Is Your Belly Fat Weighing Your Kidneys Down?
If you are fat on the outside, you will definitely be fat on the inside as well. People with belly tat invariably have high visceral fat and this is nothing to joke about, though some funny synonyms for abdominal fat are pot belly, beer belly, spare tire, tubby tummy, belly tat, middle-age spread and paunch. However, medically speaking, abdominal fat includes subcutaneous fat over the stomach area (that which can be pinched up with the fingers) as well as deeper fat that encases internal abdominal organs like liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines. This inner or hidden fat is called visceral fat and it cannot exist without superficial or subcutaneous fat.
Dangers Of Visceral Fat
Visceral tat is extremely dangerous and often tile-threatening as it leads to cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, intestinal and breast cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, sleep disorders, gallstones and premature death. In tact, the presence of belly fat is considered as great a risk to lite, as smoking. Abdominal tat cells are nowadays considered an endocrine organ which produces various hormones and enzymes that damage kidneys and other organs. Here’s how a big belly affects your kidneys in various ways:
This was originally described in 1988 as Syndrome X and defined as the incidence of any three out of the below five conditions.
- Abdominal/ central obesity – waist circumference (Women >88 cm/35 inches, Men >102 cm /40 inches)
- Low HDL cholesterol (men <40 mg/ dl, women <50 mg/dl)
- Fasting glucose >110 mg/dl
- High triglycerides >150 mg/dl
- Blood pressure >130185 mmHg
By these criteria nearly 50 to 60 per cent of Indians have metabolic syndrome. And metabolic syndrome is now recognised as the commonest cause of chronic kidney disease.
The kidneys are under constant pressure by belly tat – both physically as well as physiologically. Physically, the excess fat compresses kidney tissue and blood vessels supplying the kidneys. which is something like starving a human being and physically beating him/her at the same time. This naturally leads to kidney injury and subsequent kidney damage.
This is defined as leakage of minor amounts of albumin (a kind of protein) in the urine. In normal individuals, there is no albumin present in the urine. In those with belly fat, there is constant leakage of albumin in the urine which damages the filtering mechanism of the kidneys leading to progressive kidney damage. Microalbuminuria also causes heart damage, eye damage and nerve damage.
FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis)
Obese people are prone to a deadly kidney disease called FSGS which causes large amounts of protein losses in the kidneys, swelling of the body, high cholesterol levels, blood clots and frequent infections. These patients rapidly develop kidney failure requiring dialysis and transplantation. To make matters worse, often FSGS recurs in a transplanted kidney.
Belly fat predisposes people to developing Type 2 diabetes by four established mechanisms:
- By creating insulin resistance
- promoting metabolic syndrome
- providing tat directly into the liver (portal) circulation thus impairing the liver’s ability to process dietary sugar
- By causing compressive injury to the main anti-diabetic organ, the pancreas
High Blood Pressure
Belly fat causes stiffening of blood vessels and retention of salt and water by its endocrine functions. This leads to high blood pressure which in turn leads to kidney damage.
Causes Of Belly Fat
Imbalance between calorie intake and calorie expenditure is the main cause of belly fat. Essentially. if you eat more and exercise less, you will get belly fat. Most of us commit the cardinal sin of eating too much of the wrong things at the wrong time but evolution has equipped us for surviving the ‘fast and not the ‘feast.’
Drinking excess alcohol can also cause belly fat as in the case of beer belly. Ageing plays a role as well, because as you grow older, you lose muscle which slows your metabolism and this makes you pile on the pounds more easily. Genetics also determines your propensity to put on belly fat. Those who are born fat, often die fat. However, bad genes should not be used as an excuse for weight gain as lifestyle modifications can override genetic programming.
Preventing Or Reducing Belly Fat
The good news ¡s that belly fat responds easily to diet and exercise. A big belly is a big bully but like all bullies, it can be easily bullied into submission. An ideal belly-free diet includes plant- based foods like vegetables, fruits and wholegrains. For proteins you should consume lean meats like fish and chicken or low tat dairy products. Also, drink at least two litres of liquids per day, minimise alcohol, salt, sugar, butter, cheese, oil and sweet beverages.
Dieting or ‘die-eating’ is a choice you have to make, so reduce your food portions. Additionally, exercise is crucial in getting rid of belly fat – at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. The key words being – ‘at least’ and NOT just 150 minutes! Exercise should include both strength training with weights and stamina building with cardio.
So, on a concluding note, does obesity cause kidney disease? Yes, there is more than a fat chance that it does. So don’t let your belly weigh you down and move from fat to flat because flab is not fab whereas, thin will always be in.