A fat belly can be very frustrating. We look good from the back, then we turn around, and, oh dear. Slowly the tanker turns. In truth, a fat belly is not necessarily a fat belly – it may be a distended belly. Here are seven possible causes for an apparently fat belly, with stress playing a surprisingly major role.
- If the belly wobbles, then yes, its fat. Body fat. The causes: eating too much and stress. Sometimes we can very successfully lose weight only to be left with a really irritating little belly right around the belly button. And it will not go! The cause: stress. The theory is that we put fat on our belly because it is easily accessible as an emergency fuel supply when times are tough. One of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to get enough sleep on a regular basis. Apart from that, there are a multitude of ways of chilling out, including enjoyable exercise.
- The belly may wobble, but if we prod through the wobble, it is extremely likely that we can feel a prominent balloon. We can put our hands around it. The cause is much harder to work out than just wobbly fat. The most obvious being food intolerances. And the most obvious culprit is the food that is eaten everyday – and we can’t imagine not eating. So wheat; gluten; dairy; eggs; onions; tomatoes; fruit; it could be weird like peas. There will sometimes be a level of addiction involved, so giving up the food causing the big belly could be as bad as giving up smoking or gambling. We are all naturally intolerant to a few foods, and as we start to discover these, we can sometimes find we seem to be intolerant to many foods and those foods we can eat without causing gastic distress shrinks alarmingly, making eating out a total nightmare. The reason this can develop lies in stress and this is our next point.
- Stress can cause distended guts as opposed to a jelly belly. When we get stressed, the normally tight junctions of the gut wall open up and larger than normal particles of food enter the blood stream. This sets off an immune response, and inflammation, so the whole colon can swell up. We may also develop IBS/Chron’s disease and so on. For a while, eliminating foods that are causing gastric distress will be necessary. But long term, addressing either the causes of the stress or learning how to deal with everyday stress is a good solution. Then, in due course, the diet should open out again.
- A common cause of a big gut is constipation. Essentially, we need to take a good dump everyday. And if we eat beetroot the night before, we should see evidence of this the next day. I wrote a blog on this hilarious subject, which is linked. The simplest way to start things moving is to drink plenty of plain water and eat copious amounts of vegetables.
- We can still be suffering from constipation and be eating a door mat’s worth of fibre everyday – and the reason may lie in tension in the head/neck/shoulders. And so we end up stressed and not pooing because of stress – but the stress is not caused by life but by the body being in a wee bit of a mess.
- One cause of a sticky out belly has the fancy name dysbiosis. Meaning invasion by nasties. Could be parasites, could be bacteria. The current obsession with anti-bacterial soaps/toothpastes/cleaners mean our good bacteria are up against the wall fighting for their lives. Add to that excessive amounts of sugar in the diet, plus anti-biotics to get rid of the nasty cough, drinking unfiltered tap water, and the poor things are pretty much decimated. Taking a course of strong pro-biotics may help. But it may also be necessary to have a proper stool test to find out what the nasties are and what kills them in our own gut environment.
- The final cause of being worthy of the name Tubs is visceral fat. The body not only lays down fat under our skin, it also lays it around our organs. Sometimes if we buy a lamb’s kidney, we can see lumps of fat stuck on it. Well, we’ll have much more of that around our kidneys than that lamb did – and around our hearts, livers and so on. Visceral fat is not healthy – rather better to have a big bottom than a bulgy belly. So to get rid of visceral fat means improving the diet – eating rather less dubious prepared meals will help – improving nutrition and losing weight. Incidentally, losing weight by liposuction will cause the body to lay down visceral fat. After all, we go to sleep one day, and when we wake up the body has lost a whole pile of its carefully stored fat! How on earth did that happen?? So the body gets crafty and tucks its stores away around our heart instead.
Of course, there is also a possibility of having a tumour growing – stories abound of huge lumps being removed by surgery. I think the man on the beach in the photo above looks as if he has a tumour, several cats and many too many hot dogs in his gut. Humour apart, I would be very interested to hear if any body reading this has other theories as to why we can get a rather large gut hanging in front of us.