What is visceral fat?

Most of the fat found in your body is called subcutaneous fat; but did you know there is another type of fat in your system? It’s called visceral fat or abdominal fat. This type of fat surrounds the internal organs.

Studies show that people with high amounts of visceral fat are more prone to developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension. People who live a sedentary lifestyle such as smokers and heavy drinkers are reported to have more intra-abdominal fat, than those with active lifestyles.

Deeply embedded in the body’s tissues, visceral fat is harder to trim down compared to subcutaneous fat. The liver is responsible for metabolizing visceral fat and releases it to the bloodstream in the form of cholesterol. Bad cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein, or LDL) builds into plaque that blocks the arteries, making visceral fat dangerous to your health, especially because it may cause serious inflammation. Visceral fat releases chemicals such as cytokines, adipokines, and chemokines, all of which are known to produce a slow, smoldering inflammation throughout the body.

According to researchers from Duke University Medical Center, regular exercise can vastly reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body, and stop it from building on your internal organs.

RISK FACTORS:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol drinking
  • High-fat diet
  • High stress levels

Health risks:

  • Development of cardiovascular diseases
  • Lower growth hormone
  • Lower testosterone levels
  • Higher cortisol secretion
  • Insulin resistance and Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Male gender

How to measure visceral fat:
Basically, the fat around the abdomen or the middle section of the body is where you’ll find the dangerous visceral fat. There are quite a few ways to measure how much visceral fat you have in your body:

The Ruler Measurement
Measure your visceral fat at home: stand against a wall and lie something flat (such as cardboard or a plastic board) across your tummy to make it a point of reference. Using a straight ruler, measure yourself from back to front – that is, the length from the wall to the cardboard. Now lay down on the floor. Repeat the steps above and note the length from the floor to the cardboard. If the measurement between the two doesn’t change, there’s a good chance that your visceral fat is minimal.

Hip Ratio Measurement
This is, perhaps, the easiest way to measure the amount of visceral fat in the body. It works by measuring the waist circumference and then dividing it by the hip circumference. A value that is greater than 1.0 for men and 0.85 for women indicates a fair amount of visceral fat in the body. Any higher and you should be alarmed.

CT Scan
CT scan offers the most accurate measure of the amount of visceral fat in the body.

Bioelectrical Impedance
Bioelectrical impedance also offers an accurate measure of the amount of visceral fat present in the body. It works by transmitting a small electrical current through the body and analyzing the electrical resistance involved. There is a difference in the electrical resistance between different types of fat in the body.

Now that you know whether or not you’re at risk, you can take steps to reduce (or maintain!) the amount of visceral fat in your body. Stay healthy!

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