What factors make us kick the bucket?

I hear so much about what risk factors there are to make us die sooner and all the things we should do or not do but because I like to research both sides of the story I always find things that contradict each other.

I’m coming round to the view that the overall risk really depends on where we are in our lives at any particular time. I don’t know if I can put this concept across well enough but I’ll try. (more…)

Feast and Famine: Is that what our bodies expect?

I was in the Open University library a couple of weeks back. I had the urged to pop down the human biology section and see what caught my eye. I know I shouldn’t admit to that because it’s far too sad, but that’s how much this stuff fascinates me.

Anyway I picked up a book named ‘Human Biology and Health: An evolutionary approach‘ and I was hooked at the first. I can’t remember every detail but basically began forming a few theories based on what I have already read. I also used other references but can’t for the life of me find them. So I’ll just have to launch in.

What does it do?

The theory I was working on is basically a way toxins can build up in the body and how they can be got rid of. With this knowledge we can adjust our lifestyles to take advantage of this. Eliminating toxins from our body should be a great way of minimising their bad effects. Much like taking out the trash.

How does it work?

The way this works is because the body has certain mechanisms in place to get energy from cells that aren’t needed by the body or are marked as dangerous. This mechanism is not used if you eat plenty. Thus those who eat less than others are more likely to use it and thus get rid of bad things from their body. I think I’ve held off putting this out there in case anyone reads this too literally. You still need to eat enough high quality food to thrive. My approach is through using intermittent fasting so I flush my body with great food regularly so I’m always healthy. Then when I think it’s full of nutrients I fast for a day or so to encourage my body to break up the bad cells for food and get rid of their contents.

More detail please!!!

Ok, here I’ll explain this in a little more depth.

From human biology and health I came across a possible explanation why people who eat little could live longer.  The theory began with how toxins build up in the liver and ultimately cause it to fail. The process would work like so:

  • Toxins in food get absorbed in the gut and sent to the liver.
  • The liver doesn’t get rid of toxins so they get more concentrated.
  • Toxin build up causes problems and these mount up.
  • Organs start failing.
  • Then you die.

Then I came across research that showed that our body actually obtains energy from devouring its own cells. It’s also not a random act. The immune system is constantly patrolling our body through killer B and T cells. Any bad cells that can’t be devoured on the spot are marked for deletion. Since we’ve normally lived in periods of feast and famine you body seems to assume that during the next period of famine these cells will be lost and the body will be cleaned.

The main problem these days in western societies is that few of us have problems getting enough to eat all year round. Thus it’s entirely possible that we’re all slowly building up bad pollutants and cells in our bodies and over time their effects show as all the diseases and problems that affect western society. Before modern times our lifestyles got rid of these toxins. These days they don’t and they build up and cause problems.

What’s the evidence?

Obviously that’s a big claim and I can’t vouch for exactly how much it all stacks up. It does make sense in a logical way though. That our bodies mark up cells for deletion is something I’ve heard a lot before. That they’d be the first to go if we couldn’t get enough food. That makes sense too. That only recently has there been enough food for all. That’s well known. That all those who reach truly exceptional ages over a hundred are all on the thinner side and seem to eat frugally in general. That seems to be the case too.  I have noticed many times that while larger people can be very healthy there seem to be less and less of them that make it to an older age. That said I’m not sure if they just get thinner as they get older so maybe they were larger when younger but not when older.

What also makes sense is that cells that have become cancerous would, in theory, be ejected from the body in this way reducing the likelihood that a cancer could take hold. It also implies that without this mechanism the risk of all related diseases would be higher. That seems to be the case according to health statistics.

I do wonder if our bodies are essentially well adapted for feast and famine and thus our constant feast is something we’re not suited to. If that’s the case then coming up with safe ways to implement a famine (I’d prefer just a simple fast of a morning or a day) could be useful. As long as we’re aware of the risks and don’t get carried away. Don’t forget just living your life according to hunger. That often works for me. If I’m not hungry I don’t eat. If I am I do.

Another easy and useful way to create a famine like situation is being active which helps for two main reasons.

  1. Firstly, moving makes your body work the way it’s supposed to. Exercise creates a demand for energy within the body forcing the food from the famine to be put to use and forcing the cells to use the food properly to get stuff done.
  2. Secondly, being active every day burns a few more calories. It doesn’t mean much in the short term but adds up to a lot over the long term.

This sounds like a very simple answer to a complex problem. The beauty is it that it uses what is currently known to explain how we could survive in the tough conditions we’ve faced over the years. There could easily be a lot that I haven’t thought of or I could have misinterpreted things. Either way I look forward to your comments and seeing if this theory holds water over time.

Learn more about the effect of physical inactivity on disease worldwide and what you can do to help prevent obesityinsulin resistanceheart disease and Diabetesdementia and alzheimers and even Cancer through exercise.
Feast and Famine: Is that what our bodies expect? first appeared on my original blog. Cell Your Sole is my new focus for health posts so I’m re posting relevant articles here.

Can you reverse insulin resistance

I read an article Insulin resistance and pre diabetes and just had to report the findings of the major study they refer to.

‘lifestyle changes reduced the risk of diabetes by 58 percent’

The main recommendation is to be active and eat well.

I just wanted to make the point that insulin resistance can be reversed. They also found that many people with pre-diabetes, symptoms that often lead to diabetes, returned to normal.

So anyone out there who’s worried about or has been told they have or are likely to get diabetes. There are options for you and they don’t all involve medicine. Simple approaches like looking at the balance in your life and including activity and adjusting your foods can make a big difference

These days diabetes type 2 is generally considered a self inflicted disease. The up side is that it means you can help fix it yourself with the right advice.


If you’re in a rush here is the take home message in one paragraph.

Insulin resistance occurs because your body forgets how to deal with sugar. This leaves sugar flowing through your body causing lots of damage. Exercise creates a big demand for sugar forcing your body to remember how to deal with it. Making sure sugar doesn’t get to flow where it shouldn’t, minimising the damage sugar can do. Improving your health in the process.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes

Insulin resistance means that the cells start losing their natural response to the presence of insulin and so sugar is no longer used properly within the body. This is because the levels of a cell component named Glucose Transporter 4 (GLUT4) fall. GLUT 4 responds directly to the presence of insulin and encourages cells to take up sugar. GLUT4 is the glucose transporter found in (skeletal) muscle and fat (Adipose) cells

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 great uptake of glucose within cells. Over time this feedback loop can overload the pancreas and create problems in producing any insulin at all.

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 effects both muscle and fat cells which account for around two thirds of an average humans weight.

Why does insulin resistance develop?

The reason insulin resistance occurs is because the body is constantly adapting to our lifestyle and looking for ways to save precious resources. When you lead an inactive 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 for them.

How can you reverse insulin resistance?

What is not commonly known is that regular exercise can reverse insulin resistance by increasing the number of GLUT 4 receptors within cells. Research shows that exercise places a high demand on the bodies carbohydrate (sugar) stores. It tests its ability to mobilise and use carbohydrate to power the muscles to create movement. 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. Small amounts of exercise have been shown to have a big impact on the bodies ability to regulate carbohydrate.

Benefits of reversing insulin resistance

It is becoming increasingly clear that insulin resistance causes obesity and diabetes. Not the other way around. If you consider How exercise combats Heart Disease, Insulin Resistance and Diabetes then you will find that learning how to move more can tackle insulin resistance. In turn this can help tackle:

  • Obesity
  • Coronary Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer

Often because all these problems are strongly linked to an inability to handle sugar properly.

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Can you reverse insulin resistance first appeared on my original blog. Cell Your Sole is my new focus for health posts so I’m re posting relevant articles here.

Obesity: Cell energy 101

How do humans store and use energy?

One of my friends just asked me to explain the obesity situation in terms of how humans store energy. Why is fat such a problem? 
Good question. My reply is below. It’s a short introduction on energy and how humans use it. I’ve kept it very brief on purpose. Just explaining enough to help you understand the current strategy for helping humans keep their body fat down. 
Be aware though that this isn’t the whole debate. That’s for another time. It’s important to understand these basic facts first. In time I’ll share more about the intricacies and debates around why humans get big.

ATP: The Basic Energy Unit

ATP is the basic unit of energy within the human body. The phosphate in particular is important. The body gets energy by breaking down ATP into ADP and then AMP if needed. That mean A has 3 phosphates, then 2 phosphates then 1. Each time it loses a phosphate the body releases energy. 
ATP is like a rechargeable battery. It uses energy sources like fat, carbs and protein to recharge its energy batteries from AMP > ADP > ATP. Fat recharges more of the batteries pound for pound than carbs or proteins. It also depends if the fuel is fully burnt. If it isn’t then less energy is released so less ATP is produced.

Why we store fat

That’s the basic idea behind the obesity strategy we see today. If fat has more energy pound for pound then eating too much of it means it will get stored and not converted to energy. Eat more carbs instead and you’re eating up to half the amount of energy, so less likely to store energy. More likely to burn it all. 
An extra factor is how full different foods make you feel. Protein generally makes you feel more full than sugar or fat and has the energy equivalent of carbs so some recommend focusing on protein rich foods instead.

Mitochondria: The cells powerhouse

All of this occurs inside the mitochondria. The cells power house. All cells have mitochondria. They often have many. Their ability to turn fuels into energy and recharge ATP is what is most influenced by getting fit. 
That’s a basic intro. I hope it made sense. This topic is explored in depth across the web. So I’ve provided the shortest intro I could here to get you started.