Visceral fat is fat tissue that surrounds our viscera (aka our internal organs). It is the more disease-producing fat when compared to subcutaneous fat, which lies under the skin. As we get "heavier' or increasing our weight it typically will go into this fat around the organs (liver, intestines, and stomach) which increases our risks for chronic lifestyle-related diseases. The visceral fat becomes metabolically more active releasing hormones that help it to store up more adipose in itself. The increase in fat in and around the organs increases our waist line. This gives us the big bellies in both men and women. This added girth and stress on to the organs increases hormone issues in men (PHAT Syndrome), insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, cholesterol issues, hypertension, dementia/Alzheimer's) and can bring on many forms of cancer. This fat is the main reason why we have so many chronic health issues in today's society. As a physician who works with people trying to attain better health and longevity a key step is decreasing this visceral fat. As a functional medicine physician, I see the poor health of our nation every day. We can not out drug nor out supplement a bad lifestyle. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Why You Should Worry About Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat is fat that surround your internal organs and your blood vessels. It becomes active and begins sending out signal hormones to allow it to store and attract more fat to itself. It is the most dangerous fat we can accumulate in our body. It will choke out organs causing major issues with the liver, intestines and stomach as it grows leading to that swollen "beer" belly look we see so prominent in the US and most developed nations. As this fat grows it takes over like weeds in a garden, choking out our vitality and inhibits our organs from functioning the way there are designed to do.
Eat This Amount of Veggies and Fruits
The number one way to decrease the levels of visceral fat is what you put in your mouth. What we eat becomes what we are. The saying we all know well "junk food in, junk body out". Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and good lean organic, wild caught or grass fed protein is essential to ward off chronic disease and shrink your visceral fat. We are an over fed and under nourished society. The main packaged and processed foods we take in are loaded with too much grain, dairy and sugars within them. Avoiding these three items is key to promote health, reverse disease and create longevity. Take a moment to look at what you eat everyday and within each meal. I bet that for many the staples of each meal and snack are those three things. Start by adding in 1/2 cup of vegetables with each meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just start with that easy step. Then work on taking out the grains, dairy and sugars. It will be hard but step by step and you will get healthier each day. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it most likely took you years to get to where you are currently, But it wont take years to get you to a more healthy state.
Don't Forget to Exercise
This one is a no brainer and you have heard it many times in your life: Exercise! Movement is essential to long term health. Eating right and exercising are the fix all for just about everything health related. It's number two because your can exercise a lot and if you eat a poor diet you still will have issues with health and long term disease. You can't out exercise a bad diet. Exercise stimulates your muscles to become more metabolically active than the visceral fat which helps to start burning your fat. The muscles become "hungry" for fuel which will deprive the fat of its fuel for storage. Again starting simple with just walking each day 20 minutes. Research has shown just that simply walking each day is a great way to start to get your self moving. It use to be expected that an hour a day was what was needed. Over time we have discovered that less can be more and often is! Just get walking, biking, playing for 20 minutes a day. Make it fun for yourself.
Visit Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas raise your core body temperature, inducing an artificial fever. This "simulated fever" stimulates the immune system, resulting in an increased production of disease-fighting white blood cells and antibodies—a classic example of hormesis (good stress) at work. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a family of proteins that cells produce in response to heat stress, like using an infrared sauna. HSPs help your body in many ways:
Keep cellular proteins in order, Activate immune responses, Lower inflammation, Prevent and repair free radical damage, and Play a role in preventing autoimmune disorders and neurological conditions. When we induce heat stress through a sauna for 2-25 minutes at 145-150℉, our levels of these beneficial heat shock proteins increase by 49%! This also increases deep fat loss which is what we are trying to do with this visceral fat. Activation of HSPs over time, results in protective adaptations for your cells and increase in fat loss.
Cut Out Alcohol
Another way to decrease the activity and growth of visceral fat is decrease or cut out alcohol consumption. Alcohol is one those things we look forward to destress and relax at the end of the day, however, alcohol increases our caloric intake, activates the visceral fat to release more storage hormones, decreases our ability to get deep restful sleep and increases our belly fat. You need to really look deep at why you are drinking. Digging into the reasons behind your use of alcohol can help over all health and mental health. Often we drink to block out the day
Self care is essential to destress ourselves and create a healthy long life. Adding in mediation, breath work, tai chi, qi gong massage, yoga, pilates or many other lifestyle exercises will also help to change how your body goes from storing fat to burning fat. Each one offers benefits in their own way and also if you do more you get compounding effects to better your health. Find one or two that you like and add them in to a few days per week. Create the time in your schedule. Start looking at your day and where you can move things around to fit in your day to day. You have the time. Find it and use it. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
Dr. Jerry Bailey BAA, DC, CAc, FIAMA, MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, is a certified nutritionist, acupuncturist, chiropractic, and functional medicine physician at Lakeside Holistic Health with over two decades in his field. Bailey is also a prominent expert on men's medicine and leads the world in the emerging science of Poly-Hormonal Adrenal Testosterone Syndrome.