Visceral Fat  – Belly Fat Dangers (Unhealthy Fat Storage)

The dangers of visceral fat are clear and our ability to accumulate it rather quickly as we age is a sad reality. Research indicates unhealthy fat accumulating around the abdomen as we age is due to a number of reasons. It is often the eye opener one needs to realise change needs to take place in our lifestyle habits, diet, exercise regime and stress management. Visceral fat is the body’s way of manifesting in a way we all can’t help but notice. This type of fat storage tells us that something isn’t working right in the body and it urgently needs to be addressed. Leave it too long and suffer the plight of disease and death. It’s that simple.

What is visceral fat?

The belly fat you should worry about is visceral fat. Visceral fat is stored around your abdominal cavity, blanketing organs such as the pancreas, kidneys, liver and intestines. It isn’t like the subcutaneous fat that is pinchable. It is hard and of a gel-like consistency.

Although the obese and the overweight are more likely to have large amounts of belly fat, people of normal weight can also have this type of fat.

The danger of visceral fat:  How your fat cells become harmful to your health.

The role of fat cells or adipocytes is to help regulate many physiological and pathological processes. They also contribute to maintaining homoeostasis (balance in the body), a significant influence being that of immunity and inflammation.

When there is an excess of glucose, coupled with inactivity, hormonal imbalance or chronic stress and anxiety, this then leads to an excess of fat storage in places where fat should not be stored, nor is equipped to handle. (Such as surrounding the pancreas, liver, kidney, heart and muscle.)

This damaging belly fat is the visceral fat, which in turn causes inflammation and weakens the function of the organ tissue where it is stored. visceral fat - inside the fat cell

Fat cells, storage and the inflammatory response.

Adipocytes (fat cells) have the ability to increase in number, which is called hyperplasia. They can also increase in size, which by definition is hypertrophy.

During the process of hyperplasia and hypertrophy, and because our metabolism is linked up with our immune systems, a person will experience adjustments their overall immunity.

When fat cells increase in number or size, this signals the production and secretion of a variation of cytokines and adipokines that contribute to the onset of inflammatory diseases

Cytokines and adipokines secrete chemical messengers and are also known as inflammatory molecules, hormones and proteins which communicate with organs in the body. Adipokines have the power to initiate various responses interfering with an organ and its natural function. One known adipokine which is also a neurohormone is leptin. Leptin resistance is oftentimes an underlying cause of obesity and partakes in the vicious hormonal cycle contributing to visceral fat storage.

When “abnormal fat” drapes itself over an organ, for example, the body receives the message that there is stress or a foreigner invading that area. The lack of enzymes controlling the inflammatory process means that all the signalling happens rather haphazardly.

Inflammation is responsible for the onset of most chronic diseases which kill us today. Further stress response or additional fat deposit will increase the cytokines and adipokines signal in the body, further cycling this process until a chronic disease takes over the body.

Often visceral fat (belly fat) deposits begin to appear as a result of insulin resistance. It can also correlate with chronic stress, inadequate sleeping habits, inactivity, ageing and as a result of other hormones being imbalanced. To lose belly fat, one must fully grasp how it got there in the first place.

Mistakes people make that influence the development of visceral fat (unhealthy belly fat).

  • High Sugar Intake
  • High Carbs
  • Eating carbs or sugar in the morning
  • Eating late at night
  • All kinds of stress
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Not eating the right foods
  • Eating too much of the wrong foods
  • Hormonal Imbalances not being addressed
  • Alcoholism
  • Living with too much stress, worry and fear

What can help you lose belly fat?

low carb - belly fat loss

Medical consequences of visceral fat (belly fat)

The link between abdominal fat and the brain

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have confirmed in a study published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association., the reality that excess abdominal or visceral fat is associated with lower total brain volume.

The study determined that excess belly fat, regardless if the middle aged individual were otherwise healthy would pose a greater risk for the development of dementia later in life. These preliminary findings could lead to better prevention strategies implemented in the future.

Sudha Seshadri, M.D. and researchers took participants from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort to study. There were 733 community members, all with a combined average of 60 years, 70% of which were women.

The researchers examined the following in the participants:

  • BMI
  • waist circumference
  • waist to hip ratio
  • CT-based measures of abdominal fat
  • MRI measures of total brain volume (TCBV)
  • temporal horn volume (THV)
  • white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV)
  • brain infarcts in the middle-aged participants
Noted Dr Seshadri “Our results confirm the inverse association of increasing BMI with lower brain volumes in older adults and with younger, middle-aged adults and extends the findings to a much larger study sample,”
Previous studies were conducted in cohorts with less than 300 participants. This study included over 700 individuals.

He added:
“Moreover, our data suggests a stronger connection between central obesity, particularly the visceral fat component of abdominal obesity, and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,”

Belly fat and Dementia - visceral fat

The research identified that the association between VAT and TCBV was most robust and was also independent of BMI and insulin resistance.

The importance of fat loss is paramount when you consider the reality of the risk factors and life combatting disease and brain dysfunction. The appearance of visceral fat may indicate impending chronic disease. Learn more about Belly Fat Causes  >

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  • Anan, Futoshi et al. “Abdominal Visceral Fat Accumulation Is Associated With Hippocampus Volume In Non-Dementia Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus”. NeuroImage 49.1 (2010): 57-62. Web.
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