The Inflammation and Weight Loss Cycle

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • If you are to successfully lose weight you will likely focus on eating fewer calories and increasing your activity to burn more calories. It's important that you also address inflammation on your journey to lose weight.


    Research on mice has shown a "switch" controlling inflammation in the hypothalamus (region of the brain that regulates energy) becomes "flipped on" in response to high fat diets. It also shows that "overnutrition" (i.e. eating too much) turns on this inflammatory switch.


    An increased level of inflammation leads our cells to become resistant to insulin and leptin.


    Insulin plays a messenger role in that it tells cells it is time to take in glucose (sugar). If cells become resistant to insulin, they ignore the message that it is time to take in more glucose, glucose is converted to fatty acids, and is stored by our fat cells. If insulin resistance is persistent, eventually the fat cells will no longer respond and increased levels of fatty acids will remain in circulation.

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    Leptin is a hormone that triggers satiety. This is your body's way of telling you you've had enough to eat. When production of leptin is hindered, we do not feel satisfied and tend to eat more.


    As inflammation causes the cells to ignore the messages of insulin and leptin, you are more likely to consume more calories (because you still feel hungry) and potentially store increased levels of fat due to the increased level of circulating fatty acids.


    So, if you are ready to change your ways and a heart healthy diet, with a reasonable caloric intake to promote weight loss, you need to take steps to "flip the switch off" in the hypothalamus that is controlling inflammation.


    If the inflammation continues, you're journey to lose weight will be an even bigger struggle because you do not experience satiety and the body is in mode to store fat.


    How to Reduce Inflammation

    You want to restore the cells sensitivity to insulin and leptin. This means eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet. Inflammatory foods include sugar, refined grains, saturated fats, and any foods you may be allergic to.


    You need to switch to a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


    You'll also want to add foods contain nutrients known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as omega 3 fatty acids and curcumin.


    Nothing new


    This is not a new concept; however, it's important. If you think you can lose weight by simply eating less of the foods you love and exercising more. . .it likely won't work. Cutting back to one cheeseburger, small serving of fries, and small soda equals fewer calories than a super sized meal, but it is still an entire meal full of high inflammatory foods.


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Published On: November 21, 2011