June 17, 2008 -- Excessive belly fat can do more than make you dread swimsuit season. It also has a correlation with heart health. Trimming the excess baggage around your waistline won't only make your jeans fit better -- it will also reduce your risks for all types of diseases.
Health guru Dr. Mehmet Oz dropped by "Good Morning America" today to discuss the five things you can do to trim your belly -- and not one of them involves those dreaded sit-ups. Check out his advice and find out why heart health goes beyond diet and exercise.
Defining Belly Fat
We're not talking about the belly fat that you can bust with sit-ups. We're talking about the layer of fat underneath your stomach muscles, the omentum. This belly fat puts pressure on the veins, which puts pressure on the kidney and leads to hypertension and high blood pressure.
It poisons the liver and blocks insulin, which gives you diabetes -- all of which lead to metabolic syndrome.
Five Tips to Trim Your Tummy
Avoid added simple sugars. Cut out things like corn, malt, maple, rice, syrups, dextrose, maltose and glucose. A good way to look for these on a nutrition label is to look for anything that ends in "ose," which usually indicate a syrup.
Limit your alcohol consumption. Women can have one glass per day and men can have a tiny bit more. But you should try to avoid it because it's sugar.
Don't skip out on sleep. When you don't get enough Zzzz, your satiety center is irritable. That's the part of your brain that drives you to sleep and to eat. If you don't sleep, you eat more.
Stress less. It's not the stress itself, it's the response. Thousands of years ago, stress meant one thing: there was no food.
When stress hormones are elevated, they are absorbed by your belly. So, whatever you eat turns to fat and is stored there.
Get moving. Just because reducing belly fat isn't simply about sit-ups doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise.
You should do aerobic or fast walking for at least 30 minutes daily. This reduces insulin resistance by as much as 15 percent.
Losing weight is great, but most people don't do it. There are a number of things you can do on your own. But if, for whatever reason, you can't, here's what your doctors are looking for in your blood work, and how they'll deal with it.
When doctors check your blood, total cholesterol is not the only thing they're looking for. They are looking for what proteins carry the cholesterol, and your blood pressure is important, too.
Opitimal blood pressure is 115/75, and blood sugar should never be more than 100.
Physicians also want to see your lipid profile, which indicates how cholesterol and fat is carried in your blood.
You want your LDL (the bad cholesterol) at less then 100, while your HDL (the good cholesterol) should be more than 50.
Fiber can help you decrease LDL, while niacin helps you raise HDL. The only exception to this is for people who have a history of heart problems. They should shoot for LDL less than 70.