- Fascinating book reveals what happens when you have too much of this hormone!
- Why losing your visceral fat (or love handles) is so important
- Women – watch out for these problems linked to stress
On Thursday I told you about the dangers of belly fat…
I revealed how a health company CEO who was so shocked a holiday snap of his stomach that he spent years developing a device to help solve the problem.
The result is this – a gentle massager that breaks up the most dangerous form of fat: Attack Your Belly Fat
I’m fascinated by idea, which is why I’ve been hooked on a book by Marilyn Glenville Phd called Fat Around The Middle (Kyle books, 2006).
Worth grabbing a copy if you can get it on Amazon or a reputable health store!
But hey, I’m here to digest and sift health stories on your behalf. So let give you some of the key advice…
Her book is primarily aimed at women who are ‘apple shaped’, though as you saw on Thursday the belly fat issue is as relevant to men…. if not more so, in the sense that men’s bodies tend towards fat storage in the middle.
Anyway, when it comes to the message of Fat Around the Middle….
The idea isn’t that being fat in this way is wrong or bad.
You’re not weak nor lazy.
And certainly it’s not about conforming to the mass media’s ideals of beauty…
Neither should you seek to become super-skinny. That way danger lies…
The problem, as I explained on Thursday, is that there’s now a direct, proven link between fat around your middle and health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
A lot of this can be down to your natural physique. We all store fat in slightly different ways.
Some are luckier than others in the way fat is distributed.
But is it REALLY down to purely luck and genetics?
In her book Glenville says that if you do tend to collect fat quickly and easily around your middle “it is an indication of an imbalanced metabolism”.
She continues… “this is something that needs to be addressed, and not simply by undertaking a weight loss diet”.
Glenville’s theory is that the fat around your middle is linked to the action of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is designed to help with our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. That old evolutionary trick to keep us on our toes so we don’t get eaten by tigers or killed by a rival.
In our constantly stressed modern environment, this hormone swims around our systems in much higher levels.
And it’s not only stresses like the daily commute, work worries and family arguments.
So why does this happen?
How cortisol is linked to fat
This stress hormone encourages your body to stock up on carbohydrates and fats. It stores these around your middle because this is the closest place to your liver, where they can be converted quickly back into energy – should you need to get away from that Sabre Tooth tiger!
Of course, we don’t really use our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism very often…
So we simply get more cortisol swimming around in our bloody stream.
This is why Glenville believes that reducing stress levels is a key factor in controlling fat around your middle. Stress makes you tired, hungry and full of cravings for saturated fats, complex carbs and sugary goods. These cause glucose spikes that require your body to produce insulin.
Over time this creates insulin resistance.
Why is this so bad?
Well, insulin resistance is linked to:
- Alzheimer’s DiseaseCancer
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart disease and strokes
Those are the big health problems…
But Glenville also points out some smaller issues that may affect women with too much fat around the middle caused by stress, including:
- Irregular periods or even no periods (amenorrhoea)
- Premenstrual symptoms
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Tiredness and mood swings
And there’s of course the big fear that binds us all…
Cortisol causes oxidative stress that can damage your cells, as well as reducing those antioxidant enzymes that protect those cells.
Which means that the same cause of your increased belly fat, namely stress, is a key factor in premature ageing.
So what can you do about all of this?
Well, Glenville has a few tips…
- Stop dieting – as we’ve discussed in The People’s Doctor, going on sudden fad diets usually leads to more weight gain. What’s more, it’s not about losing weight but adjusting your overall lifestyle and tackling the very specific kind of fat around your waist.
- Don’t eat on the run (you won’t digest your food properly) – I think this is absolutely fair enough, more for the fact that if you need to eat and walk you’re probably in a high stress existence, which means your blood will be swimming in cortisol.
- Eat a little and often – in this piece of advice we part company a bit, as there is plenty of research that shows intermittent, sensible fasting can be healthy.
- Eliminate all sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet – again, at The People’s Doctor we agree but don’t think this is realistic or necessary. Rewards and treats can help you. Cutting out something entirely can backfire if you fall off the wagon.
There’s a lot more to her book of course, so do check it out if you’re interested.
For an aid to breaking up some of those fatty cells simply by twisting for ten minutes or so each day, check out the X-Grip, which is available for a trial here.
Or you might find this useful. It’s a blog post I wrote about how a missing ingredient in our diet could be linked to higher stress levels, and all the problems that are associated with it. Why this missing food causes mental health woes.
That’s it – enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll be back on Thursday.
Until then, stay healthy!