There is a fairly new and widely-believed current of thought that many lifestyle diseases – heart, metabolic, cancers, even obesity itself – are related to if not caused by excess inflammation. And inflammation is a challenge to the immune system which is supposed to fight it.
But what if immune system dysfunction causes obesity or at least prevents one from losing excess weight?
This study out of Ireland poses this question and comes up with some pretty convincing evidence that, yes, immune dysfunction does prevent weight loss even in the face of diet and exercise.
Many theories of this nature have come to the foreground lately. There are some who have held that something akin to a systemic inflammatory syndrome may be a contributing factor to not just the diseases related to obesity but to obesity itself. Some theories hold that neuro-hormonal influences on appetite, fullness, and satiety – all of which are pretty clearly regulated by these influences – are adversely impacted by inflammatory diets, those which are heavy on simple carbs and starches. Some theories contend that obesity may, in itself, create an inflammatory reaction throughout the body which then feeds back unto itself to reinforce the obesity.
But, when all is said and done, despite the surge in interest and the validation of the variety of influences on body weight and size, we must always look at that which we can impact, that which we can change. As the Serenity Prayer tells us, we must have the courage to change those things we can change.
And when it comes to weight management – and notice I did not say “weight loss” – our eating patterns and our activity levels are all we can manipulate.
To the extent we eat less of X and more of Y but still a total caloric amount of Z; and to the extent we move more and sit less; to that extent which our genetic and metabolic heritages permit, we will be better able to manage our weight.
In conclusion, knowing that our immune systems do play a role in our weight is good science. To the extent our lifestyles can impact that component, we could/should try. But ultimately, weight management is all about calories in plus calories out.
You may not get the results you want so far as total weight or fat lost; you may not get the look you want from all that exercise and training; but you will get the two things almost virtually guaranteed from those behavior changes: better health and a more robust attitude toward self!