Did you know that there are 4 different types of fat? Brown, white, subcutaneous and last but not least- visceral, or belly fat.
Briefly, brown fat has been the most recently discovered and found to burn more calories than the other three. We have more white fat than brown and the job of this type is to store energy and produce hormones. Subcutaneous fat is found directly under the skin and is usually measured using skin-fold calipers to estimate your total body fat percentage.
Visceral belly fat is deep within your abdominal cavity and wraps around those organs.
Doctors warn their patients that this visceral fat will increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. That danger received more press after research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology in 2012 where their results showed that people with concentrated visceral fat were 50% more likely to die from all causes compared to those who were obese.(1)
Belly Fat Health Effects
The health effects of visceral fat can be complicated and numerous. This is because this type of fat is different from other types of fat in the body.
Doctors believe that it promotes insulin resistance and leads to diabetes. In fact, in a study published in the Endocrine Press, data suggests that fat stored in the legs and buttocks is healthier than that stored in the stomach.(2)
Interestingly, people who are within normal limits for their weight on the scale can also have higher risk when they are also carrying high amounts of visceral fat. You may feel less desire to make lifestyle changes when your weight is within normal limits, but making those changes can improve your risk profile for diseases and illnesses.
Records from a study of 6,500 people in Northern California found that those who had a high level of visceral fat also had a higher risk of dementia, even for people who were within normal limits for overall weight but were carrying extra visceral fat and larger bellies.
The scientists theorize that this is because the belly fat impacts hormones, such as leptin, that may have some adverse effect on the brain. Although leptin plays a role in appetite it is also important to learning and memory.(3)
Belly Fat and Back Pain
Back pain is a condition that affects people from around the world. Unfortunately, the pain and discomfort it causes can’t be escaped by movement or splinting.
This means that if you suffer from back pain, you’ll likely feel it if you are standing, sitting or lying down. Unlike a pulled muscle in your arm or leg, you can’t use a sling or crutches to protect the area.
Instead, it’s more important to get to the root cause of the back pain and eliminate that or reduce the effects as quickly as possible in order to improve the likelihood that it will heal quickly.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, most people with low back pain will experience the pain because of a muscle irritation, nerve irritation or bone lesions.(4)
According to the Mayo clinic, approximately 80% of people will experience low back pain at least once in their lives.(5) It’s a common reason for loss of work time and for doctor visits.
One risk factor for the development of pain and degeneration is undue stress placed on the spine. That stress can be alleviated by improving the muscle development in the back and providing more stability for the spine.
That muscle development should be over the entire core – back and belly – to avoid over development of muscles in the back without the development of muscles that counteract the back muscles.
Conventional treatments for back pain include medications, heat or cold therapy, massage therapy, electrical stimulation, cognitive behavior therapy, injections and surgery.
However, with some weight loss to reduce the stress on your lower spine and muscle development to stabilize the region, you may be able to get away without medications and surgeries, to lead a pain free life.
Small Price to Pay
It’s time to reduce the amount of belly fat you carry in the way of subcutaneous fat and belly fat, both of which increase the weight load your lower spine carries.
You can do this through a smart eating program and just 10 minutes of exercise every other day. This is a small price to pay for being able to get in and out of your car, walking through the grocery store or reading a book without experiencing constant pain in your back.
Paying attention to both your overall weight and where you are carrying that weight are important factors in your overall health. While this visceral fat is more dangerous to your health, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of belly fat you carry and improve your risk factors.
(3) Kaiser Permanente: Larger Abdomen in Midlife Increases Risk of Dementia
(4) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
(5) Medical news Today: What is Back Pain What Causes Back Pain
(6) Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat
(8) Spine Health: Lower Back Pain
(9) NY Times: Brown Fat, Triggered by Cold or Exercise
(10) Harvard: Abdominal Fat and What to do about it
Top Photo by InExtremiss