The Obesity and Inflammation Connection

Most people by now know that excess body weight is bad for your health. What many do not know is that there is a very strong connection between excess body fat and inflammation/pain. Especially visceral fat or the fat surrounding the major organs. Inflammation is a natural process used by the body to repair itself when tissue damage or injury occurs. In the case of obesity, however, inflammation occurs absent of this tissue damage or injury and can cause a cascade of health problems like heart disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, sexual dysfunction, dementia, arthritis, chronic pain and more.

What is the link between Obesity and Inflammation?

Excess fat has proven to do much more than just make our clothes fit tighter and make us uncomfortable. Fat cells can act as an independent organ dumping toxins, and hormones into our systems, which in turn provokes inflammatory pathways. Going deeper, visceral fat around the major organs like the kidneys, heart, and liver are especially dangerous as this causes inflammatory substances called cytokines to circulated throughout our body. This doesn’t just lead to inflammation down the road, but becomes inflammatory itself, producing what is called interleukin-6, a kind of inflammatory molecule.
This also interferes with the normal hormones that regulate appetite, weight, mood, and brain function. What also happens is the excess production of insulin. The more insulin levels remain high, the more likely a person is to create and store fat in the body. All of this puts a heavy strain on the liver creating the all-too-common Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease diagnosis. Overconsumption of processed carbohydrates, processed foods, and a lack of exercise all contribute to obesity-linked inflammation and excess fat storage. Combine this with a lack of anti-inflammatory/anti-oxidant/phytonutrient-rich foods and you have a perfect storm for chronic inflammation and an increase for disease to develop.

How Can You Burn Fat and Decrease the Inflammation?

One of the tell-tale signs you not only have an excess of body fat but also the pro-inflammatory visceral fat is a protruding belly and increased waistline. For your best health, your waist should measure no more than 40 inches for men, 35 inches for women.

Here are some of the most effective ways to burn the fat and fan the flames of inflammation:

1.  Reduce Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates (Breads, Pastas, Cereals, etc.)

We know that insulin is an extremely important hormone in the body.  and excess production by Consuming too many refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance- causing your bodies cells to be less sensitive to insulin. Avoid your intake of the above and reduce insulin production.
2.  Consume Non-starchy Veggies, Fats, and Proteins
You’ll want to avoid processed foods and choose green leafy vegetables, as well as fruits and veggies of all different colors. Eat healthy omega 3-rich fats like wild-caught salmon, a variety of nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados. Choose proteins like wild-caught fish, pastured chicken, and eggs, grass-fed beef. Healthy sources of protein are key to curbing hunger and controlling insulin levels. Each meal should have some lean protein.
3.  Exercise
The benefits of exercise are well known, including making our cells more efficient at using glucose and insulin. Get moving and allow the body to burn fat inside and out allowing the insulin to be delivered to our cells and muscles. Studies have shown that exercise, especially High-Intensity Interval Training can help to burn both types of fat quicker.
4.  Manage Your Stress Levels
The importance of balance in your life allowing for play, work, pleasure and social connection is overlooked when talking about burning fat. Excess stress produces too much of the hormone cortisol which promotes belly fat storage, hunger, cravings and metabolism imbalances. Try some meditation, deep breathing, exercise and reading. Go spend time outdoors in natural sunlight and play!
5.  Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The health benefits of seven to nine hours of sleep and avoiding artificial light exposure (cell phones, tv screens, tablets, etc.) have been proven essential when we’re talking about balancing hormones and achieving healthy weight loss. Avoid caffeine too close to bedtime, try to avoid artificial light and be sure to get plenty of exercise. This is what is known as “sleep hygiene” practices.
Optimizing nutrition is key to reversing inflammation and maintaining a healthy weight.

Download your Healing Foods Checklist and Shopping Guide here!

In Health,
Dr. Joe Tatta, DPT, CCN

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