Worried about the inflating spare tyre around your belly? Desperate to beat that unsightly bulge into submission?

Let me tell you about belly fat. It slowly creeps up on you to take firm hold, resulting in poor health, potentially limits your quality of life, and a sharp nose-dive in self-esteem.

Belly fat is uncomfortable, can be debilitating, and an indicator of your overall health. Nowadays, it’s far too easy to slip into a convenient comfort rut, a lifestyle which wreaks havoc on your insides, whether it’s stress or an overload of toxins.

As Newton once said, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” Nothing could be further from the truth in terms of your gut growing to epic proportions, our bodies create an unwanted reaction when faced with such imbalances, and these reactions end up attacking our health.  

Metabolic syndrome happens when certain risk factors come together to affect the way your body regulates its metabolism, which negatively influences the effectiveness of energy and throws your hormones out of kilter. Our metabolic system is basically how our bodies convert what we eat and drink into energy. How we control energy is crucial and specific hormones stop the way in which we access intermediaries and produce metabolites (small molecules). In order to melt your midsection, you need to have some sensitivity to these hormones. If you can shed the excess fat that’s been building up in your abdomen, you’ll be left with muscle. Insulin and cortisol are the two hormonal key players which have the most influence here.

Insulin lets your body use glucose for energy; your pancreas produces insulin which allows glucose to enter your cells to give you that energy. Cofactors are helper molecules that assist enzymes to do their job, and insulin is important in how these are released, and how they work with messenger RNS signals to make sure your cells are making proteins throughout.

Insulin is by far your fastest reacting hormone and it takes just 30 seconds for it to be released after your blood receives glucose. There’s two phases that happen when it gets released, the first one prepping the pancreas.

Too many unhealthy foods laden with a high glycemic index means your system can’t make insulin properly and this leads to rising blood glucose levels. As your blood sugar levels shoot up your body won’t be able to do what it needs to do, meaning congestion, your metabolism suffers, and your cells are not working how they ought to be to keep you healthy.

Cortisol and catecholamines (hormones made by your adrenal glands) work together to regulate the release of glucose into your blood stream. Cortisol is actually integral here because it has the ability to control blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It bonds well with insulin and they share a mutually beneficial relationship, their balanced levels depend on the other’s ability to help your body function. Cell membranes heavily rely, for example, on the right amount of insulin.

When there’s too much pressure on your pancreas to get rid of sugar from your blood, it’s going to have a knock-on effect and lower cortisol levels, this can leave you feeling sluggish, weak and your blood pressure can plummet. Leydig cells found in the testes help cortisol levels and keep your immunity in tip top shape. Reductions in this can deplete your immunity, it can also impair your memory, affect your emotions, and hamper your thyroid activity. In a nutshell, this puts you in danger of getting a metabolic syndrome and the dreaded excess belly fat that inevitably comes with it.

Testosterone is another hormone we struggle with if it isn’t working properly, simply because it plays many roles. It actually dampens a spike in an overwhelming amount of cortisol and has an effect on insulin. It’s vital to keep a watchful eye on cortisol because too much coming from your adrenal glands will lessen testosterone’s success in keeping you regulated. Low levels could mean you’re at risk from:

  • Increased probability of metabolic syndrome
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increase glycation
  • Increased inflammation and cytokine release
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer
  • 3.5 x rate of thickening to the carotid arteries

Other reasons for low testosterone (also linked to raised levels of cortisol) could be:

  • Aromatization – when it’s turned into estrogen
  • Increased sex hormone binding globulin
  • Low luteinizing hormone secretion
  • Low output from testes (insulin resistance)
  • Inadequate amounts of DHEA (oxidative stress and cortisol dominance)

Our thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, plays a huge part in keeping us healthy, and it’s vastly under-estimated. It ensures our cells are communicating with each other, and produces hormones pumped into the blood (T3 and T4) that steady our metabolism. Euthyroid sick syndrome is when either of these hormones have depleted or abnormal serum levels.  It’s useful to know the kind of factors that can influence euthyroid sick syndrome, having an insight could be key if you believe it’s a reason why you’re feeling and acting how you are:

  • Stress
  • Starvation (excessive use of fasting diets)
  • Liver disease
  • High catecholamine status – impaired glutathione and modification pathways in the liver

So, it goes without saying that if we look after our thyroid, it will look after us. Treating it kindly can equal good health and more energy, plus it’ll mean an optimum release of testosterone through healthy Leydig cells, equipping us much better to handle stress and insulin sensitivity.

An unwelcome belly bulge is overall bad news in so many ways, from brain fog to muscle weakness. Shredding yourself of it will not only give you a much-needed mental and confidence boost, it’ll gift you with renewed vitality and thirst to live life. Once you understand the horrifying outcomes of when that sinister visceral fat starts to strangle your organs, it should shock you into submission to do something about it. Take back your health and your life.