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Saturday, 24 April 2010 02:06

Want stronger immune system: Lose weight


Australian research scientists report that even modest weight loss, as little as 13 pounds (6 kilograms), can strengthen a weak immune system, especially with regards to obese people with Type 2 diabetes.


Dr. Alex Viardot, a clinical research officer, and Dr. Katherine Samaras, an associate professor, both from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Sydney, Australia, studied a group of obese people with diabetes mellitus type 2 (commonly called Type 2 diabetes), or prediabetes (where some characteristics of Type 2 diabetes is present), to see if weight loss helps to strengthen immune systems.

The April 20, 2010 press release 'The Remarkable Effects of Fat Loss On the Immune System' from the Garvan Institute states, 'The immune system is made up of many different kinds of cells that protect the body from germs, viruses and other invaders. These cells need to co-exist in a certain balance for good health to be maintained. Many factors, including diet and excess body fat, can tip this balance, creating immune cells that can attack, rather than protect, our bodies.'

Viardot and Samaras studied obese people with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes for 24 weeks. The subjects were on a diet that only allowed 1,000 to 1600 calories per day.

In addition, gastric banding surgery was performed on these subjects at about the half-way point of the diet (at twelve weeks) in order to further enhance the diet.

The two Australian researchers found that the subjects had an 80% reduction of pro-inflammatory T-helper cells at the end of the study'”which indicates that their immune systems were becoming stronger and healthier.

The subjects also had a reduction in the numbers of circulating immune cells (such as T cells, monocytes, and neutrophils) and a decreased number of macrophages in fat'”which also relates to overall better health.

Page two continues.

Their paper summarizing their research is written up in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism.

Dr. Samaras comments on obesity in Australia, along with Type 2 diabetes: She states, 'Excess weight disorders now affect 50% of adult Australians, with obesity being the major cause of Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.'

'The situation has reached crisis point, and people must be made aware that excess fat will affect their immune systems and therefore their survival." [Garvan Institute]

Samaras adds comments about weight loss, "We have found that a modest weight loss of about 6 kg is enough to bring the pro- inflammatory nature of circulating immune cells back to that found in lean people.'

'These inflammatory cells are involved in promoting coronary artery disease and other illnesses associated with obesity." [Garvan Institute]

And, Dr. Samaras remarks about this initial finding: She states, "This is the first time it has been shown that modest weight reduction reverses some of the very adverse inflammatory changes we see in obese people with diabetes.' [Garvan Institute]

Page three concludes with further comments from Dr. Samaras.

Dr. Samaras also stated, 'We also showed that the activation status of immune cells found in fat predicted how much weight people would lose following a calorie restricted diet and bariatric surgery. Those with more activated immune cells lost less weight."

Samaras concludes with the following, "It's the first time this has been described and is important because it helps us understand why some people lose weight more easily than others, and that inflammation is involved in regulating the response to bariatric surgery." [Garvan Institute]

For additional information on the harm that fluctuations in weight can cause to the immune system, please read the 3-12-2007 About.com Sports Medicine article 'Yo-Yo Dieting May Weaken Immune System.'

The article begins by stating: 'Researchers at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a that yo-yo dieting [repeatedly losing and regaining weight] may have a lasting negative impact on immune function. They also report that maintaining a consistent weight over time appears to have a positive effect on the immune system.'


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