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5 reasons you should get rid of belly fat

Last updated on: April 24, 2014 22:37 IST

5 reasons you should get rid of belly fat

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Shameem Akthar

Too much abdominal fat is linked to serious health issues. Read on to learn more.

Though some of us may sniff at the fuss others make about looking good, there actually may be a biological reason why looking toned, fit and pleasant is a magnet.  

It is because some aspects of looking good -- great skin, lush hair growth, toned body, confident posture, flat belly -- are indicators of good health.

A bulging belly is perceived as unattractive.

The media constantly portrays flat bellies, beach bodies, six-packs and articles on how to reach this, often, seemingly impossible target.

But a flat tummy is more than an aesthetic requirement.

It has huge implications for one’s health and well-being.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre gives five reasons why controlling a bulging stomach is super important for your health.

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Photographs: reflexandwellnessclinic

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Belly fat and heart attack link

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Belly fat is a primary indicator for heart problems, bad cholesterol (they go hand in hand), and diabetes (associated with circulatory problems and heart disorders).

This indicator has been one of the earliest medical warnings about a potential future heart attack.

Even a seemingly skinny person may have a fat pile-up at the belly, indicating the trouble that the heart is facing.

This is often the result of inability to cope with stress. High levels of stress hormones in the blood set off an inflammatory response throughout the body and a heightened acidic environment within.

This in turn distresses the liver whose health is closely linked to that of the heart.

In the last one decade enough media ink has been spilt on warning about this obvious link between belly fat and most circulatory problems, including an impending stroke.

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Image: Hangover II star Jamie Chung walks the ramp to raise awareness of the risk of heart diseases amongst women.
Photographs: Reuters
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Erectile dysfunction in men

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Belly fat begins to clog up abdominal organs and block arteries.

Considerable damage is done by the fatty acids and enzymes released by belly fat.

Belly fat actually begins to act like a separate organ and has its own flow of body acids and hormones that are harmful to the body.

When the blood vessels are damaged, clearly there is less flow of blood to the uro-genital system.

Enzymes released by belly fat can shift hormonal flow in men, reduce testosterone (needed for that emotional kick and excitement that sustains an erection) and may actually elevate oestrogen levels.

Belly fat is also linked to high incidence of depression and anger, both killers of a healthy sex life. In women, belly fat is linked to fertility problems.

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Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Cancer indicator

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Belly fat encourages more cancer events, particularly colon cancer.

Body fat encourages the growth of cancer cells, giving them a medium in which to flourish.

Since belly fat elevates oestrogen levels, there seems to be a link to cancers that get triggered by the presence of elevated oestrogen hormones.

Most common are cancers of the uro-genital system and the digestive tract... enough indicators that belly fat should go, and fast!

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Photographs: Rediff Archives
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Depression and belly fat

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Cortisol, known as the 'stress hormone' is the biggest culprit behind the pile-up of belly fat and also accompanies depression.

It encourages the flow of inflammatory elements that can do terrible damage to the arteries, cause cholesterol pile-up, and encourage hormones that cause cravings and hunger pangs even when we are full.

Several studies have shown that even skinny people who suffer long-term depression will have a larger waistline than is appropriate for them.  

As explained, belly fat begins to act on its own, creating a toxic cascade of events in the body that lead to mood swings like anger, that in a depressive may turn back on oneself, plummeting one's mood even more.

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Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/ Rediff.com
Tags: Cortisol

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Belly fat and anger

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As you can see, belly fat seems to create a harmful spiral of events and emotions inside the body, triggered by the release of the stress hormone and its strong association with it.

Having been set off by cortisol in the first place, it begins to encourage its greater flow, aggravating the emotional typhoon within -- anxiety, mood yo-yos, irritation and intense anger.

It can make you forget where you kept your keys, ruin your day by making you feel like you have lost control, pile up the irritation levels even further and add to the stress.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/ Rediff.com
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