Sunday, 01 April 2012 05:00

Belly Fat

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If there is one thing that is the bane of a good figure and vibrant health, it is belly fat. I am talking about that stubborn extra roll around the middle that does not seem to disappear, no matter how swift your metabolism, how much you exercise or how many sit ups you do. For some people, belly weight means the dreaded “muffin top” that escapes over the top of your jeans. For others, abdominal weight gain results in a clear round, apple shape. The fat in those love handles also contribute to increased blood triglyceride levels, inflammation and insulin resistance. Carrying extra weight around the middle puts you at higher risk of heart disease, cancers and diabetes.

So why do we gain belly weight? Why do men develop a beer belly and breasts and why do women suffer with rolls of belly fat they can’t budge? Our hormones are the short answer. Throughout life, hormones regulate everything from bone strength, to heart beat to how quickly food is utilized by the body. Insulin is the main hormone contributing to belly fat. Insulin is produced by the pancreas to push glucose (sugar) into cells and thus decrease your blood levels of glucose. The more glucose in your blood from eating high-carbohydrate, highsugar, low-protein foods, the more insulin that the hard-working pancreas must produce. Eventually, however, your cells can become resistant to insulin, resulting in excess insulin in the blood and elevated blood sugar that isn’t pushed into the cells. Insulin resistance is a pre-diabetic condition. Skin tags are a common early sign of pre-diabetes due to elevated insulin and blood sugar. Type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well as elevated cholesterol, and triglycerides ultimately result if elevated blood sugar is not controlled.

Carob Extract Treats PCOS
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has been a very difficult condition to treat until Chirositol came to the rescue. In women with PCOS, weight gain around the hips and thighs, insulin resistance, higher-than-normal male hormones, sometimes multiple cysts in the ovaries and infertility due to not ovulating are major components of the condition. In multiple studies, Chirositol was found to effectively treat insulin and blood sugar levels, excess male hormones, weight gain and appetite in these women. In women who also do not ovulate or have irregular periods associated with insulin resistance and PCOS, Chirositol is the answer. Most women with PCOS are overweight, but for those who are thin and have PCOS, Chirositol maintained their normal weight while regulating insulin and blood sugar levels while improving ovulation and menstrual cycles, and reducing excess circulating male hormones.

Insulin-Testosterone Connection
In women, when insulin levels become high, it also causes an increase in male hormones circulating in the blood, particularly testosterone. When insulin and testosterone are elevated, women develop hormone related conditions like acne, male-pattern facial hair growth (e.g. hair above the lip, on and under the chin), infertility, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). (Chirositol, a nutrient I discuss below, has been researched for the treatment of PCOS with excellent results, restoring fertility, reducing weight, and halting male facial hair growth and acne. So read on.)

In men, elevated insulin causes testosterone to convert to estrogens (which results in the breasts and beer belly) and also the conversion of testosterone to DHT, a harmful male hormone associated with prostate cancer and hair loss.

Normalizing Insulin and Blood Sugar
Normalizing insulin and blood sugar just got easier. A unique, well-researched ingredient derived from carob called D-chiroinositol has been involved in more than 30 published studies at Virginia Medical School over the past 25 years. Research on D-chiro-inositol, also called Chirositol, (pronounced kur-ausit- ol) has shown excellent results in the treatment of insulin resistant conditions like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and PCOS as well as weight loss, especially belly fat. Chirositol has many actions that contribute to its well-documented effectiveness. First, it stimulates insulin activity, helping to regulate glucose levels and pushes glucose into the cells where it is supposed to be (not leaving it in the blood), which in turn helps to normalize blood sugar levels. At the same time, it will not cause low blood sugar in those with normal blood sugar levels. It acts like insulin in this action. Due to Chirositol’s ability to improve the action of insulin, it thereby reduces the high testosterone seen in women with elevated insulin and improves conditions such as excessive weight gain around the middle and irregular ovulation or menstruation in women. It does not reduce testosterone levels in men but regulates insulin to maintain healthy testosterone levels.

Reduce Appetite and Elevate Happy Hormones
Chirositol has further been shown to reduce appetite and improve serotonin, our happy hormone. Reduced serotonin or poor metabolism of serotonin is linked to increased sugar cravings. So by restoring serotonin, Chirositol also helps control appetite.

Stress and Belly Fat
When you are under constant stress, your adrenal glands pump out a hormone called cortisol to help you deal with the stressors you are facing. Just as insulin resistance promotes weight gain, so does chronic stress because it triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Elevated cortisol is associated with elevating insulin, blood sugar problems, fat accumulation, poor immunity, infertility and more. Cortisol also causes our fat cells to change structure and become resistant to fat loss. In short, cortisol makes our fat cell door slam shut and not let the fat out even when we reduce calories and exercise. For these reasons, it is imperative to reduce stressors and to support the adrenals too. Adrenal support nutrients like ashwagandha, rhodiola, suma, Siberian ginseng and schizandra berries work to normalize adrenal function.

Use Chirositol daily, reduce stress, support your adrenals with the herbs mentioned above and eat a diet designed to keep insulin and blood sugar balanced. Make sure you have protein at every meal, eat good carbohydrates including dark green vegetables and salads, along with healthy fats including extra virgin coconut butter and olive oil. Walk at least 30 minutes per day and watch that belly fat disappear.

Lorna Vanderhaeghe, MSc

A health journalist, Vanderhaeghe as been researching and writing on the subject of nutritional medicine for over 20 years. She is past editor in chief of Healthy Living Guide and Alive magazine. Lorna is the author of A Smart Woman's Guide to Hormones, A Smart Woman's Guide to Weight Loss, A Smart Woman's Guide to Heart Health, the A-Z Woman’s Guide to Vibrant Health and many more.

Website: www.healthyimmunity.com