Inflammation and weight gain have a complex relationship where they can cause each other. Weight gain triggers the immune system and releases inflammatory mediators, which can be measured by C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. Studies have shown a linear association between weight gain and inflammation over time 1.
Inflammation affects glucose levels, insulin resistance, and the hormone leptin, which regulates appetite and energy. Inflammation in the body can lead to insulin resistance due to inflammatory compounds that impair the way insulin works. This leads to higher glucose levels, as well as fat accumulation in the liver which further contributes to insulin resistance 2.
Leptin is a key hormone that tells the brain when to eat, when to stop eating and when to speed up or slow down metabolism. However, research suggests that leptin functioning is altered with weight gain and inflammation. The effect is that the brain doesn’t get proper feedback, so leptin levels remain low which triggers the appetite to increase and metabolism to slow (as if the body were starving), making weight loss pursuits even harder 2.
So being moderate in eating and drinking around the holidays can help prevent weight gain and its associated inflammation, which can have negative effects on glucose levels, insulin resistance, and appetite regulation.