Belly fat, the most common cause of concern for every woman. Mainly because it makes them unattractive, no clothes fits well, no clothes can hide it, but that is not all. Belly fat does much harm internally than just making you unattractive. Sometimes a slim woman can also have belly fats, that is protruding belly.
With a healthy weight range and perfect BMI, they have excess fat accumulation in their waistline. In medicinal terms this is called normal-weight obesity. Generally people with normal-weight obesity have normal BMI but the fat muscle ratio of them is higher. That means they have more fats than muscles.
The protruding or hanging belly is the result of two types of fats:
- Visceral fat – A hard kind of fat that lies deep inside our belly and surrounds the organs over there.
- Subcutaneous fat – This is a soft kind of fat layer just beneath the skin surface.
Excess fat around the middle, i.e around the belly and waist is more dangerous than excess fat in other parts of the body.
There are many reasons for middle-part fat accumulation. Those are as follows:
- Low metabolism
- Cesarean delivery
- Other ailments
Any of the above mentioned causes or a combination of the causes can make the beer belly.
Whatever may be the cause, the effect is quite taxing to the health.
In this article we are going to discuss the hormonal causes of belly fat.
How do we know that it is hormonal belly fat?
Belly fat can be recognized in the mirror, but the other physical conditions that supports that is caused by hormones are as follows:
- Feel exhausted all the time but can not fall asleep.
- Suffers from stress and anxiety all the time
- Losing hair
- Experience strong desire for something
Now after we come to know the effects of hormonal problems, let us know something about hormones. Hormones are said to be the chemical messengers in the body that make communication between the different organs. Sometimes a dedicated gland can release the hormones and sometimes it can be released from other glands , e.g pancreas. Pancreas is a gland that secrete different digestive juices as well as hormones whereas pituitary or thyroid glands secrete only hormones.
Luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland transported through the bloodstream to the testis to produce testosterone hormone.
Insulin hormone, secreted from pancreas directs the body cells to take in the sugar when there is excess sugar in the bloodstream after every meal. Again glucagon hormone stimulates the liver to release sugar to the bloodstream when the sugar level is less in the bloodstream due to fasting.
Not only that hormone is responsible for muscle mass accumulation, fat distribution in the body, hair growth in the body, height etc. sometimes more than one hormone is responsible for a particular physical appearance or physiology. Like fat distribution and accumulation is also controlled by more than one hormone. They are as follows:
Insulin hormone is released from pancreas when glucose or sugar level is high in the bloodstream. Now sugar level can be high after having a meal, for cortisol hormone (a hormone that is released in the bloodstream at the time of stress) or after getting an IV infusion. If the blood sugar level is high for a prolonged period of time, insulin level also remains high.
It may happen in the cases of uncontrolled diabetes, metabolic syndrome and chronic cortisol release.
But body cells in such cases can not take in glucose any more. That is, they are not responding to insulin. The blood sugar level is high as well. In such a case the body responds to this higher sugar level by storing the excess sugar in the form of fat in the belly. This situation can be worsened by metabolic syndrome and further hormone imbalance. Insulin medication is needed to cure such problem
Increased and imbalanced Cortisol Hormone
Stress boosts the cortisol hormone in our body. Well that is not the only reason, chronic stress, disbalance of estrogen ( female sex hormone) or testosterone (male sex hormone) level, when the adrenal glands that produce the cortisol hormone are not functioning properly.
As soon as cortisol hormone is found in the bloodstream, the liver releases glucose or sugar to have the energy to fight stress. Once the strenuous situation is gone, cortisol release is stopped and sugar release from liver will also stop.
But prolonged presence of cortisol in the bloodstream makes continuous sugar released and pancreas will continuously release insulin, which causes the fat cells to turn the sugar into fats. This fat is stored as belly fats.
Leptin hormone is released by the fat cells after having a meal and makes you feel full after eating. So below the proper level of leptin makes you feel hungry and more than the standard level of leptin restrain you from eating your actual requirement. Thus leptin is related to obesity.
Thyroid is a gland situated at the base of our neck and shaped as a butterfly. It produces many hormones, TH (thyroid hormone) is one of them. The main function of TH is it regulates metabolism, activates cells’ metabolism and makes them burn more calories to produce energy. When the less TH production is less, it is known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can occur due to genetics, cancer, autoimmune disorder or even diet.
Hypothyroidism slows the metabolism and the excess calorie that can’t be burnt is stored as belly fat. People with hypothyroidism are more lethargic, feel tired more easily and feel cold.
Menopause is a period when the women are at the end of their reproductive years. There are three stages of menopause, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. All three stages go through many hormonal and physiological changes. Fat gain or weight gain is one of the various side effects a woman goes through in this period.
Menopause results in decrease in estrogen, a sex hormone in women which is responsible for metabolism as well. When it drops, the body uses less energy and more fat. The estrogen hormone controls follicle- stimulating-hormone and luteinizing hormones that cause other metabolic changes and in turn result in mid section bulge.
Causes of hormonal imbalance
Hormones act as a messenger to different organs of our body. Sometimes they directly participate in certain physiological functions of the body and sometimes they stimulate the other glands to release other hormones for a particular function. Hormone are generally controlled and regulated in the body but sometimes genetic, illness and lifestyle can make them irregular and imbalanced. Following are the reasons for hormonal imbalances.
- Genetic – The hormonal level in the body may be genetic. Insulin, leptin, thyroid, cortisol etc can have the effect from their ancestors.
- Age – With age physical activities of a person is reduced so as the metabolism also decreases. Less activity, less muscles and less thyroid hormones leads to it.
- As ages, people’s taste has changed and digestive power decreases, which leads to change in diet.
- Lack of sleep – Sleep is considered as the healing of daily hazards to the body. Depriving sleep means taxing an already tired body and the consequences are horrible. To support the over functioning of the brain, cortisol, TH, Epinephrine may also be elevated that causes belly fat..
- Change in lifestyle – Exercise increases metabolism. Now sudden change in food habits, suddenly stopping the exercise etc can lead to midsection bulge.
Steps to reset the hormones to healthy level
In medical or genetic cases hormone imbalance can not be treated naturally. But following some healthy lifestyle and habits, hormones can be well regulated and belly fats can be to some extent reduced. The habits are as follows
Eating – Sounds funny. No, do not eat just anything,but eat fiber rich, unprocessed carbohydrates, good fats. Avoid, or better stop eating processed carbohydrates and sugar. These diets in the long run can be the cause of insulin resistance and belly fat.
Regular adequate sleep – Sleep is as important as anything else in our life. One third of our life we spend sleeping and that is required. Sleep can reduce the stress level as well and make the brain function better.
Exercise – There is no other way but exercise to be healthy and get rid of beer belly. Not only beer belly but it fixes many other, almost every problem in the body. Exercise increases metabolism, increases certain growth and anti inflammatory hormones and burns calories. It reduces stress as well.
Treatments of hormonal belly fat
- Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can be done to reduce belly fat.
- Plastic and cosmetic surgery can be an option as a last resort.
- Changing the diet and certain yoga can sometimes help in shaping the body
Belly fat is a common problem to male and females all over the world. There are innumerable reasons for that. But every reason for belly fat can be defied. As it is said, if there is a wish, there is a way.