People who are heavy and are not physically active, are at greater risk for conditions such as: increased blood sugar, higher pressures on their artery walls (high blood pressure), increased rate and workload on the heart, stroke, joint problems, sleep disorders, difficulty breathing, and even certain types of cancer.
There are other posts on this blog relevant to the issue of being overweight or obese, but there is little question that most individuals would feel a lot better if they were only 5 or 10 pounds lighter.
When compared to leaner people, adipose tissue, the fat deposits of obese individuals, have higher numbers of, and larger, fat cells. These cells produce cytokines, immune factors, that are inflammatory in nature and trigger numerous inflammatory conditions including many mentioned above.
Adipose tissue has “immune-like” properties. For example, macrophages, white blood cells which alert the body to the presence of invaders, are found in high numbers in fat cell clusters. Additionally, obese individuals have been shown to have increased levels of proteins in the blood stream that stimulate inflammation. Overweight or obese people do not fight infections or heal as well as individuals at more appropriate weights.
The following hypothesis may have validity. The immune system may “see” components of adipose tissue as “foreign material” that must be eliminated from the body. If this scenario is correct, when the body “battles” adipose tissue an autoimmune response is triggered, a response in which the immune system destroys its own tissues, resulting in high levels of inflammation. My hypothesis is supported by the fact that obese individuals produce high levels of autoantibody, antibodies against their own tissues. Rather than resulting from inflammation, these autoantibodies may be the trigger for inflammation.
Muscle cells, like fat cells, secrete cytokines, molecules which help the body regulate inflammatory responses. In response to exercise, many different types of cytokines are produced by muscles and other cells. Cytokine measurements taken after a marathon demonstrated 100 fold increases of certain cytokines, whereas other cytokines were produced that typically dampen an inflammatory response.
The wide spectrum of immune factors that the body produces in response to physical activity helps the body maintain a steady state of inflammation, an immune balance that helps the body defend itself against infection and helps healing, but not so much that innocent by-stander tissues are damaged. In fact, studies have shown that individuals that are overweight, nevertheless may be healthy, if they are maintain a level of physical fitness.
The bodies of overweight and obese individuals are consistently exposed to self-generated, inappropriate levels of inflammation. Helping the body return to a healthy balance of immune responses, a state of homeostasis, will go a long ways towards changing their quality of life.
I would be pleased to hear from you if you are interested in changing your quality of life. I can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at: 302.265.3870 USA ET.