Your belly fat, the fatty tissue surrounding your abdominal region, can be divided into two main parts;
- Subcutaneous fat – 90% of your body fat is subcutaneous. It is in the layer beneath your skin. It’s the fat you can pinch with your fingers.
- Visceral fat – 10% of your body fat is beneath your abdominal wall; you can’t pinch it. This fat is mainly in your Omentum, which is the flap of tissue lying under the abdominal muscles and spaces surrounding the main abdominal organs such as your liver and intestines.
Usually, visceral fat is considered more dangerous and is found mostly in people who are obese. Visceral fat influences the production of cholesterol and triggers inflammation, and increases blood pressure and insulin resistance.
If your body is apple-shaped, your belly fat is mainly visceral. Research shows that people with more visceral fat have a 50% higher risk of dying from non -communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. This risk is much less in those who carry their weight throughout the body.
What are the reasons for accumulating belly fat?
Even if your weight is “normal,” you can still have visceral fat and be at risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other inflammatory diseases because this kind of fat is so harmful.
Here are some things that increase belly fat:
- Genetics – Heredity determines where your fat is deposited in the body. If one of your parents carried more fat in their abdomen, hips, and thighs, your tendency to accumulate fat in those regions will tend to be higher than a person without that family history.
- Following menopause – Menopause occurs when ovaries no longer release monthly eggs (ovulation) in females. Dysfunctional ovaries cause a reduction in estrogen levels. Reduced estrogen increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. These two things lead to increased deposition of belly fat in post-menopausal females.
- Increased cortisol (stress hormone) – Cortisol is produced in your adrenal glands, which are situated near the kidneys. Cortisol is released in stressful conditions such as fear, infections, and traumatic events. Cortisol increases your blood sugar level and regulates energy expenditure. Stress triggers cortisol, which encourages increased fat deposition in your belly.
There’s an enzyme in your fat tissue that converts inactive cortisone into active cortisol. The gene for this enzyme is expressed differently in people. When someone is chronically stressed, this gene is expressed more, which leads to the accumulation of fat in the abdomen. The signs of high cortisol levels are insomnia, increased infections, low sex drive, bowel symptoms, and of course, high amounts of belly fat.
- Increased insulin levels in the blood – A high amount of insulin in the blood can increase fat deposition in your belly. A diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates spikes blood sugar, which increases the release of insulin. Type II diabetes is associated with insulin resistance, which also correlates with excess belly fat.
By eating a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods, engaging in regular physical activities, and reducing your stress levels, you will reduce fat deposits around your belly. And you’ll enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle because not only will you look better, but you’ll feel better too!
Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay