Banish Belly FatJune 1, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
When news outlets cover the current state of health care and weight, an image of a heavy-set person with a particularly large midsection is often featured. Due to recent changes in diet and exercise patterns, abdominal obesity has become increasingly common in the population at large. No longer does the term “beer belly” primarily apply to those who are problem drinkers. Nor does youth protect against it, as evidenced by higher rates of central obesity and metabolic syndrome frequently found in adolescents.
There are a number of suspects that have been implicated in this dangerous lifestyle related trend. Increased intake of high glycemic carbohydrates and fructose are frequently cited. A significant decline in physical activity, poorly managed stress and persistent sleep apnea are other likely contributors. And, while a comprehensive approach to reducing belly fat is best, there is at least one simple step that can jump start the process toward a slimmer core. Best of all, the strategy I’m referring to can be incorporated into most wellness routines with little cost, effort or risk.
The February 2012 issue of the journal Obesity examined the effects of dietary factors and physical activity in relation to abdominal fat in a group of over 11,000 adults. The authors of the 5 year study employed computed tomography, diet and exercise questionnaires in attempt to document meaningful patterns. Their findings indicate that two factors were most important in influencing the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (VAT): 1) soluble fiber intake; 2) “vigorous physical activity”. Specifically, they determined that for each 10 gram increase in soluble fiber there was a 3.7% reduction in VAT. Several other population studies spanning the past decade have also drawn a consistent correlation between dietary fiber intake and abdominal fat and/or waist circumference. The take home message is that greater consumption of dietary fiber lowers the incidence of fat around the midsection. Another persistent pattern in the noted studies is that this dietary philosophy also tends to reduce the incidence of pre-diabetic and pre-heart disease risk factors collectively known as metabolic syndrome.
Researchers in the field offer a few clues about how and why fiber discourages the accumulation of belly fat. For one thing, the addition of dietary fiber to meals and snacks generally lowers the glycemic index (GI). Lower GI foods promote more stable blood sugar levels and lesser insulin and triglyceride production which, in turn, discourages fat deposition. Animal studies go on to reveal that the addition of supplemental fiber helps normalize diet and obesity-induced abnormalities found in rats with metabolic syndrome – namely, elevated inflammation (TNF-alpha) and low adiponectin. So, while fiber is helping to reign in your belly, it’s also protecting against the damaging consequences of central obesity while it’s still present.
If you’re ready to embark on a high fiber diet, here is my top ten list of foods and ingredients to get you started: Almonds (3 grams of fiber/oz), Avocado (10 grams/cup), Broccoli (5 grams/cup), Chia Seeds (11 grams/oz), Cocoa Powder (9 grams/oz), Collard Greens (5 grams/cup), Pumpkin (7 grams/cup), Purity Bread (8 grams/slice), Raspberries (8 grams/cup) and Flax Seeds (8 grams/oz). Please note that some of the figures (broccoli, collard greens and pumpkin) are reflective of the nutritional values of canned or cooked versions of these foods. Enjoy!
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation … (link)
Study 2 – Dietary Determinants of Changes in Waist Circumference Adjusted … (link)
Study 3 – Whole-Grain Intake and Cereal Fiber Are Associated with Lower … (link)
Study 4 – Nutritional Evaluation in Mexican Postmenopausal Women with … (link)
Study 5 – The Effects of a Whole Grain–Enriched Hypocaloric Diet … (link)
Study 6 – Nutritional Risk and the Metabolic Syndrome in Women … (link)
Study 7 – Prospective Study of the Association of Changes in Dietary Intake … (link)
Study 8 – Glycemic Index Predicts Individual Glucose Responses … (link)
Study 9 – Plantago Ovata Husks-Supplemented Diet Ameliorates Metabolic … (link)
Study 10 – Postprandial Triglyceride Response in Men: Role of Overweight … (link)
High Fiber Diets Are Linked to Lower Waist Circumference
Source: PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23384. (link)
Tags: Body Fat, Fiber, Metabolic Syndrome
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Nutrition