3 Things Your Belly Is Telling You About Your Health
Your belly may be saying more about your health than you might know. An increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke is associated by your waist circumference; specifically, more than 40 inches if you’re a man and more than 35 inches if you’re a woman.
Why? The visceral fat located there can snuggle up to our internal organs and make them difficult to function. Imagine trying to do your job with a clingy toddler with a vice grip. Recent research has uncovered a few more health issues that the belly may reveal—from how flexible your arteries are to how inflexible your digestive system is.
1. A belly could mean stiff arteries
The relationship between girth and arterial wall health hasn’t been clear cut; however, a recent study of 146 men and women published in the May 2015 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases may help define it. Researchers found that measures of abdominal obesity—waist circumference and visceral fat mass—were positively associated with arterial stiffness. What can this mean? When your blood vessel walls are stiff or hard, as in atherosclerosis, the pathway for the blood to move becomes narrowed by fat and can eventually become blocked. This can lead to cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
2. Your belly could be building brittle bones
A study of 2685 German adults between the ages of 20 and 79 years of age found that waist circumference, as well as BMI, visceral fat and abdominal fat, were associated with bone stiffness. According to the paper published in Calcified Tissue International, obesity was once thought to help protect against osteoporosis; however, this paper reveals that this may not be the case though researchers aren’t quite sure why yet.
3. A belly could mean IBS
According to a study published in the March 2015 issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, a large waist circumference as well as visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. However, a high body mass index isn’t.
Carey Rossi is a writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering all aspects of nutrition and fitness. She was the editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition, a shopping magazine for natural living, and the founding editor of Muscle & Fitness Hers. In addition, her work has appeared in Muscle & Fitness, Looking Good Now, Healthy Family, Vegetarian Times and Natural Health. She is the author of No More Diets Ever, Lose Weight the Natural Way.