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Obesity and Your Immune System

Updated: Oct 20, 2023


Obesity and Your Immune System
What is ER and what is it’s connection between obesity and your immune system?

When I count the many (MANY) positive benefits that have resulted from getting healthier and losing weight, today, I’m reminded to add one more to the list. Being in bed all week sick has reminded me how lucky I am to be so healthy. (huh?? 🤔). Let me explain…

Did you know that being overweight actually hampers your immune system? So when you get sick with a cold, the flu, or something like Covid, your body is less likely to be able to fight it. Since my own immune system is already compromised by asthma, allergies, and a litany of other chronic ailments, being at a healthy weight helps my body fight illness caused by germs and viruses at the top of its ability. Without this leg up, I would be even sicker right now. That’s pretty huge to realize!

Since I’m on bed rest this past week, I’ve been passing the time reading medical research (Lol, ikr, haha). Let me break down a little geek-speak into more layman’s terms because this is some fascinating stuff!

Obesity and Your Immune System
How obesity affects your immune system

While we don’t often think of obesity as a form of malnutrition, “nutrition excess” (overeating) triggers endoplasmic reticulum (“ER”) stress. ER is a network of membranes inside a cell. ER’s function is to produce proteins for the rest of the cell to function. ER stress occurs when the capacity of the ER membrane becomes saturated (the membrane becomes too full and engorged), resulting in proteins getting stuck inside and not getting out where they're supposed to go (to feed the rest of the cell). The physical cells are then compromised (“starved”) as a result. Crazy, right??

This causes a domino effect in your bodies system triggering a long line of breakdowns leading to immune disfunction and disease.

This short article discusses this and other connections of how a hampered immune system caused by an unhealthy weight can lead to other, more serious illnesses like diabetes. Here are the most interesting excerpts:

“Obesity, like other states of malnutrition, is known to impair the immune function, altering leucocyte counts as well as cell-mediated immune responses.”

“…there is a positive feedback loop between local inflammation in adipose tissue and altered immune response in obesity, both contributing to the development of related metabolic complications.”

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