Fat (the organ), not the adjective, is much maligned. There’s no good and bad fat. It’s just fat. There’s several kinds of it, and they all have their own function.
Fat should be considered an organ. It isn’t just plain storage for excess calories. It plays an active role in metabolism.
I’d like to classify the two main kinds as visceral fat and subcutaneous fat
Visceral fat is found mainly around the organs. It is usually vilified as “bad” fat.
An excess of visceral fat is correlated with higher rates of heart disease and atherosclerosis
Doesn’t mean it’s bad. It is not there to kill you.
It has tried it’s best to protect you, and failed, because you didn’t give it a break. It’s like continuing to pour gasoline on your burning house and finally blaming the firefighters when they fail.
There’s a limit to how much fat(the chemical) can be stored as fat(the organ) around your intestines, liver and heart. As the fat cells get overloaded with more and more fat (henceforth to be called lipids) they come under tremendous metabolic and mechanical stress. They find it difficult to maintain cellular integrity, and release inflammatory signals as an SOS for help from other parts of the body. It’s usually the immune system that responds to this call. Macrophages(a type of immune cell) turn up in the visceral fat, and try their best to clear up the debris, which can’t be allowed to float around. If the damage is mild and temporary, that’s the end of it. Things settle down, the fire is extinguished and health is restored.
If the damage is continuous, unrelenting (non stop eating of junk food, poor sleep, chronic stress and pollution) the fire continues to burn. The firefighters turn up in larger numbers and finally fail. Structural damage will be either from the fire itself (inflammation) or, from the firefighters rushing around in a panic (immune cells, fibroblasts, platelets, fat cells)
Like I’d said earlier, visceral fat has lower limits of storage before they start getting damaged and causing inflammation. Subcutaneous fat can store much larger amounts of lipid inside their cells. This is the fat that is found under your skin. The kind that wobbles when you’re skipping in front of a mirror. The flaps under your arms, the love handles, hips, thighs and butt.
People who can store more under their skin can get really fat(adjective) before they get metabolically sick. Those are the 150-300kg patients who are, surprisingly, not diabetic, don’t have high BP and their cholesterol levels do not cause heart attacks asking their treating doctors. Their excess eating is being buffered bravely by the subcutaneous fat. At some point, that subcutaneous fat will get overwhelmed, and the excess lipids will get spilt over on to the visceral fat. From that point, the decline will be rapid.
Indians, in general are not a race with a lot of subcutaneous fat. Since that buffer is easily overwhelmed, and the visceral fat starts taking hits early in life, heart attacks and strokes also happen early in life.
The fat around your organs, especially in the abdomen, also act as protection against the inflammatory stuff that we eat. Toxins that make way across the gut walls into the abdominal cavity. The toxins can come directly from our food, or they can be produced by the bacteria that live within our guts.
The more toxic your diet, the more visceral fat you’ll need to combat the toxins. The more toxins you’re exposed to (smoking, alcohol, synthetic foods, polluted water, BPAs and phthalates from plastic, air pollution) the more visceral fat you’ll need. The more inflammation you’ll have in that excess visceral fat.
Coming back to my original point, there is no “good” or “bad” fat. There’s only you, your lifestyle, your diet and your environment. Don’t blame it on genetics. The effect of genetics can be easily turned back if you put some work in.
Clean it all up.