinner walks, jogging, dancing, gardening, swimming, cycling, push-ups, sit-ups, yoga, etc.
Change your lifestyle. Try to use the bike instead of the car and stairs instead of the elevator. The more you are active, the fewer health issues you have!
Don’t Neglect Sleep
People who get adequate sleep, meaning seven to nine hours a night, have much lower risks of visceral fat accumulation. Never neglect quality sleep. If you have any insomnia issues, get in touch with your primary care provider and ask for advice.
Reduce Stress Levels
Yes, “stress belly” is not a joke. Stress plays a big role in accumulating excess visceral fat. While under stress, the body produces more cortisol to help it cope with the tension. It holds on to fat around the abdomen in case of emergency.
Try to reduce stress levels with the help of various relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercises, laughing, spending time with the nearest and dearest, etc. These will help you lose visceral fat more efficiently.
Quit Smoking and Manage Your Alcohol Intake
As for smoking, recent research has proved that smokers have higher abdominal and visceral adiposity.
It’s not a secret that cigarettes influence your entire body. The worst thing is their ability to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you are a chain smoker, try to stop by cutting down the number of cigarettes per week.
Alcohol is also a powerful body fat lever. While drinking, you may not realize how quickly it makes you gain weight around the midsection. Have you ever wondered how many liquid calories alcohol drinks contain? Hundreds if not thousands! It’s time to give your liver a break.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, visceral fat can lower the quality of life and cause some serious health issues. Those tiny fat cells have the power to change some of your body’s vital functions. These may lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast, and colorectal cancer, etc.
For those who suspect their visceral fat levels, it’s vital to start making changes in lifestyle. They include proper sleep, gaining smart eating habits, exercising, reducing stress levels, quitting smoking, and managing alcohol intake.
Start with small changes and make a huge contribution to your health. All in all, leading a healthy and active lifestyle is much more pleasant than having excess “hidden fat.”