Viral Infections and Weight Loss, Breaking News

October 4, 2008 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Viral Infections and Weight Loss, Breaking News
New research proves for the first time that viral infections activate the synthesis of fatty acids in human metabolism. In turn these fatty acids are used by the viruses to build the envelope that protects them, a process that is vital for viral replication. The researchers found that reducing fatty acid synthesis with drugs dramatically reduced viral replication. It will be a while before any such medical treatments are approved, as blocking fatty acid synthesis could have profound negative effects depending on the person. I find this study fascinating, but for different reasons. The information helps to explain why some people have very resistant weight problems, as low grade viral infections would keep a person's metabolism making fat instead of breaking it down to use for fuel.

Over the past few years there has been an emerging body of information clearly linking viral infections and obesity. Earlier research has found that low grade viral infections can reside within white adipose tissue, seemingly as a preferred hiding place to escape immune system detection. Immune cells within white adipose tissue, already inflamed from the person being overweight, are apparently too inefficient to mount a proper immune response. The viral infection goes on to attack fat cells within your stored fat, damaging their metabolism so that fat cannot be released. It is unknown what percentages of individuals with stubborn weight issues are suffering this problem, but it is certainly a factor for some.

The new research adds a very interesting angle to the emerging science, as it suggests that the viral infections are damaging fat cells on purpose to liberate fatty acids and use them for their replication. The data further suggests that viral infections, especially those that are chronic or low grade in nature, are successfully residing within stored fat as a friendly environment. Existing data also suggests that a person who is already overweight would be more susceptible to viral infection of their white adipose tissue, and that once infected weight loss could become quite difficult. This would set up a nasty catch 22 of progressive obesity and chronic fatigue with poor muscle function. Such viral infections would make it very difficult to regain muscle fitness, further compounding the weight loss issue. Furthermore, viral infections make a lot of lactic acid, and could therefore be a cause of fibromyalgia for some people.

In the current research scientists used the cytomegalovirus, a common human virus that infects many people. They also tested the flu virus with similar findings. Those most at risk for this problem would typically have a history of at least one bad viral infection (like mono or a really bad flu). Following that, such a person would notice that their energy was never quite the same. Other symptoms would include waking up with soar throats, muscle calf aches too often, fatigue that does not resolve easily, lack of muscle response to exercise, feeling worse after exercise – even flu-like, and suffering from bouts of “exploding fatigue” that have very intense onset (which is what a viral flare up feels like). Certainly such symptoms would ebb and flow in intensity, and those with more intense symptoms more often would have the greater degree of viral issue. Such an individual would also be more likely to catch bugs that are going around.

Thus, if you have some degree of these symptoms and you are struggling with weight, then you may need to include anti-viral strategies as part of your strategy to lose weight. It is very plausible that by knocking down the viral load and acting fast to prevent a viral flare up and preventing catching any new viral bug, you can go a long way to improving your metabolism. This data also suggests that individuals with normal body fat would be more resistant to viral infections in the first place.

There are currently no lab tests that detect viral activity in your white adipose tissue. However, this theory is not very hard for anyone to test out. You could try taking nutrients with natural anti-viral activity that are fatty in nature. 

In the simple case you would notice your energy improving and weight being lost by adding this type of nutrition into your plan. Regardless, if you are overweight you do not want to get any bad viral infection as it may make matters much worse. Minimally, have basic immune support as part of your natural program in the winter months and have extra support on hand for times of need. Staying fit and following the Leptin Diet will also go a long way towards helping natural immunity.

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