Midriff Misery For Women Over 50
Are you 50+ and need a way to get trim and stay slim? Fiona Kirk tells us that you may need to Eat, Drink and Move to Rediscover Your Waistline ...
Waistline management becomes increasingly difficult as we age and when we hit our 50s it can sometimes seem like there is no way back. Why does it happen and what can we do to ensure it doesn’t or if it already has, how do we put the brakes on and/or make a u-turn?
Every time we eat, the body burns food to create energy and to build and repair bone and body tissue. When we eat more than the body needs to perform these functions and particularly if our diet is a bit of a disaster, the excess is put into storage in the fat cells on our hips, bums and bellies etc. (subcutaneous fat) and more worryingly, around our inner organs (visceral fat) which we can’t see but this is the type of fat that predisposes us to health problems.
There are many reasons why weight decides to settle around our waistlines, the major one being stress. We generally think of stress as any kind of internal emotional battle; missed deadlines, money worries, family dramas, pressure of work etc. but there are a host of other daily battles that create ongoing stress within the body and where stress is ongoing, hormonal disruption follows.
OTHER BODY STRESSORS INCLUDE:
• Medical conditions
• Poor digestion
• Sluggish liver
• Nutrient deficiencies
• Environmental toxins
The stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol are the main disrupters. Adrenaline is the one that is first called upon to ensure that we react quickly and efficiently to what the brain sees as a dangerous situation and cortisol is the one that releases the required energy from our sugar and fat stores to help the body cope. Once the stress is over, the adrenal glands stop pumping out these hormones and the body returns to normal. However, if the stress is ongoing as tends to be the case in modern times, the body continually looks for fuel and cortisol continually restocks the shelves, particularly in the abdominal area. Frustratingly, abdominal fat cells have four times more receptors for cortisol than anywhere else in the body so if levels remain high, these cells are more than accommodating, encouraging our body to continue to store fat around our middles. The body is simply doing the best it can to help us deal with the threats and anxieties it perceives us to be facing each day and to keep us functioning as efficiently as possible.
Cortisol, whilst absolutely essential to our survival can be a cruel chum when it comes to weight gain by encouraging the body to store fat so we have to find a way to convince the body that all is ok and this is where diet is crucial.
Important Steps to Redress the Balance:
• Eat small and often. Studies show that eating quality, balanced small meals and snacks every 3 hours reduces the body’s damaging cortisol levels by 20% in as little as 2 weeks.
• Keep white foods to a minimum. Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and sugar in all its guises fill us up fast but also disrupt blood sugar levels which pose a threat and prompt increased cortisol production.
• Add protein to every meal and snack. The protein content of a small meal or snack slows down the rate at which the stomach empties food into the next part of the digestive tract, keeping us feeling fuller for longer and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
• Gorge on great fats. Not only do essential fatty acids, Omega 3s in particular, suppress rising cortisol levels when they form part of our diet, they also inhibit the storage of calories as fat.
• Crank up your calcium. Low levels of calcium not only predispose us to bone weakness over time but are also associated with elevated cortisol production.
• Make exercise a must. One of the greatest stress busters of all, regular exercise strengthens the heart and bones and encourages a reduction in circulating cortisol.
• Drink a lot. Water of course but there are lots of alternatives to staying hydrated - dehydration is another major stress on the body.
• Get your kip. Sleep deprivation over time results in disruption to hunger and appetite messaging leading to overeating and/or cravings for foods that do little other than satisfy our frustratingly-strong desire for sugary, salty and fatty foods which pile on the pounds and create hormonal havoc.
• Consider supplementation. Research shows that certain vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, herbs and other nutrients can help control stress hormones and help us lose midriff fat more quickly than we would with just changes to our diet and lifestyle.