Inflammation and Type 2 Diabetes

We would be in big trouble without an immune system to defend our bodies from invasion. We are equipped with an army of “white” blood cells and a “factory” capacity to rush production of antibodies in response to an intrusion of anything “foreign” – a disease-causing bacterium, a splinter, or a transplanted organ. The emergency response of our immune system creates a state of acute inflammation, sometimes body-wide (i.e., fever) and sometimes just locally (redness and swelling around that splinter). Usually our immune system “knows” just how to respond.

Lifestyle, inflammation and obesity

However, the role of lifestyle in triggering low-level, chronic inflammation, and the role of this sort of immune response in chronic disease (like atherosclerosis) has become more obvious over the past years. Now, a recent study of rat and human liver cells conducted by researchers at The University of Toronto indicates a direct connection between lifestyle, inflammation and poor blood glucose regulation in the liver.

“We found that under conditions of obesity and a high-fat diet, the cells that typically strengthen our immune system by killing viruses and pathogens instead increase blood sugar. They become pathogenic and worsen insulin resistance," explains Dr. Dan Winer (a lead researcher).

Chronic inflammation is linked to excess weight, visceral body fat, the “Western” diet, a lack of exercise, and chronic stress (including sleep patterns). Not surprisingly, effective diabetes management (and reduced heart disease risk) promotes achieving a healthier weight, adopting a healthier diet, getting more physical activity, and reducing stress. The fact that the causes of chronic inflammation and the priorities for effective diabetes management are identical is not a coincidence. Instead, it underscores how lifestyle plays such a crucial role in illness, and in health.

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