Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obesity and Inflammation: Doorways to Disease

by Darlyn Britt

The Centers for Disease Control defines obesity as having a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher. (BMI is a ratio of your weight to your height. For most people, this number correlates to their amount of body fat.) Obesity is associated with a litany of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and depression.

Consider these facts:
• More than one-third of U.S. adults (over 72 million people) and 17% of U.S. children are obese.

• During 1980–2008, obesity rates doubled for adults and tripled for children. This affects all population groups—regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level or geographic region.

• About 80–90% of the people diagnosed with type II diabetes are also clinically obese. Being overweight makes it difficult for your body to maintain proper blood glucose levels, which can cause your body to become resistant to insulin. Diabetics need to take even more insulin to get sugar (energy) into their cells. And for obese people who don’t have diabetes, the prolonged effects of insulin resistance can eventually cause you to develop the disease.

• Obesity is associated with increased risks of various cancers: esophagus, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium, colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid and gallbladder.

Inflammation is the body’s normal response to a stimulus. For example, when you smash your finger in a closing door, it swells and becomes inflamed. Swelling is the body’s mechanism for healing a wound or fighting infection. Temporary inflammation is natural and normal.

But when a stimulus is repeated over and over, such as damage to a joint, inflammation often leads to chronic pain and possible infection. Over time, the inflammation cycle breaks down organ function, tends to weaken the heart and can trigger deadly diseases, including type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, stroke, lupus and congestive heart failure. It can also usher in other unwanted conditions like arthritis, fibrosis, anemia, asthma and fibromyalgia.

Inflammation is a key to the aging process, and like a key, it can “unlock” or turn on disease genes we may carry. So if you have a family history of heart disease, and you experience chronic inflammation, your heart disease switch may get turned on.

Inflammation is compounded by diet. Unfortunately, the average American diet does not help at all.
• High blood sugar, brought on by repeated blood sugar spikes from a high-sugar or high-carb diet, leads to inflammation.

• Acidity also incites inflammation. Acidity occurs when pH is too low. Eating lots of meat, sugar, simple carbs and most junk food makes your body more acidic. Consequently raw foods like colorful vegetables, fresh fruits and some nuts help to neutralize acidity.

• Oxidation is a condition where pollution, radiation, environmental chemicals and other stressors attack cells and can damage tissues. The body tries to combat this with inflammation.

Controlling chronic inflammation can help reduce the risk of disease and perhaps help slow the aging process.


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