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How Obesity Causes Disease

April 30, 2009 | 41,460 views

obesityAn inflammatory factor already linked to several diseases, including pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and arthritis, may also be responsible for the insulin resistance that comes with obesity, according to a new study.

Researchers have found that the inflammatory chemokine known as CXCL5 rises and falls along with obesity and weight loss in humans. They also found evidence tying the inflammatory factor, which is secreted at high levels by fat tissue, to insulin resistance in mice.

Treatments designed to block CXCL5 were found to improve the animals' sensitivity to insulin.

CXCR5 affect a variety of cells including muscle cells, cells that line blood vessel walls and cells in the lung and intestine. This means that increased CXCL5 circulating levels, as observed in obesity, could also lead to other problems such as atherosclerosis and other inflammatory diseases.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Obesity is one of the greatest public health disasters facing the United States. A full two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and in some ethnic groups the rates are even higher, such as African-American women, of whom nearly 80 percent are currently either overweight or obese.

The implications of this are quite profound because being obese increases your risk of so many diseases, including:

• Hypertension
• High total cholesterol and triglycerides
• Type 2 diabetes
• Coronary heart disease
• Stroke

• Gallbladder disease
• Osteoarthritis
• Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
• Some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon)
This new study sheds some light on exactly why excess weight is so dangerous for your health, including that high levels of the inflammatory factor CXCL5, which is produced and secreted at high levels by fat tissue, is linked to insulin resistance.

Their findings are similar to those of another study conducted about five years ago, which also found that insulin resistance is behind many obesity-related health complications.

One Way Obesity Leads to Insulin Resistance

Obesity causes stress in your endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a system of cell membranes found inside your cells. This stress can result in the suppression of the signals of insulin receptors which can then lead to insulin resistance.

Your endoplasmic reticulum has been compared to a synthetic machine of a cell, responsible for processing proteins and fats. Scientists have also referred to the ER as a factory for producing protein, as well as the site where excess blood fats are processed.

When you take in too many calories, your body is bombarded with nutrients and the following occurs:

• Nutrients must be processed, stored and utilized
• Your endoplasmic reticulum “factory” becomes overworked and starts sending SOS signals
• SOS signals tell your cells to dampen their insulin receptors
• Your endoplasmic reticulum restrains normal responses to insulin
• Insulin can no longer clear sugar from your body

Another downfall of endoplasmic reticulum stress, besides obesity, is that it triggers inflammation in cells, and similar to CXCL5 causes more diseases such as heart disease.

Have You Heard of Leptin?

Many people are now familiar with insulin and its role in diseases like diabetes. A much less known, but equally important, hormone is leptin.

If you eat a diet that is high in sugar and grains, which is the type of diet that leads to obesity in many people, the sugar gets metabolized to fat (and is stored as fat in your fat cells).

This in turn releases surges in leptin. Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant to it (just as your body can become resistant to insulin).

And when you become leptin-resistant, your body can no longer “hear” the messages telling it to stop eating, burn fat, and maintain good sensitivity to sweet tastes in your taste buds -- so you remain hungry, you crave sweets, and your body stores more fat.

Leptin-resistance also causes an increase in dangerous visceral fat, sending you on a vicious cycle of hunger, fat storage and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and more.

Storing large amounts of excess body fat throws your body out of balance in so many ways that even after adjusting for "traditional" risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, obese adults also face increased risks of:

• Silent vascular disease (blood vessel disease that causes no symptoms)
• Atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries)
• Thicker heart walls

Preventing Obesity at its Source

One of the U.S. health objectives for the year 2010 is to get the percentage of U.S. adults who are obese down to 15 percent, but currently the prevalence is increasing rather than decreasing.

It’s been suggested that by the middle of this century, the increased risk of obesity-caused diabetes, heart disease and cancer could lower the average U.S. life expectancy by as much as five years.

If this obesity epidemic is not reversed we will, for the first time in history, see children living shorter lives than their parents.

So if you want to stay healthy and avoid all of the complications that go along with excess weight, the key lies in preventing obesity in the first place.

And I don’t believe that “bad” genes play a major role. I am a firm proponent of epigenetic medicine and believe you have enormous influence over the expression of your genetic code.

This is great news because it means by making lifestyle changes you can alter the expression of your genes in a positive way. So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re destined to be overweight or unhealthy in any way.

Even though on some level, fighting obesity is a societal issue, when it comes down to it losing weight is something you have to do on your own, and here are the top steps to take:

1. Tailor your diet to your nutritional type. These are the foods that are right for your biochemistry, and these are the foods that will push your body toward its ideal weight. (By the way, these foods may be high in fat, high in carbs, heavy on protein or heavy on veggies, it all depends on YOU).

2. View exercise as a drug. When you’re trying to lose weight, a casual walk here and there is not going to cut it. I’ve gone into the details of how to use exercise for weight loss in this past article, however, there is strong compelling evidence that a mix of strength training, aerobic exercise, and high-intensity anaerobic interval training is ideal for weight loss.

3. Transform your emotional blocks. Tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are your friend and ally when it comes to losing weight. For some, emotional eating is more complex, and an experienced EFT practitioner may be able to help unravel some of your deeper emotional issues.

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