Did you know that visceral fat, fat that wraps around your heart, liver and kidneys, is a breeding ground for cancer cells?
Visceral fat, also known as belly fat, is a type of fat that is stored deep within the abdominal cavity, surrounding the organs. It is different from subcutaneous fat, which is the fat that is just under the skin.
Visceral fat is more metabolically active than subcutaneous fat. This means that it releases more hormones and other chemicals into our bloodstream, which increases our risk of developing certain diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Warning! Don’t be frustrated with the messenger… Are you an apple or a pear? If you tend to collect weight around your middle, your body type is an apple. Even if you are at a healthy weight, “apples” are more susceptible to visceral fat.
Imagine that cancer cells are like weeds. Visceral fat is like a fertile garden that provides the weeds with everything they need to grow and thrive.
Ways visceral fat breeds cancer cells:
Inflammation:Visceral fat releases pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are signaling molecules that promote inflammation. Chronic inflammation damages cells and DNA, and can create a favorable environment for cancer cell growth and survival.
Hormones: Visceral fat releases hormones, such as estrogen and insulin, that can promote cancer growth. For example, estrogen can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells, and insulin can promote the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
Metabolism: Visceral fat cells have a high metabolic rate, which means that they burn a lot of calories. This process releases reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and DNA. ROS can also promote cancer cell growth and survival.
Immune system:Visceral fat can suppress the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off cancer cells.
Let’s Get proactive!
While much of this stinks, there is good news. Belly fat may be the most dangerous, but it’s also the easiest to lose.
By reducing visceral fat, you can make it harder for cancer cells to grow and thrive. You can do this by:
Eat a healthy diet: Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
Manage stress: Stress leads to the release of hormones that can promote the accumulation of visceral fat. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Get enough sleep: Sleep helps to regulate hormones and repair DNA. Hormones play a role in many different bodily functions, including cell growth and division…and keeping our immune system strong and healthy.
And of course…Exercising regularly! At least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week is the recommended prescription.
What is the best exercise to fight visceral fat? Imagine visceral fat is a thick layer of weeds in a garden. While all exercise is good for us, HIIT, high-intensity interval training (Mojo!), is like a gardener who comes in and mows down the weeds.
According to Dr. Sarah Samaan, a cardiologist and physician partner at Baylor hospital in Plano, TX,
“In order to burn off visceral fat, a sufficient energy deficit must be created which entails a strong workout regimen and a clean diet plan…While crunches may strengthen the abs, they won’t necessarily burn abdominal fat. Cardio-laced, aerobic exercise (Mojo!) is the quickest and best way to get it off.” In other words…You gotta do the work!
HIIT boosts metabolism When we do HIIT, our body works harder than it does during traditional workouts. This burns more calories and boosts our metabolism. This means that our body will continue to burn calories, long after we are finished exercising…Which is key to reducing our waistline.
HIIT reduces inflammation. When inflammation is reduced, the weeds in the garden (visceral fat) have a harder time growing and thriving.
HIIT helps improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is how well your body responds to the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. When insulin sensitivity is improved, our body is better able to control its blood sugar levels. This is important because high blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, another risk factor for cancer.
The hardest part is getting our brains to lace up our sneakers and cooperate!
LIVE & LIVEstream classes this week: With the sun setting so early, we are back at Studio #2 on Tuesday nights. I am back in town! With the exception of our Dare2tutu fundraiser, all classes will be LIVEstreamed. See or “See” you soon!