Today, we want to teach you about a specific kind of fat that you may not have known existed, and which affects your health very significantly. As the title suggests, this type of fat is called visceral fat. In this newsletter, we will explain what it is, where to find it, and how it affects your body. Importantly, we will also cover the three most important things you can do to manage it, and how we can help!
What is it?
As you can see from the graphic above, visceral fat is the fat that is packed around the internal organs rather than outside the abdominal muscle wall. In the following sections, we will discuss why it is so dangerous yet often overlooked, and why a healthy lifestyle is the only way to deal with it in excess.
Because these fat cells are packed inside the abdominal muscles and around the internal organs, there is no quick and easy way to check its volume without the right technology. If you pinch the fat around your waist, as we have all done at some point in our lives, you are holding subcutaneous fat. Conversely to visceral fat, this is the fat that lies outside of your abdominal muscles (hence why it is so noticeable and easy to check). However – do not be fooled: just because you do not have subcutaneous fat does not mean you are healthy. Your visceral fat cannot be so easily measured and is more impactful to your health. High visceral fat levels have been distinctly linked to insulin resistance (a common precursor to Type 2 Diabetes), a predisposition to cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate, increased incidence of infections, heart disease and hypertension.
Fortunately, we at Huntington Lifestyle Partners have the technology required to check your visceral fat levels. A quick scan on our BIA machine will show you how much visceral fat you may be hiding away, and we can help you trim down on this all-important adipose tissue with our lifestyle program. It should be noted that simpler body composition metrics, such as weight, BMI, body fat percentage, or even handheld bioimpedance tools are insufficient to capture this particularly important value.
So now you know what it is and where it is, as well as how to find it. Let us talk about what it does. First things first, it is important to understand that when the liver (the primary detoxifying organ) gets bombarded with more toxins than it can process, it packs the excess toxic substances into fat cells. These fat cells make up a large percentage of the visceral fat, and they are one of the reasons why visceral fat is far more dangerous. In recent years, it has also been discovered that visceral fat acts as an endocrine organ, releasing some hormones into the bloodstream and interfering with the production of others.
These hormones can cause inflammation to flare up, making all kinds of infections more likely (by weakening your immune system) and putting you at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are responsible for the most deaths worldwide year after year. They can also influence your appetite, making you feel hungry when your body does not actually need food (this turns unhealthy eating into a vicious cycle). Furthermore, visceral fat secretes sex steroids that disturb the testosterone/estrogen balance in men and women, which can affect sexual desire and sex drive.
A Healthy Balance
As with all things in life, the ultimate goal is to find a balance. Having too much visceral fat can have all kinds of crippling health effects but having none would leave your internal organs with no cushioning for protection or movement. To find this balance, there is only one real solution: live a balanced lifestyle. Other fat removal methods, such as liposuction, cannot reach the visceral fat because it sits too close to internal organs. It just so happens that the only remaining method for visceral fat reduction is also the safest and healthiest! Eating a balanced diet, getting proper exercise, and not smoking are the three easiest ways to accomplish a balanced and healthy lifestyle. However, we understand that is easier said than done, and we would love to help you find a balance that works for you! Consider enrolling in our lifestyle program, which you can read more about here, or call us and ask at (626) 314-6584.
 Shuster A, Patlas M, Pinthus JH, Mourtzakis M. The clinical importance of visceral adiposity: a critical review of methods for visceral adipose tissue analysis. Br J Radiol. 2012;85(1009):1-10. doi:10.1259/bjr/38447238
 Coelho M, Oliveira T, Fernandes R. Biochemistry of adipose tissue: an endocrine organ. Arch Med Sci. 2013;9(2):191-200. doi:10.5114/aoms.2013.33181