9.How Belly Fat Takes on a Life Of Its Own
For many people, the ultimate cause of medically-notable insulin resistance is belly fat itself–a high-fat diet can start the ball rolling towards insulin resistance by increasing both the amount of fat stored and the amount which ends up as belly fat, but the real declines in sensitivity likely do not occur until the belly fat begins releasing its own fatty acids, creating conditions where insulin is always being fought.
A similar problem occurs with cortisol. Cortisone, a hormone considered the “inactive” form of cortisol, can be converted into active cortisol by an enzyme found in higher amounts in belly fat.
Whereas most other tissues express two forms of the enzyme–one allowing cortisone to be converted to cortisol and vice-versa (thus helping to control levels)–the predominant enzyme in belly fat is the one which “activates” cortisone into cortisol.
What this means is that belly fat actively increases the amount of cortisol in your blood, possibly increasing how often you feel stressed and definitely contributing to a greater tendency to store belly fat and resist glucose!
So does insulin resistance, stress, or belly fat come first? There isn’t a clear answer to this yet, but the research does suggest that they are all interconnected. Nobody begins with belly fat, so diet and stress will certainly play a role in the formation of it.
Once belly fat is present, however, it will powerfully contribute to the formation of insulin resistance and cortisol, accelerating the body down the road to poor health. Of course the inverse is also true.
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