In one of my first posts, I wrote about how the book “You On A Diet” gave me some much needed motivation at the end of 2006. I was looking for motivation to get back on track because I had not been eating the healthiest of food, nor had I been keeping up with my exercise routine.

When I came across “You On A Diet I was struck by the imaginative, creative illustrations by Gary Hallgren (who I’ve since learned is a cartoonist), along with the other excellent, easy to understand content of the book (i.e.: how your digestion works, how hormones that affect your appetite can be turned on or off, how what you eat determines how much you eat, how to avoid internal inflammation, and much more). One of the topics really grabbed my attention was regarding the omentum.

Even though everyone has one, I hadn’t heard of this organ before. We didn’t learn about it in school, and I hadn’t heard it discussed anywhere else. We are always hearing about the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, stomach, and brain, but how often do you hear talk about your omentum?

What is an Omentum and What does it Look Like?

So what exactly is an omentum? Your omentum is:

A fatty layer of tissue located inside the belly that hangs underneath the muscles in your stomach. – Dr. Oz

Its main purpose is to store fat. Because the omentum lies underneath the muscles, this is why some men have what is commonly called a “beer belly”, however when you touch it, it is hard rather than soft and mushy like a marshmallow. This is because the fat that is protruding their belly is inside their body rather than subcutaneous fat that resides just underneath the skin’s outer layer.

The omentum has become so large and fatty that it has created a fat belly while inside, it’s squishing and crowding the other inner organs out of the way, taking up valuable real estate.

When I read this, it truly motivated me to get moving. I couldn’t stand the thought of having some fatty organ inside my abdominal cavity just laying around and causing all kinds of havoc.

I kept reading and learned that the omentum is the best indicator of how you deal with chronic stress. If you are under constant stress, your body “releases high amounts of steroids into your bloodstream in the form of the hormone cortisol”. Your body has to deal with these excess hormones, and this is your omentum’s job. Your omentum takes these hormones from your bloodstream, and the hormones in turn step up the ability of your omentum to store fat.

This results in a fat belly for you, which is the easiest indicator of how much chronic stress you are under in your life. The problem (besides your dismay over your looks) is that the fat stored in your omentum is the first source of fuel that your internal organs use, especially your liver. All of those added hormones throw off your metabolism by making your omentum resistant to insulin, which means that sugar is floating around in your bloodstream instead of being used as normal by your cells. The results are:

  • Tissue damage from chronically raised blood sugar.
  • Your hormone balance is upset due to your omentum taking in an abundance of inflammatory chemicals.
  • More inflammatory chemicals are sent marauding around your system because your omentum is sending “high-octane” fat as a form of fuel directly to your liver, which in turn sends out the chemicals.
  • Your omentum creates inflammation throughout your system (a serious health risk) by giving your internal organs fuel. Remember, the fat in your omentum is the first source of fuel for all internal organs, not only the liver.
  • Your omentum causes (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels to rise by fueling your liver with its fat.

So, you get the point that having a fat-clogged omentum in your abdominal cavity isn’t the best thing for your health, or your looks. Since the only way to measure the size of your omentum is with a CT scan, how can you easily tell if your omentum is overweight? If you have a (hard) beer belly, or an apple shaped body, your omentum is likely storing fat.

You can also measure your waist: if you are a woman and you measure over 35 inches, or a man over 40 inches, then your omentum is taking up space. These measurements put you at major risk for a heart attack since your omentum is now approximately 5 inches thick (). It is in there, creating an inflammatory process that will irritate your arteries and possibly block them.

Now, the fun part: what does an omentum look like? Personally, I really enjoy the illustrations in “You On A Diet”. They are fun and make the process of learning about your body more light-hearted, even though it’s a serious topic. Since you would need to have the book in front of you to see what I’m talking about though, I’ve also searched for some images for you online.

A healthy omentum looks rather like sheer nylons. Below is an image of a healthy, canine’s omentum:

Canine Omentum

This organ is draped off of your stomach, however if it is clogged with fat, it wouldn’t really be draped languidly, but rather clumped and bunched up.

The most impressive photo is from an Oprah episode when Dr. Oz brought both a fatty and a healthy omentum with him. You can see the difference between the fatty omentum (Dr. Oz is holding) and a healthy omentum (Oprah is holding):

Omentum examples on Oprah with Dr. Oz

You can also go to Oprah’s site to see a slide show of other photos from Dr. Oz’s appearance when he presented his book “You On A Diet”. Additionally, Dr. Oz appeared a second time if you would like to peruse these photos.

If you would like to learn more than you ever imagined about how the omentum is being used in various surgeries in India, read this article from the Indian Journal of Surgery.

When it comes down to weight loss, you can take encouragement from the fact that once you start losing fat you will be making a difference in the size of your omentum and the effect that it has on your body. Your body’s blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol will start regaining healthy levels as soon as you start losing fat; this can occur even before you see any outward physical signs of weight loss.

I recommend picking up a copy of “You On A Diet” by Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz. There is so much useful information in this book, and as I mentioned, it is written in a manner that makes learning about your body fun. I find it highly motivating. If you are interested, you can find it here on Amazon:
You On A Diet

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