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Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Hashimotos-Here’s What You Need To Know

Chronic inflammation, weight gain, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are interconnected health issues that can significantly impact an individual’s well-being and quality of life. Understanding the complex relationship between these conditions is crucial for proper management and treatment. In today’s article, I will explain the links between chronic inflammation, weight gain, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and why so many men and woman despite healthy eating and exercise, still struggle with belly fat. More importantly, I will focus in on the metabolic imbalances (root causes) of this weight gain. Patients with Hashimotos often suffer with metabolic imblances which include, Chronic inflammation, Insulin resistance, Leptin resistance, and Dysregulated Cortisol levels. Fix these problems and you fix Weight gain, Belly fat, appetite and food cravings.

Hashimotos Disease

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and is more prevalent among women than men.(*)

In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and gradual destruction of thyroid tissue. Over time, this can result in a decreased production of thyroid hormones, which are essential for regulating metabolism, growth, and development in the body.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can result in varying degrees of thyroid dysfunction, leading to fluctuating symptoms. Some individuals may experience periods of thyroid hormone fluctuations, resulting in transient hyperthyroidism symptoms followed by hypothyroidism symptoms. (*)

Weight Loss and Hashimotos

For people with thyroid disease or Hashimoto’s losing weight involves more than just cutting calories and calorie restriction. In one of my past videos, I talked about how a low-calorie diet can be very counterproductive for people with thyroid disease. Studies show that low-calorie diets induce a state of thyroid disease which can bring any goals of weight loss to a grinding halt. (*)

Just a few short weeks of severe daily calorie restriction is enough to slow down your thyroid and induce a state of hypothyoridism. In patients who have restricted calories its common to see low T3 (*), increase reverse T3 (*), and a slow down your metabolism which results in weight gain (*). I discuss this in further details in my ebook as well as in this article titled Patterns of Thyroid Dysfunction.

Weight gain Chronic Disease and Inflammation

 1. Chronic Inflammation and Weight Gain

When it comes to Hashimoto’s weight gain treating the reasons behind Chronic inflammation should be a major focal point in treatment.

Inflammation is the process by which your body fights off infections and short-lived inflammation helps your body repair damaged tissues. But this isn’t the kind of inflammation I am talking about. I’m talking about Chronic inflammation. It is chronic inflammation that results in thyroid gland damage and the recruitment of white blood cells (*) into your thyroid gland.

And, over time, this chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland will cause irreversible thyroid gland damage making you 100% dependent on thyroid medication for the rest of your life.

Chronic inflammation when we are talking about thyroid disease and Hashimoto’s also hurts other systems in your body (outside of the thyroid) that lead to weight gain.

When this chronic inflammation continues it can snowball into Leptin resistance, It can increase Cortisol Production, it can cause problems with blood sugar or insulin resistance it can cause changes in gut microbiome and inflammation can increase appetite and food cravings.

The end result becomes an ongoing battle with weight gain. A problem with more white blood cells infiltrating the thyroid gland, more cytokines, and chemokines (*) which in turn may make thyroid function worse. It’s a snowball effect and simply taking your thyroid medications and not addressing these real core issues of chronic inflammation allows the snowball to get bigger and bigger. And the cycle repeats.

Chances are if you have been dealing with Hashimoto’s or thyroid issues for longer than a few years, your weight gain is rooted in more than just thyroid problems which is why despite taking thyroid hormones you still feel lousy and you are still dealing with weight gain and stubborn belly fat.

More thyroid medication won’t fix your weight gain because it’s not the only problem you are dealing with anymore and taking thyroid medications is not going to fix all these other problems. So, let’s talk about how to start cooling down this inflammation and start unpacking each of these areas that inflammation has caused and give you a few things you can do in each instance.

Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Leptin Resistance

2. Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Leptin Resistance 

A common problem when it comes to losing weight in patients with hashimotos thryoidits is an underlying metabolic issue known as Leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells that helps regulate appetite and metabolism. Inflammation can disrupt the signaling of leptin, leading to a condition called leptin resistance. When leptin resistance occurs, the brain does not receive proper signals to suppress appetite and increase energy expenditure, potentially leading to overeating and weight gain.(*)

Inflammation can contribute to the development of leptin resistance, which is the reduced sensitivity or impairment in the body’s response to the hormone leptin.

How Chronic inflammation Promotes Leptin Resistance and Weight Gain

Dysregulated Signaling: Inflammation can disrupt the normal signaling pathways involved in leptin function. Leptin normally acts on receptors in the hypothalamus, a region in the brain that controls appetite and energy. Inflammatory molecules interfere with the binding of leptin to its receptors, preventing the proper transmission of signals related to hunger and satiety.(*)

Increased Leptin Production: Inflammation can trigger an increase in leptin production. This upregulation is a response to the body’s attempt to compensate for reduced leptin signaling. However, despite higher levels of leptin in the bloodstream, the brain becomes less responsive to its effects due to inflammation-induced leptin resistance.

Inflammatory Cytokines: Inflammation is accompanied by the release of various cytokines, including interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). (*).These cytokines can interfere with leptin signaling pathways and contribute to the development of leptin resistance. They may disrupt the production, transport, and reception of leptin in the brain.

Adipose Tissue Dysfunction: Inflammation can cause dysfunction in adipose tissue (fat cells). Inflammatory molecules released by fat cells can disrupt normal leptin production and secretion, further contributing to leptin resistance.

Insulin Resistance: Inflammation and leptin resistance are closely linked to insulin resistance,(*) a condition where cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance can further exacerbate leptin resistance, creating a vicious cycle that promotes weight gain and metabolic dysfunction.

The development of leptin resistance can contribute to increased appetite, decreased energy expenditure, and a disrupted sense of hunger and fullness. It can lead to overeating, weight gain, and difficulties in losing weight.(*)

Addressing inflammation through lifestyle modifications such as adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, managing stress levels, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can help improve leptin sensitivity and mitigate the impact of leptin resistance. It’s important to work with a Certifed Functional Medicine Practitioner who understands how these metabolic disorders are interconnected and one who can develop a personalized approach to managing inflammation and leptin resistance

Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Insulin 

3. Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Insulin 

Chronic inflammation can cause weight gain by Disrupts Metabolic Pathways including Insulin Signaling and thyroid hormone metabolism.

These disruptions can impact the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance, and can also affect thyroid hormone function, which is essential for proper metabolic rate regulation. Chronic inflammation is a common dennominator when we refer to the different patterns of thyroid disease.

I discuss this in further details in my ebook as well as in this article titled Patterns of Thyroid Dysfunction.

How Insulin Resistacne causes Chronic Inflammation and Weight gain. 

Chronic inflammation can lead to insulin resistance, which is a condition where cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin. Insulin main job is to regulate your blood sugar levels. When your body is chronically inflammed, because of excess sugar in your blood stream your immune system activates a certain types of white blood cell known as macrophages. These macrophages in turn, produce pro-inflammatory molecules like cytokines (e.g., tumor necrosis factor-alpha or TNF-alpha) and chemokines.(*)

These cytokines and chemokines interfere with insulin signaling pathways, impairing the ability of cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed to overcome this resistance, leading to hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin levels in the blood). Insulin resistance or prediabetes is a major metabolic issue for patient with Hashimotos.(*),(*)

Blood sugar imbalances are common in people with Hashimoto’s. Some research indicates that people with this autoimmune condition are more prone to spikes in blood sugar, followed by reactive hypoglycemia after eating a carbohydrate-rich meal.

Disruption of Insulin Signaling: Inflammation can interfere with insulin signaling pathways by activating various intracellular signaling pathways, such as the JNK pathway or the IKK/NF-kB pathway.

Dysfunction of Adipose Tissue: Chronic inflammation can affect adipose tissue (fat cells) and lead to dysfunction. Adipose tissue inflammation is associated with increased production of cytokines, such as TNF-alpha and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These cytokines can interfere with insulin signaling in fat cells, contributing to insulin resistance. In addition, inflammation-induced dysfunction of adipose tissue can lead to increased release of free fatty acids into the bloodstream, which can lead to fatty liver disease.If you have fatty liver, read this article on Fatty liver and Thyroid disease.

Systemic Inflammation: Chronic inflammation can lead to systemic low-grade inflammation, where pro-inflammatory molecules circulate throughout the body. This systemic inflammation can impair insulin signaling and promote insulin resistance in multiple tissues, including the liver, skeletal muscle, and the pancreas

Beta-cell Dysfunction: Chronic inflammation can also affect the pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for producing and releasing insulin.(*) Inflammatory pathways can disrupt beta-cell function and survival, leading to reduced insulin secretion and worsening of insulin resistance.(*)

Managing inflammation through lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress reduction, and appropriate Functional Medicine interventions, can help mitigate the impact of chronic inflammation on insulin function.

Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Cortisol

4. Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Cortisol

Chronic inflammation that accompanies Hashimotos, can also cause weight gain by stimulating the release of cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area. Additionally, cortisol promotes the breakdown of muscle tissue and the accumulation of belly fat.

Not only is elevated cortisol a problem for people with thyroid disease and Hashimotos, but low cortisol comes with its problems as well. If you have been dealing with thyroid problems and weight gain chances are your cortisol levels are low. This is better known as adrenal fatigue.

Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Your Gut Microbiome

5. Chronic Inflammation Weight Gain and Your Gut Microbiome

Inflammation can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiota, the trillions of bacteria, and other microbes residing in the gastrointestinal tract. An imbalanced gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, has been associated with weight gain and metabolic dysfunction.

Chronic inflammation can also compromise the integrity of the gut barrier, which is a layer of cells lining the gut and preventing the entry of harmful substances into the bloodstream. Inflammation makes the gut more leaky.

When this barrier becomes leaky, it can allow bacteria and other substances to leak into the bloodstream, triggering an immune response and further inflammation. This systemic inflammation can contribute to heart disease, fatty liver, hormone problems, and weight gain.

The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in regulating metabolic processes, including insulin signaling and blood sugar control.

Inflammation in the gut microbiome can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria, leading to a condition called dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis has been associated with insulin resistance, a condition where cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance can promote weight gain and metabolic dysfunction.

A key strategy to improving your thyroid health, losing weight, and getting inflammation under control should include a focus on the gut microbiome. To do this you will want to follow an anti-inflammatory diet high in fiber and Polyphenols. Fiber and polyphenol are some of the best foods to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Chronic Inflammation Increases Appetite and Food Cravings

Chronic Inflammation Increases Appetite and Food Cravings

Hashimotos Weight gain and Inflammation can stimulate the release of certain chemicals and cytokines that may increase appetite and lead to heightened cravings for unhealthy, calorie-dense, bad fat processed foods. This can contribute to excessive calorie intake and weight gain.

It’s important to note that while chronic inflammation can play a role in weight gain in individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, there are other factors involved, such as hormonal imbalances and changes in thyroid function.

Managing weight in Hashimoto’s involves a comprehensive approach, including proper management, a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress reduction techniques, and working closely with a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner to address specific needs.

So if you have been wondering why Weight gain has been so difficult for you, despite taking thyroid medication, I hope after watching todays video or reading this article, you now realize that there are many other areas outside of your thyroid that now need attention. Remember if you don’t address the root cause, these issues snowball.

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Some Additional Articles We Recommend Reading

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  2. Ingredients Binders and Fillers in Thyroid Medication
  3. Low T3 Explained. What You Should Know About this Thyroid Hormone
  4. Adrenal Fatigue and Thyroid: How Are They Connected?
  5. The Stress Hormone Cortisol and Blood Sugar
  6. Iron Deficiency and Hypothyroidism- How Iron Anemia Shuts Down The Thyroid
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