What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the first response of the immune system to infection or irritation. We are all familiar with the classic signs of inflammation (swelling, redness and pain) that occur when we hurt ourselves or have some kind of infection. However recent research has shown that eating the wrong foods can cause inflammation within our bodies. In fact being overweight can itself be the cause of inflammation.
Body fat causes inflammation
The fatty tissues of the body secrete hormones that regulate the immune system and inflammation, but in the case of an overweight individual this can become out of control. Three of the hormones that play a role in metabolism are leptin, resistin and adiponectin.
- Leptin is involved in appetite control.
- Resistin is a hormone that increases insulin resistance.
- Adiponectin lowers the blood sugar by making your body more insulin sensitive.
The fact that it is the fatty tissue that produces these hormones makes the fat self regulating, as the hormones should act to bring the increased fat under control. Bodies with more fat will produce more leptin bringing the appetite under control. However in cases where the body is inflamed there is often a problem with leptin resistance, and the self regulation of fat does not occur. Leptin resistance is where to body stops responding to the appetite controlling effects of the hormone.
In addition to these metabolism regulating hormones your fatty tissue also produces chemicals that cause inflammation and this can make the problem of leptin resistance worse. This is why obesity can cause an increase of these inflammatory chemicals which in turn inhibit the correct balancing function of the weight controlling hormones. This results in a vicious circle of weight gain causing inflammation which inhibits hormone function thereby causing further weight gain.
Food and inflammation
Another major cause of inflammation in our bodies is the food we eat. Inflammation can be aggravated by diets high in refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils such as those found in margarines, potato chips and baked goods and by diets high in sugars. But food can also be part of the solution to the problem of inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory foods, if eaten regularly, can reduce inflammation in the body and bring the problem under control. This page contains a list of anti-inflammatory foods that if incorporated into your regular diet will help bring a balance to inflammation in your body. Try and feature some kind of anti-inflammatory food into every meal that you eat, and eliminate pro-inflammatory foods from your diet all together. People who have done this often describe noticable relief from previous discomforts and a greater ability to control their weight.
Green Onions/Spring Onions
Herbs & Spices
Cayenne Peppers/Chilli Peppers
Cocoa (at least 70% cocoa chocolate)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Acerola (West Indian) Cherries
Nuts & Seeds