If you are active less than 30 minutes a day (this means modest to intense physical activity), then jumping into home workouts to burn fat may be both dangerous and counterproductive.
How to Eliminate Belly Fat Naturally by Eliminating Inflammation
To eliminate belly fat naturally, reducing inflammation is key.
Inflammation occurs as the body fights against things that harm it like infections, injuries, and toxins. Any of these things cause the body to release chemicals that in turn trigger the immune system into action.
Typically, the immune system releases antibodies and special proteins in response along with increasing blood flow to the damaged area in case of infection or injury.
Occasional inflammation poses no problem. In fact, intermittent inflammation actually boosts immune system function and is perfectly healthy. However, chronic inflammation poses serious problems for long term health. Research shows that chronic inflammation can increase risk for some forms of cancer. In addition, chronic inflammation also greatly increases risk for obesity.
While acute inflammation causes obvious symptoms like pain, swelling, or redness, chronic inflammation is tougher to spot. In fact, you likely don’t even know you are suffering from chronic inflammation. However, these are the most common symptoms caused by chronic inflammation:
- Fatigue or Loss of Energy
- Mild, Low-Grade Fever
- Abdominal or Chest Pain
- Skin Rashes
- Sores in Mouth
Causes of chronic inflammation include smoking, alcohol, stress, and pollutants in both the air and anything we eat or drink. Untreated, chronic inflammation can lead to a wide range of health problems, including:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Heart Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Impact of Chronic Inflammation on Weight
The rise of the obesity epidemic coincides with the increasing use of processed foods over the past 25 years. Basically, “pollutants” in what we eat or drink include trans fats, refined sugars, and the additives and preservatives found in virtually all foodstuffs these days. Essentially, anything that is not 100% natural and organic in anything we eat or drink causes inflammation. So how does this lead to weight gain and even obesity?
Leptin is a metabolic hormone that effectively controls how much we eat. In fact, leptin is known as the “satiation” hormone. When we eat, leptin levels increase and this triggers the brain to feel satiated. When we don’t eat, leptin levels drop and triggers the brain to produce cravings and hunger pangs. At least, that’s how leptin is supposed to work. And when it works properly, it is very easy to stay thin and avoid overeating.
Inflammation changes everything. Leptin sends signals to the hypothalamus in the brain which then either triggers satiation or hunger/cravings. Inflammation, however, interferes with the ability of the hypothalamus to detect leptin. If the brain cannot detect leptin, it thinks your body is starving and has no energy reserves. This condition is known as leptin resistance.
How Leptin Resistance Sabotages Diets
Once you develop leptin resistance, the brain does three things to “save the body” from starvation:
- Increases the frequency and intensity of cravings
- You need to eat more to feel satiated even though you have ample energy stored in the form of fat
- Slows down metabolism to conserve energy
In other words, your caloric intake goes up while caloric burn decreases. It’s the perfect storm for gaining weight and potentially becoming obese.
Most diets and even some weight loss supplements will work for a short period of time. However, even appetite suppressants lose effectiveness after a few weeks so the cravings and hunger pangs come back–with a vengeance. Plus, your brain still won’t detect leptin so even if you lower caloric intake, the body will respond by slowing your metabolism even more.
So, when you do finally break down and quit a new diet, you will not only regain the weight, but likely add even more. This is because your metabolism rate is now even lower than before you started the new diet. Until you can reverse the leptin resistance by lowering inflammation levels, losing weight and keeping it off is near impossible. It has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with your brain thinking you are starving even though you are not.
Chronic Inflammation Taxes Your Immune System
Basically, chronic inflammation taxes your immune system on a constant basis. Wonder why you always seem to get the flu or colds in the winter? A big factor is chronic inflammation depleting your immune system right when you need it most.
Unfortunately, reducing chronic inflammation is very difficult. This is because virtually all the foods we consume are made in a factory or processing plant. Processed foods line store shelves and are used in virtually all restaurants. Even livestock presents a problem as most animals now receive growth hormones and steroids to speed them to market faster.
Ideally, planting a garden and completely controlling your own food supply would be one guaranteed way to eliminate inflammation. However, most of us live in places where this is simply not possible. Therefore, reducing inflammation requires a conscious effort to minimize intake of foods that cause inflammation.
Foods Known to Increase Inflammation
Refined Carbs Like White Bread, Pizza, and Pastries
Refined carbs have virtually no fiber which makes them very unhealthy and leads to increased inflammation. Even packaged cookies, potato chips, and other processed foods with refined carbs will cause inflammation and make reversing leptin resistance near impossible.
To eliminate belly fat naturally, cutting out processed meats is a must. Bacon, sausage, packaged meats, and even beef jerky all increase inflammation levels. Plus, processed meats contain high levels of sodium and can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels. Also, avoid hot dogs and bratwursts as well.
Any deep fried food from chicken to french fries increase inflammation levels in your body. The inflammation itself is caused by the vegetable oil used to fry the foods. By itself and when grilled, chicken breasts are actually good sources of protein and help you eliminate belly fat naturally. But when deep fried in vegetable oil, they become unhealthy and actually make reducing belly fat near impossible.
Partially hydrogenated oil, or artificial trans fat, constitutes the main ingredient in margarine. This greatly increases inflammation levels and depending on how often you cook using margarine, is likely sabotaging your weight loss efforts more than you realize. Use real butter instead to reduce inflammation and lose belly fat naturally while eating healthier in the process.
Sorry, but red meat also increases inflammation. Now, lean, well-trimmed red meat causes lower levels of inflammation so you don’t have to eliminate it completely from your diet. After all, it does contain high levels of protein. Studies consistently show that eatig a diet where 30% or more of your calories come from protein helps naturally eliminate belly fat. Protein naturally reduces cravings and appetite. In addition, protein requires more energy to digest so it naturally boosts your metabolism rate.
So, some red meat is good for you but avoid hamburger at all costs unless you use ground sirloin which contains 10% or less fat. And for steaks, make sure to trim as much fat as possible off before cooking or grillig.
Sugary Beverages, Energy Drinks
Sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks contain high levels of high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar. Any refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup creates inflammation and even worse: Provides your body with “empty calories” making long term weight loss impossible. Water and even green tea make healthier alternatives that won’t increase inflammation or add to your waistline.
How To Reduce Inflammation Levels and Reverse Leptin Resistance
Get at Least 7 Hours of Sleep Each Night
Getting a good night’s rest lowers inflammation levels. First, you avoid the activities that increase inflammation while awake. Second, getting sufficient sleep reduces stress levels which are known to increase inflammation. Doctor’s recommend at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If getting to sleep remains elusive, consider using melatonin or speaking with your doctor for another solution. Because not only does sleep help reduce inflammation, it helps balance other metabolic hormones vital to weight loss.
While many claim that smoking reduces stress, the impact on the body is the complete opposite. Along with excessive alcohol consumption, smoking creates a significant amount of inflammation that weakens your immune system. Over time, smoking increases risk for a wide range of diseases including lung cancer, emphysema and other forms of cancer. Ironically, due to the increase in inflammation, smoking also derails diets and makes losing weight much harder.
Eat Foods That Naturally Reduce Inflammation
Just as processed foods, fried foods, and refined carbs all increase inflammation, other healthy alternatives reduce inflammation. By reducing inflammation naturally, leptin resistance will reverse and losing weight and keeping it off will be completely natural. Look to include these foods in your diet to lower inflammation.
Try to eat more cherries because they contain the antioxidants anthrocyanin and catechin that both help reduce inflammation. In a recent study, participants who consumed cherries for 30 days straight reduced levels of the inflammatory marker CRP. In addition, the CRP marker remained low for a month after participants stopped consuming cherries.
The great news here is that tomatoes boost your health in may ways. Rich in vitamin C and potassium, tomatoes also contain an antioxidant known as lycopene that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, lycopene also reduces several pro-inflammatory compounds linked to several types of cancer.
One study also showed that participants who drank tomato juice significantly reduced inflammatory markers in people who were overweight. It is highly recommended that you cook tomatoes, use olive oil to help maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb. Eating them raw is fine, too and goes excellent in a salad.
Berries contain rich amounts of fiber, vitamins, and beneficial minerals to any healthy diet. For fighting inflammation, berries contain antioxidants knowns as anthrocyanins. They both reduce inflammation and risk of many forms of chronic illness.
In addition, berries boost production of immune boosting NK cells so they can also help reduce liklihood of short term illness as well. Plus, one study showed that overweight people who consumed strawberries had lower levels of inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries have the best anti-inflammatory properties. While they may not always be in season, be sure to eat plenty of them when they are as they can ultimately help you eliminate belly fat naturally by reducing inflammation.
Fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, mackeral, herring, and sardines are rich in both protein and omega-3 fatty acides EPA and DHA.
Studies show that consuming EPA and DHA both reduce inflammation while also lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, and even kidney disease. The process by which this works is your body metabolizes EPA and DHA into specialized compounds known as resolvins and protectins that both reduce inflammation.
People who consume significant amounts of salmon or even supplements with EPA and DHA have lower amounts of the inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein.
Now all fish do contain some levels of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. However, the fatty fish listed above are the best sources and what you want to include in your diet as often as possible. Once a week is strongly recommended. If that’s not possible, then consider getting an omega-3 supplement as that too will help reduce inflammation and reverse leptin resistance.
Like berries, grapes contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins that help lower inflammation naturally. Additional research indicates grapes also help lower risk for:
- Heart Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Some Eye Disorders
Grapes are also rich in resveratrol which studies indicate reduces an inflammatory marker known as NF-kB. In addition, people who consume grapes daily in one study had higher levels of adinonectin. This is important because persons with low levels of adinonectin have increased risk for cancer and tend to be overweight.
However, don’t think that drinking grape juice is a good substitute for the real thing. Much of the anti-inflammatory properties are lost while making grape juice. So again, while they may not always be in season, be sure to eat plenty of them when they are. Eating grapes is truly an easy and delicious way to eliminate belly fat naturally by reducing inflammation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unlike most vegetable oils (canola, etc.) that increase inflammation, extra virgin olive oil is actually a very healthy fat. Rich in monosaturated fats, studies show extra virgin olive oil reduces risk for brain cancer and heart disease.
Extra virgin olive oil reduces the inflammatory marker CRP along with several others when consumed daily. In addition, extra virgin olive oil also contains an antioxidant known as oleocanthal that also works to reduce inflammation.
So, simply switching to cooking with extra virgin olive oil, you can reduce inflammation and make it much easier to lose belly fat naturally.
Chronic inflammation weakens the immune system and greatly increases the risk for heart disease, many forms of cancer, and leaves us more susceptible to short term illnesses like the flu or cold.
In addition, chronic inflammation prevents the hypothalamus in our brains from detecting the metabolic hormone leptin. This hormone literally regulates food intake when functioning properly. However, when the brain cannot detect leptin due to inflammation, it thinks we are starving. This triggers more frequent and intense cravings, we need to eat more to feel satiated, and our metabolism rate slows.
Leptin resistance is now considered one of the leading causes of obesity. Essentially, your body is fighting itself because it thinks you are starving. No amount of will power or dieting will help you lose weight until leptin resistance is reversed.
Unfortunately, most of the foods we eat are processed and made with refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. These “unnatural” ingredients are considered toxins by the body and thus cause inflammation. Until you reduce the levels of inflammation, leptin resistance will continue to sabotage any diet. Plus, your immune system will remain weak and you will be more susceptible to both short and long-term illness.
We have provided a list of strategies and foods that help reduce inflammation naturally. By reducing inflammation, you will be able to eliminate belly fat naturally and keep it off while greatly reducing your risk for illness.
Most of the foods that naturally lower inflammation are also healthy and beficial to long-term weight loss success. Just make a few simple adjustments to your diet and you will reverse leptin resistance and be the healthier, happier, and thinner you in less time than you think!
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Mike Dorfman is BS in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado. Mike’s has worked as a personal trainer for Gold’s Gym and helped many clients achieve their weight-loss and fitness goals.
To health first, weight-loss second. Mike and Tetrogen are here to help you make the transition to the healthier, happier, and thinner you!
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