Visceral fat: What causes it and how to get rid of it Health

Visceral fat: What causes it and how to get rid of it

Visceral fat is the fat that is found deep inside the abdominal cavity. It surrounds important organs such as the stomach, liver, and intestines. While some visceral fat levels are healthy and help protect the organs, too much can be dangerous and lead to serious health issues. Issues like diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, colorectal cancer, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, stroke, and premature death result from visceral fat. Read on to learn more about visceral fat:

Genetics plays a significant role in determining body shape and how the body stores visceral fat.

Muscle mass declines, and metabolism slows down with age, leading to an increase in fat levels. This age-acquired weight tends to collect in the abdominal region.

The onset of menopause in women has been associated with increased visceral fat levels in the body.

Lifestyle choices
Lifestyle choices such as food and exercise are major contributors to the development of visceral fat in the body. High intake of fatty foods and carbohydrates and an inactive lifestyle are generally the most significant underlying causes for developing visceral fats.

Stress activates the fight-or-flight hormone called cortisol in the body. High levels of cortisol trigger higher levels of visceral fat storage in the body.

The normal visceral fat range is about 10% of the body fat. The most common ways of assessing body composition include anthropometric measurements such as weight, stature, abdominal circumference, and skinfold measurements. Bioelectrical impedance, body density, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry are a few other ways of assessing body composition.

What are the complications caused by high levels of visceral fat?
High levels of visceral fat in the body can lead to complications like:

Increased risk of cancer
According to a study, the chances of getting colorectal cancer nearly doubled among postmenopausal women who accumulate visceral fat. However, the risk of breast cancer increased significantly due to changes in biomarkers like estrogen, leptin, and inflammatory proteins.

Heart disease
Visceral fat secretes chemicals like retinol-binding protein-4 (RBP4), which has been linked to the increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Increased levels of RBP4 have also been linked to insulin resistance, which can cause type-2 diabetes.

High visceral fat levels also limit visualization of the organs during intra-abdominal surgeries, reducing the possibility of completing surgeries with a minimally-invasive approach.

How is visceral fat treated?
Visceral fat is easier to lose than subcutaneous fat because it metabolizes quicker and the body can get rid of it as sweat or pee. To manage visceral fat levels in the body, it is important to have a healthy lifestyle. An improvement in lifestyle choices can yield positive results within two to three months. Some of these choices include:

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can help the body fight the development of visceral fat. This includes cardio and strength training. People may try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to burn fat faster. HIIT workouts offer resistance and aerobic training as they cycle between bursts of intense effort and quick recovery.

Eating healthy
Eating balanced meals with healthy portions of lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables can help avoid the development of visceral fat in the long run. Limiting trans fats, refined sugars, sodium, and processed foods can help keep the organs healthy.

Replacing sugary beverages
Replace sugary beverages with water or artificial sweeteners to reduce visceral fat accumulation in the body.

Quality sleep routine
Not getting enough quality sleep can increase the chances of developing additional visceral fat. For most people, 6-8 hours of quality sleep can help keep them healthy.

Reducing stress
High levels of cortisol in the body can also trigger the storage of visceral fat. Lower stress levels by trying remedies like yoga or meditation.

Losing fat often requires patience. It is important to aim for slow and steady progress to lose fat and keep it from returning. Visit a healthcare provider regularly to track body fat percentage and talk to them about health risks, food, and exercise plans for a healthier lifestyle.