Reducing Obesity-Induced Inflammation: Men’s Health Month Edition
By Anne Mercer Larson
Updated June 12, 2019
Most of us know that if we are overweight, we have more joint aches, back problems, and a higher risk for diabetes. But you may not be aware that excess stores of body fat can trigger inflammation throughout the body that complicates a wide range of common illnesses. Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, certain cancers, and even Alzheimer’s disease are all linked to inflammation related to obesity.
Fortunately, the key to fighting obesity-induced inflammation is to enlist the help of trillions of tiny soldiers: the microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi and viruses) that make up your gut microbiota. Since June is Men’s Health Month, it is a great time to take a closer look at how we can reduce our risk and symptoms for so many health conditions that diminish our lives by making changes in our gut microbiome.
Fat Causes Inflammation
Fat stores and inflammation go hand-in-hand. Simply carrying fat stores on the body causes a low-grade inflammation. The more fat a person stores on the body, the greater the degree of chronic inflammation. This inflammation takes a toll on the body, resulting in various metabolic diseases and inflammatory diseases. Weight stored around the waist is especially dangerous and is a main risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Of course, fat loss can reduce obesity-induced inflammation, but weight loss is difficult for many people.
8 Ways Men Can Avoid Obesity-Induced Inflammation
Men who follow these wellness tips support their personal health and may reduce the risk and severity of obesity-induced inflammation.
Make a short list of small steps (reminders in your iPhone can work) that you are willing to take in order to be in control of a better life for yourself:
1. Maintain a healthy weight – avoiding weight gain in the first place is easier than losing weight. Most diets fail because you focus on depriving yourself. Try making small but doable choices for one day.
For instance, choose to drink one bottle of water in place of one of your usual soft drinks. After a week of making that small exchange daily, you will have avoided 1,232 calories (based on one 16 oz sugar cola each day), not to mention chemicals and sugar harmful to your gut! If you make this one small exchange every day for a year, you will have avoided 64,064 calories—Wow!
2. Eat lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low/nonfat yogurt – once again, just make one exchange choice per day for a week and pay attention to how that agrees with you. One example would be to substitute iceberg lettuce instead of a bun to hold your favorite cheeseburger. Many restaurants now offer the option. And guess what? The final score is: bun 120 and iceberg lettuce 0 calories. How cool is that?
3. Get regular exercise – moving the body burns excess calories. How many times have we all heard that? How many unused gym memberships have you paid for? Or is the exercise equipment at home collecting dust or now serving as a clothes rack?
For one week just do one thing you don’t normally do, such as parking a distance away from your office building or grocery store entrance and walking. You will feel better and burn a few calories. Increased circulation is important for your brain, heart, and entire microbiome. They will thank you by giving you their best efforts back to you!
4. Stop smoking — better yet, never start! Ok, so this is another “no brainer.” There is absolutely nothing good about smoking, and we all know it: lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, increased lung infections and lost work days. But what about the everyday issues? Smelly skin and clothes, secondhand smoke to your colleagues and loved ones.
The cost of smoking? Depending on what state you live in, one pack a day could cost you $14 (NYC) or $98 per week, which is $5,096 for a year. In ten years, $50,960! Invested, even conservatively, this could be your down payment on a house, a big win for your retirement plan or your kids’ college funds!!
And your body will thank you by giving you more energy, as your microbiome busily does what it’s designed to do, instead of fighting off toxins and resulting mutant cells, like cancer.
5. Avoid binge drinking — a little alcohol is okay, but moderation is key. Do you overdo it? It’s very easy to start looking forward to crashing after a hard day or week. So, if you think you might be going overboard, try making a small change.
Before having that first beer, martini, or glass of wine, agree to drink a 16 oz. bottle of water.
The following week, continue your ritual with water and add a healthy fresh veggie appetizer, which will add filling fiber. Sometimes you want to drink simply because your blood sugar has dipped in the afternoon and evening before dinner. Alcohol is basically sugar. You will feel better and save both calories and money if you make this exchange a regular habit!
6. Rest your body — sleep is mandatory, not optional. Your body needs 7-8 hours to rest and repair itself. Sleep time is when cells regenerate and help you recover from wounds or illness. And, incredibly, after a good night’s sleep you may save 300 calories the next day. Obesity has been definitely linked to poor sleep.
Did you know that your blood pressure drops too while you’re sleeping? And your brain power is sharper the next day. Remember that 70 to 80% of your entire immune system makes its home in your gut. Your microbiome will thank you for getting the rest it needs to repair and nourish your entire body.
7. Effectively manage stress — not all stress is a bad thing. Without any, we wouldn’t be alerted to danger or get that important project finished on time. But if you find yourself snapping at coworkers or your loved ones, that’s one indication that you are in “distress.”
Try making a small but effective change in your workday. Every 30 to 45 minutes, stand up and stretch and take a few deep breaths. Even better if you can do this while looking out a window or at a favorite wall painting or a framed photo of your loved ones. Do this every day for a week. Guaranteed to make you and your gut feel much better!
8. Maintain GI health — a healthy gut is probably the most direct way to reduce obesity-related inflammation. Adding more prebiotic fiber will make the trillions of microbes in your gut very, very happy and productive. Your microbes have important jobs, just as you do. Their assigned work affects every single function in this “one and only” body you’ve been given. Like any employee, they will respond positively to better working conditions!
Obesity and the Microbiome
The microorganisms that live within your gut — the microbiome — play an important role in obesity-induced inflammation. One of the key links between obesity and the microbiome appears to be short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Helpful intestinal bacteria ferment the dietary fiber you eat to produce SCFAs.
Obese individuals have fundamentally different microbiomes than lean individuals, with lower SCFA levels. When we have higher levels of SCFAs, inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract is reduced.
Can Prebiotics Reduce Obesity-Induced Inflammation?
Fortunately, there is a simple way to get more SCFAs: take prebiotics. After all, SCFAs are simply the product of helpful bacteria fermenting soluble fibers such as inulin and oligofructose (the ingredients in Prebiotin). Nourishing bacteria with prebiotic fiber in your food and a daily dose of Prebiotin will help your SCFA-producing bacteria flourish and produce even greater amounts of SCFA, or so the science suggests.
Considering the many desirable benefits of prebiotics, including better weight control and an improved gut microbiome, anyone with metabolic syndrome or obesity-induced inflammation should seriously consider prebiotic supplementation.
Making Men’s Health Month Count
If you are already following the 8 health tips listed above, good for you! If not, why not make Men’s Health Month your reason for taking charge of your health?
Exercise and changes to your diet will take some time to produce results, but getting a good night’s sleep can help tomorrow. Changing your drinking and smoking habits can be hard, maybe even hard enough that professional help is required. But, your rewards will far outweigh the continued penalties to your body, your family, and even your bank account! Hmmm. Rewards vs. penalties…
On the other hand, taking prebiotics couldn’t be easier and can positively change your gut microbiota within as little as two weeks. Many Prebiotin devotees report having increased energy and reduced cravings for less healthy food and drink and just naturally make better dietary choices.
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