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Although inulin supplements are being touted as effective visceral fat busters, before you go rushing to buy them, consider the facts first...
What exactly is 'Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat (that is stored within the abdominal cavity and is therefore stored around important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines) is a result of our eating habits and disregard towards the impact of insulin on our body. Following a diet, where your insulin levels fluctuate is damaging: eating extra sugar, becomes an 'excess' (glucose) and as a result, your body produces more insulin to break that sugar down. With the presence of increased glucose in your bloodstream, your body begins to store this as 'visceral fat'. You may be thinking "I don't add sugar into my diet!" However, when we talk of 'sugar' this includes fruit & refined carbohydrates - things which often, many do not consider to be sugar laden. For example, it is easy to 'feel healthy' because you've added banana, mango, pineapple, peach or strawberries to your cereal... However, the outcome is that you will feel content for a while but later, your blood sugar levels will drop - causing you to reach for a mid-morning snack or pick me up.
Research has linked visceral fat to type 2 diabetes and Diabetes UK states:
"Carrying a high amount of visceral fat is known to be associated with insulin resistance, which can lead to glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. Researchers have found that visceral secretes a protein called retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) which has been shown to increase resistance to insulin."
So, can Inulin help?
Inulin is chicory root fibre, although it is found in smaller quantities in other fruit & vegetables such as, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, carrots, parsnips and beetroots. Chances are, if you're eating a nutritionally balanced diet - you're already getting plenty of inulin.
Inulin is regarded as insoluble fibre as it is not digested in the stomach but instead, it makes its way to the gut where the gut flora (bacteria) are fed. It is a food source for both good and bad bacteria. Some of us suffer from an imbalance in our gut flora - food intolerances, sensitivities, sugar in our diets both from refined sources and natural sources like fruit; antibiotics and most importantly, stress. As mentioned, Inulin is 'food' for all gut bacteria, good and bad, therefore if there is an imbalance present in the gut already, consuming more inulin will further increase this imbalance causing many unwanted symptoms (bloating, headaches, feeling sick, skin rashes, low immunity etc).
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Want to reduce visceral fat? The best place to start? Take control of what you eat.
Follow these tips to help reduce visceral fat through your own eating habits & understanding:
- Limit your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Swap white sugar for natural sweeteners: rice syrup, coconut sugar, xylitol, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha. Use healthy fats such as coconut oil, can help overcome our sugar cravings.
- Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, fats and protein. Aim to eat high nutrient dense whole foods and natural fat burning foods. Healthy fats include coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil (best to use raw), omega 3 fish oil or flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds. Protein from wild fish, grass fed beef, organic chicken, lamb or turkey and eggs are great for beating hunger and reducing insulin spikes.
- Regularly exercise - try to keep a routine of 30 minutes a day. Try walking or following a fitness programme or even some yoga. Keeping a routine & being consistent helps the body to balance insulin and make our cells more primed for using glucose.
- Reduce stress - stress triggers cortisol production and interferes with appetite control, metabolism, sleep and cravings. Find what works best for you, be that a power nap, meditations, tapping, reading, exercising, bubble bath, sunbathe - find something that makes you instantly relax for at least 15 minutes. Adaptogen herbs are highly beneficial to lower cortisol, such as sipping a tulsi tea or a herbal tea flavoured with licorice root or ginseng.
- Prioritise getting good sleep - aim for at least 8 hours a day, block out when people can contact you by putting your voicemail on or turning your phone on flight mode. The more you relax and recuperate the better you will be able to deal with anything that needs your attention when you're ready for it. Go to bed earlier if you need to.
- Use Apple Cider Vinegar daily:
- A small study aired on the TV programme "Trust me, I'm a Doctor" showed two groups eating bagels (refined carbohydrates), those who drank diluted ACV before their bagel showed a reduction in sugar being released into the blood. These are very positive results for anyone who struggles with their blood sugar levels, including type 2 diabetes. This is an extreme test and the best place to start is to limit your refined carbohydrate intake. Furthermore, the body will benefit from daily doses of ACV as it is known to assist with digestion.
- Another study in this programme focussed on three different groups who took a tablespoon of ACV, malt vinegar and placebo diluted in water every day for 8 weeks. The results were quite unexpected by the presenter Mark Mosley. For it showed that ACV group reduced cholesterol by 10% in 8 weeks! Aim for 2 tablespoons of ACV diluted in a glass of water before your main meals.