The dangers of belly fat

Asunta Simoloka

Asunta Simoloka

By Asunta Simoloka

In Zambia, having a large waistline is synonymous with a fat bank account.  But what does a big belly say about your health?

abdominalobeseHigh body fat percentage is unhealthy but even more important is where fat is mostly deposited.  The amount of harm posed by belly fat is very concerning  because the heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, and many vital organs are located inside the torso and a large belly indicates what is known as visceral fat meaning that these vital organs are completely wrapped in fat.

busuVisceral fat substantially increases the risk for heart related diseases, diabetes, hypertension, colorectal cancer, sleep apnea, and a host of other diseases.

colaA large belly has also been associated with erectile dysfunction in men over 60.

Furthermore, visceral fat produces inflammatory substances known as cytokines and they trigger long term systemic inflammation a mechanism by which many body parts, organs, and blood vessels experience pain, swelling, or redness.

Systemic inflammation has been blamed for autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes and lupus.  Belly fat greatly weakens the immune system so much that a wide waistline increases the chance of death from any cause and raises the likelihood of early death.

Too much meat, processed foods, sugar, alcohol, inactivity, unhealthy fats, and not drinking enough water combined with other unhealthy habits have driven up the prevalence of expanding waistlines.

A waist circumference measuring less than half your height is considered healthy; if your height is 150 cm, your waist circumference should be 75cm or less.  Place a measuring tape around your waist at the belly button and if your belly sags, lie down to get this measurement accurately.

redpeanutavoAs expected, the village diet rich in unprocessed foods and low in meat easily eliminates belly fat.  Unprocessed foods like coarse wholegrain maize meal, beans, and bambara nuts or ntoyo are rich in fiber which is essential for achieving a slim waist.  In addition, healthy mono unsaturated fats from peanuts and avocado play a vital role in keeping the stomach flat and so does regular exercise.

 

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