It was interesting for me to learn that chronic inflammation and weight gain are connected. Most of us associate inflammation with injury and recovery, however, the body can contain levels of constant chronic inflammation that puts us at risk for certain illnesses, and contributes to weight gain. When you eat too much processed food and sugar, the chemical signals that are released from fat cells promote inflammation.
A recent article in My Fitness Pal explained, “If fat cells can contribute to chronic inflammation, then it’s reasonable to expect that weight gain, especially in the form of fat tissue, also contributes to chronic inflammation. As we gain weight, some fat cells expand beyond their capacity while trying to do their job storing our extra calories as fat. When this happens, they turn on and add to the inflammation already present in our bodies (FitnessPal, 2017).”
A nine year study done in the UK in 2008 found significant links between chronic inflammation and weight gain. These researchers also found an interesting marker of C-reactive protein (CRP), a chemical that shows up when the immune system is activated and is associated with increased inflammation. They found that as a person’s weight increased, so did the level of CRP in their blood. This also suggests that losing weight should help decrease overall inflammation.
Here are some things you can do to help prevent inflammation and weight gain:
- Drink plenty of water (cells tend to retain water when the body is dehydrated).
- Consume antioxidants and polyphenols (great sources are green tea and dark colored fruits and vegetables)
- Ensure your diet includes high quality sources of protein and essential fats like omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, flax, chia)
- Spices that can help are turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and ginger.
- Reduce intake of sugar and processed foods.
- Reduce Stress. Whether through exercise, music, yoga, or other relaxation methods, this is important. Take that vacation this year!
- Sleep-get plenty! Studies continue to reveal sleeping less than 8 hours consistently promotes inflammation/weight gain and as well leaves us with a weakened immune system.