More and more studies show that packing on too much belly fat can harm your health and raise your risk of many major health problems (including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer). Sometimes referred to as "abdominal obesity," excess belly fat often results from overeating, lack of exercise, and slowdowns in metabolism that tend to occur in middle age.
Natural Remedies to Reduce Belly Fat
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warns that women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches and men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have an increased risk for obesity-related diseases. While overall weight loss is the only known way to fight abdominal obesity and protect against obesity-related diseases, some research suggests that certain natural solutions may help reduce belly fat. Here's a look at several study findings:
Taking soy supplements may reduce belly fat in obese postmenopausal women, according to a small study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2010. For the study, researchers assigned 39 postmenopausal women to three months of treatment with either soy supplements or a placebo. Results revealed that soy helped reduce belly fat and interleukin-6 (a marker of inflammation), but failed to improve blood-sugar metabolism and increase levels of leptin (a hormone involved in fat metabolism).
A 2010 study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition) shows that probiotics may help reduce belly fat. Every day for 12 weeks, 87 study participants drank either seven ounces of a fermented milk enriched with a probiotic strain called Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 (LG2055) or the same amount of fermented milk made without LG2055. Compared to the control group, those who consumed the LG2055-enriched fermented milk showed a greater reduction in belly fat and body weight.
3) Green Tea
Green tea, which has been shown to speed up metabolism in preliminary studies, is sometimes touted as a natural remedy for abdominal obesity. However, in a 2007 study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers found no difference in belly fat between overweight women treated with green tea extract for 12 weeks and study participants given a placebo for the same time period.
Using Natural Remedies to Fight Belly Fat
If you're looking to lose belly fat, it's important to combine a healthy diet with an exercise program that includes both aerobic exercise and strength training. There's also some evidence that managing your stress may help fight belly fight as well.
Christie DR, Grant J, Darnell BE, Chapman VR, Gastaldelli A, Sites CK. "Metabolic effects of soy supplementation in postmenopausal Caucasian and African American women: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial." Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Aug;203(2):153.e1-9.
Elissa S. Epel, PhD, Bruce McEwen, PhD, Teresa Seeman, PhD, Karen Matthews, PhD, Grace Castellazzo, RN, BSN, Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, Jennifer Bell, BA and Jeannette R. Ickovics, PhD. "Stress and Body Shape: Stress-Induced Cortisol Secretion Is Consistently Greater Among Women With Central Fat." Psychosomatic Medicine 62:623-632 (2000).
Hill AM, Coates AM, Buckley JD, Ross R, Thielecke F, Howe PR. "Can EGCG reduce abdominal fat in obese subjects?" J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Aug;26(4):396S-402S.
Kadooka Y, Sato M, Imaizumi K, Ogawa A, Ikuyama K, Akai Y, Okano M, Kagoshima M, Tsuchida T. "Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;64(6):636-43.