I was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of newsman Tim Russert a few days ago. I’d watched him periodically over the years and always liked him. Those pointed and probing questions from such a genuinely amiable guy; what wasn’t to like? And he’s tragically gone at such a young age.
Yes… that’s young from a relative standpoint at this time in history. I saw a news story mentioning that his father survives him. Such is the seeming randomness of heart failure.
I don’t claim to know the biological circumstances that led to his cardiac arrest. What I do know is that being overweight doesn’t help any of us in our odds of avoiding this fate. Many of us realize this intuitively as we picture our little fist-sized heart muscles working ever harder to pump blood through excess networks of vessels stretching through unneeded adipose deposits. Yet this isn’t completely accurate. It doesn’t describe the biggest reasons for the perils of excess fat. Especially – belly fat.
Body fat, particularly abdominal fat on men, poses risks for heart disease that may surpass the contrastingly innocuous risks posed by fat that accumulates in other bodily regions. Belly fat dangers are a formidable threat.
Here are a few of the non-vanity type reasons to lose your gut if you haven’t yet. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who’s been in your shoes; I know what it’s like to have a nearly forty inch waistline and to… well… really not give a fat rat’s butt.
If you’re a man, abdominal fat can
- Lower your testosterone levels
- Raise your estrogen levels
- Throw your HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio out of whack
- Lower your insulin resistance
- Lead to sexual impotence
- Lower growth hormone levels
- Raise cortisol levels
This last item listed (higher cortisol levels) contributes to muscle tissue breakdown. Less skeletal muscle means less area to store sugars. This, in turn, can lead to even more abdominal fat.
See… it’s good to have beeg maussels. (That was a bad ‘Arnold’ impression)
Consider this: The heart is a muscle. Like other muscles, it requires adequate testosterone levels to remain strong. There are, in fact, more cellular sites for receiving testosterone in the heart than in any other muscle of the human anatomy. Vigorous testosterone levels have also been shown to contribute to healthy cholesterol levels.
In short, everything hormonal that’s good decreases and everything that’s bad increases when we carry excess belly fat. This is what creates belly fat dangers in relation to coronary disease.
I can say from experience: “The fleeting pleasure of gustatory titillation doesn’t match the moment-by-moment pleasure of having a lean waistline.”
But given the realization of belly fat dangers, slimming down your mid-section can also give you a bit more peace-of-mind in relation to your health as well.