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The Connection Between Inflammation And Obesity

Holistic Health

The Connection Between Inflammation And Obesity

Part 2

In Part 1 (Factors That Contribute To Weight Gain, and Make Weight Loss Difficult) of this blog series on factors that might lead to weight gain, I outlined why you should look at your hormones before jumping to “quick fix” weight loss programs or weight loss supplements. We always want to understand the root cause first, and newsflash, highly marketed, one-size-fits-all weight loss plans don’t work!

...newsflash, highly marketed, one-size-fits-all weight loss plans don’t work!

In addition to understanding hormone contributors to weight gain, let’s look at inflammation and gut health. Read on to learn more about these surprising connections, including: 

If you want to uncover how to increase metabolism, this is a must-read!

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural immune system process designed to heal the body from an injury or pathogen. If you sprain your ankle, it becomes inflamed as the immune system enters the area and works to heal the damage, for example. 

However, what we are really talking about with excess weight is chronic, low level inflammation that often flies under the radar. Inflammation has many causes including insulin resistance, gut infections, viral infections, hormone imbalances, and other factors. In fact, inflammation plays a role in all chronic disease. 

Foods That Cause Inflammation - Highly Processed and Ultra-Processed Foods

Another source of inflammation is the food we eat. Highly processed, packaged foods, which are the mainstay of our food supply, affect blood sugar and are incredibly inflammatory. Problematic ingredients include:

The consumption of ultra-processed food correlates with excess weight, especially among women. 

On the other hand, we can use nutrition tools to decrease inflammation in the body. This means replacing processed foods with a whole food diet. What are whole foods? Whole foods are simply real food in their whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed state. 

Whole foods list:

These foods make up a healthy diet and help reduce and reverse inflammation markers. 

In addition, food sensitivities can cause inflammation. I see many cases of gluten sensitivity, for example, in my clinic. An elimination diet is a helpful tool to uncover what whole foods work, or don’t work, for your unique body. 

Inflammation, Gut Health and Obesity

The food we eat influences our gut health and gut microbiome, the trillions of organisms living inside the digestive tract. When the microbiome is balanced, it supports a healthy metabolism. But dysbiosis, or imbalances in the microbiome, promote inflammation and may slow metabolism. 

How to improve gut health requires a very personalized approach. I always recommend microbiome testing, so that diet strategies and supplement protocols can be tailored specifically.  

A simple way to begin supporting gut health today is circling back to the list of whole foods listed above, emphasizing high-fiber and highly colorful plant foods. These foods provide the nutrients that beneficial bacteria need to thrive. Specifically, foods containing polyphenols and phytonutrients, prebiotics and probiotics.  Having a variety and an abundance of plant foods is paramount for healing and maintaining a healthy gut and microbiome.  While many people with inflammation may think they can’t tolerate whole grains and legumes, avoiding them isn’t the answer but working with a qualified practitioner to slowly and safely reintroduce them is.

Can Fasting Help With Healing Your Gut? 

Fasting is undoubtedly a hot topic these days, specifically intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting describes a practice where food is consumed during a narrower window of time. For example, a 12-hour intermittent fast would be fasting from 7pm to 7am, or essentially not snacking after dinner. Many of my patients benefit from this gentle version of fasting, both in terms of metabolic health and for benefits to the gut microbiome. 

More intense intermittent fasting schedules, such as fasting for 14 or 16 hours may have some additional benefits for certain women. But, if you are under stress, have low thyroid function, or are experiencing other hormone imbalances fasting may be perceived as additional stress by the body and work against weight loss goals. Again, it’s essential to have a personalized approach here too. 

If you are ready to dive into the root causes of your weight gain and address weight loss from a personalized, functional medicine perspective, you’ve come to the right place! Please reach out to The Fork for more information about our practice and to schedule an appointment. 

References:

  1. Medzhitov R. (2008). Origin and physiological roles of inflammation. Nature, 454(7203), 428–435. 
  2. Juul, F., Martinez-Steele, E., Parekh, N., Monteiro, C. A., & Chang, V. W. (2018). Ultra-processed food consumption and excess weight among US adults. The British journal of nutrition, 120(1), 90–100. 
  3. Boulangé, C. L., Neves, A. L., Chilloux, J., Nicholson, J. K., & Dumas, M. E. (2016). Impact of the gut microbiota on inflammation, obesity, and metabolic disease. Genome medicine, 8(1), 42. 
  4. Patterson, R. E., & Sears, D. D. (2017). Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annual review of nutrition, 37, 371–393. 

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