Obesity is a fast growing epidemic in America today. According to Dr. Kal two out of every three people are obese. Though, this problem is not age or gender specific it has a profound effect on women with excess belly fat. After menopause, women tend to gain excess fat in the abdomen, legs and arms. Belly fat is a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, premature death, and even certain cancers.
We know that excess fat is a result of lack of exercise and too much caloric intake. However, age also is an important factor. As we grow older, we loss muscle mass. Decreased muscle mass leads to the decelerated rate in which your body burns calories. Thus, older women have a harder time to keep the weight off.
As if that wasn’t enough, women lose estrogen as they age and this too accounts for excess body fat; even when there is no weight gain. The excess weight around the middle is due to the decreased levels of the estrogen which affects menopausal women. Decreased muscle mass also contributes to the production of fat which will be stored in the belly and other areas. If this belly fat were only a layer of padding under the skin, it would not be so bad, but belly fat also includes visceral fat which surrounds and chokes our internal organs.
Visceral belly fat causes a lot of health problems. First of all, it contributes to the increase in estrogen and other hormone levels. It also increases other substance production in women. In turn, these hormones and additional substances (specific proteins) can raise blood pressure, alter both good and bad cholesterol and interfere with the body’s natural ability to utilize insulin. When you combine these factors, you are at higher risk for breast and colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Since 2008, the medical profession has known that belly fat increases the chances of premature death. Over 360,000 individuals were part of the longest, largest, health study ever completed. The study was conducted in Europe and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that excess belly fat was a factor in premature death; even when the participants were of normal weight.
Extra belly fat can be determined by measuring your waist. Women should not have a waist larger than 35 inches. You can lower your belly fat by eating the right foods and exercising. Your doctor and nutritionist can help you design a plan that will get your figure back and improve your health. Generally speaking, you are going to want to eat fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, and low-fat dairy products. Try to stay away from saturated fats and limit your portion sizes.
Exercise can include a brisk walk for about 2 hours, twice a week, jogging for about 75 minutes or aerobic exercise is also recommended. It might seem overwhelming for you, especially if you are not used to exercising, therefore, start out slowly and gradually increase your exercise time. You will prolong your life and maintaining your good health