Research from the Department of Health shows that people in the UK now have fatter stomachs than ever before.
Since 1951, women’s waists have increased by 6 ½ inches, and men and children are also becoming worryingly large around the middle. Apart from feeling bloated and uncomfortable and looking “5 months pregnant”, does it really matter whether we are more apple than pear shaped?
According to leading Nutritional Therapist, Dr Marilyn Glenville, storing fat around the middle is not just a cosmetic issue, but significantly increases our risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and high blood pressure. Scientists call the cluster of problems associated with apple-shaped fat distribution ‘syndrome X’ or ‘insulin resistance’.
Marilyn explains that fat in the stomach region is metabolically more active than fat stored around hips and thighs, acting like a hormone-secreting organ with a mind of its own. Tummy fat manufactures agents that cause inflammation, raise blood pressure, secrete oestrogen and interfere with insulin. Although useful in small doses, these agents upset the delicate biochemistry of the body and contribute to disease if produced in excess.
So what causes some people to hoard fat around their middle while others do not? Storing tummy fat is all to do with the action of stress hormones in your body. The stress hormone cortisol is particularly to blame as it maintains the fight-or-flight response by increasing levels of fat and sugar in the bloodstream. If you are in a state of chronic stress, cortisol levels remain elevated for a long time.
All the extra energy in form of fat and glucose has nowhere to go and is simply re-deposited as fat around the middle because it’s close to the liver where it can be quickly converted back into energy. To make matters worse, people under constant stress feel hungry all the time because their body is urging them to stock up on sugary, fatty foods. Allergic reactions to food also raise levels of cortisol.
In her new book “Fat around the middle” (published by Kyle Cathie Ltd), Marilyn recommends a simple eating plan to help change the body’s underlying biochemistry so it can let go of tummy fat: stop dieting, eat little and often, don’t skip breakfast, eliminate sugar, refined carbs and stimulants like caffeine, add protein to meals, eat essential fats, don’t eat on the run, and change the way you think about food.
She gives practical advice how to stop stress hormones from storing fat around the waist and provides an easy-to-follow 3-month ‘lose-your-belly’ plan. Marilyn also recommends vitamins and minerals and a tailor-made exercise programme that can assist in changing body shape faster. Perhaps her most valuable advice is how to minimise and manage the stress of modern life!
© 2011 Martina Watts MSc Nut Med, First Published Brighton Argus March 2006
See also: Childhood Obesity – A Growing Problem by Martina Watts Published in Optimum Nutrition magazine.