VAT- The Evil BELLY FAT
July 8, 2011
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 your abdominal 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 know people with an exaggerated apple shape, they are VAT as well as fat. 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 and is stocked by your body in your VAT because this is your emergency fat; the I’m being chased by a dinosaur fat that is more readily available in the event of a famine or having to outrun a T-rex.
But I also call cortisol 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, or someone blocked you into your parking space and you are already late, your cortisol level remains elevated. When you have consistently high levels of this hormone in your blood stream, something Jillian Jones would consider terrible happens: 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 and not just fat all over but especially fat in your belly.
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. It is not a far reach to suggest that stress-reducing activities, like meditation and yoga and even deep-breathing can help prevent osteoporosis. Who knew that lying silently on the floor could make your bones stronger- and your body 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 won’t get VAT.