We all know that chronic inflammation is harmful to our health, but could it also contribute to weight gain? Studies suggest that it can. Inflammation can play a role in weight gain, but it can also cause difficulty losing weight. In this article, we will explore chronic inflammation and weight gain in-depth.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural process of the body and is a significant function of your immune system. It is the immune system's natural response to injury and illness. When your body is injured or at risk of infection from toxins or pathogens, your body has a localized inflammatory response that plays a critical role in healing.
Damaged cells in the body release inflammatory chemicals:
- including histamine
These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling. In addition, these increasing chemicals increase the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and allow chemicals from your body's white blood cells to enter your blood or tissues.
As mentioned, this can be very beneficial for healing. However, there are two types of inflammation—acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation is beneficial and occurs in the body when there is injury or infection. Acute inflammation only lasts for a short period. It returns to normal once the wound or infection has healed.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation can be detrimental to your health and occurs when inflammation persists. Chronic inflammation is one of the most destructive and widespread health issues that most people face today. It is at the root of almost every significant disease—including heart disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer's, and various other degenerative conditions. It can also be an important underlying factor in weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
Chronic inflammation can have numerous underlying causes, such as:
- exposure to toxins
- chemicals in air and food
- untreated illness or infection
- food allergies and sensitivities
- consuming high amounts of processed sugar
- refined carbs
- processed foods that contain trans fats and oxidized oils
- excessive intake of alcohol and processed meat
- leading a sedentary or non-active lifestyle
There are also some cases of chronic inflammation that don't have a clear underlying cause. When prolonged, chronic inflammation can severely negatively impact your tissues and organs.
How Chronic Inflammation Contributes to Weight Gain
Chronic inflammation can impair numerous functions throughout the body. For example, it can damage cardiovascular health, cognitive function, digestion, metabolism, hormone levels, and much more. So there is no surprise that studies have linked increased inflammation and weight gain.
When inflammatory cells are present in the body for a short period, it can promote dangerous plaque buildup in the arteries. While plaque is helpful for healing infections, when these inflammatory chemicals are present for long durations of time, they can continue to build and increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Inflammatory cells can also build up in the brain and may play a role in dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. Numerous studies have also shown a link between high inflammatory chemicals and mood disorders like depression.
In conclusion, this influence on cardiovascular health, brain health, and mood point to how internal inflammation and weight gain are connected. However, there are many other connections between weight gain and inflammation.
Gut inflammation and weight gain are commonly interlinked. Chronic inflammation can damage the gut lining, which can lead to intestinal permeability, also known as a leaky gut syndrome. In this condition, small openings form in the gut lining that allows toxins and undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream. Leaky gut syndrome can result in further inflammation and lead to food allergies, autoimmune conditions, and damage to your internal organs and tissues. Leaky gut syndrome is an example of one of the significant ways chronic inflammation can lie at the root of disease.
When the body suffers from chronic inflammation, the immune system works full time. Whenever the immune system detects a threat, the body releases substances called cytokines, which activate the body's immune response. Cytokines are pro-inflammatory chemicals, meaning they contribute to inflammation in the body.
Cytokines also interfere with the body's insulin response. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it triggers the pancreas to release more of it, which then triggers the body to store fat. People with insulin resistance also tend to store more fat in the abdominal region.
Another link between inflammation in the body and weight gain is the result of inflammation's influence on the hormone leptin. Leptin is a hormone that tells the brain when you are full. If the brain doesn't receive this signal, it can result in eating more food than necessary.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
Several factors can cause chronic inflammation. Among the most common are:
Exposure to toxins, pollutants, and chemicals in the air or food
Exposure to toxic chemicals in the modern world is part of everyday life. These chemicals can exist in our food, in the water that we drink, the air we breathe, the products we use, the clothes we wear, the cookware and utensils we use, and many other sources.
These chemicals can cause an immune response in the body, and persistent exposure to these toxins can lead to chronic inflammation.
Consuming foods that contribute to inflammation
In addition to toxins that may be present in foods, certain foods may also contribute to inflammation in the body. Here are some foods that can trigger high inflammation levels:
- refined carbs
- processed sugar
- processed meat
- processed cheese
- processed foods that contain trans fats
- oxidized oils (such as canola oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, vegetable oil)
Food allergies and sensitivities
If you have any food allergies or sensitivities, consuming these foods will trigger an immune response in your body that could cause inflammation. The leaky gut syndrome can also lead to developing new food allergies and sensitivities, as the immune system may see the undigested food particles that leak through the gut to the bloodstream as pathogens.
Untreated illness or infection
An underlying illness or infection may contribute to chronic inflammation in some cases. For example, a Candida infection or parasite infection could remain untreated for months or even years. During this time, the immune system could constantly be trying to fight the disease with pro-inflammatory chemicals.
Excessive intake of alcohol or cigarettes
Both alcohol and cigarettes can trigger inflammation in the body. When alcohol metabolizes in your gastrointestinal tract, it disrupts the homeostasis of gastrointestinal tissues. Therefore, alcohol leads to chronic inflammation in the intestines. Studies also show that nicotine, an active ingredient in tobacco, activates specific white blood cells called neutrophils. These, in turn, release molecules that lead to increased inflammation.
Leading a sedentary or non-active lifestyle
There is evidence that prolonged sedentary time contributes to inflammation, though the mechanism by which it causes inflammation is uncertain. However, according to a study published in ScienceDirect, "physical inactivity leads to visceral fat accumulation-induced chronic inflammation and is commonly accompanied by fatigue and muscle wasting."
How Do You Reduce Inflammation in the Body and Prevent Chronic Inflammation?
While many things can help you lower inflammation levels in the body, the most important thing is to remove the root cause of your inflammation. For example, if you have an invasive weed in your garden and only cut the leaves, the weed will keep growing. If you pull the weed up at the root, you eliminate it.
Trying to get rid of inflammation without treating the root cause is like cutting the weed's leaves rather than pulling it up at the root. It may work short-term, but it isn't a good long-term solution.
So, first and foremost, focus on cutting out common causes of inflammation like those mentioned above. In addition, here are some ways to lower inflammation levels in the body.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Certain foods can help lower inflammation. Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially berries and melons, and foods with good quality omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, olive oil, and hemp seed oil.
Research shows that regular exercise helps lower inflammation levels in the body. In addition, it combats the pro-inflammatory effects caused by leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Prioritize your sleep and rest
Getting a good night's rest can help lower your inflammation levels. To improve your sleep quality, try developing a consistent sleep pattern by waking up and going to bed at the exact times each day.
Supplement with anti-inflammatory herbs
Certain herbs can help lower inflammation levels in the body. Turmeric is one herb that is particularly effective at lowering inflammation. It is one of the most clinically studied herbs. The majority of research on turmeric is on its anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. There is an issue with curcumin, however, in that it has a very low absorption rate. So, even if you eat a lot of turmeric root, your body may not be absorbing curcumin from turmeric and receiving its benefits.
Thankfully, there are ways to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. For example, our Liposomal Curcumin Tonic uses a proprietary micelle liposomal delivery system. This system protects the curcumin compound from the hostile environment in the digestive tract to be absorbed immediately into the bloodstream.
Using anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, eating anti-inflammatory foods, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding the common inflammatory triggers mentioned above are great ways to keep your inflammation levels low.
Inflammation is a natural process of the body and is a significant function of your immune system. However, there are two types of inflammation—acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation is beneficial and occurs in the body when there is injury or infection. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can be detrimental to your health and occurs when inflammation persists.
Chronic inflammation can impair numerous functions throughout the body and damage cardiovascular health, cognitive function, digestion, metabolism, hormone levels, and much more.
Numerous factors contribute to chronic inflammation—exposure to toxins, pollutants, and chemicals in the air or food, untreated illness or infection, food allergies and sensitivities, consuming high amounts of processed foods, leading a sedentary or non-active lifestyle, and many others. However, there are also some cases of chronic inflammation that don't have a clear underlying cause.
It is essential to avoid the common triggers that cause inflammation. In addition to avoiding the causes of inflammation, using anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, eating anti-inflammatory foods, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest can also help you keep your inflammation levels low.