What is inflammation?
All inflammation is not bad. Inflammation is part of the normal immune response and has a role to play in healing. Consider this: when you cut yourself the area becomes raised and red. This is localised inflammation taking place as immune cells are released into the area to fix the damage. It is short lived and localised. This is known as acute inflammation and is nothing to worry about.
Inflammation becomes an issue when it is systemic and long term, when the body is unable to turn it off. It becomes harmful to the body and has been shown to play a role in many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, fatigue and pain, depression, anxiety. It also plays a role in weight gain.
As we gain weight we do not grow more fat cells. Rather the number of fat cells we have remains the same from birth but as we gain weight the fat cells grow and become "leaky" as they grow fuller. This leaking fluid causes immune cells to be drawn to the area to clean up the damage. This immune cells create inflammatory chemicals which in turn leads to increased inflammation.
In the picture below we see the adipocytes (fat cells, the large yellow cells) which are hypoxic and filled with excess nutrients, causing overflow out of the cell. This causes the immune cells (macrophages) to come in to clean up the damage.
A Vicious Circle
A highly refined processed, sugary diet also leads to increased inflammation. This is because these foods lead to increased pathogenic gut bacteria which causes inflammation in the gut and other bod systems. This in turn contributes to weight gain which in turn leads to inflammation. It is a vicious cycle of weight gain and inflammation.
Leptin and Inflammation
Leptin is our satiety hormone meaning it tells our brain we are full. Increased inflammation levels interfere with this hormone. Leptin levels may be normal or high but it is still not suppressing appetite ie we become leptin resistant. By reducing inflammation and losing weight your body becomes more sensitive to leptin helping you control appetite and weight.
Reducing inflammation will help you lose weight as well as tackling symptoms such as asthma, joint pain, depression and anxiety.
It will also reduce cortisol, your stress hormone which becomes elevated as it tries to suppress inflammation. High cortisol levels equal depression and anxiety.
There are a number of important ways to reduce inflammation through diet:
- Increase wild oily fish consumption such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines to three times per week
- Increase consumption of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, rosemary
- Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. The more colours the better. Phytonutrients are rich in anti inflammatory compounds
- Choose organic grassfed beef which is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids. If you cannot afford good quality red meat reduce consumption to twice per week
- Increase good fats - choose coconut oil to cook with, add olive oil to salads, increase consumption of nuts and seeds especially ground flaxseed, avocados and eggs.
- Remove grains from the diet. They are pro-inflammatory and prevent the absorption of many nutrients such as zinc and iron.
- Eat a Paleo diet!
If you would like help addressing your weight or reducing inflammation please contact Denise today on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0877184523