Having a beer belly can be damaging to your self image but there is more at stake than how you look in the mirror.
There are numerous health risks to carrying pounds of visceral fat in your abdomen area. Health risks that aren’t healthy for your heart or your performance in the bedroom.
If you’re looking for an extra reason for getting rid of your beer belly, look no further than this list of 10 health risks associated with belly fat. Getting rid of your beer belly means less risk of getting any of these.
1. Heart Disease
This is probably the most common risk factor for people with excess belly fat.
Studies have shown that persons who have excess abdominal fat, like a beer belly, have a higher risk of heart disease than persons with fat elsewhere.
Coronary heart disease is caused by the hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis which happens when plaque from cholesterol and other substances build up in the arteries.
The same unhealthy practices that cause excessive belly fat is responsible for atherosclerosis and you can lower your chances of having coronary heart disease by getting on a healthy diet, exercising regularly and lowering your cholesterol.
Preventing a stroke employs the same strategies used to prevent heart disease. This is because strokes are a risk factor commonly associated with unhealthy dieting among other causes.
If you have a beer belly, you may be at an even higher risk.
Preventative measures include:
- lowering your cholesterol
- eliminating saturated fats from your diet
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies
- exercising regularly
- drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all
These are the same tactics you would use to get rid of a beer belly so the correlation is no surprise.
3. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition caused by insulin resistance in the body, which occurs when glucose in the blood cannot be processed properly.
One of the culprits behind this is retinol-binding protein 4, a compound that is normally secreted by visceral cells found in belly fat. RBP4 dulls the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which in turn promotes the development and progression of type 2 diabetes and it’s complications.
Getting rid of visceral fat can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Breast cancer (in both men and women) & colorectal cancer are two types of cancers usually caused by having high levels of visceral fat.
Researchers have found that having excess visceral fat releases a protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) which stimulates growth of cancerous cells in otherwise healthy and normal cells.
Even cancers of the esophagus, liver and pancreas have been linked to having a beer belly.
Cancer risks are much lower in persons who follow a healthy diet, exercise and maintained healthy habits (eg. no smoking) and a healthy weight with minimal body fat.
5. High Blood Pressure
People with high levels of belly fat are far more likely to develop high blood pressure than people with lower levels of belly fat irrespective of the amount of total body fat.
This is because visceral fat can surround the organs in the abdominal cavity including the kidneys, thus interfering with their normal function.
The kidneys and adrenal glands are responsible for regulating blood pressure and when surrounded with what is called retroperitoneal fat this can affect the way the organs work leading to hypertension.
Most studies on osteoporosis have focused mainly on bone loss in women. In women, high levels visceral fat definitely spells danger.
However, having a beer belly can also put men at risk of bone loss and decreased bone strength.
Researchers found the correlation of belly fat in obese men to decreased bone strength when compared to obese men with lower levels of visceral fat but similar BMI.
According to a study by the Boston University School of Medicine published online in the Annals of Neurology, having excess belly fat can cause your brain to shrink.
Having a smaller brain volume is associated with poor cognitive function which can lead to dementia later on. Persons with excess belly fat has been found to have three times the risk of developing the most common form of dementia – Alzheimers.
Loss of cognitive ability can affect memory, language, thinking and judgement. It has been theorized that hormones produced by the visceral fat tissue can play a role in the loss of brain volume.
8. Metabolic Syndrome
We already know that belly fat can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. We also know that it may cause hypertension.
What’s even more dangerous than either of these two is having both at the same time along with being obese. Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for having these three conditions at the same time – a condition that scientists are calling the “new silent killer”.
Reducing a beer belly can lower your risks of developing either hypertension or diabetes. Your health will thank you for it.
9. Erectile Dysfunction
A beer belly can cause trouble in the bedroom. Erectile dysfunction is a result of inadequate blood flow going to the penis which may be caused by the narrowing of arteries – the same thing that causes heart disease.
An excess of visceral fat causes the body to produce an enzyme called aromatase which converts testosterone into estrogen. When testosterone levels decrease in a man, he is more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
10. Sleep Apnea
It has been long thought that inflammation from abdominal fat might have been a symptom of sleep apnea but new studies find that it might just be the other way around.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which the upper airways become periodically obstructed during sleep which may be characterized by loud snoring, disruptive sleep, daytime sleepiness, cardiovascular complications and other problems.
Sleep apnea affects between 17 and 24 per cent of men and between 5 and 9 per cent of women. This fact that men tend to have more belly fat may be an explanation for the difference here.
As you can see, many of these conditions are linked and as a result of having a beer belly, you can be at risk of developing any number of these.
The best way to lower your risk of getting multiple conditions which can sometimes be fatal, is to get rid of your beer belly. The best way to do this is to follow a healthier diet and get regular daily exercise. It’s a major benefit for you if you can make some much needed lifestyle changes.