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Your Health & Wellness, Iss #029 -- Beware of Dangerous Belly Fat
April 12, 2008
(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)
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Week of April 13, 2008
Table of Contents
* Belly Fat *
Since the advent of the obesity crisis, most people judge whether they or someone else is overweight by 'eyeballing' them. Large bellies and huge flabby arms and legs are all tell-tale signs. If a person is small or skinny he or she passed the test--he is normal-sized and healthy. But as we shall find out, this isn't necessarily true.
Until very recently, the predominant scientific criteria for being overweight was the body mass index (BMI.) This number related weight and height to determine if a person was of a normal size, or overweight. It has one drawback though. The BMI doesn't take into account the difference between fat and muscle.
Muscle is denser than fat. If you compare a pound of muscle to a pound of fat, you would see that the pound of fat is much larger. A bodybuilder or weightlifter, or some other elite athlete, have BMIs which would put them in the overweight or obese category. I myself stand 5'10" and weigh 185 pounds. Yet my body mass index is in the overweight range. But, since I weight train, I am not overweight by any stretch of the imagination.
Another method of determining health is the waist-to-hip ratio. Since science now knows that waist size is a great indicator of overall health, it is a much more accurate tool than the body mass index. The waist-to-hip ratio relates a person's waist size to their hip size. It determines whether a person is 'pear' shaped or 'apple' shaped.
Body shape is critical to overall health because an 'apple' shape is an indicator of belly or abdominal fat. Belly fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death itself.
Belly fat has gone under the radar for so long because it was thought that if fat couldn't be seen it did not exist--let alone pose a threat. Now medical authorities know differently. Anyone of any size can carry dangerous belly fat. I say dangerous because research reveals that this fat triggers disease causing inflammation, and affects hormones.
A normal-sized or skinny individual is as prime a candidate for abdominal fat as is any overweight or obese person. What makes a normal-sized person susceptible to belly fat? A sedentary lifestyle and the standard American diet (SAD.) Anyone who lives a 'couch potato' existence and is approaching his forties should beware.
The old saying 'what you can't see can't hurt you' is certainly not true of belly fat. This fat is hidden deep within the abdominal region. It is not to be confused with 'subcutaneous' fat. So-called 'love handles' or the jiggly fat on the back of women's arms are examples of subcutaneous fat. Though unsightly, it is not nearly as dangerous as belly fat.
Belly or abdominal fat is also known as visceral fat. Some have even labeled it toxic fat. No longer can weight be the only determining factor of your health. Waist size has to be factored in. A woman's waist should be under 35 inches while a man's waist should be under 40 inches.
A slim physique is no indication of a lack of belly fat. Unfortunately, belly fat is not prejudiced.
The western diet strongly promotes belly fat. This diet carries an abundance of dangerous omega-6 fatty acids which leads to an excessive amount of estrogen. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in animal products by way of the grain they are fed. Even farmed-fish are fed grain. Vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, canola, peanut, safflower, and sunflower are derived from grains. Milk and other dairy products are not immune either.
A diet overhaul is essential to removing belly fat. That coupled with exercise is the only solution. Refined foods should be eliminated and replaced with organic, whole foods. Replace all vegetable oils with extra-virgin olive oil and extra-virgin coconut oil.
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