Inflammation and Body Weight

We all know what inflammation is right?

Let’s keep it to what you know: You cut your finger, bang your knee, stub your toe, sprain an ankle get an infected tooth etc and it goes red, hot, sore and swells.

In other words, it becomes inflamed.

Inflammation is a normal bodily process.  Without it, the source injury wouldn’t get the chemical messages and building blocks for repair.  Inflammation comes and inflammation goes – end of story.

Except for when the inflammation is allowed to continue.

Why would someone willingly allow inflammation to continue I hear you ask?  No one asks for it to continue, but it can run out of control if the assault or injury is allowed to continue.  Let’s take a cut for example.  The cut is the initial injury and it becomes inflamed. Now let’s say this cut gets infected.  The resulting bacterial infection becomes the injury on top of the injury and more inflammation ensues.  If the infection isn’t treated then the inflammation just keeps on going in order to try and get on top of the damage.  At some point your body will find some homeostatic mechanism to deal with this assault or we will seek medical intervention or we will simply lose the fight.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get my inflammation under control.

Enter, the rest of the body.

Did you really think that inflammation just happens to the outside tissue that we can see?  Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Internal organs become inflamed, it’s a fact.  How many times have you heard the suffix –itis on the end of something?  -itis means inflammation, look it up.  And FYI the suffix –osis means an abnormality which can either be the cause of, or result from inflammation.

If you have something-itis, you have inflammation.  Keep reading, we’re getting to the juicy weight loss stuff soon.

What does inflammation feel like again?  Heat, swelling, redness and pain.  One, some or all of the symptoms.  Very bad inflammation will bleed.  So if you are bleeding from your bowel, you're off to the doctor...now!

Moving on to the gut.  Your digestive system is the first point of contact for everything.  In your gut are lots of lovely bacteria and cells, all working hard for you to digest and absorb your food and create lovely vitamins to keep you healthy.  To keep these bacteria and cells healthy and performing well they need food too.  Bacteria doesn’t care about man, and they sure as hell don’t care about man made so called “food”.  Bacteria love soluble fibre (fruit, vegetables).

A wide variety of things can upset our gut bacteria, antibiotics, drugs, toxins, poor diets and stress to name a few.  These things can upset the balance of good to bad bacteria in the gut and we can end up with damage to the microflora, but also to the physical structures of the intestine.  This damage can become a leaky gut, which allows large and toxic molecules to leak through our gut wall and cause havoc around the body.  This fires up the immune system and additional inflammatory responses.

Remember folks, inflammation is good and normal...but not when it’s allowed to continue long term.

Inflammation contributes to insulin resistance.

There’s a bit of a chicken or egg debate around whether inflammation comes first to contribute to the insulin resistant increase in body fat or if the increased body fat (which produces inflammatory cytokines) then contributes to insulin resistance, which further leads to body fat storage.

My belief is this:  Body fat is a by-product of “whatever”.  Whether that whatever is hormone upset, inflammation, too many calories, not enough exercise, leptin resistance etc.  I believe that obesity causes inflammation, but I don’t believe that obesity causes inflammation first, I believe we create inflammation ourselves through poor lifestyle choices, producing an inflammatory and overweight state, which ultimately leads to more inflammation.

Why do I believe this.  Because back at the digestive system, it is the first point of call to EVERYTHING that comes in from the outside world, from the very day you were born.  When you took your first breath you also took your first mouthful of your mum’s bacteria.

I encourage you to read Dr Natasha Campbell McBride’s work on gut bacteria and health for more information on this.

So back  to inflammation.

I don’t want inflammation in my gut, it sounds yuck.  I like to imagine my gut as a nice pink happy tube that takes in food with happy little bacteria that help to turn that food into useable energy to go into my nice clean blood and give me lots of energy, happiness and help me maintain a good metabolism and body weight.

Inflammation contributes to insulin resistance research tells us and insulin resistance can contribute to body fat gain and metabolic syndrome.

In my office, every client that I have taken off their intolerant, gut damaging, inflammation inducing foods loses weight.  My best client lost 30kg in 6 months just by being sensible and avoiding the foods she was intolerant to.  She actually listened to her body instead of her ego.

Reducing your inflammation is a sensible choice on so many levels, not just body weight, but also for general and cardiovascular health.  Here are my top 4 tips for inflammation reduction.

  • If you know a food or beverage upsets you, or if you know you are intolerant to something, don’t eat it.  Wait till your gut heals and THEN you can eat it again – maybe.
  • Stress is inflammatory.  Manage your perfectionism, jealousy, resentment, anger, hatred, negativity, self loathing etc and find some peace to create a less inflamed state.  We have a gut-brain axis.  You can pretty much consider your gut to be your second brain, which is why emotional states can affect our digestive health.  Learn how to breathe properly to help manage the stress response.
  • Sleep.  Turn your iphone off, switch off the standby lights, blacken our your room, cover up the alarm clock light and avoid stimulating devices (computers, video games) at least 1-3 hours before bed and attempt a healthy sleep pattern that gets you in bed by 10.30 and up around 6-7am.  Cortisol is inflammatory, and if we’re awake when cortisol is supposed to be low then we end up in an ongoing state of inflammation.
  • Exercise according to your physiological load for nervous system balance.
  • Find a natural anti-inflammatory support

And no, taking a pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory is NOT going to fix the problem, it will guarantee to make it worse though :-)