In recent years, a number of studies have shown that weight gain may be linked to chronic inflammation (a destructive process that occurs when the immune system continually releases inflammatory chemicals). While scientists are still trying to determine how inflammation might be related to weight gain, some research suggests that certain natural approaches may reduce inflammation while supporting weight loss.
The Science Behind Inflammation and Weight Gain
For a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008, researchers looked at nine years of data on 1,222 adults and found that weight gain was associated with an increase in chronic inflammation. According to the study's authors, this finding could explain why weight gain is linked to increased risk of heart disease and cancer (two diseases associated with chronic inflammation).
In an earlier report (published in the journal Gastroenterology in 2007), scientists note that chronic inflammation often accompanies the buildup of excess fat throughout the body. What's more, some studies show that visceral fat (a type of fat buried deep inside the abdomen) may trigger chronic inflammation by secreting inflammatory chemicals.
Natural Solutions for Inflammation and Weight Gain
Research shows that diet and exercise can help lessen inflammation while promoting weight loss. A 2010 report from the journal Obesity, for instance, states that following a diet high in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, fish, virgin olive oil, and nuts, and low in meat and trans-fatty acids, may help protect against both obesity and inflammation. A 2006 research review from the journal Sports Medicine, meanwhile, indicates that higher levels of physical fitness are consistently linked to lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation).
The following natural solutions also show promise for prevention of both inflammation and weight gain:
Dietary fiber may help reduce C-reactive protein levels, according to a 2006 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What's more, many studies show that eating more fiber can help stop weight gain. In addition to eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you can boost your fiber intake through natural remedies like flaxseed and psyllium.
In an animal-based study published in The FASEB Journal in 2010, researchers found that chokeberry may inhibit weight gain while taming inflammation. An antioxidant-rich fruit available in supplement form, chokeberry was also found to reduce inflammation in a 2010 study of 25 people with metabolic syndrome.
Preliminary evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help curb inflammation and reduce abdominal obesity (a condition marked by excess belly fat), according to a 2007 review published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Practicing yoga might help decrease C-reactive protein levels, a 2009 study from Psychosomatic Medicine shows. A 2005 study of 15,550 adults aged 53 to 57, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, found that yoga may also help prevent weight gain in middle age.
Should You Use Natural Solutions for Inflammation and Weight Gain?
If you're considering the use of any dietary supplement to prevent inflammation and weight gain, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.
Alvehus M, Burén J, Sjöström M, Goedecke J, Olsson T. "The human visceral fat depot has a unique inflammatory profile." Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 May;18(5):879-83.
Fogarty AW, Glancy C, Jones S, Lewis SA, McKeever TM, Britton JR. "A prospective study of weight change and systemic inflammation over 9 y." Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):30-5.
Ma Y, Griffith JA, Chasan-Taber L, Olendzki BC, Jackson E, Stanek EJ 3rd, Li W, Pagoto SL, Hafner AR, Ockene IS. "Association between dietary fiber and serum C-reactive protein." Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):760-6.
Plaisance EP, Grandjean PW. "Physical activity and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein." Sports Med. 2006;36(5):443-58.
Shoelson SE, Herrero L, Naaz A. "Obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance." Gastroenterology. 2007 May;132(6):2169-80.