How Excess Weight Causes Inflammation

BY Gabe Mirkin TIMEOctober 29, 2014 PRINT

An obese person with high blood levels of C3 (a marker of inflammation) has three times the chance of being diabetic as an obese person who has low levels. People who are overweight but do not yet have diabetes have low levels in their blood of markers of inflammation {C-reactive protein (CRP), Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Complement 3, PAI-1, IL-6 and elevated white blood cell counts} and higher levels of markers that prevent inflammation {adiponectin} (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, published online August 27, 213). The authors collected blood samples on 2,047 Irish men and women, ages 45 to 74, who were both obese and non-obese (BMI cut-off of 30 kg/m2).

Dangers of Inflammation

Obesity turns on your immunity to cause inflammation that prevents the cells of your body from responding to insulin (insulin resistance) to cause metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart attacks. This study suggests that all obese people should do everything to lose weight. Those who fail to lose weight should get blood tests for these markers of inflammation. Those who have high levels of these markers of inflammation should be told that their obesity has already prevented their bodies from responding to insulin and therefore they are at high risk for premature death from diabetes and heart attacks.

Your immunity is good for you. It helps prevent germs from invading and destroying your body. However if your immunity stays active all the time (inflammation), it attacks you and destroys your body. It can attack your joints to cause arthritis, your kidneys to cause kidney failure, your heart to cause a heart attack, and your liver to cause diabetes.

How A Normal Liver Protects You

Your liver is supposed to control blood sugar levels. More than 98 percent if the energy for your brain comes from the sugar in your bloodstream. If your blood sugar level drops suddenly, you can fall down unconscious. To prevent blood sugar levels from dropping, your liver constantly releases sugar stored in its cells into your bloodstream. When blood sugar levels drop, your liver immediately releases more sugar from its cells into your bloodstream.

You store extra sugar only in your liver and muscles. When blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases large amounts of insulin into your bloodstream and insulin lowers blood sugar levels by driving sugar from your bloodstream into your liver. The signal for your liver to lower high blood sugar levels and draw sugar from your bloodstream comes from insulin.

How a Fatty Liver Raises Blood Sugar, Leading to Diabetes

Extra fat in liver cells causes high blood sugar levels to rise even higher. When extra fat is deposited in liver cells, the fat prevents liver cells from responding to insulin. When blood sugar levels rise, the fatty liver is unable to respond to insulin and lower blood sugar levels by taking sugar into its cells. Instead, liver cells do the opposite of what they are supposed to do. They raise blood sugar levels even higher by:

• releasing sugar from their cells into the bloodstream, and
• making new sugar from protein (gluconeogenesis) and releasing that newly-made sugar to raise blood sugar levels even higher.

My Recommendations

If you are overweight, try to start losing extra weight immediately. I recommend intermittent fasting as it appears to be more effective than counting calories or any of the diets, drugs and supplements that bilk innocent obese people of their money and offer no long-term weight loss.

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Gabe Mirkin
Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D. brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology.
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