Have you ever asked a real estate agent what’s the most critical factor when it comes to selling a house? Their answer was probably something you’ve heard before: “Location, location, location.” Well, oddly enough, when it comes to our health and being even a little overweight, that same, worn out real estate proverb is true, as well. Study after study has shown that where our bodies store fat is nearly as important as how much extra weight we’re holding onto. People whose bodies store more fat in their mid-sections face higher risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes and even premature death than those who store extra weight in other ways.
Apples versus pears
Just knowing you should strive to be pear-shaped instead of apple-shaped doesn’t make it any easier to fight that expanding waistline. You need tools. And aging adds its own set of challenges. Some people find that the battle of the bulge gets harder as they get older. After all, our metabolisms start to slow, and arthritis or other health conditions may make it harder to stay as active as we once were.
While cutting calories and adding regular, low-impact exercise — such as swimming or biking — are two great first steps, there are other, very specific things you can do in your fight against unwanted belly fat. Here are the 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age.
- The cortisol connection – Cortisol has been called the stress hormone. Part of our natural fight-or-flight mechanism, cortisol is released by our bodies when we’re sick, frightened or even feel a lack of control over events in our lives. High cortisol levels have been linked with an impaired immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure and even memory loss. Worse still, if you’re trying to slim your waistline, cortisol tells your body to lay down belly fat. A study published by the National Institutes of Health, “Stress-induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women,” found that, when women were subjected to stressful situations, those who felt the least control over the situation released the most cortisol and gained weight in the abdominal region in response. Relaxation techniques — such as meditation or yoga — in response to stress can lower those toxic cortisol levels and keep added weight off your waistline
- Supplementation – Many vitamins and minerals have been found to have an impact on weight gain. This is especially significant for older people. As you age, it’s harder for your body to get all the nutrients that you need from your food. This makes supplementation even more important than ever. Vitamins and minerals that have been shown to aid in weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight include vitamin D, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
- Aim for whole grains – The benefits of whole grains cannot be disputed. They stabilize blood sugar levels, stave of hunger pains and lower cholesterol, all good news for anyone hoping to maintain a healthy weight. And, since weight gain of any kind often means belly fat, the more whole grains you add to your diet, the slimmer your waistline is likely to be. Oats are a great whole grain choice. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, oats are not only high in fat-fighting fiber but also a good source of magnesium, chromium and protein.
- Drink more water – We’ve all heard the old saying, “Drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day.” It turns out, drinking enough water every day may be even more important as we age, especially if we want to lose weight. A 12-week study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, with middle-aged and older participants, showed that participants who drank 500 ml of water before each meal lost 44 percent more weight while on a low-calorie diet than those on a low-calorie diet alone.
- Get enough sleep – You may already associate not getting enough sleep with the health of your immune system or your ability to concentrate, but a follow-up study reported by SCIENCE Natural News, shows a strong connection between sleep and weight gain. The study showed significant weight gain among study participants who reported the least amount of sleep. To stave off overall weight gain and resist belly fat, put getting a good night’s rest at the top of your “to do” list.
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