Do you have a 'toxic tummy'?

Potbelly, spare tire, beer gut, jelly belly.... That extra fat that flops over your waistline has all kinds of nicknames, but it's time for a new one.

Let's call that belly fat what it REALLY is: the TOXIC TUMMY.

Too much fat in the middle isn't just a sign that you're overweight. It's a visible warning sign of dangerous and potentially deadly risks.

That fat is TOXIC to your health.

New research shows how it's time to tame that toxic tummy before it's too late, because this one is proof positive of the deadly risks that accompany the unsightly accumulation of belly fat.

The real name for that jelly in the belly is adipose fat, and there are two kinds of it: the stuff you can see hanging over your belt, and the stuff you can't see that's pushed deeper inside, into your abdominal cavity.

The new study finds that when your visible belly fat grows, the hidden stuff lurking inside your abdomen builds up TWICE as fast.

The middle-aged folks in the study tested saw their outer belly fat increase by 22 percent over six years, but the "deep" belly fat jumped by 45 percent in that time.

Each pound of fat ANYWHERE on your body will cause heart disease risk factors to shoot up -- including blood pressure and deadly triglycerides. But deep belly fat does even more damage.

It can cause your blood sugar to spin out of control, increasing your risk of diabetes, and cut your levels of disease-fighting HDL cholesterol.

If you've struggled with your own toxic tummy, don't feel too bad -- because it's not entirely your fault. I'm sure you've tried a diet and maybe taken up some exercise, only to be frustrated by the results.

Diet and exercise are great, but after a certain age they just won't work as well because the REAL reason for that expanding waistline in many cases isn't on your dinner plate.

It's in your hormones.

The hormone changes that strike in late middle age can lead to a slow-but-steady weight gain. By the time you hit your senior years, you can end up with a stomach so swollen you might look pregnant -- even if you're a guy!

In many cases, natural hormone therapies can get your body back to burning fat that way it used to and melt away that toxic tummy in no time.

Seek the help of a holistic medical doctor who can test your hormones, find out what you need, and raise those levels safely.

And if you're in the San Diego area, I can run those tests right here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in Southern California? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation. You can also connect with me on Facebook -- just search for "Mark Stengler."