3 Worst Things You Can Do For Your Belly, Say Physicians
When we think about body regions that are vital to health, the heart understandably tops the list. But in recent years, science has found that the belly has a bigger influence on the health of other body systems than its primarily aesthetic reputation might indicate. Gut health isn't just a trend—it's a necessity, experts say, and these are what they consider the three worst things you can do for your belly. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Eating Added Sugar
Consuming too much sugar isn't just one of the worst things you can do for your belly, it's one of the most potentially destructive things for your health overall. That's because sugar—whether it's added sugar in beverages or simple carbs in refined grains and processed foods—is a major contributor to visceral fat, also known as belly fat. Fat that develops in this region is dangerous because it increases bodywide inflammation and releases hormones and toxins into nearby organs like the heart, liver and pancreas. The result can be heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
Taking Unnecessary Antibiotics
Doctors have long warned against the overuse of antibiotics because the practice can lead to antibiotic resistance and "superbugs." Another growing concern: Antibiotics can kill off the healthy bacteria that comprise the gut microbiome, a key player in the immune system.
"Antibiotic use can have several negative effects on the gut microbiota, including reduced species diversity, altered metabolic activity, and the selection of antibiotic-resistant organisms," wrote authors of a 2020 review of studies in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. "There is also evidence that early childhood exposure to antibiotics can lead to several gastrointestinal, immunologic, and neurocognitive conditions. The increase in the use of antibiotics in recent years suggests that these problems are likely to become more acute or more prevalent in the future."
To keep yourself—and your good gut bugs—healthy, only take antibiotics when necessary. Remember: They're for bacterial infections; they're not effective against viruses. Asking your doctor for antibiotics to treat a cold or flu just runs the risk of making your health worse.
"Stress makes you fat, relaxing makes you thin. It's that simple," said Dr. Mark Hyman, a functional medicine physician with the Cleveland Clinic, in a recent episode of his podcast. He explained: When you're stressed, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol, and signals are sent through the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system to fat cells. "When you're eating and you're trying to metabolize your food, your fat cells are listening to your signals from your brain and they're telling it what to do. And it turns out that the wiring that goes to your fat cells when you're under stress, tells the fat cells to store fat." And to ensure your health don't miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn't Know Were Deadly.