Numerous studies have found that belly fat is particularly dangerous. In fact, in one recent study, a pot belly even in people who were otherwise normal weight dramatically increased the risk of dying.
Fat in the belly doesn’t just sit there, taking up space. It pumps out chemicals like cytokines that trigger chronic inflammation throughout the body. That’s a big problem because chronic inflammation is thought to be one of the major factors linking obesity to various life-crippling diseases, including heart disease.
Fat cells in the belly also produce chemicals, including steroid hormones, which make you more likely to gain fat. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle. The more belly fat you have, the more fat-storage hormones you produce, and the harder it is to lose weight.
There are more hormonal horrors. When belly fat reaches abdominal obesity levels (a waist greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men), another very important fat-storage hormone called insulin is often negatively affected, creating more problems for our metabolism.
The optimal way to shed fat, including belly fat, and keep it off is with a healthy eating and exercise program like Pritikin.
With the Pritikin Eating Plan, you’re focusing on foods like whole fruits, vegetables, water-rich whole grains, and beans that naturally keep daily calorie intake low. You’re achieving satiety, or fullness, without going overboard on calories.
For years, we in the medical community taught that lowering LDL (often called the “bad” cholesterol) was the primary treatment target for reducing cardiovascular events. And certainly, improving LDL is still very important.
But there is now growing consensus that non-HDL cholesterol is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease risk because non-HDL contains not only LDL but other “bad” particles that contribute to the build-up of cholesterol-filled plaques in the artery wall.
It is vital to keep your blood pressure under control because the higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, impotence, loss of mental function, and dementia.
What’s more, dramatic increases in heart attack and stroke risk do not begin with readings of 140/90, the numbers that used to define high blood pressure. We now know that serious, life-threatening risks begin at much lower readings like 130/80. That’s why newly published U.S. guidelines state that high blood pressure is now defined as 130 and higher for systolic blood pressure (the top number), or 80 and higher for diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
To lower your blood pressure, start with a heart-healthy, lifestyle-based approach like Pritikin.
Most people with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can control their blood pressure without the need for medications by following the Pritikin Program. Those who still need pills usually require lower dosages and/or fewer pills.
Preventing or controlling diabetes could save your heart – and life. Heart attacks occur two to four times more often in people with diabetes compared to non-diabetics. Strokes occur two to four times more often.
Other conditions, many life-crippling, caused by diabetes include blindness, kidney failure, peripheral artery disease (blockages in the major arteries that feed the legs), erectile dysfunction, diabetic neuropathy (burning pain and loss of feeling in the feet and hands), poor wound healing, gangrene, and amputations.
The sad news is that many countries worldwide are now suffering epidemic rates of type 2 diabetes because many people live in food toxic and sedentary environments.
The hopeful news is that since diabetes is largely a lifestyle-related disease, there is much we can do in the way of lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of this horrible, life-robbing disease.
Daily exercise and healthy eating, as our guests learn at Pritikin, can greatly improve blood glucose levels as well as help shed excess body fat, a major risk factor for diabetes.