steps

Being more active improves your ability to prevent damage and recover

merry go round

The overwhelming feeling I get when reviewing all I’ve learned about the benefits of exercise is that the most important benefit you get is the ability to recover from any risk you take or damage or injury you incur.

Take this tweet

FFA transporters move to the plasma membrane during endurance exercise to bring more fat into the muscle. Our muscles are smart #GSSIXP

I need to find the actual source for this insight, unfortunately Kimberley didn’t cite an article because she was tweeting from a conference. That aside it’s becoming increasingly clear that all fuels that humans use for energy are dangerous when not controlled properly. Not surprising when you consider that all fuels we use outside the body like wood, oil and gas are also dangerous when not used and stored properly.

It turns out that fat, sugar and protein are all dangerous if not properly controlled. So too are other chemicals used by the body. Salt being an obvious example because one researcher, marc peletier specifically attributes salt regulation to heart disease.

So the good news is that exercise is natures way of regulating all these dangerous chemicals. The bad news is that not all the research is conclusive yet so let me give you a quick run down of what I have found.

  • Sugar: AKA Carbohydrate: Your exercise performance depends greatly on your ability to use sugar so exercise improves your ability to control and use it. Exercise targets the Glucose transporters specifically type 4 which are regulated by insulin which ensures the body can regulate sugar properly
  • Fat: Fat is of course the fuel you want to use the most of yet most people don’t know that your ability to burn fat depends on your ability to mobilise it but also your ability to use carbohyrdate. The saying goes that “You can only burn fat in a carbohydrate  flame” so of course exercise improves sugar and fat mobilisation and use. Insulin also controls fat release but the mechanism is yet to be fully understood. New evidence is coming to light but whether that includes insulin response we will find out.
  • Protein: Protein is half sugar and half amine. The amine part is toxic in large quantities so just like sugar it needs tight regulation. Exercise requires protein partly for fuel but mainly for building and repair work. What exercise does is push the body to become more able to handle the forces applied to it. Therefore it becomes less likely to break under strain. At the same time it creates a strong need to use protein and thus the systems to regulate protein become efficient and tightly regulated.
  • Salt: Salt and salts are actually crucial to the body because they have very useful chemical properties. Two very important functions are to help draw water in and out of the body as required making it easier to regulate water and keep the whole body healthy. The other is to supply the calcium and sodium required by nerves in saltatory conduction. Your entire nervous system including your brain, spine and motor circuits require specific amounts of calcium to repeatedly send message around the body
  • Water: The biggest improvement your body makes when you exercise is in water regulation. This is because every system in the body works better when water is controlled properly. Plenty of studies show that carbohydrate and fat don’t get digested or used properly if the water around them is not correct which is the basis of the sports drinks industry. Exercise puts the greatest strain possible on the bodies ability to supply, transport and regulate water and so it is no surprise that exercise forces the body to keep the required systems up to date.

As you can see from this analysis exercise puts a great and regular demand on all the body as a whole. This act itself forces the body to bring itself up to standard and reminds the body how it is supposed to work and that it must prepare for challenges. The challenge of exercise no longer exists in modern sedentary life and we haven’t yet evolved to handle this. So without the regular challenge of movement the body and its systems fall into disrepair. This is the reason that obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases of western life are all being recognised as the result of the body not working as it normally would and that those who are regularly active suffer much less from these diseases if they suffer at all.

Coming from this angle you see from my list that several keys aspects of the body are kept functioning by activity. From the ability to use fuel to the ability to supply water. At the same time the improvements made to bodily systems to make this happen reduce the damage caused when these systems are not maintained.

Related articles

Purging cells in mice is found to combat aging ills  senescent cells hasten aging in the tissues in which they accumulate. Exercise and calorie restriction are two important ways to encourage this purging process. Exercise though is much more important in preparing the body to do the process well. Calorie restriction can trigger the process but it has an arbitrary focus, as likely to purge heart muscle cells and faulty ones. Exercise forces the body to be more practical and calculating. Building up the resources and workflow to purge effectively rather than randomly. Directing the efforts of calorie restriction in a more organised and beneficial way.

The mathematics of weight loss: Ruben Meerman at TEDxQUT really well presented explanation of the basics of weight loss. You lose weight by eating less and moving more and breathing. He cuts right through many of the myths and explains specifically what happens. Doesn’t cover the challenges of doing this. Just focuses on the specific reliable equations that you should actually care about. I would like to see if it helps people understand the process itself more and believe in it.

The underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease Muscle isn’t susceptible to cancer. We don’t yet know why but we’re learning. Muscles affect us more than we know encouraging the transfer of sugar around our body and reducing insulin resistance and diabetes.

These are the things I already know and this talk by Jamie Scott adds even more to why being strong can give you a happy future

Nutrition: A problem of supply and demand

A core concept to understand in maximising health is that our bodies are constantly managing supply and demand.

We have evolved to expect continual change and be ready for both the best and the worst which requires the ability to predict future demand. This is as true for energy as it is for other nutrients like vitamins and minerals. All nutrients are dangerous in too high a quantity and our bodies are designed to store and use them within certain limits. Thus a fine balance is what it aims for along with the ability to manage the situation if too much or too little is taken up. These cases require buffer systems to ensure no major problems occur.

The impact of this was highlighted to me when I learnt about a study that looked into the effects of both supply and demand on nutrients. In this case it was vitamin D.

The overall concept is about balance. Creating demand within the body is critical for it to make proper use of the supply. Good supply is not enough it even risks flooding your body with nutrients it’s unable to properly manage. Leading to damage and side effects.

References

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

Weight loss and Christmas. The food addicts guide to feasts part 2

This post follows on from part 1

Holiday health

What I have learnt at these times of feast is that they are also times that I don’t feel as healthy as I normally do. You see I am fortunate because I generally enjoy good health. I don’t suffer with regular pain like many others tell me they do. The pain of headaches or stomach problems or whatever. This could be luck but I’ve always felt it’s also down to my lifestyle. What tells me this is that when I live like others do, which is what happens during the holidays and other periods of feast then I start to suffer the ailments that others do.

For example, yesterday I had the usual holiday back pains, I know how to fix them because I know why they occur. Lack of normal activity is, funnily enough the biggest trigger for injury. Strange, but true. So a walk and a few simple moves cure it. I just need to keep my body ticking over until normal activity resumes after christmas. I know this is the solution because it has happened so many times. Lack of activity is always the cause and being active always fixes it.

Handling a food hangover

So you can see why being uncomfortable is now what I associate with eating too much, very much like a hangover comes from drinking too much alcohol. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever eat too much. If the urge takes me I do it. Life is for living and when good food is around I eat it. What I have learnt is how to recover quickly and avoid the problems it brings. This holiday one approach has been mixing days of less food with days of plenty. The maths is quite simple.

If I eat the equivalent of 2 meals in one sitting then I often skip a meal.

I just wait until I am hungry again. I don’t do this for long, weeks or months but a day and particularly a meal here and there makes all the difference.

Fast weight loss

What it means is that I am enjoying the food that I eat more because I want it because I am hungry. Less and less do I just eat because food is there.

I don’t have food laying around, that would be silly, I would just eat it, whether I want it or not.

To prevent this I’ve frozen food or packed it away some how and ensured the dates are long enough. So I have set up my environment to support me and minimise my binge eating but I’ve also set up my mind. I am actually never that far from a lovely meal and I can happily enjoy the pleasure of looking forward to it. This is one of the most powerful influences I have found. I know that eating too much beforehand will literally change the taste of the food and ruin the experience. This gives me the strength to enjoy the process of fasting.

I fast every day, but it’s just a normal fast. For normal people, not food addicts, it’s the space between a meal. I see it differently. For me it’s actually the void where random nibbles used to be. The technical term is snacking which is what I always thought the point of a holiday was. You snack all day, a mince pie here, an orange there, some cream, don’t mind if I do. At least that’s how it used to be. These days I don’t allow myself to go too long without a meal that inspires me. it must be a meal that is an experience that I savour. This is what gives me the strength and desire to avoid food in between. The way I live is that I remember the last heavenly meal I had and spend my time happily in the knowledge that the next is coming soon and it will be just as good, hopefully better.

Eating holidays

The challenge for the holidays, Christmas being the hardest next to Easter, is that it is an eating holiday. It is literally what you’re supposed to do. A food addicts nightmare and heaven rolled into one. I’ve just realised that what happens over christmas is that you either willingly, or sometimes against your will, visit a place that you can’t leave until you have eaten and drunk more than you should in a week. To do anything else would offend those who invited you and spoil everyone elses fun. For a food addict it can be a little like a prison. A very well appointed one but something you can’t escape with rules and expectations you must abide by all the same. The message is clear.

You are going to eat a lot and you won’t leave here until you have done so.

You see, since I’m known to eat plenty, people often lay on the types of and amount of food they think I will like. That’s nice though isn’t it. It’s nice that they went to all that effort. Often its home made so they really have gone to a lot of effort. And I don’t like to disappoint. I no longer gorge myself often but this is the season of plenty and I absolutely hate food going to waste. So I find space. I know far too much about how to adjust my metabolism, posture or whatever I need to get food from my plate to my stomach. Even when it won’t fit, I still have more tricks and I’m not talking about bulimia. That would be a waste of food.

I get big because it all goes down and stays there. I still do this because that’s life. What is fun is that I now have a thousand ways of dealing with this challenge. Short fasts or just not snacking so much is one useful solution. I’m not so hungry between meals when they’re so big so I take advantage and the calories even out, or more accurately the calorie surplus is just a lot smaller.

Forbidden fruit

What life has taught me is that abstinence makes the heart grow fonder. I have also found plenty of reasons to value foods that are supposed to be banned. Of course moderation is the answer but it sounds dull. So let me tell you about the moderation I just practised. Lunch generally has a dessert with it. At least in my life that’s true and at Christmas the standards are raised. Yet there is food that is getting past its use by date and I have to balance my compulsion not to waste food. It’s the same story we all face this time of year with so much great food around but few seem as bothered about letting food go to waste as I. So they don’t have to learn how to eat this all up along with the food that I planned to eat in the first place without eating too much.

It gives me something to think about. That’s actually the fun part. It becomes a problem to solve. What would you do if you wanted a mince pie but then saw the banana that needs eating up and remembered the last bits of madagascan vanilla custard on its last day. Maybe its obvious. You make the banana the star accessorising with the mince pie and custard as the supporting cast. Of course then you have to top with a little irish cream. It is christmas after all. Mouthwatering. It was for me of course. It may be an obvious solution to you. Either way it’s a reminder that fruit works because, if you know how to use it, then it is all about quality over quantity. Quality of taste and nutrients over quantity of calories. Making it the star and pairing it with something means you can literally have your cake and eat it. Another day I will pair the mince pie with a satsuma. The orange cuts perfectly through the indulgence of the mince pie. It’s perfect with or without cream.

I just wanted to inspire you. I love fruit, using it as part of indulgence is just natural to me. It’s just a benefit that it helps shed the pounds.

The story continues

I sense I am getting into my stride now. All sorts of memories are flooding back to me that I want to share but I expect neither you or I have the time to explore it all right now. This has turned into such a long post I feel it should be broken into parts so it is not so overwhelming and becomes easier to digest. The rest of the story will come out over time. The point has been to explain a little why I feel I know a little about losing weight. That means I have to introduce you to my inner food addict. The fact that I have never got particularly large is not luck it is through prolonged effort. It shows that I must know something. I am just like any one else, I gain weight and lose it for the same reasons.

I used to think I would eventually just get really big because I hadn’t proven I knew how to lose weight, only put it on. I had to put on a stone or two and lose it several times before I could trust that what I was trying would work. Making this manageable and fun has been my lifes quest and taken several years longer. Even now I’m still learning.

With this post I also wanted to build on the idea that happiness should make you thin not the other way around. So being happy should achieve your life goals. That’s a dream but so many amazing things have been achieved simply because people followed their dreams.

This post follows on from part 1

Related articles

Of course this post is related to so many more that I couldn’t include.

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.

Summary

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.