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Being Overweight Increases Pain Sensitivity

Being Overweight Increases Pain Sensitivity

The rotund tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, once said, “The reason fat people are happy is that their nerves are well protected.” As revered as he was, the Italian opera star was way off key when it came to being fat and happy.

As scientists from Ohio State University recently told colleagues at a meeting of the European Pain Federation, as you gain weight you become more pain sensitive. It’s a result of the body-wide inflammation (cytokines) triggered by excess belly, aka visceral, fat. That disrupts your immune, respiratory, and metabolic organ systems (and just about every other one), plus your gut biome. If you’re obese or overweight those aches and pains are not all in your head.

A lot of problems start with what you eat; overweight folks who have a low-fiber diet (no whole grains, few vegetables or fruits) are particularly vulnerable. In plain English: The Five Food Felons (all added sugars and sugar syrups, all trans and saturated fats, and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole) can increase pain and inflammation. So if you’re overweight, clear those foods from your plate and start walking. Don’t feel discouraged: Exercise will become less painful the more you do it. Get your doc’s OK, a pair of good shoes and head out the door. Start with 15 minutes, increase by a few more steps every day -- never a few less -- with a targeted goal of 10,000 steps daily. Less weight equals less pain.

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