There seem to be a million products, programs and techniques that promise to get rid of belly fat!
Today I want to discuss the role of digestion, hormones and the microbiome in our weight, and take the confusion out of why we get this presentation.
Digestive issues such as colitis, IBS, constipation or diarrhoea can have a large effect on the way we eat and how our bodies absorb and digest foods, causing us to gain or lose weight.
When digestion has been poor for a prolonged period of time, we often see a build up of adipose tissue on the belly.
To lose this, we need to optimise your digestive capacity as a part of your wellness plan.
Recent research has discovered a potential correlation between body weight and the microbiome. Obese people have been shown to have a very different mix of organisms in their gut than lean people.
Gut bacteria play many roles in our health, including influencing how energy is stored, influencing glycemic control, and influencing satiety hormone production.
Correcting balance with probiotic therapy can be a useful tool to prevent rebound weight gain after weight loss is achieved.
If you have weight gain, but your diet hasn’t changed, this can be a sign of thyroid imbalance. Your gut actually plays a role here too!
The intestines convert about 20% of T4 into the activated hormone T3, but only in the presence of enough healthy gut bacteria. Recent studies suggest that the gut plays a major role as a reservoir for the thyroid hormones, especially for T3.
Antibiotics, poor diet, or a bout of gastro can all decimate bacteria populations.
Higher levels of cortisol has been linked to more visceral fat, sometimes called a Stress Belly. When high levels of insulin and cortisol are released together, they create lipoprotein lipase (LPL) which is a fat storing enzyme. The more of this enzyme you have, the more belly fat is stored. These levels of cortisol also cause damage to cells, lowering their insulin sensitivity.
Chronic stress increases appetite and cravings, and can also cause a loss of memory, muscle mass, libido, and bone density. Functional testing for stress hormones is a salivary 3-point cortisol test to track your stress response through the day.
Food intolerances can play a big part of the belly fat picture. If your diet is high in foods that you have an intolerance to, this causes inflammation. Inflammation can lead to leptin resistance and insulin resistance – two factors that will directly impact your energy, weight and ability to lose it.
The YorkTest’s Food&DrinkScan findings reported an average 5.4kg weight loss after 60 days in a group of 120 people tested for, and avoiding, their IgG positive foods. They also had desirable reductions in waist and hip circumferences, blood pressure and quality of life indicators.
Obviously, if you eat more calories than you consume you put on fat. But some foods are worse than others when it comes to belly fat. Alcohol consumption is at the top of that list, with daily intake of three or more drinks, or binge drinking on four or more drinks regularly being a sure way to a beer belly.
Transfats, sugar, and fructose are also poor diet choices that lead to excess weight.
Post pregnancy the uterus drops and the abdominal muscles shift, so it takes a while for the body to regain its muscular strength. The subcutaneous layer of fat will sit at the fore front until tone returns. Some women struggle with hormone imbalance, so if you found your baby weight hasn’t shift (and your baby is now 10 years old!) maybe you would benefit from a functional hormone assessment.
As a woman’s estrogen level drops and she enters menopause, fat distribution changes. Instead of sitting on the hips and thighs, it tends to sit on the belly causing an ‘apple’ shape. There are usually several factors as to why this can be so hard to budge, including weak digestion, low estrogen levels, toxin accumulation, genetics, medication side effects, adrenal issues and suboptimal thyroid hormones. A functional approach to first test the hormones and then support the body where it needs it is often required when belly fat just doesn’t shift.
Movement and exercise keeps us healthy! So it makes logical sense that being active is important for our weight too. People who watch more than 3 hours of TV per day double their risk of abdominal obesity than people who watch just one hour.
Researchers have confirmed that fat cells inside the abdomen are secreting molecules that increase inflammation.
That’s a real catch 22!
But it does explain why so many diseases are linked with excess weight, and why weight loss to a healthy weight range can reverse those diseases.
Work with a team of naturopaths who are passionate about a functional approach to weight loss! Click the link to book your first appointment. We would love to help you feel great!