Overcoming The Pain and Disease of America’s #1 Silent Killer
This is the third of a 4 part series looking at one of the key factors in muscle growth and recovery, but when left unchecked, can also be a silent killer.
Obesity stats in the U.S. are increasing every year and the millennial, teen, and pre-teen demographics are leading the way. It is important to note that the medical definition of obesity, as compared to being overweight, is defined as weighing more than 120% of your ideal bodyweight. Many people who think they are merely overweight are actually medically obese, and are subject to substantially increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and chronic inflammation.
In fact, being overweight or obese causes chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is strongly linked to your body fat percentage. Body fat itself secretes cytokines, the molecule responsible for the onset of the inflammatory process. In addition, high blood sugar levels are inherently inflammatory, which can be seen in obese people who tend to be insulin resistant. As a result of their insulin resistance, their blood sugar levels stay higher longer, leading to increased inflammation. This problem takes on even greater significance in the case of diabetes.
“Diabesity” is a term being used evermore frequently, albeit informally, to describe overweight/obese people who have either overt diabetes, or higher than desired blood sugar levels. As mentioned before, perpetually high levels of blood sugar itself can be inflammatory.
And for the fitness enthusiast, know that high resting levels of the cytokine IL-6 can indicate chronic inflammation, the type of inflammation which is negatively correlated with muscle growth. In fact, in a 9-month intensive study of strength training women, trunk fat mass positively correlated with high resting levels of IL-6, and negatively correlated with muscle growth.
The chemical makeup of the foods we eat and how our body reacts to them can be correlated to chronic inflammation. Simple sugars, processed foods, and many artificial additives tend to acidify the body, as well as spike blood sugar levels, thus potentiating inflammation.
Diets high in these elements, or high in certain grain type carbohydrates can over time irritate the wall of the intestine, causing it to become more permeable and “leak” undigested proteins into the blood stream. This then triggers an immune inflammatory immune system response, as your body tries to fight this “foreign” invader. Food sensitivity testing, performed by a blood test, can identify the foods your body is reacting to so that they can be removed from the diet. Fasting, either total or intermittent, can allow the intestinal wall to heal so that when the “offense” food is reintroduced months later, there is no longer an inflammatory response.
The effects of chronic stress are becoming increasingly understood by the medical community each day. The mechanisms are clear––chronic stress increases cortisol levels, which are a major determinant of inflammation in the body. Cortisol is a very powerful hormone, which influences a wide variety of body systems and other hormone levels. Cortisol can break down muscle tissue, increase fat storage, raise blood sugar levels, suppress testosterone production, increase blood pressure, and increase neurotransmitter activity related to anxiety. Most of these elements directly feed or support chronic inflammation.
LACK OF EXERCISE
Most Americans simply don’t get enough exercise, and many of them know it. While the benefits of exercise are numerous, as it relates to inflammation, exercise is known to decrease cortisol levels, decrease and stabilize blood sugar levels, and enhance insulin sensitivity which results in better blood sugar level control. Exercise is also known to help normalize stress-induced anxiety––if left unchecked, stress-induced anxiety can further increase cortisol levels resulting in further inflammation.
Incredibly, given the numerous and well-known health damage caused by smoking, the Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 40 million Americans still smoke. Cigarette, cigar, and/or pipe tobacco smoke is filled with dozens of chemicals that irritate the mucus membranes and bronchial lining of your lungs, causing an inflammatory response each and every time. Furthermore, smoking also causes coronary artery constriction and increased blood pressure
In our next newsletter, we will discuss effective ways to deal with inflammation in Part 4 of How to Beat Inflammation.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.