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Monday, December 12, 2011

Inflammation: The Silent Killer and Obesity

Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Inflammation is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process.

Acute inflammation is characterized by the redness, heat, swelling, and pain that is the immune system’s normal response to infection or injury. Immune cells congregate at the site so that they can overwhelm and dispose of infectious organisms or debris from injury. Thus healing takes place. But there is another kind of inflammation which is chronic and "systemic." It’s been the topic of many studies and discussion lately. This is the kind that you can't see but it is there lurking and destroying from within.

Although it is not proven that inflammation causes cardiovascular disease, inflammation is common for heart disease and stroke patients and is thought to be a sign or atherogenic response. It’s important to know what inflammation is and what it can do to your heart.
One inflammation-blood pressure study indicates that a person’s current level of C-reactive protein (CRP) – a key player in inflammation – can indicate future high blood pressure development. In fact, the study’s researchers suggest high blood pressure may be an inflammatory disorder.
The worldwide prevalence of obesity and related metabolic disorders is rising rapidly, increasing the burden on our healthcare system. Obesity is often accompanied by excess fat storage in tissues other than adipose tissue, including liver and skeletal muscle, which may lead to local insulin resistance and may stimulate inflammation. In addition, obesity changes the composition of adipose tissue, leading to changes in protein production and secretion. Some of these secreted proteins, including several proinflammatory mediators, may be produced by macrophages resident in the adipose tissue. The changes in inflammatory status of adipose tissue and liver with obesity feed a growing recognition that obesity represents a state of chronic low-level inflammation.

Obesity is closely linked to fat storage in liver and is nowadays considered as a major risk factor for the development of fatty liver diseases. The incidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disorders (NAFLDs) and obesity are therefore intimately linked. It has been estimated that about 75% of obese subjects have NAFLD while 20% develop fatty liver disease with inflammation.

The amount of fat stored in liver is determined by the balance between fatty acid uptake, endogenous fatty acid synthesis, triglyceride synthesis, fatty acid oxidation, and triglyceride export. Changes in any of these parameters can affect the amount of fat stored in liver.

The excessive fat accumulation in adipose tissue, liver, and other organs strongly predisposes to the development of metabolic changes that increase overall morbidity risk. The metabolic abnormalities that often accompany obesity include hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance leading to hyperinsulinemia, and dyslipidemia. Collectively, these abnormalities have been clustered into the metabolic syndrome.

Individuals that are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome have a significantly increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type II diabetes. Observations have led to the view that obesity is a state of chronic low-grade inflammation that is initiated by morphological changes in the adipose tissue.

Obesity represents a major health threat. By targeting the inflammatory component, the progression of obesity towards insulin resistance and CVD might be slowed down.

So what can you do to fight inflammation and obesity? Big key items are a healthy lifestyle, regular fitness plan and good nutrition. You can also make sure that you take in good doses of anti-oxidants as part of your nutrition plan.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. In the last decade, scientists have proven that some antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to scavenging free radicals, there are antioxidants that actually block inflammation. The antioxidant effect (the blocking of certain oxidizing proteins) lowers the activation of inflammatory signals. Scientists have also found that combinations of certain antioxidants have greater effect than single antioxidants on certain types of inflammation.

Some key anti-oxidants and helpers are vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, L-Carnitine, zinc, and magnesium amongst many others.

The best sources of antioxidants are vegetables, fruits, tea and wine. It is a good idea to get your antioxidants from a variety of sources. The more colorful your natural foods the better - yellow, orange, green, red, brown and blue-purple plant foods provide a variety of antioxidants, and the more brightly colored, the richer the food is in anti-oxidants. Foods are considered to be the preferred way of boosting antioxidant levels because they're thought to contain a wide array of antioxidant substances. Many of the them are also high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Some rich sources of antioxidants include (USDA Top 20): 
Small red bean (dried)
Wild blueberry
Red kidney bean (dried)
Pinto bean
Blueberry (cultivated)
Artichoke (cooked hearts)
Red delicious apple
Granny Smith apple
Sweet cherry
Black plum
Russet potato
Black bean (dried)
Gala apple

So if your worried about where you stand with inflammation, consult your doctor for appropriate testing. Otherwise, work on your lifestyle, bad habits, fitness and nutrition and you'll be on your way to a much healthier day!


Dempsey's Resolution Fitness
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