Published on April 5, 2016
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? It’s obvious: You see your face, your hair, and all your external body parts, and lots and lots of skin. But what you don’t see is what’s going on inside . . . and if you’re overweight or obese I’m talking about the stuff that can and does kill people. So, come inside . . . and, as Ricky Ricardo used to say, “Let me ‘splain ya somethin’.”
See this photo?
That’s visceral, toxic fat . . . and it’s ugly. Plain and simple. And if that is all it would ever be—gelatinous and ugly—and did nothing more than make us larger and slower and hamper us physically, that’d be one thing. But, it’s not just ugly. It’s dangerous. How so? Let me count just some of the ways.
Visceral fat produces a form of estrogen (estradiol) that converts into testosterone in the body. Therefore, the heavier you are, the more estrogen is in your body. Why does this matter?
A. For women, the more fat you have the more testosterone you have. That creates a hormonal imbalance in the body, resulting in your male hormones playing a more dominant role.
B. For men, the more fat you have, the more estrogen you also have. That means:
C. Estrogen fuels tumor growth. Listen up, folks: Cancer cells LOVE estrogen . . . and estrogen doesn’t care whether you’re a man or a woman. So, the more you feed your fat cells, the more you feed those cancer cells. More fat = more aggressive cancer. (I address that more specifically and in detail in Obesity and Cancer Risk.)
Let’s face it, there are only three ways for toxins to leave the body: Through our pee, our poop and our pores! Of course, toxins can also be expelled through the mouth by vomiting, but hopefully that only happens very infrequently and only when you’re sick. But, again, the normal, everyday pathway release for toxins is through our pee, poop and pores. However, take another look at that visceral, toxic fat. It’s a sponge. And what do sponges do? That’s right: The more visceral fat you have, the more toxins it’s ‘sponging up’ instead of those toxins leaving the body. So, try to close your eyes and see all your vital internal organs—kidney, liver, lungs, pancreas, heart, to name a few—all literally surrounded by, enveloped and marinating in that ugly visceral fat, which is secreting hormones and storing toxins, 24/7 . . . every day, every week, every month, every year. And that leads to your organs being in a chronic state of . . . the “I” word.
We all know how it feels and what it looks like when we get a really bad sunburn. It sucks. We see our very red and inflamed skin and, depending on the degree of the burn, we see and feel it blister and oftentimes get pussy and badly infected. It hurts like hell! Well, inflammation also applies to our insides. Makes sense, right?
If your vital organs are sitting and marinating in that ugly bile of hormone-producing, toxins-grabbing fat, they are chronically inflamed and susceptible to infection. Can your immune system be healthy if your body is inflamed? Can an organ ward off or fight infection if it is inflamed? Like moths to a flame, inflamed organs are like magnets to rogue cancer cells and disease.
4. BONE HEALTH
This is a thermography (imaging done with heat) of two women, one obese at 250 lbs. One slim at 120 lbs. You’re looking at them from the back.
Now, with the toxic visceral fat graphic at the top of the page in mind, see the yellow in these ladies’ bodies—more specifically, the obese woman? Well, that’s all the visceral toxic fat surrounding her organs and heart. (The very first layer of yellow you see, immediately under the skin, the outline of the body if you will, is the subcutaneous fat, but I’m just talking about visceral fat.)
This happens for several reasons (most obvious of course is that more weight puts more pressure on your bone structure) but the one I want to address is the role of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D, from sunlight, is very important for good bone health, and most especially of course in growing children. But, it’s also important to understand that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin—meaning, even if you’re out in the sun all day long, the D is being absorbed or ‘sponged up’ in all those layers of fat! It’s literally being stopped by your fat from getting to your bones!
The poorer the bone health, the weaker the bones, the less it can support you, the more susceptibility to slips and falls, fractures and breaks (and obese seniors, in particular, are 50% more likely to have a fall — and nearly 40% more likely to suffer long-term injury as a result), which all too often in very overweight and obese people requires surgery, and that’s the last item I want to talk about in this post.
I always say, the most important person in the operating room is the anesthesiologist! Before surgery can even begin, he or she has to do their job, and some job it is! . . . and it AIN’T easy . . . and it takes time. Fat people have fat throats. Getting a very overweight or obese person ready for the surgeon is not just a matter of ‘turning up the dial’ on an anesthesia machine to let more air out! The anesthesiologist has a much more difficult situation on his or her hands for surgical patients who carry a lot of extra weight (and I address that more specifically and in greater details in Obesity in the O.R.–A Weighty Problem for Anesthesiologists). Just know that heavier patients need more anesthesia to get them and keep them asleep; and since anesthesia relaxes blood vessels, more anesthesia also means relaxed blood vessels for a longer period of time, which equals more bleeding.
OK, so now you’re asleep, and the anesthesiologist is controlling your breathing, has your life in their hands, and the surgeon steps in. Think it’s easy for the surgeon to cut through all this fat?
Do you understand the surgical skill, dexterity, patience and time it takes for the surgeon to cut through all that fat in order to get to a bone or an organ or a tumor? Unfortunately, most people do not . . . because they don’t see what you’re looking at right now.
I take the time to go through all of the above with each of my clients when I meet them for the first time—before I even start talking about my program. Why? Because I understand that in order to change your body, you first have to change your mind. I have to plant in their minds the ‘visual’ of what’s actually going on inside their bodies. I have to make them understand that while their initial goal was to lose weight to ‘get skinny,’ the more important goal must be to remove fat to get healthy. They, like you, don’t see their toxic visceral fat in the mirror. It’s my job to make them see, and I hope that I’ve done that with you today.
Here’s another opportunity to actually see the effects that fat has on the body: A BBC documentary that aired on 9/13/16 called “Obesity: The Post Mortem,” takes you inside the body of a woman who died, age 60, 5’5″, and who weighed 238 pounds. It’s 54 minutes, and is absolutely amazing. There have been thousands of studies on how awful excess fat is for your health and organs, yet the doctors who performed the autopsy were still shocked and surprised by what they saw in this woman’s body.