Author Archive: admin

Health advertising: Why does it treat us like idiots?

Watching the BBC programme the men who made us fat reminds me how the food, and health and fitness industries are all conflicted between making a profit and making us healthy. So nothing improves because everything gets confused with misinformation due to the competition going on. Companies can’t focus on making us healthy because making a profit must come first in such a highly competitive market.

Most that focus on health first have fallen by the wayside over the years. They just haven’t figured out how to make it profitable yet. So I think we need to explore why industry should care about our health. Until then we’ll get substandard products.

My answer is that we need to know more about ourselves. Become better consumers and invest in ourselves. We need to accept that good food, healthy lifestyles cost. We need to value our health enough to invest in it but we also need to understand as consumers why paying more for food is profitable for us. We need to value the quality that higher prices delivers. Until then we can’t blame an industry for chasing price over quality because that is where the profit is. We crave scale and we aren’t doing enough to change the balance.

We need to avoid false economies. Cheaper food at the checkout doesn’t necessarily save us money or add to our lives. Cheap food can leave us tired, bored (no flavour), or prone to over eating. It’s not to say that expensive food is better but to change our own mindset of valuing cost and quantity over taste, texture and quality. The experience of eating and the inherent value of good health.

When we vote with our wallets we don’t ask to be educated, to be shown exactly what something is doing for us. We generally just do what we’re told. We don’t know enough about how we work both as machines and as humans to make good choices and send the right message to the industry.

All of this requires knowledge and education. We just need to know much more about ourselves and how we fit the lives we lead and vice versa.

A rant I know but this  is what I see. Plain facts that are well established are often laughed at by people I come across because they know so little about their own genetics yet these same people are fully informed about general life politics, cars and sports. So it is not intellect thats the problem. Generally people would rather know a lot about everything other than themselves and the people they love. They know a lot about the superficial stuff but little about we actually work as humans.

Ask a motoring fan about his favourite car. He will tell you all sorts, twin cam, double over head compressor, turbo injection. Ask him why he likes it and he knows all about the physics that went into building the car. Ask a fashion fan about their favourite clothes and they will tell you all sorts. Which clothes go with what, how they accentuate this or that. They will really know their stuff.

Ask people about their bodies. Basics like why running at the same time as eating might be a bad idea or how sugar is converted to fat and you will get a blank face. Maybe the human body just isn’t that interesting. Or maybe it is most interesting to those who know how it works.

Until we stop being so naive about how we work as humans then the industry will continue to treat us like idiots. There isn’t much sense behind the decisions we make so there is no profit in using good logic to market foods. Sensationalism sells so sensationalism wins.

Study finds People Who Don’t Drink Alcohol Are More Likely To Die Young

So, a new study suggests That People Who Don’t Drink Alcohol Are More Likely To Die Young

I’m sharing this both for balance. It’s important to consider all sides of any debate. Also I want to have some fun. Claims like this are a dime a dozen aren’t they but so many are just hype. The general scientific response is always that 

“more research is needed”

That may be the case but why? So I thought I would ask you dear readers. Do you think this study is worth paying attention to or not and most importantly why?

This isn’t about bashing findings that go against the norm. I am critical of everything I read and I expect you are too. So I am interested in how you guys perceive this kind of research and reporting.

How to lose weight

Over the years like everyone I’ve tried all sorts of ways to adjust my weight. Some times gain it and some times lose it. I’ve now got to a point where I am very comfortable getting to the weight i want to be so I feel I have the control and freedom I always wanted. So I thought I was in a position to share a few things I learned along the way. I hope they help.

The thing is though, I am still learning and exploring. So I’m really just sharing the lessons from my journey so far. The most important thing to me is that I’ve found an approach that brings a smile to my face and lots of fun to my life. That’s why I find it works so well. What it does require though is searching for new ideas to keep things fresh but that’s part of the fun.

Here are the articles I have written so far presented Fit2Thrive Play, Compete and Create approach to improving your lifestyle

Play

Enjoy what you do. All the research shows that keeping up your weight loss activity is the most important thing you can do. If you learn to enjoy your life while you lose weight then you have the best set up for success in the short, medium and  long term.

  1. How can you lose weight and be happy?
  2. Create a daily feast and famine cycle
  3. Find your weight loss dynamic
  4. Be active, keep motivated and have fun
  5. Weight loss and Christmas. The food addicts guide to feasts part 1 part 2
  6. Running or just moving. What is most important to losing weight?
  7. Get fit to make the most of every minute
  8. Avoid empty experiences: Make the most of each experience
  9. find your happy place and simplify your life

Compete

How do you fit it all in and get on with your life?

  1. food addiction linked to obesity
  2. Why walking is good for you
  3. Why a food addict can not go ‘Cold Turkey’
  4. The men who made us fat
  5. Calorie and nutrient intake over time
  6. 1 mile a day burns over half a stone in a year
  7. Confessions of a foodaholic
  8. Losing weight is like paying off a loan part one part two
  9. Losing weight: Don’t limit yourself by having a limited goal
  10. Could losing weight be made easier by just taking longer to eat and enjoying every mouthful?
  11. You can’t burn fat without a carbohydrate flame.A general point that must be made clear The body has an abundant supply of fat for energy but a very limited (generally around 500g) store of sugar (carbohydrate) in the form of glycogen. Carbohydrate is crucial to providing energy because you can’t burn fat without a carbohydrate flame. This is because the citric acid cycle
  12. Horizon: The truth about exercise. Brilliant episode: In line with everything I believe. Much of his research is from Loughborough. Shows that 3 mins High intensity Training per week has major health benefits, and that just being active in general is most important. Common theory is being challenged. It’s easier than we thought to get fit. High intentsity exercise and can 3 minutes of exercise a week help make you fit
  13. Daily habits: they can make or break you
  14. Constant stress and weight problems?
  15. Body Rhythms: Hunger
  16. Smarter Goals are key to successful weight loss
  17. Activity doesn’t have to be physical
  18. Body economy
  19. pay off your fat loan
  20. help your body access stored fat

Create

Keep learning and expanding your knowledge of how your body works and what options are open to you.

  1. Exercise and weight loss: Do we know it all yet?
  2. Lose weight and save on heating bills with brown fat!!!
  3. Can we predict calorie consumption so accurately? and could this partly explain yo yo dieting?
  4. Training your intake: Intermittent Fasting
  5. Acheiving your goals means being good at fixing mistakes
  6. Can we both enjoy our meals more, and become healthier?
  7. What’s the fat story? Why do some gain pounds while others stay thin?
  8. Understanding individual uniqueness and complexity is the only true way to finding permanent solutions
  9. Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.
  10. How crucial is your diet to your health?
  11. It’s not what you eat but the way that you eat it
  12. What can snooker tell us about obesity part one part two part three
  13. How do you control hunger? Don’t eat too much each meal
  14. How do you control hunger? Don’t eat too regularly
  15. Is weight watchers any good?
  16. How activity and exercise improves your health
  17. more exercise helps
  18. Surprising new clue to the roots of hunger, neurons that drive appetite
  19. Lifelong BMI patterns: analysis shows that losing weight at any time can reduce cardiovascular risk.
  20. Do fit flops work?

[Learn more about]

Further references

  1. Enjoyment is the way to go

How to live with migraine?

I have a mission this year to help my wife learn to live with her migraines. My wife suffers badly from then, she is suffering as I write this post and it is quite a bain of our lives. Like anyone else I’ve searched for cures, she has too and she’s tried all sorts of remedies. Some things seem to help the symptoms but nothing actually prevents them. It seems like there is no fix.

Thankfully though I’m not so sure. I’ve been watching my wife suffer with migraines for over a decade and so I have researched quite widely. Through her experiences and others and all this research I finally think I’ve got a useful answer. I can not guarantee it can cure migraines for ever but at the very least it can make it much easier to live with migraines. It’s all based on my sports science knowledge and experience and I’m considering a headache as an injury to the brain and a migraine as quite a severe injury. As a result, the treatment is based on viewing migraine as an injury

My plan is to create a series of posts on migraine sharing some of the research I have found and the experiences I have had along with what I have found works.

The series of posts on migraines is about a journey of exploration. So if you have an opinion please share it. I’ve learnt that opening yourself up to being wrong is often the best route to being right. Whether I have the answer or someone else does doesn’t matter, I just want to start the journey somewhere so I am a post closer to a solution.

Posts

The posts so far:

Research

Like you I have done a lot of research. I’m sharing what I can hear in case its helpful and to spark debate.

There isn’t much for now but soon I will hunt through my archives and pad this out more.

Four Stages

@MigraineAction has described the four stages of a migraine which, I feel, makes the whole challenge a little clearer

The four stages of migraine

The four stages of migraine

Triggers

Katherines corner provides a list of some of the migraine triggers that seem to be associated with migraines. The image below is another example of potential triggers.
Migraine Triggers Infographic

Via ahealthblog

More detail at Anatomy of a Migraine

How exercise combats Heart Disease, Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Introduction

It may surprise you to learn that getting fit won’t just help you lose much weight. It’ll help you do something far more important because it will help keep you alive and just as important it’ll help you thrive.

It is now becoming clear that the major diseases in the west are diseases of our lifestyles. They never used to occur on such a large scale. The good news is that because they’re caused by our lifestyle, they can be treated and prevented by our lifestyle too.

The problem is that most attempts to treat these illnesses through lifestyle stop us having fun. As trivial as that sounds the way we have our fun is literally what is killing us. But it’s not the fun itself that’s the problem. It’s just how we go about having fun. How we think of it.

I want to show you ways to literally have your cake and eat it. To set targets to have fun every day and know that this is keeping you healthy not making you sick. First I want to show you directly how doing something as simple as getting fit really can prevent and treat serious illness.

You’ll see how being fit forces your body to manage its fuel sources well. Fuels in the body are like fuels we use elsewhere. Both electricity and petrol are dangerous if not handled correctly. So are the fuels our bodies use. Sugar is the fuel we’re going to focus on. Technically it’s known as carbohydrate but for simplicity, because few people understand the term carbohydrate, we’ll stick to sugar.

Sugar is actually toxic to our bodies. It can cause all sorts of damage. Of course we’ve evolved mechanisms to prevent or repair this damage. As long as these mechanisms work correctly we stay healthy. It’s when they don’t work correctly or stop working altogether that we get sick.

We’ll see how two major diseases: Diabetes type 2 (Mellitus) and Heart disease can both be treated or prevented simply by getting fit. Both diseases are related to bad sugar management within the body. Getting fit fixes the sugar management and with time can help fix these diseases.

The problem: Diseases of unregulated sugar

Getting fit makes the body work correctly. In this example it handles sugar correctly. Reducing the insulin required. Lowering blood sugar and insulin concentrations.

Disease

Disease is obviously the opposite of fitness. So the underlying question here is how to prevent or cure disease to regain fitness. The message throughout this blog is that regular challenges are necessary to develop a strong enough mind, body and soul to both prevent major damage occurring and also provide fast repair and recovery to a pre damaged state. So either injuries don’t last long because they’re fixed quickly or prevented in the first place. Each disease and its prevention follows this basic principle.

Common Factors

To most people our bodies, and the processes that make them function, seem so complex and impossible to understand that we don’t even bother learning about them. Instead we rely on other peoples knowledge and experience.

This isn’t just a shame it’s a recipe for a heart attack. The irony is that our minds and bodies are more important to us than anything we own. Yet the basic reasons why they go wrong are common and well understood. The same way we all know the basics about taking care of our prized possessions, from our houses, to our cars, computers and everything else. It makes sense to know the basics about taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.

So, with that in mind in this section we’ll consider the common illnesses we face today and the common factors involved in preventing or curing them. First, have a read of my discussion What factors make us kick the bucket? elaborating on this basic point, that we in general know less about ourselves than we do about our possessions. This means we know less about fixing problems with our bodies than problems with our possessions. That just doesn’t seem right.

Active Immunity

In terms of disease resistance some forms of immunity are provided for us, we don’t do anything to make them happen. Like taking a cough medicine. We may take it but it doesn’t teach our body anything about overcoming the illness or set up a system to prevent a future recurrence. This is passive immunity.

Being fit is about active immmunity. That means that we’re teaching our body how to deal with future threats. How to be strong and resilient enough to overcome future challenges. Just like our immune system prepares for current and future infections. By developing our fitness we prepare our bodies for current and future challenges.

The threats I describe are the diseases or challenges. Nutritional interventions are more about passive immunity. Learning to become fit is more about active immunity. You’re training your body to resist infections and overcome challenges. At the same time you are becoming active in your life, not passive. You are making your destiny not watching your life go by.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

What is heart disease?

At the simplest level heart disease is when your body starts to have trouble pumping enough blood around your body. This is because the blood vessels aren’t clean, supple and soft like they should be. Instead they’re rough, covered in fibrous plaques and rigid, unable to expand and contract easily. This is known as atherosclerosis.

When this happens around your heart it is known as coronary heart disease. If you don’t get enough blood to your heart then when you’re under pressure and your heart needs to work over time it just doesn’t get the nutrients it requires. Without the nutrients it can’t work hard for long and starts to get damaged. This would happen to any organ that has a restricted blood supply in this way.

What causes heart disease?

Unfortunately no one knows the exact cause. We believe that’s because there are lots of reasons which each contribute to the problem. Two of these factors are sugar and Insulin levels in the blood.

There is increasing evidence that high levels of sugar and Insulin in the blood system can encourage the kinds of damage we see in heart disease. The explanation is that sugar and Insulin in high concentration can be toxic. Leading to damage to the walls of arteries. To heal the artery walls inflammation occurs. Natures healing process. But if damage is occurring faster than the healing process then chronic inflammation and incorrect repair will result. Leaving the artery walls injured and unable to function properly. This is heart disease.

When this happens over a long time the damage builds up and prevents the blood vessels from transporting blood properly. This heart disease eventually becomes critical.

What reduces risk of heart disease?

Put simply you reduce your risk of heart disease by reducing blood sugar and insulin levels. Unfortunately there are no reliable and safe medications to do this. Eating less sugar should help but it also seems to mean having less fun. There is however another way you can do this. Through being more active. We’ll talk about this later.

What troubles me with most approaches to treating heart disease is that humans are assumed to be essentially weak creatures. That nature has no answer to these problems and that humans must manufacture their own solution. This means medical or nutritional interventions which cost money and often have side effects.

The point of this article is that I don’t accept this. On a daily basis the human body overcomes many difficulties. There’s plenty of evidence that a well maintained body does not suffer from these maladies and does not require interventions. So my question is, what natural, possibly lifestyle, factors should we be considering that may be preventing our bodies from repairing this damage in the first place? or even prevent the damage itself.

Next we will learn about Type II Diabetes. A condition linked to heart disease and that has two of the same contributing factors. High blood insulin and sugar levels.

References

Diabetes Type II (NIDDM)

What is Diabetes Type II?

In Greek, Diabetes means sweet urine because the main symptom is an inability to control blood sugar levels. This is because the cell mechanisms for regulating blood sugar have been disrupted.

In type 1 diabetes this is because your body can’t produce insulin. Insulin helps regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. So an inability to produce insulin leads to an inability to control sugar levels. The only treatment is injections of insulin.

The most common form of Diabetes, Type 2, is a disease of our modern sedentary lifestyles because our bodies develop resistance to insulin. Meaning that they can produce insulin but the cells of the body no longer respond correctly to it. Disrupting our ability to control blood sugar because much more insulin must be released into the blood than normal to control blood sugar levels. Many people have this condition without even knowing because it develops slowly over many years.

Diabetes is a serious condition because it is associated with long term illnesses including: cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney failure, and diabetic retinopathy (retinal damage).

A problem of sugar regulation

Diabetes is a problem of blood sugar regulation, but why is this important?

If you don’t regulate blood sugar properly many functions of the body become disrupted. In Diabetes the primary problems are the dangers of high and low blood sugar and high blood insulin levels. Long term there is increasing evidence that not regulating sugar properly can cause harm to the cells of our body. It is even being claimed that diabetes drives Atherosclerosis.

Sugar itself can also cause damage. An example is advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and their influence on diabetes

How we regulate sugar

The way our bodies regulate sugar is through the hormone insulin allowing glucose transfer into cells. Normal cells respond to the presence of insulin by moving glucose transporters to the edge of the cell wall and initiating transfer of glucose.

What disrupts sugar regulation? What is insulin resistance?

This glucose transfer goes wrong in Diabetes Type II because cells start losing their natural response to the presence of Insulin. There are several types of glucose transporter. The one implicated in Diabetes is Glucose Transporter 4 (GLUT4) because it responds directly to the presence of insulin. GLUT4 is the glucose transporter found in (skeletal) muscle and fat (Adipose) cells

In type 2 Diabetes the number of GLUT4 receptors present in the cell membrane declines. The ability to transfer glucose in and out of a cell is directly proportional to the number of GLUT4 receptors. So each time an Insulin molecule attaches to a cell less GLUT4 receptors respond. This can lead to sugar shortages within the cell and an inability to clear sugar from the blood. Both situations can have serious consequences.

This is often compounded by the pancreas secreting more insulin in an effort to trigger greater uptake of glucose within cells. Over time this feedback loop can overload the pancreas and create problems in producing any insulin at all.

My interpretation of why insulin resistance occurs is that the body is constantly adapting to our lifestyle and looking for ways to save precious resources. When you lead a sedentary life you rarely create a big demand within your cells for carbohydrate. So the GLUT4 receptors are lost by the cell. There seems no need. This lack of GLUT4 receptors leads to a low rate of glucose transfer in cells when Insulin is present. This is known as Insulin resistance.

How important is insulin resistance?

The size of the problem can be large because insulin resistance affects two thirds of the human body since it affects both muscle and fat cells which account for around two thirds of an average humans weight.

The solution: Get fit to regulate sugar properly

Now we’ll look at how we can help both heart disease and type II diabetes simply by being more active and getting fit. As simple as it sounds it really is a way to prevent or reduce these serious conditions.

Why get fit?

So we’ve seen that when sugar is not regulated within the body it acts like a poison, it causes damage. We’ve also seen that two major illnesses are connected to poor blood sugar and insulin regulation. Heart disease is worsened by too much sugar and insulin hanging around in the blood. We’ve seen how Type 2 Diabetes leads to high levels of blood sugar and insulin due to an inability to regulate sugar because you are not sensitive enough to insulin.

Now, we’ll find out a natural way to regain your insulin sensitivity and bring your blood sugar and insulin levels back to normal. It’s common for people to look for a medical, generally pill based, cure. So often there is one. But in this case you don’t actually need one. The answer is literally as simple as getting of your butt.

Only a highly functioning efficient human is capable of reaching their best. That’s obvious. Not so obvious is that the very act of getting fit directly reduces the risks of the major diseases of the 20th century. This is because the major diseases these days are caused by our wealth. Never before have we had it so nice.

Unfortunately it turns out that the things we used to do to avoid these illnesses we no longer do. That’s why we get sick. The 20th century was the first ever where the majority of the western population didn’t have to do all that much to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and safety. For the millions of years that preceded we had to work very hard to achieve these basic needs. That hard work is something we’ve evolved to need. With the unprecedented rise of diseases of affluence we’re starting to realise just how much we need to move. It’s literally becoming a matter of life and death.

Movement as medicine

The act of becoming fit changes your body for the better. It has now been confirmed that exercise changes your DNA which is the reason I recommend exercise. Getting fit literally means getting healthy but few people know just how much a positive impact fitness has on health. Unfortunately most people get fit to lose weight though that isn’t the primary benefit of exercise because it excellent at helping you keep weight off but exercise alone doesn’t help you lose weight.

What getting fit does best is make your body work properly by making your body stronger and more able to survive or even thrive in really tough conditions. The kind of conditions that might cause heart disease or diabetes in other, unfit individuals.

Controlling sugar

What is not commonly known is that regular exercise can reverse the reduction in GLUT 4 receptors within cells that we see in sedentary individuals. The same reduction in GLUT 4 receptors we associate with insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes.

Research shows that this is because exercise places a high demand on the carbohydrate (sugar) stores of the bod and It tests its ability to mobilise and use carbohydrate to power the muscles to create movement. In fact most of the adaptations that happen when you get fit are designed to conserve carbohydrate by using it efficiently. As a result the body will increasingly prefer fat as a fuel to the point that small amounts of exercise have been shown to have a big impact on the bodies ability to regulate carbohydrate.

I was introduced to GLUT 4 and its role in controlling blood sugar levels while studying for my degree in sports science. It became clear that activity forces the body to regulate sugar well. I kept hearing that the main factor determining running, cycling or swimming performance was the rate of sugar use within the body. The key being the use of blood sugar over muscle sugar (glycogen). This created a sugar sparing effect that could prolong activity.

To get technical a major review of sugar and exercise performance by Hargreaves and friends in 1995 reported“Under most circumstances membrane transport of glucose is the rate limiting factor of glucose uptake in exercise”

In simple terms this means that the speed at which sugar can be transferred from the blood into cells determines the amount of sugar available for running around or cycling or any other activity. So what does all this extra sugar in the cell mean?

It means you can run further.

Bergstrom et al 1967 muscle glycogen concentration and exercise capacity.
muscle glycogen concentration (mM/kg) v time (min)
low 80 : 60 mins
medium 100 : 100 mins
high 200 \; 180 mins

Fat being used instead of sugar when high sugar sports drinks were consumed to Fallowfield et al 1996
Hitting the wall while running a marathon is when your muscle carbohydrate runs out.

Glut 4 levels have been shown to be closely related to oxidative capacity. In english this means higher GLUT 4 levels means you can run faster for longer.

As you learnt in the explanation of diabetes. GLUT 4 is the glucose transporter in fat and muscle cells that listens for insulin. It determines insulin sensitivity. When insulin is present it moves to the cell membrane and starts transporting sugar.

Contractile activity results in an increase in plasma membrane glut4 content. This means that using your muscles moves GLUT 4 to the cell membrane. When you move regularly your cells start to contain even more GLUT 4 transporters than before.

The effects of muscle contraction (exercise) and insulin are additive. They both stimulate glucose uptake. This is what makes moving around even better at clearing sugar from your blood. The act of moving makes the GLUT 4 transport sugar and the addition of insulin from your pancreas makes the effect even greater. So you clear sugar from the blood even faster than you would normally. So your risk of diabetes and heart disease is reduced much faster because you move.

So how big an impact does this change in GLUT 4 have? In 1998 henriksson and friends concluded that 75% of the sugar consumed during exercise was taken up by muscle. Their exact words were

“skeletal muscle is the principle site of glucose uptake under insulin stimulated conditions and accounts for approximately 75% of glucose disposal following glucose infusion.”

This ties up with other findings that insulin resistance affects two thirds of the human body

Overall you can see that the research clearly shows that exercise increases sensitivity of skeletal muscle to insulin, improving your ability to regulate blood sugar and reducing your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

So, in summary. Exercise has been shown to reverse insulin resistance by creating a scarcity of carbohydrate within muscle cells. This creates a need for more GLUT4 receptors which the cell begins producing. These new receptors increase the rate that carbohydrate can enter and exit the cell and increase the response the cell makes to the presence of insulin molecules. This is how our cells reverse insulin resistance in response to exercise.

The reason is simple. Sugar is crucial to exercise performance. Transport of sugar across the cell membrane is the key factor in using sugar during exercise.

References

Hargreaves 1995 skeletal muscle carbohydrate metabolism during exercise. Summary of all data.

  1. Sports med 1998 jan wallberg henriksson et al p 28
  2. Role of exercise training in the prevention and treatment of insulin resistance and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Ivy 1997
  3.  How insulin allows entry of glucose into cells explains very clearly how glut 4 is key to insulin related disorders.
  4. molecular basis of insulin resistance pt2
  5. can you reverse insulin resistance?
  6. The many ways to regulate glucose transporter 4.: 2009 paper. Needs subscription to view paper. explains in detail latest knowledge on GLUT 4 regulation

Outstanding questions

This article doesn’t explain all we know. There are many further questions:

What type of exercise, intensity, regularity has an impact on GLUT 4 response?
Low intensity has little impact. HIgh – medium has greatest impact. What is high intensity?

The result: No disease when sugar properly regulated

Diabetes Type II

We learnt earlier that Diabetes is a disease of poor sugar control where the sugar controlling insulin pathway is ineffective or inefficient. We also learnt that certain kinds of activity are capable of correcting the process of insulin encouraging sugar to travel from the blood to the inside of cells.

It’s because of this that Brad thompson of oncolytics goes so far as to say that Type 2 Diabetes is generally considered a self inflicted disease. Brad is an expert in micro biology and cell dynamics who appeared on This week in virology (TWIV). During the episode Brad backs up what we’ve seen in this article. That type 2 diabetes is nothing to do with genetics. Everything to do with lifestyle. Exercise being the main lifestyle factor able to reverse insulin resistance.

So how do you exercise to prevent or treat diabetes?

This is a very important and complex question. The simple answer is just to move more than you do now. The more you move on a daily basis, the more you will be able to now and in the future. Learn to listen to yourself. Your mind, body and soul. Balance is extremely important. You can be too active or not active enough. Both can cause harm. So you need to learn what the right balance is. The aim of this article is to inspire you to become more active in general. Future articles will explore becoming active in detail.

For now. Just look at your current balance of activity and rest. Is it appropriate for you? should you be doing more? What kind of activity do you want to do? Regular activity over many years is far more important and helpful than sporadic bursts. So choosing activities you enjoy is key because you’ll then stick to them because you want to do them.

In the meantime lots of people have already addressed the question. So instead of spending a lot of time explaining how to do it I’ll leave it to a doctor to explain how to go about managing diabetes through exercise

Coronary Heart Disease

We have just seen that with Diabetes, our bodies forget how to handle sugars but we can remind them. So is there a similar story with heart attack and strokes and the arterial disease that causes them?

Thankfully there is. We saw that a key factor in heart disease is persistent high blood sugar and insulin levels. High levels of sugar and insulin travelling in our blood cause damage which can lead to heart disease.

We also saw that with increasing fitness our ability to quickly reduce blood insulin and sugar levels improves. So activity helps heart disease by reducing the damage that occurs to the blood vessels in the first place. In turn this reduces the inflammation that occurs. Providing less opportunity for Atherosclerosis (artery hardening) to form.

As your fitness improves your ability to control sugar and insulin levels improves. Eventually the rate of damage to your blood vessels becomes less than the rate they can be repaired. Over time they will then recover.

So how do you exercise to prevent or treat heart disease?

The advice is the same as for Diabetes. Just move more than you do now. Do it every day. A little every day is much better than a lot in a short period.

Conclusion

So, while Heart disease and Diabetes are both complex conditions with many causes. You’ve seen how the simple act of being more active can play an important role in treating and preventing both.

If nothing else, by being active you are strengthening your body and teaching it to function correctly instead of letting it become lazy and weak, open to the threats of diseases like heart disease and Diabetes.This is the theme of this article. That our bodies are inherently strong and well designed to thrive. Yet without a manual to guide us, our lifestyles often cause as many problems as they solve. This isn’t a bad thing. Just something that we can address once we understand our bodies relationship to our lifestyle.

How do I know I’m getting fitter?

Would you be able to telling you were getting fitter. More importantly would you know whether the fitness you’re gaining is helping fight Diabetes and heart disease?

Now that you know that you need to train your cells to produce more GLUT 4 receptors. This means cells can use blood sugar instead of their internal sugar supplies. This means that not only do they save their internal sugar supplies until when they really need them later in the activity or when you’re really working hard. It’s also much easier for your cells to replenish their internal sugar stores. That means that when you’re fit you’re ready to work hard much sooner after an intense training session than before.

In fact I now believe that Training is about fast recovery: fitter people actually heal faster. That’s the point. Activity forces your body to work around challenges. Makes you strong enough to overcome challenges and quickly get ready for the next challenge. This is made possible in many ways including Glut 4 adaptations, more blood carrying capillaries, and sugar and water saving effects.

So a simple measure you can use to see that your activity is helping you fight disease is to time how long it takes to do something you find physically difficult, but also how long it takes for you to be ready to do it again. As always. Build up to this. Don’t worry about how fast the improvements come. Rushing is generally a quick way of injuring yourself or worse. Just know that over time things you find difficult now will seem much easier and you’ll be able to do them much more regularly and in comfort.

That’s the end of this long article. I hope you’ve found it useful and feel more empowered in using your body to its fullest.

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References

Links that should appear in this chapter but haven’t found a place yet:.

  1. Learn more about reversing insulin resistance
  2. Training is about fast recovery: fitter people heal faster. That’s the point. activity forces your body to work around challenges. Makes you strong enough to overcome challenges. Glut 4 adaptations, capillaries, sugar and water saving effects.
  3. Calorie and nutrient intake over time: pins actual calorie values over time to increasing weight. Doesn’t point out the lack of data on activity
  4. how crucial is your diet to your health?
  5. You can’t burn fat without a carbohydrate flame. A general point that must be made clear The body has an abundant supply of fat for energy but a very limited (generally around 500g) store of sugar (carbohydrate) in the form of glycogen. Carbohydrate is crucial to providing energy because you can’t burn fat without a carbohydrate flame. This is because the citric acid cycle
  6. Horizon: The truth about exercise. Brilliant episode: In line with everything I believe. Much of his research is from Loughborough. Shows that 3 mins High intensity Training per week has major health benefits, and that just being active in general is most important. Common theory is being challenged. It’s easier than we thought to get fit. High intentsity exercise and can 3 minutes of exercise a week help make you fit
  7. How white blood cells are transported could explain heart disease

Modelling high blood pressure

The very long standing debate on the causes of high blood pressure has another piece of evidence to add to the pile. Scientists at the Norwegian University of Life Science believe that arterial stiffening explains 90% of high blood pressure.

Apparently the cause of most cases of hypertension isn’t know. Just 10% have been explained. So the search is on to explain the rest. Klas Pettersen and his colleagues used the best data they could find to produce computer models of how the major blood vessels stiffen with age.

Their models neatly explain the details we know so far. They go further to suggest that the body doesn’t blood pressure directly as currently though. Instead they believe it measures the strain on blood vessels which is the deformation of their walls under pressure.

A fascinating insight if it’s true. It certainly fits with the concept that we generally lose our fitness as we age. Fitter people have more pliable blood vessels because to get fit they force their body to shift large amounts of blood to places where it’s needed. That’s what exercise does. It forces the body to work properly.

In this automated age fewer and fewer people do the exercise that previous generations did. Exercise is no longer a core part of our ecosystem. So it can’t do what it’s supposed to. Thus we see more and more people with bodies that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.

Obviously this is a theory with evidence. Not a proof. But it certainly fits much of the wider evidence.

The cancer ecosystem

I just came across Game theory and the treatment of cancer. A fascinating article considering the ecosystem within a cell and organism as relevant to the understanding of Cancer.

I much prefer this more holistic view because much of what I’m learning shows cancer and the viruses and bacteria which cause it to be involved in the same kinds of struggles as all the other lifeforms we know about.

I don’t see cancer as a lifeform but I do see that it has a strong urge to manipulate the environment to its own ends, often to reproduce itself. It most certainly requires another organism to live but then if you considered the earth to be a cell then the effects humans have had on it as a species could easily be considered a metaphor for cancer. The scale is different. The effect very similar.

Game theory is exciting because it’s designed to explore and understand the relationships within ecosystems. So by approaching cancer in this frame of mind you can draw new inferences. There are many cancers we can’t cure yet. What if we had a natural treatment. Maybe not a cure but something that limited the cancer in someway.

One idea is that many cancers compete with each other. If you make the ecosystem right for one type of cancer and it will out compete the others. So what if you could promote the less aggressive cancers over the more aggressive ones. Much like promoting grass and wheat for farming over other plants. Make the cancer work for us in some way. A patient in this situation will still have cancer. Just a less aggressive one that we we may know how to control.

Considering an ecosystem the approach is more about redirecting the flow of interactions towards a better ecology for the patient. Instead of destroying the flora and fauna of a cell indiscriminately. This concept is very much in its early days but is a welcome addition to the traditional reductionist methodology. My analogy is that we didn’t get where we are with physics until we fully understood the atom (Ok, almost fully understood). We still don’t know everything at the minutest (quantum) level but we can describe and manipulate the basic atomic ecosystem reliably and efficiently. Understanding the whole has been as important as understanding the specific.

When that happens the quality and quantity of the solutions available increased immeasurably.

This is all part of understanding the relationship between fitness and cancer

 

Blood pressure and salt: A question of balance


Here’s a fascinating insight. High Blood pressure could have some relation to your ability to balance the level of salt in your body.

That’s the advice from Marc Pelletier discussing research on blood pressure on episode 103 of Dr Kiki’s science hour podcast .

Marc explains that his research indicates that high blood pressure could be a problem of salt balance and water balance. The brain having more power to regulate water than the kidneys.

Similarities to Diabetes

My interpretation is that it could be similar to the way sugar regulation is so critical to diabetes. Essentially diabetics have trouble regulating the sugar levels in blood and cells. It is fixed by helping the body regulate sugar. Activity, running around, plays a key role by improving levels of an insulin specific sugar receptor. Diabetes has wider ranging implications just because sugar regulation is faulty. So activity can fix sugar regulation and prevent so many of the negative effects of diabetes.

I’m wondering if salt and high blood pressure could have a similar story. Could activity help in a similar way.

Activity regulates sugar?

The reason activity helps diabetes is because activity forces the body to regulate sugar well. You see this in all sports research on making people run fast or far. The improvements always come from preserving sugar within cells. So obviously each improvement that makes you run further requires that your body be better at storing and preserving cell sugar. So a fit person can’t have diabetes, type II at least, because they are opposites. The take home lesson Diabetics can’t control their cell sugar levels well while fit people can.

Could activity regulate salt?


So could the same be true for high blood pressure. Activity forces the body to regulate salt. Because salt is key in being good at sports. It makes your nerves work properly, encourages the right type of chemical reactions and basically makes the body work properly. Low salt might also be one of the causes of cramps. So you need salt to be in the right places in the right amounts through out your body to be fit and perform well when running around.

Exercise is known to lower high blood pressure. It makes sense that this could be one of the ways it works. The idea being that someone who runs around a lot and pushes themselves physically will be able to regulate salt in their blood and cells very well and blood pressure will be normal. At the same time those people who don’t run around often develop high blood pressure because their bodies aren’t being pushed to regulate their salt well. So the blood and cell salt levels aren’t controlled and bad things happen.

That’s the theory I take from this. I hope it makes sense. Now I can look at investigating it.

I have just found another clue to the question why salt raises blood pressure. The explanation is that salt triggers adrenaline which constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Similar results are found in pubmed and thankfully this all backs up the concept that to regulate your salt levels is to regulate your blood pressure.

The men who made us fat

I’m watching the the second episode of “The men who made us fat” by the BBC. I’m impressed. I’m used to seeing these kinds of programme. I’ve heard most of it before but I like the way it’s put together. I think it’s really nailing the point that we’re eating much more than we used to and that portion sizes have increased massively in the last few decades. Often they’ve doubled.

What also fascinates me is the relative absence of other explanations. Nutrition alone isn’t enough to explain obesity. Of course, eating more is going to make you put on weight but we’ve known that for years. It’s just being explained in more detail. What’s lacking is any ideas of how to deal with it other than limiting advertising or pleas to eat less.

What I see is that life now is infinitely better than it was decades ago. Mainly because we have more choice, opportunity and wealth. We can choose to live like we did in the 60’s or before if we like. We can also choose to live any other way we want.

The challenge I feel we now have is picking the right lifestyle for the life we want to live. There’s so much information but much of it conflicts with other advice. Watching this programme I can’t help feeling it’s biased. It argues that other aspects of life such as activity levels don’t have an impact on obesity. That it’s solely down to what we’re eating.

The truth is that this is a very contentious area. A previous article of mine considering ‘nutrient intake over time‘ shows that government data actually records us eating less on average now than we did pre-war. So either the government statistics are wrong or the data in this programme has to be questioned.

As for activity levels. It’s actually very hard to find enough reliable research that paints a clear picture. It seems the show has just picked one study from one location to make its point. Ignoring other evidence to the contrary. Basically saying that children are as active as they used to be is an insufficient statement. What dates is he comparing and what populations. Inner city kids, which is what he showed, probably did have as much activity years ago as they did now. But most people lived outside cities decades ago.

The world population has moved en masse to cities over the last few decades. So the reality is that kids are now growing up in a different environment than they used to. Further away from the country and rural areas. Most likely further away from places where running around, being active are easy. But did the study he mentioned take that into account? I don’t think so.

Now I’m getting to the end of the programme and have had a little time to think about it I’m feeling it’s just biased like every thing I read in health. There’s no balance at all. He’s covered many areas but is carefully presenting his biased view. That’s a shame. As usual I was excited to see how it’s presented. I’ve seen a few good accounts of health recently. Maybe the third episode will balance things out.

In the end though the info about the food industry becoming big business I do believe. I like the way it is presented. What I want to do in this blog is show that this is simply our environment today. Humans, animals and all other life have been facing this kind of constant change and challenge since life began.

While we see it all as man made I only see natural evolution. I see the drive for big profit through capitalism as natural as the drive for more individuals of your own species. The same as trees figured out millions of years ago that using animals to spread their seed was better than using the wind. So they learned to live with and attract animals and use them for their own benefit. Companies do the same with humans and cash.

I’m seeing companies as, wait for it, a potentially new kind of life form. I know it’s a crazy notion but stick with me, in that they exist simply to consume money. In the same way that all life consumes a form of energy,. Humans consume calories and use atp to fuel their cells. Companies use money as their energy. Cash flow is their energy flow. Once the flow stops. They die. Just like we die when our energy flow in key areas like our brain or heart stops.

So the focus on the food industry and it’s business practices is useful because it’s describing our new environment. Something we as humans now have to learn to thrive in. As I said at the start of this post. We have it better than ever before so no one really wants to go back. So I think we need to learn how to live with this new world instead of against it.

What I’ll leave you with is the purpose of this blog. The two lifestyles I can think of that are well adapted to this new environment are ‘the healthy athlete’ and ‘the healthy child’. An exact definition of what I mean will have to wait for later. The main point being that they’re in balance with their bodies needs. I look forward to unpicking what this means in future articles. For now I encourage you to watch ‘The men who made us fat’ if only to learn about the new playing field of food in the 21st century

Learn more about preventing obesityinsulin resistanceheart disease and Diabetesdementia and alzheimers and even Cancer through exercise