Hidden Danger: Stubborn Belly Fat Syndrome
Being overweight has become an epidemic in America. The Standard American Diet (SAD) has caused many of us to be overweight due to the fact that most of our food has been genetically altered and chemicals added. Unfortunately for us it is not real food anymore it has lost most of its nutritional value. For instance the wheat we eat now is not the same wheat our grandparents ate; it has been genetically altered over the past 20 to 30 years which has caused the wheat to have five times more gluten in it. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye and some other grains. You may have noticed there is recent gluten sensitivity problem going on. It seems like everyone is sensitive to gluten. Twenty or thirty years ago you rarely heard of anyone sensitive to gluten. American adult obesity and child obesity is now at an all time high.
As you gain fat your body starts to change shape. This is due to the body storing fat under the skin called subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat you can “see”; it is what gives us our body shape. Your body shape depends on how well your glands and organs are functioning. This is the fat that most people want to get rid of but it is not the most dangerous fat. The second type of fat you will have is viscera fat. This is the most dangerous fat because it accumulates around the glands and organs inside the body. It accumulates around your heart, liver etc.. This in turn can lead to heart disease, diabetes, 48% increase risk of cancer, high blood pressure, cholesterol, Insulin resistance, 145% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and more. Just from having excessive belly fat.
The glands and organs that affect our body shape and where we accumulate fat are the thyroid, adrenals, ovaries and liver. There are only four reasons a person cannot lose weight or cannot keep weight off. They are 1.Sluggish thyroid; 2. Liver dysfunction, 3. Ovaries (hormones out of balance). 4.Adrenal fatigue. Each one of these has their own set of symptoms and area of the body where the weight (fat) will accumulate.
Sluggish Thyroid: A whole book could be written on the “sluggish thyroid” and many have. We are just going to touch on some of the basic facts of the thyroid. When I’m talking about sluggish thyroid’ I am talking about hypothyroid. You are diagnosed with hypothyroid when your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is above 5.5. Once you are diagnosed with hypothyroid the standard course of treatment would be to prescribe thyroid medication like Synthroid, lavoxal, Armor, etc.
The thyroid is located in the front of the throat and is a butterfly shape. Its main function is metabolism. The thyroid regulates the rate at which the body burns food and controls the production of certain body tissues such as nails and hair. The thyroid gland also regulates body temperature, breakdown of carbohydrates, mental clarity and well-being, energy levels and even vitamin absorption, cholesterol levels, hair texture, nail strength, softness or dryness of the skin and sex drive are all greatly influenced by the thyroid. Metabolism refers to the rate or speed at which the body breaks down food and changes it into living tissue and energy. Metabolism is also defined as the release of energy left, (burning of fat) from the cells. The first major consequence of a sluggish thyroid is a slow metabolism. Everything gets slower, brain processes can be suppressed triggering what appears to be depression, lethargy and a general apathetic feeling. A loss of libido (sex drive) can occur with a sluggish thyroid. It could also cause a complete loss of the menstrual cycle. Another condition that may manifest is a feeling of being tired all the time, despite sleeping for long hours. This could get diagnosed as chronic fatigue. The thyroid also controls the oil glands and blood flow to the skin. A sluggish thyroid can mean dry skin and dry brittle hair. With a thyroid problem a person could attempt to curl their hair and not be able to maintain the curl. They might even lose the outer one third of their eyebrows. Since the thyroid gland controls metabolism, in a non-optimal state it begins to drive body temperatures to well below normal, causing cold feet and cold hands. Sufferers will start to wear extra clothing, even in moderate climates. Some people will have to wear socks to bed. I had one patient tell me her feet were so cold she had to wear socks and slippers to bed. As everything starts to get slower, the body will demand quick energy as a carbohydrate craving. The most common craving that I have observed in my clinic with thyroid types are starches. Vegetable starches such as potatoes, yams, corn, french fries and hash browns are easily converted to fat, and some of the sweeter fruits have a negative effect on insulin. The carbohydrates that I’m mainly talking about are the refined ones, for example: breads, pasta, cereals, crackers, pancake, waffles, doughnuts, cakes, muffins, rice cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, juice, alcohol, wine, beer and ice cream are all refined carbohydrates. The thyroid body type will crave these.
The body shape resulting from a sluggish thyroid is an overall fat distribution. You will gain weight evenly distributed throughout your body and you will have a great deal of waste like fluid weight that contributes to the appearance of having an overall excessive weight problem. This condition is called myxedema and is a result of a thyroid that is not working to full capacity. Some additional symptoms may experience with a sluggish thyroid are weakness, fatigue, poor or/low appetite, high cholesterol, brittle nails with vertical ridges, hair stiff and dry, hair loss or thinning hair, dry skin, puffiness around the eyes, sagging eyelids, difficulty making decisions, thickening of the tongue, voice gets deeper and rougher in sound.
Liver: The liver body shape has the big potbelly or better known as a beer belly. These are the guys you usually see on the beach wearing a Speedo with a beer in their hand, they look like your cousin or uncle. The liver is the body’s filtration system. It filters out microbes, drugs and dead cells from the body as an immune function. Every hormone, chemical, bacteria, virus, fungus and parasite is filtered through the liver. The liver is about as big as a football and lies under the rib cage on the right side and it is the biggest organ inside the body. It works much like an oil filter in your car. In addition, it acts as a digestive organ, breaks down fats, proteins and even carbohydrates it can also make sugar out of protein. The liver has 560 known functions and researchers believe it has double that many functions. When the liver gets damaged the toxins that are normally filtered out are re-circulating through the body, re-exposing delicate glands to harmful compounds, triggering a toxic overload. Synthetic estrogen from growth hormones, medications, aspirin, birth control pills and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) also cause huge side effects and causes damage to the liver. When the liver is damaged it causes a potbelly appearance. This protruding abdomen is not always fat in fact most of it is fluid. If the liver is not functioning well it can leak fluids into the stomach area behind the glands and organs within the abdomen. This characteristic is called ascites, which comes from the Greek word askos, meaning “bladder”,” belly” or” wineskin (animal skin used to hold wine). If you push the belly from side to side it feels much like a water balloon. The fluid is leaking because the liver is not able to produce proteins. This becomes a low protein situation that can’t be improved by just eating more protein. This can only be improved by eating lots of vegetables and a little bit of high quality protein, this takes the stress off the liver and lets it heal. If you have excess weight in the midsection a glass of wine or beer at night will just make it worse. Liver types can usually have a dull pressure and a fullness feeling in the upper abdomen area under the right rib cage. After eating a meal the person can have belching and burping because the liver and gallbladder are not functioning properly at times the person may feel as though they’re getting arthritis in their joints this is a symptom of the liver dysfunction and not really arthritis. After a night’s sleep the person would wake up they would be struggling to get up in the morning and their eyes may be bloodshot. Liver people in the morning are grouchy, moody and irritable. You have to give them time to wake up let them have their first cup of coffee before you talk to them. Some other symptoms liver people may experience are: brown spots on the back of their hands and throughout their body, eyelids are itchy and swollen, hives and itchiness, skin problems, little red dots on skin, acid reflux, constipation, hemorrhoids, chemical sensitivities, stiffness in the lower back and/or upper back between the shoulder blades, right shoulder pain or tightness, gallbladder problems, headaches, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, varicose veins, spider veins, bad breath, tongue coated with white film and swelling in ankles.
Ovaries: The ovaries produce three hormones responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle. The ovaries release eggs every month and are in charge of making the environment suitable for the eggs to grow. One of these hormones is estrogen. It creates the fat layer around a female body, specifically around the ovaries – hips, buttocks and lower abdomen below the belly button. When ovaries become dysfunctional, they can produce an excessive amount of estrogen, which causes more fat. This fat is deposited on the thighs lower stomach and the buttock, went on the thighs it is known as saddlebags. Not only can the body make more estrogen due to dysfunction of the ovaries but there are many foods that can have synthetic or natural estrogen in them such as red meats, chicken, milk, pond raised fish, and soy. Some symptoms that may contribute to out of balance ovaries are: PMS (premenstrual syndrome), cravings at certain times of the month, bloating, extra painful cramping, and excessive menstrual bleeding, as well as depression during the menstrual cycle. A person with an ovary body type may experiences pain on either side of the lower back area. Pain can also be in one of the knees, as the pain is being referred from one of the ovaries. During menopause the ovaries shut down. When this occurs the adrenal glands kick in and begin producing hormones similar to those the ovaries once produced, only in smaller quantities because the woman will not be giving birth. Other symptoms that may occur are: weight gain or bloating around that time of the month, ovarian cysts, cyclic fatigue, cyclic brain fog, cyclic pain in the lower back and hips, cyclic lack of libido, infertility, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, cyclic acne, cyclic mood swings, cyclic constipation, depression during menstrual cycle, and cravings at certain times of the month.
Adrenals: Your adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands are known as your stress glands, have you ever been under stress? I was once. The adrenal glands don’t care if the stress comes from worry about bills, or a relationship or by getting hit by a Mack truck. The stress is all the same to the adrenal glands they treat both mental and physical stress the same. One of the main functions of these glands is countering stress by the production of several hormones. The adrenal glands have many other functions such as, anti-inflammatory actions (getting rid of the body’s pain and swelling), immune system protection to balanced fluid and salt levels, and controlling minerals (such as potassium), rapid heart rate, sleep and awake cycles. When the adrenals have a dysfunction, the fat forms primarily in and around the abdomen organs and sags downward over the belly. Another term for this sagging belly is called a pendulous abdomen, meaning hanging loose, sagging. This is different from the liver body shape, which is a potbelly; this is more a perturbing belly like a water balloon, while in the ovary body shape the person has a small bulge below the belly button and into the hips. In the adrenal body type the belly actually hangs. There are many different degrees of adrenal problems, but many of them do not show up in the blood test until they are well advanced into dangerous stages. A fat pad can develop in the lower neck and upper back known as a buffalo hump. Fat will accumulate in the face which gives a round or moon face appearance. The face can also have a reddish appearance because of small vessels close to the surface. This type of individual generally has a large mid section with thin arms and thin legs. This is the person you see in the summertime that has a big body and toothpick legs and you wonder how their legs can hold up his body. They are an adrenal type body shape. A common problem with adrenal type body shapes is the inability to fit into clothes, especially around the waist. The adrenal hormones control the sleep and awake cycles. With adrenal problems you can be tired all day yet, despite being exhausted you can’t sleep through the night. The body will not let you get into deep sleep cycles. Because the adrenals counter stress, their production of abnormally high amounts of stress hormones makes it impossible to attain the deep, restful sleep you need to properly rejuvenate the body for the coming day. Certain adrenal hormones are responsible for making you feel awake mentally. Others are responsible for the sleep cycle. Often a person will just wake up at around 2:58 AM for no reason and end up laying there for an hour or so before going back to sleep. Or they wake up and have to go to the bathroom. The problem with this is not just losing a little bit of sleep but the problem is you burn fat at night in the deep sleep cycles. With an adrenal problem you’re not getting into the deep sleep cycles, so the fat burning effects from exercise can be nullified due to poor sleep. Some other symptoms you can get by having weak adrenals are: insomnia, sleeplessness, need mid-afternoon nap, nervousness, anxiousness, frequently dealing with stress, acne or poor skin, red cheeks, round or moon face, puffy face and dark circles around the eyes, double chin, facial hair, receding hairline, high blood pressure, lacks ligaments – weak ankles and knees, weak or brittle bones – due to loss of calcium and protein, difficulty absorbing calcium, need coffee to wake up, crave salts, cheese, chocolate and sugar may have ringing in ears or low sex drive.
The hidden dangers of belly fat are many, and can be life threatening. If you can’t lose weight or you lose weight just to gain it back you may have stubborn belly fat syndrome! I have helped many people with stubborn belly fat syndrome. In my office, we do not use a diet. We will work to handle the underlying conditions that cause you not to lose weight and have the fat return. You may have heard “You have to lose weight to get healthy.” This is false. You have to get healthy to lose the weight. If you’re struggling with weight issues and health problems please call my office to make an appointment for an evaluation. Call 615-333-0021
For more information on how to get healthy and stay healthy, go to www.youralternativedoctor.com Dr Foley is an Advance Nutritionist/ Chiropractic physician that specializes in nutritional rehabilitation of chronic and hard to manage health conditions. He has practiced over 25 years, lecturing weekly on how to get rid of belly fat, Hypothyroid, Hashimoto’s Autoimmune, Gluten Sensitivity and many other health topics. Dr Foley takes a natural approach that is safe and effective. All health programs are tailor made for the individual person. You can contact Dr. Foley at 5602 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211 Office Phone: (615) 333-0021 or firstname.lastname@example.org