Inflammation Causes Weight Gain
The first of 3 ways to avoid gaining weight is reducing inflammation at the cellular level. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an allergen or injury. When you get a paper cut, your body responds with the traditional heat, pain, redness and swelling.
In the simplest of scientific terms, cells damaged by the cut release chemical messengers, signaling the release histamines to begin an inflammatory response.
For a quick scientific tutorial on the inflammatory response, visit Kahn Academy.
Anti-histamines can be purchased over the counter to combat allergic reactions to invaders like pollen and mold. For a cut you might dab some antibiotic cream on a band-aid to promote healing.
If you have sprained your ankle, you ice, elevate and rest to minimize the inflammation. Any type of stress is a cause for inflammation in your body.
Inflammation Triggers Cortisol Production
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body when a stress is present. It’s a hormone that also promotes the storage of fat within our bodies. Let me repeat that, cortisol promotes fat storage within our bodies. That's a giant waving red flag.
Think of cortisol as a hormone in your flight or fight response. It signals the heart to beat faster, your blood to pump harder and your cells to flood your body with glucose for immediate energy.
The "flight or fight" response is a necessary and ordinary function but it's harmful on a daily basis. The stress of today’s fast-paced lifestyle could be killing you. With a stressful lifestyle, our bodies are pumping out cortisol on a daily maybe even constant basis.
Remember that cortisol signals the body to produce glucose in the liver. Excessive glucose means elevated insulin levels. This is our body’s way of trying to keep blood sugar levels from spiking.
Over time the pancreas struggles to keep up with the body’s high demand for insulin leading to insulin resistance. Lowering cortisol production is the second of 3 ways to avoid gaining weight.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance is the body’s inability to convert food into energy efficiently. Remember all of the glucose the body produced by a signal from the hormone cortisol? Constant stress leads to constant glucose production but that supply is not limitless.
Because insulin is being produced in large quantities, any blood sugar you might have is not being allowed out of the bloodstream to feed the cells. Our body now signals the brain that it needs more energy.
Energy in the form of food. Hunger strikes even though we have plenty of food in our body but because of insulin resistance, the body cannot convert it into energy.
Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain
Now your body has plenty of food in it but because of insulin resistance it’s not being utilized.
So where does all of this food go?
Your food is deposited in your body in the form of adipose (fat cells). Your body stores more fat easier because your brain thinks your body is starving. A starving body stores food in nice newly formed adipose cells. Combating insulin resistance is the third of 3 ways to avoid gaining weight.
Causes of Inflammation
There are several causes of inflammation like an ankle sprain or cut but since we are talking about weight gain, let’s focus on the foods we eat. Ever heard of a wheat, dairy or peanut allergy?
The body, more specifically the GI (gastrointestinal) tract treats these foods as invaders much like an allergen or injury affects our bodies and thus the inflammatory response ensues.
Glucose, insulin and cortisol levels are knocked out of whack and the viscous cycle begins.
Avoid Gaining Weight with Good Food Choices
The list of good foods versus bad foods is numerous and dizzying. Let’s start with the top 7 foods that cause inflammation.
Foods that do not Cause Inflammation
I’m sure you were disappointed by my list of taboo foods but take heart there are plenty of good foods that do not cause inflammation. Here’s my list of 7 foods that are GI friendly:
Ways to Prevent Inflammation
The first way to avoid inflammation is through your diet. Focusing on real whole foods is key. There is a misconception that a low-fat diet is good for the body or a calorie in equals a calorie out. Not true.
The quality of your food as fuel for your body is essential for inflammation prevention. Start with good fats. A 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is key to a healthy energized brain and body. Omega-6 fats are mostly derived from peanut and vegetable oils in the modern diet.
Avoid foods labeled with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated ingredients. Omega-3 fats are derived from flaxseed, wild caught salmon, chia seeds, eggs and raw nuts.
The second way to prevent inflammation is to reduce the stress in your life. Stress causes the release of cortisol and we’ve already looked at the detrimental effects of that hormone on our bodies.
If you can’t seem to get the stress in your life under control, try planning out your days in detail and stick to your plan. If you run out of time for one activity, don’t sweat it, just move on to the next.
Remember to schedule in personal quiet time. 30 minutes per day of alone time like a walk or mediation can do wonders to ease stress. Exercise! Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress in your life. Plus, you’ll feel and look better for doing it. A daily walk around the block is a great way to get started.
The third way to prevent inflammation is to get plenty of sleep. Rest is essential for our bodies to repair the stress put on our bodies during the day.
A consistent sleep cycle is essential for a healthy body. Avoid reading, watching tv or playing with your smartphone in bed or just before bed.
Give your brain time to unwind before lying down for complete relaxation. A brain that has wound down is more likely to enter deep sleep which is essential for quality sleep.
Our Bodies are Fine-Tuned Machines
Think of your body as a fighter jet. There is the tiniest margin for error in each piece of electronics, fuel and structure. If one piece fails chances are another will as well. It's like the human body.
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