So, we’ve previously established that chronic inflammation is a big contributing factor to many diseases including: Diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, bowel diseases, depression…you get the picture.
For today’s topic we are going to discuss one particular cause of chronic inflammation, obesity. Obesity and its constant companion, type 2 diabetes, are at epidemic proportions in this country. One thing that connects them is inflammation.
We’ve heard that a diet full of bad fats and sugar can contribute to inflammation, so which causes the inflammation? Eating unhealthily or the resulting obesity? Turns out it’s both, and our actual fat cells can contribute chronic inflammation.
Normally, the first responders to the site of acute inflammation such as injury or infection are white blood cells—including macrophages. They produce waves of chemicals, including cytokines, which can kill germs and sound the alarm for a healthy immune response.
But fat cells can produce cytokines, too. And as fat tissue grows, it attracts inflammatory cells, particularly macrophages. The burden of obesity also crushes fat cells to death. And that makes the problem worse, as inflammatory cells move in to clean up the debris.
Inflammation also changes the action of insulin, the hormone that stimulates muscle and liver to absorb glucose from the blood. And obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, in turn, increase the risk for heart disease.
Normally the forces of inflammation are held in delicate balance. But obesity “tilts” it in favor of inflammatory cytokines.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain or suffer from disease, it’s worth talking to your doctor to see if you would benefit from a weight loss program and exercise (a proven force that combats chronic inflammation). More will be coming later on the benefits of exercise and how to get started. Until then, we hope this explanation is motivation to fight your own chronic inflammation and live a happy, healthy life.
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Disclaimer: The information in this blog is intended to be informational only, and is not intended to be used in lieu of medical care. Consult a doctor or a physical therapist before attempting treatment on your own.