Is your BELLY FAT the cause of your joint pain and degeneration?

Belly fat (adipose tissue) is biologically active promoting systemic inflammation and joint degeneration predispostion. Adipokines are cytokines which are secreted by adipose tissue and include tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1 and 6 and leptin. These are cytokines derived from fat cells that promote inflammation and immune activation; levels are higher in obese patients and lower after weight loss. 

 

Lets take these 3 cytokines and explain what they do individually:

1) Tumour necrosis factor alpha: cell signalling cytokine involved in systemic inflammation which makes up the acute reaction

2) Interleukin-1 and 6: responsible for fever. As well as being produced by fat cells it is also released into the circulation by cortisol which suppresses the immune system and can add to the feeling of anxiety.

3) Leptin: hormone made by adipose tissue that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. In obesity, a decrease in sensitivity to leptin occurs resulting in an inability to detect the feeling of being full despite high energy stores. This means there is a failure to control hunger and allows the individual to over eat which makes more adipose tissue. 

 

The result of an increase in inflammation systemically means MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) are activated. The role of MMPs are to degenerate the cartilage at a synovial joint, decrease repair, increase nitric oxidise, chrodrocyte apoptosis and prostraglandin synthesis which leads to further cartilage degeneration. 

 

In summary, having belly fat creates systemic inflammation which then activates an enzyme that deteriorates synovial joints and its cartilage. This is why after surgery or taking a course of prescriptive drugs all your pain returns as you haven't treated the root cause of inflammation and deterioration.  

So, how do we treat this? I usually use my low level laser at the joint which acts to decrease the inflammation at the joint. But, in order to treat the belly fat I go through a nutritional assessment, prescribe an anti-inflammatory food plan and assess your inflammatory markers through advanced testing. SIMPLE!!!!

 Source: Chevalier et al (2013) Biologic agents in osteoarthritis: hopes and disappointments. Nat Rev Rhematol. Jul;9(7):400-10

Source: Chevalier et al (2013) Biologic agents in osteoarthritis: hopes and disappointments. Nat Rev Rhematol. Jul;9(7):400-10

Krina Panchal