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The hidden dangers of visceral fat

Surprising dangers of visceral fat

Health professionals will often tell people that they need to lose weight to minimize their risk of diseases. But, increasingly, researchers are finding that it’s not the amount of fat you have that matters for health, but how it is distributed. For instance, you can have a person who is massively overweight. But as long as their body deposits fat in the right place, they can be healthy and live a long and full life. Let’s talk about the dangers of visceral abdominal fat that you might not be aware of… yet.

What is visceral fat?

The most dangerous type of fat is called visceral fat. It’s a type of fat that wraps around your internal organs in the abdominal area. This fat is stored around essential organs, including the liver and intestines.

You can have two people of the same weight, but their health outcomes can differ depending on their level of visceral fat. If your body is apple-shaped, that means you have abdominal fat or a wide belly. You can see or measure it, but you cannot pinch it (unlike subcutaneous fat).

One person might have internal organs free from fatty deposits. That patient is much less likely to go on to develop chronic disease. Another person, though, with a few pounds of fat around their liver and intestines, is more likely to have a problem.

The dangers of visceral abdominal fat to long-term health

Visceral fat is actually so detrimental to long-term health that many people go on extreme diets or get gastric sleeve surgery. If your doctor tells you that you have too much of it, it is worth taking drastic remedial action as soon as possible if this physician says it is safe.

It’s not a matter of weight or body-shaming, but clear and immediate medical danger. People with visceral fat tend to develop a range of health problems.

Visceral fat appears to be dangerous for a couple of reasons. First, it seems to prevent the body from doing “house-cleaning.” The liver, for instance, can’t work as effectively when engorged by fat.

The other problem is that visceral fat causes inflammation in cells, which switches off their capacity to absorb and use sugar in the bloodstream. Insulin is no longer as effective, so the pancreas has to churn out more of it to keep glucose levels normal. That can lead to other metabolic problems.

Sleep apnea

If you have too much visceral fat around your organs, it can lead to a condition called sleep apnea. This issue is another of the dangers of visceral fat.

In sleep apnea, the airways become constricted or blocked while you’re asleep, preventing you from breathing. People with the condition frequently wake up in the night as their bodies go into a panic from the lack of oxygen.

Visceral fat may make the condition worse by putting pressure on the airways and diaphragm. It can also limit the expansion of the lungs as you breathe in while unconscious.

Sleep apnea can lead to a range of medical problems, including daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure. It can also lead to headaches.

Cardiovascular disease

There’s evidence that higher levels of dangerous visceral fat lead to cytokine production. Cytokine is a chemical in the body that signals the immune system to create inflammation. When inflammation in the body is high, it can damage the artery walls and lead to atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque).

Eventually, these plaques can become unstable. The issue can cause heart attacks and strokes, so it is not something to take lightly.

Type II diabetes

Adult-onset or type II diabetes is also much more common in people with a large amount of visceral abdominal fat, so that’s another danger. As already discussed, having more fat around your internal organs increases blood glucose levels and makes it more difficult for sugar to get into cells.

Over time, the body’s insulin metabolism can break down and eventually stop working altogether. That can lead to diabetes.

So, what can you do to fight back against visceral fat and remove it from your body?

How to combat the dangers of visceral fat

There are several things that you can try. The first is to start eating the kinds of food that allow your body to burn more visceral fat.

Beans and whole grains are two good examples. So, too, are nuts and seeds. These foods seem to put the body in a fat-burning mode, getting it to clean out all the visceral fat and repair itself to some degree.

The second option is to use saunas and ice baths. It sounds a bit like a gimmick, but going from hot to cold actually helps with the development of brown fat. That’s a special type of highly metabolic fat that protects your body from chronic diseases.

The third option is to start moving more. Walking helps to reduce visceral fat and encourages the body to replace it with more muscle tissue.

Fitness, when done safely, can prevent the buildup of visceral fat in the first place. If you have an existing medical condition or health concerns, see your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

6 thoughts on “The hidden dangers of visceral fat”

  1. Awesome article, Christy! This is a topic of conversation that gets overlooked entirely too often. Not all fat is created equal – both the kind we eat and the kind we carry on or in our bodies! So many people may not be aware that visceral fat truly is the cause of many health epidemics worldwide. When visceral fat increases, so does inflammation. When inflammation increases, we end up with a terrible health prognosis. Plus, we just feel terrible which makes everything that much worse! I have personally witnessed friends and family with conditions linked to this kind of abdominal fat and I would not wish those diseases on anyone!

    I was completely unaware that the transition from hot to cold temperatures develops brown fat. What an interesting fact! You made me learn something today! ;) No wonder saunas are recommended so often. As for eating nuts — yum! I can arrange that. Isn’t it amazing how filling they are?

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about walking. The benefits of simply moving and walking more are completely underrated. Our bodies and joints were made to move. We often see that one healthy change leads to another as well. Exercise, even just for the mental health benefits, is 100% worth the effort!

    Sending my love to you, Christy. Thank you for spreading much needed truth about our health! ♥

    1. We were made to move, that’s for sure! Sitting too long is tough on the body, although it feels good at the time. I like how you sum up the topic of the post so well with “not all fat is created equal” ~ #truth. Thanks for being here, Holly! xo

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