Why You Should Take Visceral Fat Seriously

Take Visceral Fat SeriouslyThe term visceral fat is used quite a lot when discussing weight.  Just the name of it suggests that it is something we’d rather not have on our bodies in substantial amounts.  But what is it really? Is it just something with a scary-sounding name that isn’t as bad as that title would suggest? Or is it truly something dangerous that we should prioritize avoiding? Let’s take a closer look.

What Exactly Is Visceral Fat?

Visceral fat is often indicated when there is a large amount of fatty tissue around the belly area.  That said, it’s not what you might think.  Nope it’s not the beer gut or muffin top. It’s a type of tissue that can be seen only through a body scan because it is stored between major organs.  Waist size is only an indicator, but the fatty tissue around your middle is not what you’re looking for.

To measure to see if you may have excessive amounts of visceral fat, measure your waist size using a measuring tape.  For men, you’re hoping for 40 inches around or less.  For women, that goal is 35 inches or less.  That said, because there are many body shapes and sizes, and there are many additional factors such as height, genetics and family history, that measurement is not a strict determinant of whether you’re on track or not.  It’s just one of many potential indicators aside from using an actual body scan.

What Does Excess Visceral Fat Do to Your Body?

Visceral fat can cause many different types of reaction within your body.  In small amounts, these aren’t typically all that harmful, or at least not enough to do any damage.  However, when you are carrying excessive amounts of this tissue between your organs, it can lead to a spectrum of issues that you’d likely rather avoid for the sake of your overall health.

These can include the following:


This tissue secretes hormones that can raise inflammation levels all over the body.  The reason is that the hormone may be made around your middle, but it rapidly enters the bloodstream, damaging the way sugars and dietary fats are broken down.  The outcome is inflammation in areas all over your body, which increases the risk of unwanted long-term health issues.

High Cholesterol Levels

The portal vein is an important pathway through your abdomen that sends blood from the organs in your digestive system such as your stomach, pancreas and intestines into your liver.  It’s the primary blood supply source for the liver.  The liver is the organ that breaks down the blood sent from the stomach so that usable nutrients will result.  Visceral fat contributes to the release of a protein which reaches the portal vein and that raises high cholesterol levels.  Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance as well as the buildup of plaques in the arteries.

Clotting and Blood Vessel Narrowing

Cytokines, immune system chemicals, are found within visceral fat.  These are released into the body as a part of normal function.  However, as with everything, there is such thing as having too much. Among the cytokines released is called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

The inflammation to bloodstream proteins caused by visceral fat and excessive TNF release narrows crucial blood vessels. This can raise blood pressure and result in clotting within those blood vessels. As a result, high amounts of TNF can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Increased Serious Illness Risk

The combination of increased inflammation, higher cholesterol levels, narrowed blood vessels, and blood clotting risk also raises your risk of serious and chronic illness.  Excessive amounts of visceral fat in the body can increase the chances of heart disease and stroke, as well as breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment.

Prevent or Reduce Visceral Fat Starting Today

There are three primary things we can all do to help control visceral fat in our bodies. These are all activities that can help us to achieve better overall health and that benefit us in many different ways. As a result, these activities are typically encouraged for everyone.  They include:

  • A healthy diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Prioritizing quality sleep

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