Does losing weight and keeping it off seem an impossible feat? Maybe you’ve tried following a Paleo diet, working out more, or strictly counting your carbs. And yet, those pounds just continue to stick to your body. For many people, lasting weight loss requires addressing underlying health issues — one of which is chronic inflammation. If you’re suffering from chronic inflammation — and you may not know you are — losing weight will be that much more difficult.
Why? Because inflammation and weight are like two peas in a pod. Inflammation disrupts normal processes throughout the body and sabotages your weight-loss efforts. There are reasons for this, but before we talk about the whys, let’s consider the whats.
What is inflammation?
When your body encounters a threat such as a bug bite, virus, bacteria, pollen, or other allergens, a healing response occurs. This healing response is acute inflammation. Acute inflammation is your body’s way of attacking foreign substances in the body. It’s your immune system’s way of saying “get out of here,” and then regaining equilibrium. Usually, this type of inflammation is only temporary.
Chronic inflammation and its causes
When your body has been dealing with long-term threats or foreign substances — like drinking soda or smoking for years and years — the natural response is chronic inflammation. It’s this type of inflammation that’s linked to weight gain, and it’s also at least partly responsible for health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and a treasure trove of other degenerative diseases.
There are many, many causes of chronic inflammation. Let’s take a look at the causes and how you might be able to safeguard your body and mind from letting these factors cause widespread damage.
Enduring stress over the long term wreaks havoc on your body and mind. Your hormones become unbalanced and you begin to lose sleep. Cortisol rises and before you know it, you have chronically elevated cortisol levels. When you have too much cortisol, you’re more apt to gain (and retain) belly fat.
To eliminate chronic stress, do your best to get good quality sleep. Practice yoga and pranayama (yogic breathing exercises). Spend time in nature, and with the people in your life who calm you, rather than stress you out. Take small steps to simplify your life and follow your deepest desires. Radical self-care is the name of the game here.
Certain foods cause the same the immune system response mentioned above. Our bodies are all different, and even some compounds in healthy foods can bring about an inflammatory response if they don’t sit right with our own unique body chemistry.
How do you know what foods are causing your body to respond in such a way? Pay attention to what happens after eating a particular food or drinking a certain drink. If something’s not right for your body, you might experience the following:
- Feelings of depression
- Hormonal imbalances
- Joint pain
If you need more information, an elimination diet can help clarify which foods are healthy for your body and which ones aren’t. Remember, we’re all unique. Your body chemistry is different from your spouse’s. It’s different from your best friend’s. Therefore, the foods that work for your body chemistry are unique to you.
There are however, certain foods believed to have an inflammatory effect on most people. Eliminate these from your diet if you’re serious about losing weight and reducing chronic inflammation:
- Canola oil, soybean oil, and any hydrogenated or refined oil
- Potato chips
- Bottled fruit juice
- Conventional dairy products
- Red meat
- All processed foods
- Tap water
- Sports drinks
- Nutritional deficiencies
Another reason you’re gaining weight due to chronic inflammation stems from nutritional deficiencies. If you have super low levels of vitamin D, for example, your cells may be damaged, increasing your risk of degenerative diseases — cancer being one.
To prevent nutritional deficiencies, take a high-quality multivitamin and supplement with vitamin D, B12, and B6. It’s always best to get your nutrition from whole foods, so make sure you’re eating nutrient-dense fruits and veggies each day.
Unnecessary toxins and endocrine disruptors
Certain environmental toxins also cause inflammation. Mercury in fish is one example. Lead lurking in drinking water is another. Arsenic in brown rice is yet another example.
Then there are the endocrine disruptors which lead to oxidative stress and cellular damage. BPA found in the lining of canned foods, plastics, and even receipts from the grocery store are all examples of endocrine disruptors. So are phthalates, which often come in the form of plastic food containers and plastic wrap, and “fragrances” in conventional personal care products. Phthalates are also linked to oxidative stress and cellular damage. By avoiding these toxins, you can decrease your risk of chronic inflammation significantly.
How to reduce chronic inflammation
Certain foods are believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect on most people. If you’re not already eating these foods, start integrating them into your diet, paying attention to how you feel after eating them. Buy organic when you can; pesticides increase inflammation as well.
- Dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower
- Fermented veggies
- Wild-caught salmon
- Grass-fed meats
- Coconut products
- Olives and olive oil
- Bell peppers
- Chili peppers
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts and seeds
- Green tea
Getting quality sleep, reducing stress, and reducing your exposure to environmental toxins as much as possible will also help you reduce chronic inflammation. Look for food containers labeled BPA free, and personal care products labeled phthalate free.
Practicing intermittent fasting or other fasting methods, such as time-restricted feeding, has also been shown to help reduce inflammation.
The leaky gut connection
If you can’t seem to lose weight, no matter how hard you try, there’s a chance you’re dealing with chronic inflammation in the digestive system, which leads to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome affects nutrient absorption, and not in a good way. It damages the digestive tract, and causes health issues such as chronic fatigue, headaches, food allergies, joint pain, bloating — and you guessed it — weight gain.
You can take a test to determine whether leaky gut syndrome and gut inflammation are affecting you and possibly preventing you from losing the weight you desire. We all deserve to be happy, healthy, and free of sneaky weight loss saboteurs. Seek support to stop inflammation in its tracks and achieve your weight loss goals!
Need help with your health and weight-loss goals? At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss program is designed to address the underlying factors that often make weight loss difficult, including chronic inflammation. Contact us today for your free consultation!