infLammation: a key Driver to unSightLy beLLy fat

CC BY-NC-ND by Environmental Illness Network

(article published in Okanagan Child Winter 2017)
Contrary to popular belief, your excess belly fat is not a condition of excess calories. The body has several built in ways of dealing with calorie excess without you ever getting fat. Obesity, or excess body fat is actually a disease of inflammation. And this Inflammation, sets the stage for hormone dysregulation, improper hormone signalling, and belly fat that just won’t go away!

The science of fat loss really shifted gears when they discovered that our fat cells (adipocytes) are not just ‘dead weight’. In fact, our fat cells actually release pro inflammatory ‘cytokines’. We know now, inflammation has been found to be a key driver to the storage of unsightly belly fat.
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Inflammation defined

All inflammation occurs on a cellular level. Inflammation is the reaction your immune system has to repair tissue from injury or to protect you from a dangerous pathogenic invader.

Two types of inflammation – acute and chronic

Acute inflammation is the response we want to have happen.

Acute inflammation is there to heal the body. When the immune system has done its job and the ‘threat’ is gone, inflammation subsides.

The problem starts when we either suppress the symptoms (ie using aspirin for a low grade fever) or when the inflammation becomes chronic (lasting more than 2 weeks). This sets the stage for destruction instead of what we want – repair and regeneration.

Because the ‘threat’ never really goes away, neither does the inflammation either. When it comes to belly fat, the longer the inflammation continues, the more you get fat and harder it is to burn it off.

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How inflammation leads to belly fat

As one gets fatter, our master hormone, leptin rises. The more that leptin rises, the more inflammation is produced. It’s the reason why overweight and obese people are so prone to inflammatory conditions like autoimmune, arthritis, diabetes and cancer.

High inflammation quickly sets the stage for fatty liver disease and type two diabetes over time. Even mild inflammation can lead to these conditions over time.

The fatter one gets, the more leptin the fat cells release. The longer this goes on, the more resistant the brain gets to leptin signalling. This is called Leptin Resistance and it spells disaster for anyone looking to lose belly fat.

Leptin controls the body’s metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories). Most people think it’s the job of the thyroid, but leptin actually controls the thyroid. Inflammation stops T4 to T3 conversion in the liver and abruptly turn off your thyroid’s ability to function properly, despite normal thyroid labs.

Aha! When this happens, it doesn’t allow you to burn fat in your muscles because it downregulates your basal metabolic rate. This process is called peripheral (muscle) leptin resistance. This is why some fat people cannot burn fat with exercise.

Leptin controls all energy production in the body. Without energy, everything fails. Leptin tells the brain when you’ve had enough food. Leptin decides whether to make us hungry and store more fat or to regulate our hunger/satiety and burn fat. When you are leptin resistant, you are always hungry, have insatiable cravings and likely need to eat all the time.

No other hormonal imbalance in the body, in fact, can ultimately be restored to healthy balance without leptin functioning normally.

Leptin resistance occurs first. Then insulin resistance happens next. Insulin is our fat storage hormone. This is an important point to remember. If we do not take action steps to become insulin sensitive, then this can eventually lead to adrenal resistance. We feel this as relentless fatigue. Then comes the pituitary hormones, which regulate the thyroid and growth hormones. Growth hormone is our anti-aging fat burning hormone and when it’s low, we age quickly and stay fat. Then your sex hormones, and on down. It’s the chain of command.

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To get lean, fit ‘n healthy you need to take the steps to heal the inflammation. This inflammation is what’s driving leptin and insulin resistance. This cues your body to stop burning fat and start storing it.

How to test for inflammation:

Have some blood work done to include HSCRP. HSCRP, which is not the same as CRP, is what we use to measure baseline inflammation. HSCRP is a very early biomarker for cellular inflammation before any disease takes hold. The liver releases (HSCRP) in times of metabolic stress. When you look at your labs, anything over 1 is consider high.

How to test for Leptin Resistance.

The easiest way is to look in the mirror. If you are way too fat or way too thin, you most likely are leptin resistant. If you have hypothyroidism, you also are leptin resistant. You can also have some blood

work done and include reverse T3. Reverse T3 is a competitive inhibitor to T3 and T4. Those are your thyroid hormones.

Healing inflammation– the KEY to belly fat loss.

So, now that I’ve established how inflammation is a key driver to stored belly fat, to effectively burn belly fat, we need to bring inflammation down. In the next report, I’ll explore the underlying causes that raise inflammation.

If you have any comments, I would love to hear from you!