Inflammation comes from many sources, both internal and external. Most people know that inflammation exists, but most have no idea that it could affect their body’s ability to lose and maintain weight. In this article and the next, we will highlight some of the things we can do to decrease inflammation for more effective weight loss and for better overall health.
We have talked before about leptin, the hormone secreted by our bodies that helps us put the “stop” button on eating. Balancing this hormone is critical to weight loss and maintenance without willpower. Remember that we want to put our bodies into a state where weight control is not a battle, so learning to balance leptin can do that.
When we are in a chronic state of inflammation, the body’s ability to receive the appetite suppressing messages from leptin is diminished. That means, no matter now much leptin your fat cells produce, your body will be resistant to receiving these messages.
Reducing inflammation can help your body become more sensitive to leptin so you will have less trouble stopping when your body is full.
Inflammation is linked to so many ailments, a few of which include:
- Cancer – When inflammation is chronic, it creates an environment conducive to the formation of cancer.
- Obesity (linked to leptin resistance)
- Food sensitivities (linked to gut inflammation)
- Sticking of cholesterol to the arterial walls (rough, inflamed arterial walls are more likely to “catch” cholesterol particles and cause them to stick there)
- Migraines (linked to gut inflammation) When the gut is inflamed, serotonin is not adequately produced. 80-90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut. When our gut is inflamed, it interrupts that production.
- Joint pain
In order to decrease inflammation, it is important to know what foods we are eating that may be contributing to this process. Below is a list of common pro-inflammatory foods:
- The 3 p’s – packaged, processed, and prepared foods
- Sugar – This can come in the form of cookies and cakes, but is also high in juice, many yogurts, granola bars, energy bars, and cereals.
- Hydrogenated oils, often found in baked goods or fried foods
- Artificial sweeteners – Splenda (sucralose) and aspartame are the two most commonly found.
- Conventionally raised meats – Now most of us are just doing the best we can to afford healthy foods without buying organic, but it is good information to have. Conventional meats are raised in feedlots where they are fed GMO foods and given hormones and antibiotics that are then passed on to the meat that we eat. Those substances in our meats lead to inflammation in our bodies. When buying meats, look for organic when you can. Even small changes matter, so start this where you can. Even some of the big box stores like Costco and BJ’s are starting to sell organic meats, so keep your eyes open for better value organics in the future.
- Over-exercising – Short bursts of exercise causes small amounts of inflammation which is the mechanism by which the body changes. Chronic, intense exercise is seen in the body as a state of stress which turns on inflammation. Opt for moderate exercise, weight training, and short-burst intervals instead.
Looking at the list above, it’s easy to see how the average American has excess inflammation in the body and struggles with weight loss. Just looking at the role of some of these things in your life may be enough to revere your inflammation condition. Always remember that simple changes make a difference, so pick one and start there. Trying to take it all on at once is just going to be stressful ; ).
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Evaluate the role of the above factors in your life. Do you struggle with conditions that may be linked to inflammation? Are there any foods you are eating that may be contributing to your symptoms?
- Choose one or two things to work on specifically to decrease your overall inflammation. Remember that whenever you take something out of your diet, it is a good idea to put something back in to replace it. Think about what you will replace it with first. Otherwise, something just as inflammation inducing might jump into its place.