Belly Fat-Muffin Tops and Meno-pooch
November 13, 2009
Belly fat comes in two radically different forms. One is slightly annoying and fairly harmless. It is the layer of fat directly under the skin. It’s called subcutaneous fat. Think of it as a layer of fat between the surface of the skin and on top of the belly organs. It’s also known as muffin top, love handles or jelly belly. The villainous other type of fat is called visceral abdominal fat, VAT for short. It’s associated with cancer and heart disease and a slew of other miserable age-related diseases. This layer of fat is beneath the organs and is what gives one that very rotund look of a potbelly. If you have ever heard of people with an apple shape, that’s a VAT belly. These VAT people are more prone to disease because of the nature of serious problems associated with visceral fat.
Another little known fact is that fat in the abdominal area functions differently than elsewhere in the body. It has a greater access to blood supply as well as more receptors for cortisol, a major stress hormone. Cortisol is a fight or flight hormone. But I call it the Fat Belly hormone. It’s levels rise and fall throughout the day but when you are stressed out, like when you are running late and stuck driving behind the drop-off bus,your cortisol level remains elevated. When you have consistently high levels of this hormone in your blood stream, more fat is deposited in the abdominal area because there are more cortisol receptors in your abdominal wall than anywhere else in the body. So stress can indeed make you fat!
Another switch that is triggered when we are under stress is the there is a higher Ph level in the bloodstream. This acidic level leaches calcium from our bones. So stress reducing activities, like meditation can help prevent osteoporosis. Who knew that lying silently on the floor could make your bones stronger- and thinner.
If we can reduce our stress levels, we can maintain a more alkaline level in our blood stream, which also helps protect our bones.
So reduce your stress by adding meditation or tai chi. It will help your metabolism work better so that your bones can remain strong so that if you fall, nothing will break. It will also reduce the fat-belly hormone so that you get a VAT. And as we head into the holiday season in this economic situation, it’s a profound practice- being able to calm your self down in the middle of craziness.