Chronic Inflammation and Weight Gain

There are basically two types of inflammation: the good kind, which helps your body heal from injury or infection; and the bad kind, which is a chronic, “silent” killer. In fact, the bad kind of inflammation is increasingly found to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and weight gain, among other health problems.

The human body is remarkably adept at healing itself from injury and disease. When you sprain your wrist for example, the area will quickly become inflamed in a natural healing response. The resultant swelling of the area is your body’s response to injury, and effort to bring more blood and oxygen to the spot and heal it as quickly as possible.

This is good inflammation and you should allow your body to repair itself to the extent it’s able.

Good Inflammation & Bad Inflammation

Recent research has begun to show an important connection between inflammation, weight gain, and a hormone called leptin. In optimally healthy people, leptin is responsible for automatically maintaining weight at the right level, regulating your body’s level of fat by controlling your appetite and metabolism.

As you add more fat tissue, your body produces more leptin. In healthy people, the production of additional leptin signals the brain to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism, leading these people to feel less hunger, burn more calories, and lose the excess fat.

When leptin is made ineffective by chronic inflammation, the dysfunction is called leptin resistance, meaning that even though you have normal or high levels of leptin, it does not work to suppress your appetite and speed metabolism, thus maintaining a healthy weight.

The problem is that chronic inflammation impairs the brain’s ability to receive leptin’s appetite suppressing message. The good news is that eating foods to reduce inflammation will not only improve your heart health, it will improve your body’s responsiveness to leptin. When that happens, you reduce inflammation which makes it far easier to take off unwanted pounds.

Here is a short-list of anti-inflammatory foods, along with inflammatory foods to avoid:

  • Anti-inflammatory foods to Enjoy: leafy greens and other colorful vegetables; lentils; berries; citrus fruits; low-fat dairy products; “hot” spices like garlic, ginger, chili peppers and curry; wild-caught fish; lean cuts of red meat such as pork, beef and buffalo; olive oil.
  • Eat in Moderation: whole grains, beans, tropical fruits, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, white potatoes, cheeses.
  • Inflammatory foods to Limit or Avoid: organ meats; veal; high-fat dairy; farmed fish; margarine and shortening; vegetable oils; refined flours and sugar; fatty and fried foods.

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