by Kevin DiDonato, MS, CSCS, CES
In some cases, inflammation can be the root of all evil.
Don’t get me wrong, inflammation has its place in the body. But talking about diseases and disease processes, you want to stay away from inflammation.
Inflammation can ruin healthy fat cells, rendering them unable to do their job.
Not good! But there is help on the way.
Adipose tissue releases hormones which keep our metabolism moving like a Ferrari. The downside, though, when fat cells are sick, your engine sputters and needs a major overhaul.
Why? Cytokines! They can be the enemy and hinder fat loss.
Cytokines also increase inflammation. Cytokines can increase your risk for developing diabetes, becoming obese, or other complications closely related to metabolic syndrome.
They make our fat cells dysfunctional.
Our fat cells become resistant to friendly hormones.
Hormones, like Leptin, Resistan, and Adiponectin (there are plenty of others too) help the body process fat and use it as energy. Increased levels of these hormones help us lose weight and keep our metabolism rolling.
One, cytokine in particular, is extremely bad in the body. Too much TNF-α increases inflammation in the body, rendering cells resistant to friendly hormones!
Cytokines, like TNF-α, can act as an ally and an enemy. As an ally, TNF-α attaches itself to cancer cells and destroys them. On the enemy side, increased levels of TNF-α have a pro-inflammatory response limiting the cells’ ability to burn stored fat and sugar.
When TNF-α is present for extended periods of time, it loses its ability to destroy cancer cells. Some patients with cancer, where TNF-α was high, showed decreased activity in TNF-α’s ability to fight off the cancer cells.
High levels of TNF-α is also expressed by increased inflammation. Your doctor usually determines how much inflammation is in the body through a blood test. This test determines the level of C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation in the body. High TNF-α levels raise C-reactive protein levels in the body.
Not only can TNF-α induce inflammation, there is also a rise in insulin resistance which is common with obesity and metabolic syndrome.
When fat cells are released by adipose tissue, hormone-sensitive lipase splits one molecule, sending it to be burned and used for energy.
What is left is another molecule of fat. Lipoprotein lipase activates, breaking it down and sending it off. So you have two, that’s right, two molecules which are processed and used.
Increased levels of TNF-α decrease lipoprotein lipase, meaning less fatty acid is broken down. These fatty acids then make their way to other cells and organs to be stored. You would think they would be stored for later use, but you would be wrong.
This energy is stored in organs like the liver, resulting in increased inflammation. This results in other complications.
All from the release of one cytokine!
Obesity increases TNF-α circulating in the body. This increased level can inhibit the cells’ ability to utilize insulin released by the pancreas.
How does this happen? I am so glad you asked.
Your fat cells have a specific receptor on the surface, which helps insulin bind to it. When TNF-α is over-expressed, enzyme activity for this receptor is reduced, leading to insulin resistance. Wow!
Not only can it interfere with the insulin receptor site, it also interferes with insulin signaling, disrupting the normal secretion by the pancreas.
So, your diet is loaded with fat; and you know it’s bad for you. But do you know just how bad it is?
A high-fat diet increases the activity of TNF-α, which produces more inflammation and insulin resistance. With an Increase in TNF-α activity, you also see a rise in Leptin.
We know fat tissue releases Leptin, which tells you that you are full. And when you are overweight, you have higher levels of bound Leptin.
Bound Leptin has a hard time making it through the blood brain barrier. So now you don’t know when you are full.
Your body also can become resistant to Leptin, which causes an increase in cortisol. High cortisol also makes you store fat. This vicious cycle just keeps spinning, leaving you no way out.
When you are overweight, TNF-α levels increase, leading to all sorts of metabolic complications.
But there is a way to decrease TNF-α expression, and help you lose weight and decrease inflammation.
First, you need to start to exercise and eat right. This helps to reduce fat stores. And the more weight you lose, TNF-α activation is decreased. Also, Adiponectin increases, helping you to burn EVEN more fat.
By decreasing TNF-α expression and your weight loss, you have increased free Leptin levels, which now can tell your brain when you are full.
Also, amazingly enough, you are allowing your body to become sensitive to hormones again!
Your body can possibly utilize insulin again, shuttling sugar to the working muscles. You are also able to break down fatty acids and use them for energy.
Plus, and I mean a BIG plus, decreased TNF-α levels also reduce inflammation. Hooray!
The decreased inflammation levels will help your body regain sensitivity to hormones secreted by fat cells and other endocrine organs.
You are in control of your body. You need to retake your fat tissue and make it your friend again.
You need to keep your fat stores healthy and active by losing weight and reducing unhealthy inflammation.
The key is your body, you now need to unlock your body’s potential and use it to your advantage.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES