You’ve heard the message: Having a bulging belly can be detrimental to your health. Extra weight around the midsection is known to increase one’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and early death. Now a new study, published today in the journal Neurology, suggests that having a larger belly in middle age may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
- Know where you stand. If you’re obese or overweight, “you really should get an idea of where you’re carrying that weight,” Whitmer advises. And remember, you’re not out of the woods if you have a normal body weight. Even those with normal weight who carry extra fat in their bellies were shown to have an increased risk for dementia.
- Exercise regularly. “Get out there and move,” Reames suggests, but don’t assume that you can reduce your belly fat without working on the rest of your body. “Work out comprehensively… Put the focus on major muscle groups,” he says. The good news, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that when people move more and eat less, belly fat is the first kind of fat to go.
- Eat healthfully. “Stay with whole, lean, natural foods,” Reames says. Read nutrition labels and opt for polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats. Up your intake of complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, and reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates like pasta and white bread in your diet. And, if you need to lose weight, reduce portion sizes and calorie intake.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep deprivation is no good for your body and may contribute to a bulging belly, Reames says. Aim for eight to nine hours of shut-eye each night.
- Learn to manage your stress. Try to leave your office work at the office, Reames advises.
Written by January W. Payne