Losing Weight Lowers Systemic Inflammation

Inflammation occurs naturally when the body’s immune system responds to an injury, or acts to fight off an infection or irritant. However, fat cells secrete molecules that also increase inflammation, even when an immune response is not necessary. Because these molecules are secreted into the bloodstream, carrying excess weight increases the risk of inflammation throughout the body. This more widespread condition is known as systemic inflammation and it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. According to a new study from Johns Hopkins Medicine, losing weight lowers systemic inflammation.

The researchers studied 60 people, ranging in age from 30 to 65, who were overweight or obese with a large amount of fat around their waistline. The participants were told to follow either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet for six months. Both groups also exercised three times a week. While both diet groups lost some weight, the low-carb group lost more weight (28 pounds), on average, than those on the low-fat diet (18 pounds).  In addition, the low-carb diet group had a larger decrease in body mass index (4.7 versus 2.9), and a greater drop in belly fat.

The researchers measured the changes in the participants’ blood levels for three common markers of inflammation called C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.  At the beginning of the study, the participants had similarly elevated levels of the inflammation markers. By the study’s conclusion, despite the difference in weight loss, both groups experienced a significant decrease in the levels of all three of the measures of inflammation. The researchers concluded that weight loss from both low-fat and low-carb diets improve systemic inflammation. The type of diet is not important; what is important is the amount of weight loss, particularly in regard to dangerous belly fat, said the researchers.

Related Reading: Obese Teens Feel Healthy, but Blood Tests Show Otherwise

Comments are closed.