Is Obesity an Inflammatory Response? (September 21, 2005)
I came across this fascinating bit of medical research into the links between sleep deprivation, obesity and inflammation. The study suggests that the less sleep you get, the more obese you are likely to be. This is interesting in itself, as Americans are notoriously short of sleep. Perhaps the rising rates of obesity are causally linked to this lack of sleep.
Even more interesting is this quote from the paper:
Leptin promotes inflammation. The hormone provides an interesting link between obesity and pathophysiological processes such as insulin resistance and atherosclerosis, and disorders such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and the metabolic syndrome. Increased serum leptin levels in obesity and metabolic syndrome support the view that these disorders are in fact low-grade systemic inflammatory diseases, characterized by increased concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines like interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor and leptin. Leptin's proinflammatory role suggests that it may link energy homeostasis to the immune system.In other words, obesity--the result of inactivity and sleep deprivation--may trigger an immune response to low-level inflammation which ends up causing diabetes (insulin resistance) and heart disease (atherosclerosis), as well as other autoimmune/inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
As for why Americans don't sleep enough, many people point to overwork and busy lifestyles. My own experience is that while these conditions do inhibit sleep, the countermeasure which leads to long, blissful sleep is exercise--not necessarily a punishing run, just a good fast walk or bike ride.
So we can see the outlines of a negative feedback loop: less exercise causes less sleep, and the two together stimulate obesity, which triggers an immune response to chronic inflammation which leads to diabetes, heart disease and a host of other auto-immune ailments.
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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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