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Fat and Immunity


We Lie to Ourselves

As much as we might like to deceive ourselves that we are “healthy” when the scale goes up, that isn’t usually the truth. Just because we may feel good in the moment does not mean that various systems of our bodies are not struggling to provide status quo. We are mysteriously and wonderfully made. Our bodies are profoundly complex and designed to prevail under almost any circumstance. We can take a lot of abuse and neglect before we begin to break down, but I can assure you of this, if you are deceiving yourself into believing that you are “getting away” with overweight and obesity, you are wrong. Not only are your musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and endocrine systems suffering, so is your immunity. Right now, in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, might be a good time to consider your ways.

Fatal Distraction

Every cell in our bodies has a link to the immune system. That’s how the immune system works. It’s the police force of our bodies so it has to be everywhere, all the time. Otherwise, invaders will come in and destroy us. A chronic, inflammatory process begins in these links between fat cells and the immune system. Since inflammation is known to be the beginning of most, if not all, disease processes, then this constantly inflamed state is conducive to disease. This is how fat impairs your immunity. Although you may not be sick now, your body is on high alert trying to fight invaders while also dealing with the inflammation. You might say that it can’t focus entirely on the invaders at hand because it is distracted by the inflammation. Believe me, with all of the microbial assaults that we are subjected to in our environment, this is not good. We need our immune system focused on the attackers from the outside. We should do everything in our power to keep our body running efficiently so that it can do just that with no distractions.

Sad But True

While no one is sure exactly how the immune response impairment develops, we do know that it is real. Obesity changes both white cell number and the way that they respond. Obesity increases the production of leptin, which is inflammatory and also reduces adiponectin, which is anti-inflammatory. A particularly disturbing fact that I discovered while researching this topic is that hypoxia, or a lack of enough oxygen to sustain function, occurs in hypertrophied fat tissue and causes inflammation. I mean, think about that. Living human cells require oxygen. If a state of hypoxia exists in these fat deposits, then we’re talking about tissue that is dying. That’s scary. Is there any wonder that this dying tissue can affect our immunity? While brilliant scientists are hard at work determining exactly how this process occurs, just knowing that hypertrophied fat tissue can develop hypoxia is enough to keep me counting my calories.

 Do Your Part

Increased numbers of inflammatory cytokines circulate throughout the body of overweight and obese individuals and abdominal fat is considered the most dangerous. This is a key component in the development of insulin resistance, metabolic disorders and an increased risk of heart disease.  (1) David has written an excellent article, Re-Evaluating Healthy Living Yet? that discusses the health risks associated with overweight and obesity and how they impact our chances of contracting the Corona virus. At a time like this it serves us well to take a critical look at our lives and see how we can better care for ourselves. Underlying illness is a critical factor in contracting Corona and in the  prognosis for the patient. As a result, poor health habits affect the world at large. If we become a world of sickly, overweight and obese people then we are predisposing ourselves and everyone around us to more of the same as we become incubators for the world’s deadliest diseases. Taking care of ourselves is also taking care of those around us in this sense. If you are not inclined to do it for you then do it for your grandchildren. Get and stay healthy and instead of increasing the number of cases of Corona, and other diseases that thrive in unhealthy bodies, be one who helps flatten the curve.


Physical activity may help counteract the negative impact of body fat. Studies have shown that leptin and other inflammatory markers decrease when the test subjects increase their levels of physical fitness and activity. With your doctor’s permission and guidance, make a plan to get more active to improve your health.

Incriminating Evidence

All types of malnutrition are associated with impaired immune function. Strangely enough, obesity is considered a type of malnutrition because there is such an imbalance of nutrients available to the body. A high calorie diet of foods with little nutritional value will result in malnutrition and malnutrition negatively impacts immunity. This is evidenced in overweight and obese individuals, including children, who receive immunizations but do not develop proper antibodies to the disease. Their immune response is just not adequate to do so in some cases. Nothing in the body will work right when that body exists on a diet of empty calories with inadequate nutrients present for repair and maintenance of the human body. This is about the most compelling evidence that is easy for an average person to understand that I found in my research. If overweight and obesity can keep an immunization from working, then we know that it is messing up our immunity. 

We truly are what we eat. Make it healthy.





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