Many different conditions can cause weight gain around the middle. No matter what the cause, belly fat is dangerous to your health, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disorders and certain kinds of cancers. Imbalances involving the female hormone estrogen increase your chance of gaining belly fat. Women are especially at risk due to fluctuating hormone levels throughout life. Belly fat and estrogen affect the body in several important ways.
As we age, fat accumulates in certain areas instead of depositing evenly all over the body like when we were younger. Most people notice extra weight around their buttocks, thighs and stomach. Some weight gain can be attributed to hormonal disorders, such as an imbalance of estrogen known as estrogen dominance. Estrogen levels have a direct impact on fat cell storage, especially abdominal fat. Fat cells produce extra estrogen, then the excess estrogen signals your body to store more fat cells. This exchange often creates a vicious cycle of estrogen imbalance and weight gain around the midsection.
Abdominal fat is identified as visceral or subcutaneous fatty tissue, but not all belly fat is the same. Subcutaneous fat is the top layer of fat you can pinch with your fingers, which is not a danger to your inner organs. Intra-abdominal fat, also called visceral fat, is the kind of belly fat most dangerous to your health. It has been linked to insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat is located deep within the abdomen and wraps around your inner organs. The location of visceral belly fat poses a direct threat to the functioning ability of inner organs, resulting in gall bladder issues, fatty liver disease and other organ disorders.
Belly fat can affect more than just your estrogen levels. A surplus of visceral belly fat can cause the liver to produce an excess of fatty acids, which are the building blocks of fatty tissue. The result is a condition called insulin resistance. When glucose cannot reach an adequate amount of cells, the cells weaken and sometimes even die. Your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease increases as a result of the insulin-resistant cells. An overabundance of visceral belly fat is also thought to be connected to breast cancer and colorectal disorders.
Even a modest amount of weight loss can have a positive impact on your health. Because excess fat cells produce extra estrogen, losing belly fat will release the excess estrogen, resulting in a more hormone-balanced body. Although visceral belly fat is located deep within the abdomen, it is still very receptive to common weight-loss methods. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy body weight and help prevent diabetes, cancer and heart disease. In addition, follow a vigorous exercise routine to lose belly fat, reduce your waist circumference and gain muscle mass. As always, contact your physician before beginning any exercise program.