Thursday, October 15, 2009
HOW TO LOSE BELLY FAT
People who carry excess weight around the belly are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer. Reasearchers at Wake Forest University found that trans fats,* which has filled our packaged processed food products, increase the amount of fat around the belly. These trans fats not only add new fat but move fat from other areas of the body.
It is visceral** fat that surrounds the organs in the belly. When this fat is present in high amounts it is associated with heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some types of cancer. One recent study also found that this kind of weight gain can also increase dementia later in life.
In addition to the poor American diet, and lack of exercise, stress is said to be a cause of this belly fat. Our bodies have been designed for fight or flight. Therefore, it stores some fat around the middle so it can be easily accessed for energy when we are under stress. After we have dealt with the stress, the hormone known as cortisol then tells your body to eat to refuel. While this has worked well for our ancestors, in the case of war or wild animals, we seldom have the need to flee or engage in any kind of physical activity. However, our body still triggers the same fat-storage pattern. And the fat remains around our bellies.
As we move away from processed foods, there are studies that show that certain foods can help us lose this belly fat. Food in its natural state is always recommended rather than supplements. Following is a list of those foods and links to other information.
The Food List:
Blueberries - Recent research from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center show that 1 and 1/2 cup of blueberries can help reduce belly fat by up to 12 percent. Blueberries can activate a gene responsible for burning belly fat while also turning down a gene that helps to store fat.
Nuts - Research has shown that people who snack on almonds as part of a low-calorie diet over a six month period can reduce their body weight by 18 percent thus slimming their waist line and reducing all over body fat.
Green tea - According to a study done by the 'Journal of Nutrition' five cups of green tea daily can help you shed twice as much weight with most of the weight being around the middle. The catechins (antioxidants) are believed to boost energy and enchance fat-burning.
Foods with Potassium - Foods rich in potassium are key to ensuring your lean muscles stay in tip top shape. Potassium helps to neutralize acids known to trigger muscle-wasting as we grow older. Adults who eat potassium rich foods have about 3.6 pounds more musce than people who eat the least amount of potassium.
Potassium is an essential mineral that supports cellular health; it is not stored in the body like other minerals. Therefore, we need to include potassium rich foods in our daily diet.
Foods that are rich in potassium include:
- asparagus - it has three grams of fiber which cleanses your digestive system, has 288 milligrams of potassium per cup, and almost no sodium - so no bloating
- almonds - which may explain why nuts, listed above, are good for reducing belly fat
- a baked potato with skin on
- sunflower seeds
- seaweed (dulse, kelp)
As well as endives, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, avocado, yams, dates, brazil nuts, mushrooms, turmeric, oranges, onions, apples, lentils, cayenne, cherries, grapes, etc.
Breastfeeding - Yet another of the many benefits of breastfeeding. A study from the University of Pittsburgh showed that by breastfeeding, women can lower the risk of heart disease by 10%. The explanation given is that breastfeeding can reduce belly fat, which stresses the heart.
Probiotics (see link) - The excess of bad bacteria in the belly causes irritation that leads to indigestion and gas as well as fluid retention and bloating. Probiotics will make these symptoms disappear. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, miso soup, homemade pickles, etc.
* trans fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This is a fat created by adding hydrogen to vegetable fat. Manufacturers use it because it is cheap and gives products a long shelf-life. It is found in cakes, cookies, pastries, margarine, non-diary creamers, etc. It is imperative that you read labels.
Further, dozens of studies have shown that trans fats is linked to heart disease. Here in NYC legislation has been approved to phase out trans fats used in restaurant kitchens. This is also true in the city of Boston and the state of California. HOWEVER - BE WARNED - a loophole in the FDA's labeling requirements has allowed processors to add as much as 0.49 grams of trans fats per serving and still claim their product has zero trans fats. I see this all the time on packaged products in the supermarket. You must read the label because even if it says zero trans fats - it if lists partially hydrogenated oil - it has trans fats.
** Visceral - refers to the viscera, the internal organs of the body. Specifically the organs within the chest (heart and lungs) or in the abdomen (liver and pancreas).
For articles about the benefits of green tea and probiotics see the links below.
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