Saturday, 3 March 2012

Killer Carbs

A while back I kind of stepped back from the science of nutrition and exercise.  I am still interested in it but I have enough of a handle on things to get favourable results without the burden of paralysis by analysis that comes with having to dissect every study that comes along.  It doesn't help that there seems to be so much conflicting information out there and there are smarter folk than me, with specialist knowledge who stand on opposing sides.  I don't want to be to trite (and I am most definitely NOT antiscience), but if paleolithic man can survive without 'the science', why can't we?  Or rather, there is a simpler way to achieve health.

I've ended up with an idea that a lot of what we do is about signalling, along with the idea that we have an inner actuary.  I, like MANY lean people, simply do not have to count calories.  Calories count, of course, but that is not to say that I am doing the counting.  Furthermore it is the case that nutrition is only one side of the coin, exercise is another.  And now here's the thing, those gaps between eating (the gaps that trigger hormonal changes that drive your ancestors to forage and hunt), and those gaps between exercise (the gaps in which energy is conserved, muscle and tissue are rebuilt, where bones grow), are also vital parts of the jigsaw. 

Just as your PC is comprised of hardware, software and firmware - our health would appear to be similarly layered by energy input and expenditure, and the periodicity of this.  There is crucial interplay that works through these layers.

But these gaps between eating and the gaps between exercising, they're what interest me.  This seems to be where the real 'information' that your body can work with is.  That is how your body understands the world YOU live in, and these ebbs and flows of data - data on energy intake and expenditure - are crucial to the ability of your inner actuary in planning for future energy requirements and provision of energy to support survival over the short and medium term.

To generate data rich patterns I believe it is important to explore 'the most you can do' and 'the least you can do' in terms of exercise.  Power laws rule.  It is important to work across metabolic pathways, dip in and out of  ketosis, to fast and to feast.  Well, that's how I see it anyway!

And so to carbs.  For so long the bete noire of the paleosphere, and the current starlet of a paleo shit-storm.  I've said before I ramp them up to account for intense exercise (not for health).  But I have a eye on their seasonal availability and how they might have been consumed in the past.

We shouldn't lose sight of the favourable utility of animal over plant.  Nor should we lose sight of the availability of carb-rich foods with regard to season and geography.  The question is, how did these factors affect the patterns of consumption?  Consider that there may well have been extended periods of LC, and what this would mean for the body.

Interestingly it seems that carb consumption can, over time, lead to neural degeneration in cells that control appetite,
  • A Monash University scientist has discovered key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potentially weight-gain as we grow older. The research by Dr Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University's Department of Physiology, has been published in Nature.

    Dr Andrews found that appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and said the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars.

    "The more carbs and sugars you eat, the more your appetite-control cells are damaged, and potentially you consume more," Dr Andrews said.
    Dr Andrews said the attack on appetite suppressing cells creates a cellular imbalance between our need to eat and the message to the brain to stop eating.
Viewed this way, obesity at least in some cases, is a symptom of ageing.  We also have a positive feedback mechanism that, without those gaps afforded by seasonality, and fasting, compress the spiral of degeneration.

No comments: