You cut calories, fit in time at the gym, and never eat after 8 p.m. So why is it that you still can’t deflate that spare tire hanging around your tummy? Consider this: your body might be fighting against your weight loss efforts.
The culprit? Chronic, low-grade inflammation.
As we gain weight, some fat cells expand beyond their capacity while trying to do their job storing our extra calories as fat. When this happens, they turn on and add to the inflammation already present in our bodies. At this point, these cells aren’t just fat storage warehouses—they’re like little inflammation factories, sending out signals to activate the immune system. Losing weight allows the fat cells to shrink back to a more normal size and turns off the signals that trigger chronic inflammation.
The sugar you eat, high doses of the wrong oils and fats in your diet, hidden food allergens, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and hidden infections all trigger a raging, unseen inflammation deep in your cells and tissues. And this inflammation leads to every one of the major chronic diseases of aging — heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more. It’s also by far the major contributor to obesity. Being fat is being inflamed — period!
While everyone is different, there are some foods that irritate the immune system more than others. They are gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, Kamut), dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt), corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers1, potatoes, eggplant), citrus, and yeast (baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and fermented products). This article from “Eat this, Not that identifies 14 Inflammatory Foods Making You Fat.
How do you know a food isn’t working for you?
Well, aside from weight gain there are simple signs that your body is saying “Please don’t feed this food to me!”
• bloating after a meal
• 3:00 p.m. energy dip
• body aches and pains
• hormonal issues
Changing your diet and losing weight are two of the best ways to lower inflammation.
Here are some tips:
1. Eating antioxidant- and polyphenol-rich foods can cut down on inflammation by reducing “free-radical damage.” To get them, try drinking green tea and eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies; here are some examples of what to reach for, broccoli, kale, collards, rutabaga, turnips, berries.
2. Getting a good ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is important for reducing inflammation. Most of us consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, so the key to balancing things is to increase omega-3 rich foods like salmon, flax and chia seeds, avocado and walnuts.
3. Turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and ginger have all been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle them liberally onto your food.
4. Moving around releases a burst of anti-inflammatory proteins from the cells to the rest of the body. Blending strength training with moderate exercise is key. An example of moderate exercise is 45–60 minutes of cardio, such as walking or jogging, about three times a week.
5. Reducing stress helps to keep hormones like cortisol under control and that, in turn, helps lower inflammation.
6. Lack of sleep makes the body ripe for infection, while more sleep has the opposite effect. A review of several studies published in 2008 found that sleeping less than eight hours a night was linked to weight gain.