Chronic inflammation and weight gain

Chronic inflammation and weight gain: How are they connected?

May 11. 2022

We are all aware that there are secret weight-loss saboteurs lurking around us. However, we might not be aware of those secret little saboteurs inside our bodies.
One of the biggest secret saboteurs inside our bodies is called chronic inflammation. It is a widespread condition these days, paired with stress and environmental toxins. Thankfully, you can take measures to prevent it and keep them from disturbing your weight loss journey. Chronic inflammation and weight gain are a buzzword nowadays, so let’s see what they are and how they are connected.

What is inflammation?

For instance, there are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic inflammation. When your body is injured or in threat, it reacts with acute inflammation. In certain situations, this is helpful because it means your body is healing itself and the inflammation process is necessary.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation happens inside our bodies when bigger problems appear. Nature and science tell us repeatedly that there’s a direct link between chronic inflammation and weight gain, or better said, our ability to lose weight. This type of inflammation lasts longer, and in addition to weight gain, it is linked to many major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

How inflammation affects the body

Inflammation affects the body’s functions related to metabolism, hormone levels, cardiovascular health, and cognitive functions. When inflammatory cells are present in the body for a long time, they can cause a dangerous plaque in arteries to build up.

If you’re suffering from chronic inflammation, there’s almost no doubt you have digestive issues. One such problem is leaky gut syndrome. This condition damages the digestive tract and other organs and their functions. Joint pain, headaches, lack of energy, bloating, weight gain, and food sensitivity are common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.

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Signs of acute vs. chronic inflammation

Even though a lot of signs intersect, some can be linked to just one of them.

Signs that indicate acute inflammation are:

  • Redness on the skin
  • Skin hot to touch
  • Swelling of tissue
  • Pain
  • Immobility

Signs that indicate chronic inflammation:

  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Rash
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue

Chronic inflammation causes

One or a combination of several factors can cause chronic inflammation. Eating too much sugar and processed foods can cause chronic inflammation because they are full of chemicals and pesticides. Environmental pollution like poor air quality and poor drinking water quality also causes this condition.

Infections, injuries, and other irritants that are left untreated can lead to chronic inflammation. Obesity, smoking, alcohol, nutritional deficiencies, and chronic stress contribute to chronic inflammation. It is found that chronic stress increases the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to higher amounts of belly fat. And we all know belly fat is hard to get rid of.

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What are the best ways to reduce inflammation?

Lifestyle changes that can naturally fight chronic inflammation include eating healthy, anti-inflammatory foods. However, changes to your diet may not be enough to prevent this condition, especially if you’re suffering from other health conditions that prevent the body from responding appropriately to this type of food. Those health conditions include hormonal imbalance, leaky gut syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn-s disease. They prevent your body from absorbing essential nutrients and antioxidants from healthy foods.

Aside from eating anti-inflammatory foods, other things you can do to reduce inflammation are getting enough sleep, staying physically active, and exposing yourself to sunlight daily, as vitamin D helps regulate the immune system.

You can directly affect inflammation by reducing your exposure to toxins and chemicals (switching to non-toxic household cleaners, cosmetics, and pesticides).

Stress-relieving practices, such as yoga and intermittent fasting, give your digestive system a rest period, reset your metabolism, and reduce inflammation.

What are the best anti-inflammatory foods?

Your diet has a significant effect on reducing inflammation. You should make sure your diet contains plenty of water, organic fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, avocados, and fermented foods like kimchi or kombucha.

Well-known anti-inflammatory foods are berries like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries that contain a compound called anthocyanins. These compounds are natural antioxidants that reduce the risk of many diseases.

Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 acids that offer anti-inflammatory effects that help reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Try incorporating tuna, sardines, herring, and anchovies into your diet as much as you can.

Other foods that are great at fighting and reducing inflammation include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, peppers, mushrooms, olives, and green tea.

Can probiotics help reduce inflammation?

Probiotics are known as good and healthy bacteria that help crowd out the harmful bacteria in your guts that contribute to inflammation. Consuming foods and supplements that contain probiotics can help prevent complications inflammation often causes, as well as complications related to long-term use of antibiotics.

Foods that contain probiotics include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and cottage cheese. Make sure to read the labels thoroughly before buying these products, as they can contain hidden sugar or harmful additives.

Speaking of these dairy products, we come across another frequent thought: dairy causes inflammation. Thoughts about the relationship between dairy products and inflammation are mixed. The products we listed above are little-to-no processed, so they’re safe to be consumed. Still, conventional dairy products are loaded with hormones and antibiotics, so if your goal is to reduce inflammation, it may be wise to avoid dairy products and use alternatives.

What are inflammation markers?

Chronic inflammation doesn’t always give obvious signs because it is internal. Signs such as excess abdominal weight, fatigue, mouth sores, skin issues, and joint pain may indicate system inflammation.

We can measure certain inflammatory signs with blood tests. One such marker is c-reactive protein. The liver produces this substance in response to inflammation.

Using bioidentical progesterone to combat inflammation

Bioidentical progesterone is known as a natural anti-inflammatory. When inflammation occurs, your brain can’t receive proper signals from the hormone leptin, responsible for appetite regulation. If progesterone levels in your body are high enough, it will help leptin regulate appetite and reduce inflammation.

Because of its ability to reduce inflammation and balance leptin levels, bioidentical progesterone and weight loss can be linked together.

Are chronic inflammation and weight gain connected?

If you’re struggling to lose weight, it might be due to inflammation. Chronic inflammation may interrupt signals that let you know when you’re hungry and when you’re full. Inflammation also interferes with your metabolism by slowing it down, making it harder for your body to process extra calories.

Weight gain is commonly associated with an increased risk of chronic inflammation. If you’re wondering if the inflammation has something to do with your weight gain, some key symptoms you should look for are:

  • You carry a lot of excess weight around your middle; most of the extra fat gets stored in the abdominal area, where inflammation also occurs because fat cells produce a strong inflammatory response.
  • You experience a lot of gastrointestinal distress, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation regularly. It might be because of inflammation in the gut, which can quickly spread to other body parts.
  • Your blood glucose levels are high; high blood sugar levels lead to higher levels of cytokines and AGEs, which lead to further inflammation in the body.
  • You suffer from fatigue; it may seem like you always feel tired no matter what you do. That’s because inflamed cells have to work twice as hard to do their job.
  • You have skin problems; red skin, eczema, or psoriasis could be signs of inflammation under your skin which can be linked with insulin resistance.
  • Your thinking is foggy, or you feel anxious or depressed; inflammation can affect how you think or feel.
  • Your face seems puffy or swollen; if you’re constantly battling puffy bags under your eyes or your whole face seems puffy, it is a sign inflammation is a source of it.

Final thoughts

When inflammation is present, even when a person is the most disciplined with eating and exercise habits, they find little progress in losing weight. That said, we can conclude that chronic inflammation and weight loss or weight gain are connected. The good news is that there are many ways to avoid inflammation, such as avoiding toxins, antibiotics, harsh chemicals, stress, and eating anti-inflammatory foods. It is important to note that changing your diet alone may not be enough to get rid of chronic inflammation.

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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