Age, the biggest risk factor for any disease
Obesity, an accelerator?Experts believe that obesity may accelerate the ageing of the immune system. While adipose tissue normally plays an anti-inflammatory and protective role, when it becomes too much it can become dysfunctional, secreting hormones and other chemical signals that instead promote what is called a chronic low-grade inflammatory state. A condition similar, in fact, to that which develops with the passing of the years and which increases the risk of developing disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, tumours, etc. Thus, it is no coincidence that a high body mass index is associated with.
Obesity seems to accelerate the ageing of the immune system
Three possible mechanismsHow chronic low-grade inflammation is promoted by excess adipose tissue is still under investigation, but there are several hypotheses. Some experts think that the overload of nutrients within adipocytes (fat cells) causes intercellular stress that initiates an inflammatory cascade. Others believe that adipose tissue becomes hypoxic and, in the absence of oxygen, activates inflammatory mechanisms. A third possibility is that immune system cells (macrophages) infiltrate the overabundant adipose tissue and try hard to get rid of the dying parts. This generates toxicity, triggering a cascade of reactions that contribute to the body’s chronic inflammatory state. Obesity, however, is considered a risk factor for Covid-19 not only because of its contribution to chronic inflammation. In fact, being overweight is very often associated with type 2 diabetes and respiratory difficulties, which in turn expose people to an increased risk of Sars-Cov-2 infection complications.
The role of nutritionOur diet also contributes to low-grade chronic inflammation. According to an article published in 2019 in the journal Nutrients, the diet of Western countries (high-income) has been enriched in sugars and fats and depleted in complex carbohydrates, fibre and micronutrients: an unhealthy combination that promotes so-called chronic metabolic inflammation and alters the gut microbiota, increasing the production of toxins. Obesity also predisposes to altered intestinal permeability. This means that more toxins pass from the gut into the bloodstream, inducing a further inflammatory response. The Mediterranean diet, rich in foods containing antioxidants, polyphenols and omega-3 fats, can help reduce chronic inflammation linked to obesity.
Excess adipose tissue could trigger an inflammatory cascade