We all know how unattractive a big belly can be, but not only is belly fat a confidence killer it is also hazardous to your health. Having excess fat in the abdominal area is linked to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, even cancer as well as lead to premature death.
In one of the largest and longest (ten years) health studies in the world, researchers with the European Perspective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) followed over 300,000 Europeans and found that those with the most belly fat had about double risk of dying prematurely as people with less belly fat. And whether the participants were overweight or not, the death risk increased with larger waist circumference. The danger zone for men is 40 inch waists and 35 for women. If the size of your waist is at or close to those numbers, then it is time to seriously look into shedding that belly fat.
The reason why abdominal fat is so dangerous is because it is so close to vital organs such as the liver, heart and kidneys. There are 2 types of fat, both of which have negative effects on your body and health but one in particular is more dangerous than the other. Subcutaneous fat is the extra padding just below the skin, some may refer to it as the spare tire or beer belly – this type of abdominal fat is the one you can see. The other, visceral fat is the hidden fat which lies deep inside your abdomen and surrounds internal organs. Visceral fat produces more inflammation than fat found in other areas of the body – which is why visceral fat is so dangerous. Inflammation plays a major role in heart disease and a vast of other chronic diseases.
How do you know if you’re at risk? Measure your waist size and waist to hip ratio with a tape measure. Place a tape measure around the smallest part of your waist, right above your navel and make sure the tape measure is level all the way around. Measure your waist. Keep your waist measurement lower than 40 for men and 35 for women. Your BMI (body mass index) should not be above 25. Apple shaped people – those who carry most of their weight in the middle are more prone to carrying visceral fat and therefore should follow a healthy diet and regular exercise routine to keep belly fat at bay.
The key to fighting dangerous belly fat is proper diet and regular exercise. Base your diet on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein. Stay away from processed foods as best you can and try to eat more natural foods. Limit your intake of saturated fats and opt for better fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated as found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Be sure to use portion control because calories do add up, so be mindful. Lastly, include physical activities into your daily routine including cardio and strength training exercises. Stay focused and be patient – your hard work will pay off in the long run. Both your heart and body will love you for it. Stay healthy!