If you have read my previous posts, you will know that fat is not a static organ, but is an active endocrine organ. Adipose tissue is a rich source of inflammatory factors including adipokines, chemokines and cytokines.
Fat cells essentially communicate with every cell in our body, so we want them to be sending the right messages. The problem tends to occur when the proinflammatory messages out weigh the anti-inflammatory messages. This is what I call “angry fat”!
Visceral fat, is the technical term for belly fat. It is the excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue accumulation. This fat is stored deep in the tissue underneath the skin and actually wraps around organs. If you have a protruding belly, it is a clear sign that you are storing this type of fat. It is the visceral fat that is a major source of inflammatory hormones in the system. On top of this visceral fat releasing inflammatory hormones, it tends to become inflamed itself by storing inflammatory white blood cells. This process has been shown to kick off a series of autoimmune reactions in susceptible individuals.
Adiposity and Depression have been linked in what is called a bidirectional relationship. Increased adiposity is associated with the development of depression, and depression is associated with the development of adiposity. This cycle can be both fierce and viscous, and centers around this concept of inflammation. Inflammation is being named as a root cause of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.
The brain is protected by the blood brain barrier, which is a filtering mechanism to block out the passage of unwanted substances. The problem is these pro-inflammatory adipokines appear to cause some leakage in the blood brain barrier, and the result is unwanted pro-inflammatory molecules being exposed to the brain. The result is inflammation. This mechanism explains the connection between patients with conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and PCOS having increased risk factors for depression, neurological conditions and even dementia.
With staggering statistics like 1/3 of our population being obese (defined as a BMI over 30), this is about more than being comfortable in our bathing suits and really about managing our overall health and wellness.
While the road to health and wellness is not always an easy one, it is proving to be at the root of the prevention of chronic inflammatory disease.