In my past article, I written about how I lost my aunt to cancer and the pre-cursor to that is obesity.
This article I’m going to explain why obesity is one of the biggest fights of the 21st century and what the true cause of it is.
Even if you are not obese by 2030 it is estimated that the health care costs from it are going to cost an astounding $950 billion each year! The current economic cost of obesity is at over $250 billion each year.
When fat cells are stuffed to the capacity from overeating, the adipocytes (major storage sites for fat in the body) undergo a metamorphosis from being benefactors of good health into aggressive bloated monsters spewing inflammation and oxidative stress.
When we take in more calories than we can use for energy the adipocyte starts to grow in size. It swells to capacity as it tries to store excess triglycerides. When excess dietary fat and triglycerides made from extra glucose combine they overwhelm the storage and processing capacity of the fat cells.
Now here is where it gets interesting, the bloated adipocyte starts to attract the attention of the immune system. The immune system defends us from threats and the bloated adipocyte has appeared on the immune radar as a potential health threat. Now a macrophage begins in our fat cells as they get jam packed with fat (macrophage is a cell that eats debris when a cell dies. Macrophages also fight invading bacteria and other foreign material.) When the adipocyte starts to swell with triglycerides (fat) the M2 macrophage, which means standing guard- think of a prison guard goes on alert then starts to arm itself with weapons. In this case the M2 macrophage “arms” itself by transforming into deadly M1 macrophages. Inside the swelling adipocyte fat cell the mitochondria work overtime and produce large amounts of oxidative stress in the form of free radicals.
More of the M2 macrophages are converted into the M1 variety as the immune system registers something like a prison riot in full swing going on inside the swollen fat cell.
The immune system responds to this by sending in more soldiers triggering and increasing intense prolonged and devastating inflammation. (NOTE- Oxidative stress and inflammation can also cause diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s as well) Intense inflammation causes the fat cells to reduce a beneficial hormone called adiponectin. Without the benefits of this hormone the inflammatory momentum picks up even more steam. So as you can see it’s a never ending cycle.
Remember I was discussing about the adipocyte? Well there’s more, the healthy adipocyte helps insure insulin sensitivity by keeping inflammation low. The insulin receptor is sensitive to the signal generated when insulin docks to the receptor. This signal opens the door of the glucose transporter allowing glucose into the cells from the bloodstream. Glucose will not build up in the bloodstream and proper sugars will be maintained.
Now let’s go back to the bloated adipocyte, this monster spews forth inflammatory cytokines which short circuit the insulin receptor. The insulin receptor is now resistant to sending a signal to the glucose transporter when insulin docks to the receptor.
The signal does not get through and the glucose transporter door remains closed. Glucose can no longer enter the cell and it starts to build up in the blood stream. This is the start of diabetes because you become more insulin resistant. Since the insulin signal is interrupted because of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress the brakes are taken off. Fat is released from the adipocyte into the bloodstream.
.When insulin docks to the insulin receptor in your cells it “rings a doorbell” on the cell. Usually a special kind of cell called a glucose transporter opens and allows the glucose into the cell from the bloodstream. The inflammatory cytokines- which are inflammatory chemicals coming from macrophages, “short-circuit” the insulin receptor. Once the insulin receptor is short circuited insulin can normally bind to the receptor but the signal to open the glucose door does not get through.
More and more insulin is required by the malfunctioning receptor over time. These “broken” receptors will eventually require the pancreas to produce a tidal wave of insulin to clear glucose from the bloodstream. So your body doesn’t know how to fix the receptor so it just responds by producing more insulin to “ring the doorbell harder.”
Fixing the problem requires stopping the chronic inflammation from the bloated adipocyte monster, not putting more insulin into the bloodstream. So as you can see here there is more to obesity than meets the eye and it’s not just “eat less and exercise”.