We traditionally think of bacteria as dirty, something we want to keep outside of our bodies. Intestinal bacteria are very important for digestion; they break complex fiber polysaccharides (sugar molecules connected to each other), into simple absorbable sugars by a process called fermentation, converting nutrients into calories. The large intestine houses over 1400 species of bacteria, numbering over 100 trillion. Reality is that the human body contains ten times more microbial cells than human cells, and the human body is dependent upon the genetic information encoded in these bacterial cells for specific metabolic pathways.
Our microbial partners have coevolved with us, in a beneficial (symbiotic) relationships, involving nutrient sharing. The ability to store energy would be a beneficial attribute for ancient humans, who had variable access to food, and when nutrient dense food supply was available, consuming it and storing it would benefit both the human and its bacterial symbiotes later when food supplies were diminished. However, in modern, developed societies, where there is ready access to large-portion, high-calorie diets, this “benefit” becomes a detriment, and we develop a previously rare condition (historically seen in the wealthy) called over nutrition, over storage, or obesity
Obese individuals have a different mix of bacteria in their guts than thin people. The ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes (called the F/B ratio) is higher in obese people than in lean people, and it drops as those people lose weight. Both Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes bacteria are involved in complex polysaccharide breakdown, but Firmicutes are much more efficient than Bacteroidetes bacteria, and having more Firmicutes bacteria in our gut makes more energy available, leading to increased caloric intake and eventually obesity. Firmicutes overload is also associated slowed intestinal motility [chronic constipation].
In studies of genetically identical twins, bacterial populations have been found to differ, depending on whether the twin is lean or obese, with much higher level of Firmicutes in the obese twins. In obese patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery, colonic bacteria change to become more like those of normal-weight individuals after the operation, reducing their Firmicutes levels.
Antibiotic over utilization may also indiscriminately eradicate the beneficial bacteria in your gut along with the bad ones. Conventional farmed meats are doped with antibiotics, with nearly 50-70% of all antibiotics produced in the United States used on healthy livestock to promote growth and weight gain in the animal feed. Consuming these antibiotic-laden meats may be a significant factor enhancing growth and weight in the human population [obesity] as well. This further stresses the importance of eating grass-fed and organically raised meats of all kinds.
The amazing thing to keep in mind is that you can rapidly change your gut bacteria within 72 hours, to a healthy ratio, simply by immediately eliminating refined carbohydrates and increasing your fiber intake. Supplements of “get thin bacteria” will soon be available as well.
Obesity is among the most important medical problems in the United States today. Currently, 1 in 4 children and 1 in 2 adults are overweight, and prevalence rates that have increased by 50% since the 1960s. The Federal government and various official medical agencies, at the behest of grain producers, have advocated decreasing intake of total fat, while increasing consumption of “complex carbohydrate.” Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years, and the nation’s levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have dramatically risen. Americans, on average, eat 250 to 300 grams of carbs a day, accounting for about 55% of their caloric intake.
All carbohydrates (a category including sugars) convert to sugar in the blood, and the more refined the carbs are, the quicker the conversion. When you eat a glazed doughnut or a serving of mashed potatoes, it turns into blood sugar very quickly. To manage the blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin, which pushes glucose from the blood stream into cell to be used for energy conversion or storage.
When cells become more resistant to those insulin instructions, the pancreas needs to make more insulin to push the same amount of glucose into cells. As people become insulin resistant, carbs become a bigger challenge for the body. When the pancreas gets exhausted and can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the glucose in the blood, diabetes develops
The first sign of insulin resistance is a condition called metabolic syndrome — a red flag for impending diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome (found in nearly 1/4 of adults) is diagnosed when people have three or more of the following:
high blood triglycerides (more than 150 mg)
high blood pressure (over 135/85)
central obesity (a waist circumference in men of more than 40 inches and in women, more than 35 inches)
low HDL cholesterol (under 40 in men, under 50 in women)
elevated fasting glucose.
Glycemic Index measures the “effect of food on blood glucose levels.” It is a ranking of foods based on the how quickly the blood sugar levels will increase after ingestion. A low glycemic food gives a slow increase in blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index food gives a more rapid rise in blood sugar levels.
GI is specifically defined as the measurable glucose response curve after consumption of 50 g carbohydrate from a test food, divided by the response after consumption of 50 g glucose.
The GI for glucose would be defined as 100.
High GIs are above 50
Intermediate GIs range between 35 and 50
Low GIs are below or equal to 35
[learn_more caption=”High Glycemic Index Foods (GI>50)”]
In general, refined grain products and potato have a high GI, exceeding that of table sugar by up to 50%, whereas most vegetables, fruits and legumes have a low GI. Other factors including carbohydrate type, fiber, protein, fat, food form and method of preparation, determine the GI of a particular food.
According to data from the Department of Agriculture, >80% of the carbohydrate currently consumed by children ages 2–18 has a GI equal to or greater than that of table sugar. Moreover, carbohydrate absorption rate (and therefore GI) is increased after a low fat meal because fat acts to delay gastric emptying.
The rapid absorption of glucose from the high GI meal results in a high insulin secretion; which promotes uptake of glucose in muscle, liver and fat tissue and inhibits fat breakdown (lipolysis). In the post absorptive period, a transient hypoglycemia ensues, with blood sugars falling below normal due to high insulin, resulting in hunger and agitation. In some individuals, this may cause tremendous anxiety, which may create a feedback loop of carbohydrate addiction. Experimental evidence also suggests that elevated insulin levels, even just for 48–72-h period (in the presence of normal or reduced blood sugar levels) decreases insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects creating a diabetic effect of insulin resistance.
Without a doubt, high GI foods elicit (calorie for calorie) higher insulin levels than low GI foods. In humans, high acute insulin secretion after intravenous glucose tolerance tests predicts weight gain. High insulin levels also reduce Growth Hormone levels, which may reduce metabolic rate. Hormonal responses to a high GI diet stimulate hunger and favor storage of fat, which promotes excessive weight gain.
The LiveHealthProtocol dietary recommendation is designed to lower the insulin response to ingested carbohydrate (low GI), which improves access to stored metabolic fuels, decreases hunger, and promotes weight loss. The LiveHealthProtocol recommends abundant quantities of vegetables, and fruits, moderate amounts of protein and healthful fats, and decreased intake of refined grain products, potato and concentrated sugars.
Milk products (whey protein) have a GI which is low, but have paradoxic high insulinemic index (release high amounts of insulin). Milk products appear insulinotropic as judged from 3-fold to 6-fold higher insulinemic indexes than expected from the corresponding glycemic indexes. So even if you are consuming a low GI milk product, from the insulin standpoint it is a very high load.
Starchy fruits increase their Glycemic Index depending on ripeness. Green bananas have low GI of 40 but when they are ripen it will raise to 65.
Glycemic Load [GL] relates the GI to the amount of carbohydrate eaten in a normal serving or in 100 grams. It measures the total amount of carbohydrate, and is decreased by fiber consumption.
Obese people have, on average, eight percent less brain tissue than people of normal weight, according to a new study published in the journal Human Brain Mapping. Even overweight people have four percent less brain tissue than their normal-weight peers. Obesity is independently associated with poor educational attainment and may be responsible for the cognitive deficiency manifested in lower intelligence test scores (IQ). Excessive body weight gain has a shrinking and aging effect on the brain with a reduction in measureable IQ, in addition to the previously recognized increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The terminology of obesity and ever weight is defined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the Body Mass Index (BMI). Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30, and overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
The new study showed that age, gender, and race don’t matter. MRI brain scans of obese people revealed that their brains are smaller (atrophy) and appeared to be 16 years older than brains of lean people. The brains of overweight people appeared to be 8 years older. The presence of brain shrinkage is associated with dementia and depletes cognitive reserves in later years, which puts you at greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain.
The primary areas of the brain affected include the frontal and temporal lobes, which are responsible for planning and memory.
The mechanisms which links obesity to gray matter atrophy (brain shrinkage) include:
Reduced blood flow to brain due to blood vessel shrinkage
Reduced perfusion due to hypertension and loss of vessel elasticity
Toxic xenoestrogens released from excessive adipose tissue
Insulin resistance with chronically elevated blood glucose, leading to glycation, inflammation, and protein degradation
Expansion of the penumbra zones (enlargement of the stroke zone), possibly even with micro strokes or silent strokes.
This lack of blood flow to the brain causes cell and tissue death resulting in brain shrinkage. Interestingly, the research also showed that regular, vigorous exercise has the reverse effect. Physical activity can actually conserve brain tissue, which further supports the idea that blood flow is at least partly responsible for the maintenance or shrinkage of our brains. Of course, exercise also helps greatly in preventing obesity and its related conditions and risks.
According to the World Health Organization, a poor dietary habit with reliance on convenience and processed foods significantly contributes to obesity. The lack of portion size control is a particular problem in the United States, where “Super Sizing” every restaurant meal has contributed to our expanding waistlines. Additionally, food engineering and tremendous food diversity titillates our taste buds into over consumption.
These new study results highlight the importance of exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods and limiting your portion sizes. Not only will these healthy habits go a long way towards maintaining your weight and reducing the risks associated with obesity, they can help you maintain a healthy brain – which will end up affecting much more than how you look.
Optimizing fat burning while simultaneously building muscle should be the goal of any effective exercise program, the critical linkage between exercise and the food we eat is ATP. This article describes the importance of understanding what ATP is, and how different foods are converted to ATP, and when different fuels (protein, carbohydrate, or fat) are used for energy. Understanding these concepts provides the blueprint for the LiveHealthProtocol.com diet and exercise guidelines.
I frequently talk to patients about the foods they eat, and how it impacts their health. I think its very important to understand that converting food to usable energy is far more than simply chewing big pieces of food, which are digested into small pieces, and used directly by the cells. Your body does not directly take the food particles it consumes and transfers them to your cells for metabolism. It converts these particles to fundamental substrates, which are then converted to ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the actual fuel for your cells.
(Other substrates are used for structural growth and for cofactors, as well as immune recognition purposes; but the apple you eat does not become a little apple that your cells consume, it instead converts to sugars, proteins, and fats which are metabolized to ATP, which power your cells.)
The universal currency for life is ATP, the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. ATP functions like a tiny battery debit card, an ATP molecule consists of adenosine and three negatively charged inorganic phosphate groups when it is fully charged and ADP (adenosine diphosphate) when it has released its energy and has only two phosphates.
Recharging ADP to ATP requires fuel substrates, which is the converted food that you eat, whether it be protein, carbohydrate, or fat. The exact recharging is coupled to the molecular destruction of Carbon bonds, similar to gasoline combustion in your car.
The recharging of ADP to ATP is what couples the food you consume to usable energy, the discharging of ATP to ADP transfers energy to usable cellular function for either chemical or mechanical reactions. Available ATP (and Phospho Creatine- a related Phosphate storage bank in muscle) is depleted within 15 seconds of vigorous exercise.
Substrate to ATP
There are three significant fuel sources or substrates of energy to reform ATP from ADP.
Carbohydrates are metabolized to glucose, which quickly regenerates ADP to ATP through a process called glycolysis. Consumed carbohydrates are directly available as glucose, or excessive consumed carbohydrates are stored in muscle and liver as glycogen for later reconversion to glucose. (Excessive carbohydrates in the presence of insulin are also converted to fat in fat cells.) Use of carbohydrates for energy does not require large amounts of oxygen and can occur even during anaerobic conditioning. Production of lactate and lactic acid occur with use of carbohydrates for fuel. Available carbohydrates provide energy to recharge ATP for the first 45-60 seconds of high intensity therapeutic exercise.
Fat is a slow energy release form, typically stored in fat cells. Lipolysis is the term used to describe the breakdown of fat (triglycerides) into the more basic units of glycerol and free fatty acids, which then undergo beta-oxidation. Combustion of fatty acid molecules produces significantly more ATP, compared to glucose molecules. However, because fatty acids consist of more carbon atoms than glucose, they require more oxygen for their combustion. Fatty acids are oxidized by most of the tissues in the body; except, the brain, red blood cells, and the adrenal medulla. It is a huge storage reservoir, but is too slowly released for immediate energy utilization. Lipolysis provides energy after the first 60 seconds of exercise, but only effectively in the presence of large amounts of oxygen.
Protein can also be used as an energy source, but it must first be broken down to amino acids before being converted to glucose. Protein is thought to make only a small contribution (< 5%) to energy production, but up to 18% of total energy requirements during long strenuous activity, sometimes characterized as rhabdomyolysis.