Your Weight And Chronic Inflammation

June 1, 2015

Your Weight and Chronic Inflammation Obesity leads to the development of other serious chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer. We can???t heed that warning enough. While excess weight is often cited as the root cause of many chronic conditions, there???s actually another sinister agent contributing to the development of obesity itself. Once called ???the secret killer??? by Time Magazine, chronic inflammation has become a major concern for medical providers and their patients in achieving good health and wellbeing.

First, to understand what chronic inflammation is, we first must know how normal inflammation works. Despite being associated with feelings of pain or swelling, normal acute inflammation is actually your body???s best friend. When you experience injury or irritation, your brain sends signals to your white blood cells to fix the problem and begin the healing process. Think of it as an internal ambulance responding to your body???s emergency.

But chronic inflammation is a very different story. It occurs when your body can no longer stop the normal inflammatory response, and white blood cells start to damage cells and internal organs instead of supporting them. The reason the inflammation persists is due to the body???s continual fighting of an irritant and its inability to overcome it. In other words, there is no clear resolution to the attack, so the pain of chronic inflammation continues.

So what is the irritant that continually attacks the body to produce chronic inflammation? And how does this relate to being overweight or obese? Let???s first take a look at how inflammation can lead to obesity, and then how obesity feeds chronic inflammation.

There is strong evidence that an unhealthy diet contributes to chronic inflammation. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that Western dietary patterns (diets rich in high-fat, fried, sugary foods, refined grains, and processed meats) increase inflammation. Your body counteracts this constant low-level inflammation by producing anti-inflammatory chemicals. Some of these chemicals disrupt leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. When leptin is made ineffective by inflammation, the hormone does not suppress appetite or speed up your metabolism. These two factors can accelerate excess weight gain.

In people who suffer from overweight or obesity, especially those carrying fat around their middle, chronic inflammation goes to the next level. Why? It used to be believed that fat was an inert substance in the body, but research has revealed that it is an agent that actively destroys healthy tissues. It???s that persistent irritant described above that continually attacks the body. So the more excess fat you carry, the more intense chronic inflammatory response you are likely to experience.

Now think about the combination of poor food choices and carrying excess weight. It???s an ideal set-up for the development of multiple serious chronic conditions, like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer (sound familiar)?

Many medical providers turn to anti-inflammatory drugs to treat patients who suffer from chronic inflammation, but there is growing support for taking a non-pharmaceutical approach. The first goal is (surprise!) weight loss. Losing weight will decrease leptin resistance, which will help your body gain more control over appetite and metabolism. .

Unsurprisingly, the same types of foods that help you lose weight are also those that may be considered to be anti-inflammatory. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel have been shown to reduce inflammation. Dark leafy greens like broccoli, spinach, kale, and collard greens are great sources of vitamin E. Studies suggest vitamin E may protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules. Nuts, especially almonds are another great source of fighting inflammation. They are packed with vitamin E, fiber, antioxidants which repair damage done from inflammation.

In addition to increasing anti-inflammatory foods, avoid eating foods that are high in sugar. Too much sugar can alert the body to send out extra immunity messengers called cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory molecules. And remember, sugar hides in all types of food, such as white breads and pastas. These break down quickly into sugar and in turn lead to inflammation. As a healthy substitute, choose 100% whole grains.

And of course follow other behaviors proven to lose weight like increase your daily activity levels and get better sleep. You might be amazed at just how much less chronic pain you???ll feel once the weight comes off.

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