Across Kenya and indeed many other African countries, a pot belly or beer belly is a bold statement that its carrier belongs to a certain enviable social status. Because of the Kenyan economy, only the middle-class and above can comfortably afford to drink a mug or more of beer regularly; the kind that results in a pot belly. So, many a man is proud of his pot belly, or rather the prestige it brings. It speaks of success, so a poor man who recently acquired wealth could understandably be eager to develop a pot belly to prove he has indeed crossed from Kawangware into Lavington. It may be popular with men but a beer belly is a crown also worn by the womenfolk. Unfortunately, in women, it does not cut what is considered a nice shape, and so it is frowned upon. For this reason, it is hard to find a woman who loves her beer belly.
The Cause of a Beer Belly
Now, what is it in a beer that leads to a pot belly — that is, a protruding stomach? Here is the thing: beer has too many calories. Worse, when you drink beer, your liver prioritises alcohol over the calories in the beer. And beer has a large number of calories; you get 153 calories per regular beer (that is, 355 millilitres). It is the calories that eventually become the fat that swells your belly. As the liver metabolises the alcohol, part of the fat is stored in the body. Your waistline is one of the stores that take up part of this fat. With time, the waistline, full with excess fat, swells. This is what gives rise to a pot belly.
But, what is Harmful About A Mere Beer Belly?
It is great to meet with friends every Friday and enjoy a mug of cold beer as you welcome the weekend after a tiring week. However, the devil is in the details. Beer is nutritious, yes, but beer contains more than just nutrition. Even with its health benefits, too much beer carries with it adverse side-effects that override its benefits. Some of the nutrients in question are magnesium, potassium and sodium. But they are in such a small amount that to absorb enough of them from beer, you will have to drink in massive quantities with beer.
Drinking too much beer regularly is a red line nobody should cross for the sake of ‘nutrients’. The beer fat that is stored in your belly is called visceral fat. It is the most dangerous form of fat in the body! It accumulates around vital organs like the liver, pancreas and the intestines. Sometimes it is hard to notice and only devices like magnetic resonance imaging can help the doctors see it and determine its amount. A beer belly, as you are going to find out here, is actually more dangerous than being overweight.
Visceral fat through a chain of reactions leads to obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular complications all of which are linked to heart attack. As far as these complications are concerned, the beer belly is more dangerous for women than men. While a man needs 40 inches of beer-induced waistline to be at risk of these diseases, a woman needs only about 30 inches of the same. Generally, with everything else constant, people with pot bellies are at higher risk of developing heart problems compared to those with flat tummies, whether all of them are beer drinkers or not. More than 98 percent of pot bellies are caused by excessive beer consumption.
Visceral fat also increases the risk of insulin resistance. The fat secretes inflammatory signals that interfere with the operations of insulin, gradually causing the body to be resistant to insulin effects. You will then develop metabolic syndrome, which in turn will make it hard for your body to consume and store energy.
A new study claims that when insulin resistance occurs in the brain, the result is Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The outside world may admire your beer belly but your spouse may not. Too much fat in the belly slows blood supply to the penis and this guarantees a weak erection. The belly fat also produces aromatase, an enzyme that depletes testosterone by converting it into estrogen. With time, low levels of testosterone can eventually lead to erectile dysfunction. Well, it also leads to breast formation or gynecomastia.
Low Brain Capacity
It is common knowledge that beer kills brain cells. The more your beer belly grows, the more your brain shrinks. But how, or why? The protein that helps metabolise fat in your liver is the same one responsible for your memory and reasoning. Once it is depleted in the fat metabolism, you have nothing left to think with. This may explain why you may become generally unreasonable when you are drunk.
When you hear of breast cancer, you think of women. When it comes to the belly beer, breast cancer cuts both ways. Once testosterone has been converted into large amounts of estrogen, the latter can become a growth signal for breast cells, some of which can become independent of other controlling enzymes and end up becoming cancerous. The result is breast cancer for both men and women.
How to Get Rid Of Beer Belly
So, how do you get rid of a beer belly to evade these consequences? First, scale down on your beer consumption or stop it altogether. Also, remember that abstaining from beer during the weekdays then drinking excessively in the weekends is worse than drinking moderately every day. To deal with your belly, you should also cut down on your intake of sugary drinks and processed food.