fasting

Fasting and calorific restriction- Increased longevity or just a slower death?

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Intermittent fasting and calorific restriction (CR) seem to be the Zeitgeist of today’s nutrition and wellness sphere and has comparisons with the raw green sludge breakfast smoothie and these approaches to health. CR is often being touted as health enhancing because of a premise that sounds something like this. You fast or eat less than X calories and that has the capacity to slow down metabolism, ensuring that you produce less oxidative stress, autophagy ensues, and this opens up your 8th chakra ready for your beyond meat whopper. It’s true that fasting and CR can probably enhance your health when you are prone to over eating, and beyond that nothing else. Yes you will lose weight (seen as that’s the only variable that many people care about these days), but that result is down to one key fact. You are in a calorie deficit. Can you rebound from that restriction is the question that most need to evaluate.

CR and fasting promotes improvements to health and extending lifespan but the main reasons that it promotes longevity is probably for several reasons that include.

1. The restriction of polyunsaturated fats or PUFA.

2. The restriction of methionine, cysteine and sometimes tryptophan.

3. Perhaps less consumption of pesticides and metals.

The question of do you need to fast, should be rephrased with do you even need to fast? What about addressing what can extend lifespan and still maintain an optimal level of metabolism?

PUFA and mitochondrial uncoupling

Let’s start with PUFA which are commonly known as vegetable, seed, fish, soy and other oils, including olive oil (which is the better of the lot and when used cold has some useful qualities). The other oils share similarities, as they are all unstable especially so when heated. The most unstable oils in general use and over recommended are the omega 3’s particularly DHA and EPA. I’ve recently seen so called holistic practitioners recommending in excess of 6 grams of DHA to improve anti-inflammatory responses and so-called membrane fluidity. One of the key problems with this approach is that increased DHA levels are known to occur in the obese and diabetics (Madison Sullivan et al., 2018) and this increase is associated with reduced mitochondrial enzymes (metabolic enhancers).

 

PUFAs like DHA are often touted as protective because they induce a process called mitochondrial uncoupling. This can occur when your’e cold, when you don’t produce enough thyroid hormone and other stressors. It can indeed be protective but DHA for example creates something called proton leak within the cells, and decreases the efficiency of the cell. Oxygen efficiency is lost and production of energy or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is also wasteful. This sits well with many who promote theoretical mechanisms of longevity such as the rate of living theory (Speakman et al., 2004) (Vaanholt, Daan, Schubert, & Visser, 2009) and the membrane pacemaker theory (Hulbert, 2007; Hulbert, Kelly, & Abbott, 2014). A. J Hulbert is a well-respected thyroid researcher who completed a large body of work on the role of thyroid hormones and fatty acids and their role in ‘membrane fluidity’. Interestingly Hulbert proposes that mammals and birds with a high metabolic rate (much like Elie Metchnikoff’s theories that link low gut bacteria with metabolism in birds, mammals and longevity) and increased longevity often have this key feature in common. They generally have low saturation of PUFAs as determined by something called the peroxidation index (PI). Conversely animals with high PUFA and PI have decreased longevity, but the membrane pacemaker theory postulates it as high metabolic rate, inducing uncoupling and characterized by increased reaction oxygen species (ROS) and the production of superoxide and superoxide dismutase (SOD).

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“There’s an inverse relationship between the peroxidation index of skeletal muscle phospholipids and maximum lifespan of mammal and bird species of different sizes.” A.J.Hulbert

 

 This forms a major component of the rate of living theory or that increased metabolism generates ROS ergo slowing metabolism down, produces less ROS and that’s productive. Although it’s not and this is where many people get confused about efficient thyroid function, enhanced metabolism and potential oxidative stress. I was reminded by a Ray Peat Newsletter earlier on the year how SOD remains elevated throughout the lifespan of those with Down syndrome and that serotonin increases SOD, contributing to decreased longevity. With excess PUFA consumption and tissue saturation, SOD increases as does uncoupling, lipid peroxidation and high levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) are observed with excess lipid peroxidation (Chen & Li, 2016). SOD can be counteracted by glutathione (SOD/G ratio) but this diminishes over time. This enhances the reductive state and perpetuates the gain of electrons, which are a hallmark of damaged physiology and shift efficient energy production away from oxidative metabolism of glucose and metabolic inflexibility.

 

PUFA, like DHA does initiate mitochondrial uncoupling but it’s inefficient and increases SOD degrading aerobic metabolism, which comes at a cost to lifespan. Hulbert notes that a 24% decrease in PI, is associated with doubling of lifespan and that calorific restriction alters the acyl composition of the cell membrane. Why?  Because PUFA are removed from the cell membrane to be used as fuel. Again this can be problematic if you persistently use unsaturated fatty acids as fuel. Not to mention that refeeding fasted subjects and those on a ketogenic diet are well known to depress thyroid hormone responsiveness, thyroid hormone receptors and glucose tolerance(Boelen, Wiersinga, & Fliers, 2008)(Garbow et al., 2011)(Kose, Guzel, Demir, & Arslan, 2017). Yes there are indeed many short-term studies showing positive changes from CR and ketogenic dieting. If one can benefit from these modalities great but if not metabolically flexible, it isn’t always going to be as fruitful as you think. It’s often these interactions that muddy the water between carbohydrate restriction and beneficial results. Hint, it’s never usually the carbohydrate, and if you’ve been prone to over eating, then that calorie deficit is always going to show a temporary positive effect.

If you’re someone that has tried many different interventions for improved health or even body composition and failed to get the results that you need, then the body requires a level playing field of energy and nutrients to create balance. Further stress from skipping meals, long hours without eating and failure to meet metabolic demands are some of the reasons why many develop metabolic inflexibility. The more stressed your physiology, the more prone it is to activating stress pathways and suppressing thyroid hormone, decreasing insulin responses and creating inflammation. More often than not those with tis existing inflexibility may not benefit from increased fatty acid oxidation mediated by a lack of available glucose.

Thyroid, PUFA and membrane composition and fluidity

My understanding of the so-called membrane, membrane pump theory and even membrane fluidity is certainly not of an expert but If I’m wrong here, I’m certainly willing to throw my hands up on in the air and say – I told you I wasn’t an expert.  I am reasonably sure of the interactions of thyroid hormone, its generality, it’s actions, organizational qualities and much like the theories of low serotonin, low estrogen, high cholesterol treated by statins, and that glyphosphate is a safe and friendly compound, that people with vested interests promote otherwise. I’m not going to go into the complexities of Gilbert Ling’s work (Gilbert N. Ling, 1965 1997, 2014) I’d be lying if I said I truly understand it but my attempt to summarize such a vast body of work.

The membrane pump theory has been a widely accepted unproven theory that appears on paper, to be unable energetically to support and each pump requiring unaccountable levels of ATP. Ling’s work suggests that membrane interactions are largely supported by organised or structured water interfaces and that there is no cellular membrane to speak of. Thyroid hormone, proteins and cholesterol are other integral components of this interface.

It’s always contentious when someone ends up disproving a theory that’s widely accepted without being proven.

Does it make sense that during fasting, these essential PUFA’s are depleted from this so-called membrane and replaced with cholesterol? Can they really be that essential? Thyroid hormones have been shown to modify this “membrane permeability”, cooperatively influencing behavior of enzymes and can penetrate the phospholipid bilayers  (Issé, Yunes Quartino, Fidelio, & Farías, 2013). Triiodothyronine or T3 appears similar to cholesterol’s action, increasing fluidity in ordered gel phases and decreasing in liquid crystalline states of phospholipids. I’m guessing that alterations in structured water through positive/ negative charges, and interactions between organisational qualities of thyroid hormones and cholesterol could be the ideal interface. This may explain why in hypothyroidism the so-called membrane, becomes more disorganised, less gel like and more abundant in PUFA (PUFAs degrade cholesterol).

 Restriction of PUFA, methionine and other agents which reduce biology need to be compared with so called decreased rate of living theories to ascertain what really increases longevity. If we keep looking at theories that promote decreased function instead of maintaining and improving order. The end result may be decreased lifespan and a slow death of cellular function.

 

References:

Boelen, A., Wiersinga, W. M., & Fliers, E. (2008). Fasting-Induced Changes in the Hypothalamus–Pituitary–Thyroid Axis. Thyroid, 18, 12–129. https://doi.org/10.1089/thy.2007.0253

Chen, Y., & Li, P. (2016). Fatty acid metabolism and cancer development. Science Bulletin, 61(19), 1473–1479. https://doi.org/10.1007/S11434-016-1129-4

Garbow, J. R., Doherty, J. M., Schugar, R. C., Travers, S., Weber, M. L., Wentz, A. E., … Crawford, P. A. (2011). Hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and ER stress in mice maintained long term on a very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet. American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00539.2010

Hulbert, A. J. (2007). Membrane fatty acids as pacemakers of animal metabolism. In Lipids. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-007-3058-0

Hulbert, A. J., Kelly, M. A., & Abbott, S. K. (2014). Polyunsaturated fats, membrane lipids and animal longevity. Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00360-013-0786-8

Issé, B. A., Yunes Quartino, P., Fidelio, G. D., & Farías, R. N. (2013). Thyroid hormones-membrane interaction: Reversible association of hormones with organized phospholipids with changes in fluidity and dipole potential. Chemistry and Physics of Lipids. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2013.08.007

Kose, E., Guzel, O., Demir, K., & Arslan, N. (2017). Changes of thyroid hormonal status in patients receiving ketogenic diet due to intractable epilepsy. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism. https://doi.org/10.1515/jpem-2016-0281

Ling, Gilbert N. (1997). Debunking the Alleged Resurrection of the Sodium Pump Hypothesis. Physiological Chemistry and Physics and Medical NMR.

Ling, Gilbert N. (2014). Canwe see living structure in a cell? Physiological Chemistry and Physics and Medical NMR.

Ling, Gilbert Ning. (1965). THE PHYSICAL STATE OF WATER IN LIVING CELL AND MODEL SYSTEMS. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1965.tb45406.x

Madison Sullivan, E., Pennington, E. R., Sparagna, G. C., Torres, M. J., Darrell Neufer, P., Harris, M., … Shaikh, S. R. (2018). Docosahexaenoic acid lowers cardiac mitochondrial enzyme activity by replacing linoleic acid in the phospholipidome. Journal of Biological Chemistry. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M117.812834

Speakman, J. R., Talbot, D. A., Selman, C., Snart, S., McLaren, J. S., Redman, P., … Brand, M. D. (2004). Uncoupled and surviving: Individual mice with high metabolism have greater mitochondrial uncoupling and live longer. Aging Cell. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-9728.2004.00097.x

Vaanholt, L. M., Daan, S., Schubert, K. A., & Visser, G. H. (2009). Metabolism and Aging: Effects of Cold Exposure on Metabolic Rate, Body Composition, and Longevity in Mice. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. https://doi.org/10.1086/589727

http://raypeat.com/articles/

http://www.gilbertling.org/

 

Improving brain health - amyloid, tau, and energy

Neurological and neurocognitive diseases have often been associated with the peptide amyloid beta (AB) and considered a main culprit in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) due to its elevations in the central nervous system (CNS) or brain. Initial ideas behind AB accumulation were derived from Dr Alois Alzheimer’s observations in 1906 that peptide deposits, entangled structures and plaques were present in a patient with severe neurological and neurocognitive function. Much of the research over the last three decades has focused on AB which has two pathways, non amyloidogenic forming 3 soluble fragments and the amyloidogenic pathway providing the AB associated with AD (Gosztyla, Brothers, & Robinson, 2018).

The Verve - The Drugs Don't Work

The drugs don’t work they just make you worse but I know I’ll see your face again.

Despite many promising drugs, interventions ( y secretase inhibitors) focusing on lowering AB have been found to worsen cognitive function and increase susceptibility to infection (Penninkilampi, Brothers, & Eslick, 2016). Estrogen has often been touted as a protective hormone against both cardiovascular disease and cancers despite large bodies of conflicting and unsupportive data (Derwahl & Nicula, 2014)(Felty & Roy, 2005) (Benjamin, Toles, Seltzer, & Deutsch, 1993). In the last ten years or so further confusion has been added to most people’s (including doctors) understanding of  estrogen and its so called protective mechanisms. In AD and dementia studies, estrogen was shown to decrease AB production, therefore it must be protective. The only downside to this observation is that it decreased AB, worsened cognition and increased susceptibility to infections (Gosztyla et al., 2018).

These observations tie in well to the current hypothesis that AB is found in most life forms, is protective, and increases as a form of anti-microbial action against certain agents such as viral and bacterial. Another interesting observation is the comparison between the actions of estrogen and progesterone in AD and dementia. Estrogen lowers AB but progesterone does not. Progesterone also decreases another key component of AD,  a structure in the CNS called tau. Tau is a neuronal microtubule associated protein and a structural factor within the brain, which major functions are the promotion of self assembly and tau stabilisation (Carroll et al., 2007). The commonality of AD and dementia like states is tau aggregation and can be elevated in AD and also  traumatic brain injury (TBI). Progesterone not only decreases damaged/entangled (hyperphosphorylated) tau it’s shown to be protective in TBI cases.

Increased estrogen is associated with increased excitability, seizures and neuronal degradation and this appears elevated in the premenstrual and estrous phases (Broestl et al., 2018). With increased aspects of pollution such as aluminium, mercury and cadmium and air and water borne pollutants that mimic estrogen, the potential of increased neurological damage is at an all-time high (Exley, 2013) (Annamalai & Namasivayam, 2015). Perhaps instrumental in the incidence and prevalence of neurological disease in the industrialised world?

Dietary fats, glucose and thyroid.

There’s far too much resistance in medicine to consider both neurological decline and diseases such as cancer as issues of metabolism. Mutations occur when biology degrades, when the mitochondrial aerobic function is compromised and there’s much that can be done to improve that area of function. The insistence that unsaturated fat is protective to neuronal structures appears problematic. In Parkinson’s disease for example degradation of polyunsaturated fats (both n3s and n6s) appears to increase lipid peroxidation, neuronal damage and that maintaining cholesterol levels appears to be protective (Alecu & Bennett, 2019). A common theme between all the neurological and oncological diseases is an abundance of PUFA and their oxidation, decreased glucose efficiency, decreased thyroid availability and mitochondrial damage(Schönfeld & Reiser, 2013)(Choi et al., 2017)

Some of the conflicts between the connection of low thyroid function and decreased neurological function are grounded in the persistence that biochemical evaluation of TSH and thyroid hormones  (FT4 and FT3) are reliable and indicators of tissue saturation both in the hypothalamus, pituitary, neuronal and other tissues. Given the vast aspects of organisation allowed by adequate thyroid hormone and its effects on metabolism, movement, digestion, temperature, pulse rate, sleep, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure, these variations might be of more value than reliance on poorly defined blood tests.

Endotoxin, gut and blood brain barrier.

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Chronic digestive stress increases endotoxin, serotonin and histamine and can cross the blood brain barrier

 

Intestinal hyperpermeability or leaky gut syndrome has been very fashionable for the last ten years and holistic narratives of detoxing, raw green foods and probiotics seems to still be the Zeitgeist. Endotoxin or LPS (lipopolysaccharides) are well known to induce stress responses, stimulating the production of both serotonin and histamine and adrenal pathways. Histamine and serotonin can increase the permeability of the blood brain barrier to  endotoxin induced increases of damaged tau structures is another aspect of neurological degradation(Wang et al., 2018). It also increases AB but know we have an idea that increasing AB is protective and it’s progression to plaques might be problematic. Attempting to lower AB is a reductionism that should best be avoided.

The concepts of detoxing and fasting might temporarily decrease endotoxin but they also have the capacity to make you colder, metabolically less efficient, decrease liver efficiency and lower thyroid hormone responsiveness that does not automatically increase after re-feeding (Boelen, Wiersinga, & Fliers, 2008). Ensuring adequate energy availability, endotoxin reducing foods like orange juice, carrots (Peat, 1997) (Ghanim et al., 2010) (Babic, Nguyen‐the, Amiot, & Aubert, 1994), and promoting restoring oxidative metabolism with compounds like methylene blue and caffeine (Eskelinen & Kivipelto, 2010)(Berrocal, Caballero-Bermejo, Gutierrez-Merino, & Mata, 2019), moderate exercise, engaging in life affirming activities and light exposure might be the some of the most effective factors in the fight against neurological disease.


References:

Alecu, I., & Bennett, S. A. L. (2019). Dysregulated lipid metabolism and its role in α-synucleinopathy in Parkinson’s disease. Frontiers in Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00328

Annamalai, J., & Namasivayam, V. (2015). Endocrine disrupting chemicals in the atmosphere: Their effects on humans and wildlife. Environment International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2014.12.006

Babic, I., Nguyen‐the, C., Amiot, M. J., & Aubert, S. (1994). Antimicrobial activity of shredded carrot extracts on food‐borne bacteria and yeast. Journal of Applied Bacteriology. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.1994.tb01608.x

Benjamin, F., Toles, A. W., Seltzer, V. L., & Deutsch, S. (1993). Excessive estradiol secretion in polycystic ovarian disease. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 169(5), 1223–1226. https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9378(93)90286-R

Berrocal, M., Caballero-Bermejo, M., Gutierrez-Merino, C., & Mata, A. M. (2019). Methylene Blue Blocks and Reverses the Inhibitory Effect of Tau on PMCA Function. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20143521

Boelen, A., Wiersinga, W. M., & Fliers, E. (2008). Fasting-Induced Changes in the Hypothalamus–Pituitary–Thyroid Axis. Thyroid, 18, 12–129. https://doi.org/10.1089/thy.2007.0253

Broestl, L., Worden, K., Moreno, A. J., Davis, E. J., Wang, D., Garay, B., … Dubal, D. B. (2018). Ovarian cycle stages modulate alzheimer-related cognitive and brain network alterations in female mice. ENeuro. https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0132-17.2018

Carroll, J. C., Rosario, E. R., Chang, L., Stanczyk, F. Z., Oddo, S., LaFerla, F. M., & Pike, C. J. (2007). Progesterone and estrogen regulate Alzheimer-like neuropathology in female 3xTg-AD mice. Journal of Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2718-07.2007

Choi, H. J., Byun, M. S., Yi, D., Sohn, B. K., Lee, J. H., Lee, J. Y., … Lee, D. Y. (2017). Associations of thyroid hormone serum levels with in-vivo Alzheimer’s disease pathologies. Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-017-0291-5

 Derwahl, M., & Nicula, D. (2014). Estrogen and its role in thyroid cancer. Endocrine-Related Cancer. https://doi.org/10.1530/ERC-14-0053

Eskelinen, M. H., & Kivipelto, M. (2010). Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Vol. 20). https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2010-1404

Exley, C. (2013). Human exposure to aluminium. Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts. https://doi.org/10.1039/c3em00374d

Felty, Q., & Roy, D. (2005). Estrogen, mitochondria, and growth of cancer and non-cancer cells. Journal of Carcinogenesis. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-3163-4-1

Ghanim, H., Sia, C. L., Upadhyay, M., Korzeniewski, K., Viswanathan, P., Abuaysheh, S., … Dandona, P. (2010). Orange juice neutralizes the proinflammatory effect of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal and prevents endotoxin increase and toll-like receptor expression. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28584

Gosztyla, M. L., Brothers, H. M., & Robinson, S. R. (2018). Alzheimer’s Amyloid-β is an Antimicrobial Peptide: A Review of the Evidence. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-171133

Peat, R. (1997). From PMS to Menopause: Female Hormones in context.

Penninkilampi, R., Brothers, H. M., & Eslick, G. D. (2016). Pharmacological Agents Targeting γ-Secretase Increase Risk of Cancer and Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-160275

Schönfeld, P., & Reiser, G. (2013). Why does Brain Metabolism not Favor Burning of Fatty Acids to Provide Energy? - Reflections on Disadvantages of the Use of Free Fatty Acids as Fuel for Brain. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. https://doi.org/10.1038/jcbfm.2013.128

Troisi, R., Ganmaa, D., Silva, I. D. S., Davaalkham, D., Rosenberg, P. S., Rich-Edwards, J., … Alemany, M. (2014). The role of hormones in the differences in the incidence of breast cancer between Mongolia and the United Kingdom. PLoS ONE, 9(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0114455

Wang, L.-M., Wu, Q., Kirk, R. A., Horn, K. P., Ebada Salem, A. H., Hoffman, J. M., … Morton, K. A. (2018). Lipopolysaccharide endotoxemia induces amyloid-β and p-tau formation in the rat brain. American Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

 

Chronic stress, appetite suppression, control and metabolic inflexibility.

It was the famous stress scientist Hans Selye who suggested that stress can be a positive or negative force. But how do we know whether we are dealing with stress effectively? There’s a common theme among clients both male and female who have got used to feeling in control of their health by suppressing appetite, symptoms and a false sense of health by perhaps feeling in control. Is this control a false economy? A well-known symptom of stress is a loss of appetite and skipping breakfast, it feels better to perpetuate the production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to liberate energy from stored fats and stride through the day with their endorphin like qualities. A common theme of females suffering from poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is chronic irregular eating or over eating in the obese. High stress can be chronic and perceived as the norm. I’ve observed the former in my eldest daughter through under eating as a product of emotional stress

‘For those habituated to high levels of internal stress since early childhood, it is the absence of stress that creates unease, evoking boredom and a sense of meaningless. People may have become addicted to their own stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, Hans Selye observed. To such person’s stress feels desirable, while the absence of it feels like something to be avoided.’ Gabor Mate

It should come as no surprise why some studies suggest that short term fasting, and calorific restriction seem to be productive in reversing aspects of inflammation and auto immune disease. When the body is stressed even eating certain foods becomes stressful. Dairy, sugar, fruits, grains all get the blame. I feel better when I don’t eat these some say. I feel better when I don’t eat others say. Is it the food or is it you? Can you be so fragile that eating some fruit for example is enough to send your biology into a tail spin. Eating sugar in excess can be problematic but then so can eating fat or anything in excess.

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A foundation of good health is built upon biological flexibility, potential and far away from equilibrium states.

The inability to utilise carbohydrate is a snapshot of the inflexibility of an individuals’ metabolism and not the carbohydrate. Evolutionary biology has provided efficiency by aerobic metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. The loss of efficient use of carbohydrate/sugar is the hallmark of a loss of function or flexibility and the chronic use of fats as a fuel is problematic due to increased oxidation of these lipids which can damage the aerobic apparatus within the mitochondria. The Randle cycle or glucose fatty acid cycle should allow flexibility between using either fats or carbohydrate as a fuel (Randle, Garland, Hales, & Newsholme, 1963). It’s often the lack of flexibility, decreased oxidation of carbohydrate and perpetual use of fats that damage the energy producing cells. Saturated fats are the preferred fuel of aerobic (oxidative) metabolism but in aggressive metabolism of cancer cells, unsaturated fats are utilised perpetuating the damage, promoting inefficient glycolysis or anaerobic metabolism that creates the acidic state of the cell.

The dogma that persists in nutrition circles is not based on sound reasoning but limited ideas that look at short term studies related to carbohydrate restriction. When a system loses its capacity to regulate sugar, we blame sugar instead of looking at the variety of factors that are responsible for degraded biology, carbohydrate utilisation and insulin responses.

Whether excessive exercise or inadequate nutrition the end result may be similar and its effects are far reaching into metabolism, cardiovascular, sexual and reproductive physiology.

By improving life conditions (in many ways) the hormones of pleasure can have a bigger role in our physiology. I think the experience of pleasure (whatever capacity for pleasure there is) increases the ability to experience pleasure, but I don't offer this with much hope as a therapeutic approach, since I know of people who say that running to exhaustion makes them "feel good" - neither "feeling good" nor "having orgasms" has a clear meaning, at present. Ray Peat

I’m not suggesting that going long periods without eating are necessarily bad, nor if you enjoy running is that bad either. Context is key. If you enjoy running run. If you have the capacity to go long hours without eating, then do that too. However if you have a system that lacks flexibility these actions can be problematic.

Have you ever considered not engaging in intense exercise for a couple of weeks to see how your body really feels?

I think this is a useful test to discover where your biology is really at. It can help determine whether you have been propping up a dysfunctional biology with intense exercise that falsely elevates your body temperature through activation of the sympathetic stress pathway. Slowing down and just focusing on walking and a few stretches shouldn’t feel stressful. Equally an individual who switches to eating regularly every 3 hours or so with the same amount of calories they were previously eating shouldn’t feel stressful. We all have patterns, routines and to the extent that they are effective or not is dictated by the metabolic flexibility that one should have. I’ll also suggest that metabolic flexibility could be analogous to emotional flexibility and mood states. A sign of improvements to metabolic flexibility and flux is return of energy, ability to tolerate exercise, good sleep, libido and emotional responses among other aspects of function. How do you know if it’s working? This diagram suggests what drivers are necessary and how to overcome your unwanted symptoms with the right inputs.

Metabolic inflexibilitY.jpg

Some patience seeking the return of these aspects of function is needed. After all, if you have spent decades constrained by negative symptoms then it may take more than a few weeks or months to fully resolve these patterns. In addition to the foundational work on hormones and chemistry, some people might find a need to address belief systems or require counselling for trauma or emotional grief to help resolve emotional stressors.

 References

Mate, G. (2008). In the realm of hungry ghosts. Close encounters with addiction. Canadian Family Physician.

Randle, P. J., Garland, P. B., Hales, C. N., & Newsholme, E. A. (1963). The glucose fatty-acid cycle its role in insulin sensitivity and the metabolic disturbances of diabetes mellitus. The Lancet, 281(7285), 785–789. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(63)91500-9

Peat, R. (1997). From PMS to Menopause: Female Hormones in context.

Selye, H. (1987). Stress without distress. In Society, stress, and disease, Vol. 5: Old age. (pp. 257–262). http://doi.org/10.1080/00228958.1983.10517713

 

Body temperature and health

Most people are so confused as to what constitutes good health these days and when they turn up to my office in low metabolic states with digestion, sleep, energy, mood and other issues. One of the first things that they say is that they eat really healthily. If you throw into the melting pot the obsession with the keto diet, chronic calorific restriction (CR) or other modalities, those short term gains have turned into long term deficits. I’ve long opined that health in general terms can be defined by:

 

·      Good energy

·      Good Digestion 2-3 bowel movements per day

·      Restorative sleep

·      Balanced mood free of depression or anxiety

·      Desire for life, motivation, hobbies and interests

·      Healthy libido

·      Absence of pain

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What does your body temperature suggest about your health?

Get cold…read on

I’ll also add to that list a warm body and the ability to generate efficient energy,  a phrase biologists might use is a state of negative entropy. Entropy is a state associated with decay and disorder and as entropy increases, equilibrium is achieved - where a state of no energy in and no energy out or death of a living system occurs. The basis for life and metabolism is governed by the enzymes. Enzymes function well in an appropriate temperature and in a medium that is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. Mammals and specifically humans are endotherms that regulate their temperature in  tight range at approximately 37 degrees Centigrade (C) or 98.6 Fahrenheit (Bicego, Barros, & Branco, 2007). The central compartment theory of temperature  suggests that the head and the core should maintain a relatively stable temperature, due to the rich vascular supply and that the periphery may vary some 2-4 C.  

In a recent study that I conducted I suggested that the peripheral and core temperatures should remain at a similar level of about 37 C . The suggestion that a decreased body temperature recorded in the head, might be the last place that you would see a reduction due to the large quantities of glucose that the brain uses to maintain function. It’s possible to suggest that the slowing of function in low energy and hypothyroid states might be observed initially in the trunk or core. The well documented symptoms of constipation, decreased heart rate, slowed contraction relaxation of the heart and arteries and reduced peripheral relaxation of tendons (Achilles tendon reflex) might appear in the trunk and peripherally due to the preferential oxidation of glucose initially. Due to the vast systemic implications of low thyroid function, many different paths of decreased function might occur, dependant on nutrition, environmental stimulus and other stressors. In my study I didn’t find this but what I did find is strong linear correlations between low body temperature in both the mouth and armpit, multiple low thyroid symptoms (mean 6.8 per subject) and yet normal blood values.

Humans are endotherms that regulate their temperature at 37 degrees centigrade-2.jpg

Thyroid hormone affects all aspects of biology

 

There are many factors that can decrease body temperature such as CR, fasting, estrogen, stress, pollution, over exercise and more. CR has been suggested as a mechanism for maintaining longevity but studies lack any conclusive evidence (Carrillo & Flouris, 2011) and a theory that a cold body, decreases metabolism, oxidation and damage therefore preserving tissues. Another emergent theory and results show in rodent studies, that mammals with a high energy intake, high metabolism and organised biology can increase life span (John R. Speakman et al., 2004) (J. R. Speakman, 2005). Think about this for a minute:

Calorific restriction makes the body cold, decreases metabolic rate  (via inhibition of thyroid hormone) and disorganisation of tissues. Entropy State

Adequate energy, maintains body temperature and organises tissues to function at their best. Negative entropy state.

From an evolutionary perspective fasting due to lack of food was a necessity. Fasting these days could be a useful tool, if you were prone to constant overeating but if your system lacks the flexibility to do so problems can occur. That’s not to say that calorie restriction for weight loss isn’t helpful but sustained CR in a system that doesn’t respond well might be counterproductive. Pollution has increased at a phenomenal rate clearly affecting physiology and hormones (Gore et al., 2015). Does it make sense that a so called detox diet, low in calories, protein, carbohydrates can enhance the function of detoxification, when liver function is energy and thyroid dependant? Skipping breakfast alone in some is associated with increased cortisol, glucagon and metabolic inflexibility (Jakubowicz, Wainstein, Ahren, et al., 2015) (Jakubowicz, Wainstein, Ahrén, et al., 2015). These factors can also decrease the mitochondrial uncoupling proteins which are responsible for increased body temperature.

Ageing is also associated with decreased metabolic rate, colder bodies and accepted increases in thyroid hormone stimulating values (TSH) (Laurberg, Andersen, Pedersen, & Carlé, 2005) . If symptoms of failing biology are present with isolated thyroid symptoms such as increased cholesterol,  , high blood pressure and sugar, cardiovascular issues and even cancer the acceptance of TSH and other thyroid hormone analysis to accurately predict hypothyroidism should be considered. Body temperature and metabolic rate was reliably used in the last century to diagnose hypothyroidism with qualitative analysis of symptoms and symptoms resolved with thyroid hormone treatment (Barnes, 1942) (McGavack, Lange, & Schwimmer, 1945) (Peat, 1999). Whilst thyroid is useful for restoring function, food and other factors can be used to restore and maintain function (previous blog on maintaining the aerobic system)

Certain nuances exist in temperature regulation that are dependant on acute or chronic exposure to stressors and a slowing down of the system through  a functionally, subclinical or overt hypothyroid state. In short term fasting, TSH is initially raised then decreases, negating thyroid blood tests. In the same manner the time frame of any stressor can dictate whether short or long term compensations of  the sympathetic adrenergic system is supporting the system. In well established feedback mechanism it’s known that as TSH increases so does cortisol and as body temperature approaches hypothermic levels (around 35C) cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline can increase body temperature as a protective response.

In a world where excess environmental and social stressors are ever increasing - it might make sense to maintain an efficient, organised warm body rather than reducing its function and heat.

 

References:

 

Barnes, B. (1942). Basal temperature versus basal metabolism. Journal of the American Medical Association, 119(14), 1072–1074. http://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1942.02830310006003

Bicego, K. C., Barros, R. C. H., & Branco, L. G. S. (2007). Physiology of temperature regulation: Comparative aspects. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2006.06.032

Carrillo, A. E., & Flouris, A. D. (2011). Caloric restriction and longevity: Effects of reduced body temperature. Ageing Research Reviews. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2010.10.001

Gore, A. C., Chappell, V. A., Fenton, S. E., Flaws, J. A., Nadal, A., Prins, G. S., … Zoeller, R. T. (2015). Executive Summary to EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s second Scientific Statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine Reviews. http://doi.org/10.1210/er.2015-1093

Jakubowicz, D., Wainstein, J., Ahrén, B., Bar-Dayan, Y., Landau, Z., Rabinovitz, H. R., & Froy, O. (2015). High-energy breakfast with low-energy dinner decreases overall daily hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomised clinical trial. Diabetologia, 58(5), 912–919. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-015-3524-9

Jakubowicz, D., Wainstein, J., Ahren, B., Landau, Z., Bar-Dayan, Y., & Froy, O. (2015). Fasting until noon triggers increased postprandial hyperglycemia and impaired insulin response after lunch and dinner in individuals with type 2 Diabetes: A randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care, 38(10), 1820–1826. http://doi.org/10.2337/dc15-0761

Laurberg, P., Andersen, S., Pedersen, I. B., & Carlé, A. (2005). Hypothyroidism in the elderly: Pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment. Drugs and Aging. http://doi.org/10.2165/00002512-200522010-00002

McGavack, T. H., Lange, K., & Schwimmer, D. (1945). Management of the myxedematous patient with symptoms of cardiovascular disease. American Heart Journal. http://doi.org/10.1016/0002-8703(45)90476-5

Peat, R. (1999). Thyroid Therapies, Confusion and Fraud. Retrieved from www.raypeat.com/articles/articles/thyroid.shtml

Speakman, J. R. (2005). Body size, energy metabolism and lifespan. Journal of Experimental Biology. http://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.01556

Speakman, J. R., Talbot, D. A., Selman, C., Snart, S., McLaren, J. S., Redman, P., … Brand, M. D. (2004). Uncoupled and surviving: Individual mice with high metabolism have greater mitochondrial uncoupling and live longer. Aging Cell. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-9728.2004.00097.x

 

A biochemical approach to decreasing muscle pain with food and hormones.

pain and hormones

pain and hormones

A biochemical approach to decreasing muscle pain is often the last place most people look and that includes many pain specialists. Modulating pain and hormones through food and other variables can create some impressive results. Aches and pains are a common theme in every day living. Some people seek to push themselves harder with excessive training schedules, others spend more time in a seated position and other factors contribute to tissue not responding the way that it should. Pain and the concept of nociception is a system of feedback for the body that is protective in essence. You touch something you shouldn’t; first pain kicks in to remove you from the painful stimulus (lasts less than 0.1 seconds), after that and depending on severity of damage second pain kicks in.

First pain and second pain (both reside in the anterolateral system or ALS) utilise different chemical messengers and another factor for this form of feedback is that other nociceptive factors like touch, visual, auditory and other sensations of stress can be part of the problematic feedback if not resolved. All of these have the capacity to interrupt optimal motor control and functioning of joints and soft tissues and affect hormone profiles. Even a bad smell can create neurological chaos.

Another less well known aspect (in therapy based settings) of disruptive function in muscle tissue are the effects of hormones that may lead to decreased feed back and be responsible for pain. Hypothyroidism affects muscle tissue via energy and neurological deficiencies.

Hypothyroidism results in

Slower peripheral and central nerve conduction velocity Lower body temperature is a factor creating slowed velocity Decreased active cell transport in the cerebral cortex Decreased flux of sodium and calcium for contraction/relaxation Poor production of energy for contraction/relaxation Decreases depolarisation of action potential

cold body

cold body

In a nutshell a colder, slower body leads to a decreased   coordinated body that has a hard time contracting and relaxing muscle tissue. This can lead to increased incidence of injury and pain.

A slowed heart rate is a sign of hypothyroidism and the bradychardia (slowed heart rate) should serve the purpose of describing the decreased rate of function throughout all muscle tissue. Thyroid hormone can improve both rate of contraction and relaxation in both fast and slow twitch muscles but also exerts a cardio protective role on blood vessels and bowel function via smooth muscle tissue. The documented symptoms of hypertension and constipation along with the neuromuscular actions tend to resolve with adequate thyroid hormone (Gao, Zhang, Zhang, Yang, & Chen, 2013).

Prior to initiating thyroid therapy it’s essential to rule out functionally hypothyroid states induced by diet, stress, excess exercise and other environmental factors. Many clients often present with lowered temperature, with cold hands, feet and nose, altered bowel, sleep and emotional function, which can often be resolved with appropriate energy and decreased intestinal irritants.

Chronic pain increases cortisol production which decreases thyroid hormone production (Samuels & McDaniel, 1997) as does fasting or calorie restriction which induces a decrease in available T3 (thyroid hormone) (Hulbert, 2000).

This gives us two approaches 1) to reduce pain with appropriate therapy and to ensure that adequate energy modulates the suppression of excess cortisol and increases available thyroid for tissue organisation and recovery.

Hormones also affect tendons; diabetics and poor insulin profiles appear to create disorganised tendon structure but this may be a factor related to decreased available thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism decreases available T3 within tendons, which can decrease growth, structure, and collagen production and create hypoxia of tissue leading to calcification.

Estrogen, although necessary for growth of tissue can often be found in excess creating problematic growth. Estrogen is also well known to decrease thyroid hormone and can provide an explanation why more females then men tend to be hypothyroid. The decrease in both thyroid hormone and progesterone can increase muccopolysacharides, which increase pressure in tissues, creating puffy, oedema like states. The swelling can be linked to many pain states which include carpal tunnel, which can be resolved with progesterone and thyroid in the absence of physical therapy. Progesterone also appears to induce myelination of nerves (surrounds and allows nerve conduction) and decreases inflammation (Milani et al 2010).

Energy production remains  a most potent form of therapy for decreasing pain, optimising rehabilitation and restoring tissue function.

References:

  1. Gao, N., Zhang, W., Zhang, Y., Yang, Q., & Chen, S. (2013). Carotid intima-media thickness in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism: A meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis, 227(1), 18–25. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.10.070

  2. Hulbert, A. (2000). Thyroid hormones and their effects: a new perspective. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 75(4), 519–631. http://doi.org/10.1017/S146479310000556X

  3. Milani, P., Mondelli, M., Ginanneschi, F., Mazzocchio, R., & Rossi, A. (2010). Progesterone - new therapy in mild carpal tunnel syndrome? Study design of a randomized clinical trial for local therapy. Journal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury, 5(1). http://doi.org/10.1186/1749-7221-5-11

  4. http://raypeat.com/articles/aging/aging-estrogen-progesterone.shtml

  5. Samuels, M. H., & McDaniel, P. A. (1997). Thyrotropin levels during hydrocortisone infusions that mimic fasting- induced cortisol elevations: A clinical research center study. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 82(11), 3700–3704. http://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.82.11.4376