“Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food.” Hippocrates
Danny Roddy: Is optimal health from a cellular metabolic perspective achievable in today’s society with the lack of availability of optimal foods and with all the toxins and pollution in the environment? Raymond Peat: If optimal means the best possible under bad circumstances, yes, otherwise, no. Optimal health requires optimal food, and a change of society… …Eating good food can alter your consciousness; so can thinking about how we’re going to get it.
“If you’re really healthy, then you can meet challenges without experiencing something that Hans Selye would have called stress. For example, if you are not very healthy, just skipping a meal can put you in really serious stress. But a healthy person stores something like 7 or 8 ounces of glucose in the form of glycogen in the liver and the muscles and brain. And since at rest the muscles can burn primarily fatty acids, your brain is the main thing that consumes glucose.
If you’re inactive and relaxed, you can easily go 12-15 hours without eating or without any stress at all. But if you’re not able to store that much glycogen, (for example low thyroid people, or people with a history of severe stress aren’t able to store very much glycogen), and so when you run out of sugar, whether it’s from going all day without eating or because your liver isn’t very efficient, your body tries to increase the available glucose. Normally, just being awake makes enough adrenaline to mobilize as much glucose from your stores as you need. But when you run out of that stored sugar, your brain still requires sugar to function properly. So, instead of just increasing the adrenaline more and more, when the adrenaline reaches a certain level and can’t get the blood sugar up from storage, then you turn on the cortisol. And that’s the classic stress that can be harmful, because the cortisol dissolves first tissues which are very fragile (like the thymus — that starts turning to sugar immediately when you run out of stored glycogen). And when the thymus is gone in just two or three hours of intense stress, that happens to be one of the reasons they think adults don’t have thymus glands, because by the time they’re dead and are analyzed, the thymus has been eaten up by stress; they might have had a perfectly normal thymus until they were sick and dead.
After the thymus is consumed and turned to sugar, the cortisol starts breaking down your muscles, then your skin. The brains, lungs and heart are spared from stress, partly because in a healthy person they are very saturated with androgens (testosterone and DHEA especially) which block the breakdown function of cortisol. If your brain, lungs and heart are short of those protective steroids then that’s where the stress really starts causing severe, deadly damage. The post-traumatic stress disorder is produced when someone has had such terrible stress, such as being tortured or being in terrific catastrophes, that they not only deplete their stored glycogen and breakdown the expendable tissues like thymus and liver, but then the cortisol starts damaging the brain and heart, and so on. So they get very severe chronic symptoms. Once the stress is completely resolved, then the brain can massively regenerate itself. For example they’ve seen MRIs of girls who have been in anorexia for months, their brain shrinks from living on the cortisol breaking down their tissues, but when they start eating the brain can rebuild itself in just a few weeks.” Raymond Peat, PhD
“Your brain requires a lot of energy to function at its best. One sign of low blood sugar is a change in mood and a short temper as the brain suffers from a lack of energy. Snickers has a series of comical commercials that illustrate these symptoms.
Pay attention to your mood (and your child’s mood) to see whether better blood sugar regulation can make you more pleasant to be around.” Rob Turner, Functional Performance Systems
“According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchhas shown that adolescentswho eat with their families consumemore fruits, dark-green and orangevegetables, and less soft drinks than those who do not have a family dinner(1). They are also more likely to have healthier habits as adults(1). Sitting down to enjoy a meal with otherspromotes good health by:
Encouraging new foods
Reinforcing mindful eating habits
Reducing the amount of “on-the go” foods consumed
Establishing a support system
Meal time should be enjoyable, relaxing, and fun! When you sit down to a meal with friends and family, be sure to focus on your time together and not the tasks you have to do later.” Together is Better: Why eating with others promotes good health
“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” Hans Selye
“Since glucose is the main fuel for the brain, and since the human brain is the factor that elevates man above other animals, mother nature took special precautions against a lack of glucose in the bloodstream at all times.” Broda Barnes & Charlotte Barnes
“In other words, the thyroid has a profound effect on the liver. We have other evidence that a lack of thyroid is accompanied by a sluggish liver…Since a sluggish liver is the most common cause of hypoglycemia, it should follow that the hypothyroid patient is highly susceptible to low blood sugar.” Broda Barnes, MD, PhD and Charlotte Barnes
There are two big reasons for these negative effects associated with not eating meals together: the first is simply that when we eat out—especially at the inexpensive fast food and take-out places that most children go to when not eating with their family—we tend not to eat very healthy things. As Michael Pollan wrote in his most recent book, Cooked, meals eaten outside of the home are almost uniformly less healthy than homemade foods, generally having higher fat, salt, and caloric content.
The other reason is that eating alone can be alienating. The dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day. After all, it is rare that we Americans grant ourselves pleasure over productivity (just look at the fact that the average American works nearly 220 hours more per year than the average Frenchman).
In many countries, mealtime is treated as sacred. In France, for instance, while it is acceptable to eat by oneself, one should never rush a meal. A frenzied salad muncher on the métro invites dirty glares, and employees are given at least an hour for lunch. In many Mexican cities, townspeople will eat together with friends and family in central areas like parks or town squares. In Cambodia, villagers spread out colorful mats and bring food to share with loved ones like a potluck.” Cody C. Delistraty, The Importance of Eating Together
“The more we enter survival (alarm) mode, the greater the pituitary and adrenal activity become dominant relative to thyroid activity. If the blood sugar is chronically low due to illogical food choices or imbalanced or infrequent meals, the alarm state is active too frequently and problems develop over time.
The heightened sympathetic nervous system activity during low blood sugar is like that which happens in hypothyroidism & during prolonged darkness, exercise, and malnutrition. The interconnectedness of the stress mediators is significant since they tend to promote each other in vicious, self-accelerating loops especially when the tissues are rich in polyunsaturates, if the bowel is toxic, or in a backdrop of low carbon dioxide or high estrogen.
The response to stress changes with age in relation to our previous dietary choices. In youth (assuming an adequate diet), the relative deficiency of stored unsaturates, high thyroid, glycogen availability, and optimal protective steroid hormone production produces a self-limiting stress response instead of a self-stimulating one.
As the tissues become more unsaturated with aging or due to poor food choice, the stress response switches from adaptive to dysadaptive, making the body progressively less capable of handling future stresses without producing inflammation and other adverse effects. The unsaturates’ anti-thyroid actions slow the synthesis of protective steroid hormones (pregnenolone, DHEA, progesterone) from cholesterol; cortisol becomes the dominant stress steroid and the ratio of cortisol to testosterone & estrogen to progesterone increases.
Using multiple means, the body protectively slows the metabolism (goes into economy mode) during stress to prolong survival since the body consumes itself during such times. This effect is favorable if you’re actually starving and food isn’t available but not friendly if long-term weight management is desired. Immune function is also suppressed, making the body more susceptible to infection and sickness.
The ability to store enough glycogen to handle stress lessens the need for adrenal activity. With thyroid suppression comes less ability to store glycogen, making low blood sugar and the alarm state more common. Without an energized liver, the conversion of T4 to T3 becomes less efficient, increasing adrenal and pituitary activity. An increased dependence on cortisol to provide glucose for fuel results, wasting protein rich-tissues like skeletal muscle. The loss of muscle tissue (and bone mass) is a characteristic of aging.
As the thyroid activity is suppressed, liver function suffers allowing estrogen to accumulate. Estrogen further blocks thyroid function, depletes glycogen, increases fatty acids, amplifies endotoxin’s effects, is toxic to the liver, and promotes inflammation in another cruel cycle.
Blood sugar balance using protective and digestible food choices is a fundamental of good nutrition practices. While some will argue that we don’t need to eat carbohydrate because our body can make carbohydrate from itself, that side of the fence is looking at physiology through a pin hole and misses the big picture. Ample carbohydrate particularly from ripe fruits, orange juice, milk, honey, and sucrose keeps the alarm state and vicious inflammatory cycles at bay.
The body uses its own tissues to make glucose during hypoglycemia because glucose is important in maintaining optimal function. Without enough dietary carbohydrate, the body becomes dependent on stress hormones for glucose. For optimal health, sustain blood sugar with food, not stress hormones.
The sympathetic nervous system is associated with fight or flight. The parasympathetic side relates to rest and digestion. Excessively sympathetic stimulation degrades digestive (and reproductive) function and sleep quality. The often ignored portion of the low blood sugar puzzle is the effects of poor circulation on the intestines as blood flow shifts to the muscles and brain during fight or flight and away from the digestive tract.
The de-energized intestines not only allow intestinal toxins into the blood stream more easily as barrier function is compromised, but the digestion of foods becomes less efficient also leading to malnutrition. The increased endotoxin exposure triggers inflammation in a multitude of ways along with edema, suppression of oxidation metabolism & detoxification, and a rise in free fatty acids & estrogen.
Hypothyroidism, exercise, and low blood sugar increase fight or flight activity, promoting the loss of carbon dioxide (CO2). If you think of carbon dioxide as a waste product of cellular respiration, then this might not seem like a big deal. However, carbon dioxide is anything but a waste product. A more accurate description labels CO2 as the hormone of cellular respiration since it has many protective & stabilizing functions.
Inhabitants of high altitude regions have longer lifespans and decreased susceptibility to disease relative to low altitude populations suggesting that carbon dioxide is of major importance to our physiology. Excessive CO2 loss from hyperventilation during stress perpetuates the alarm state and increases another mediator of stress, lactic acid, as cells begin producing energy without oxygen because of a lack of CO2 (Bohr Effect).
One of the interesting characteristics of the stress response is that in some circumstances the free fatty acids liberated by adrenaline (and other lipolytic stress substances) can block the glucose produced by cortisol’s action from being used (glucose-fatty acid cycle or Randle Cycle) by cells. This competitive inhibition could appear as high blood sugar on a lab test and a deficiency of insulin would be suspected by white coated professionals, but the elevated free fatty acids from the alarm state are the problem.
During a time of stress when more energy is needed, efficient energy production can be blocked by fatty acids, shifting the metabolism away from glucose and making cells more reliant on fats for energy, increasing their exposure to toxic PUFA. Damage to the cells’ power factory, the mitochondrion, occurs and carbon dioxide & steroid hormone production falls. This type of internal environment is a precipitating factor in insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, many degenerative conditions, and aging.
By simply balancing the blood sugar with appropriate food choices and avoiding excessive stimulation, much can be done to flip from degeneration & inflammation into regeneration. Taking steps to eliminate the consumption of food rich in polyunsaturates is a protective dietary measure. Niacinamide, vitamin E, aspirin, red light, ample dietary carbohydrate & sodium, and saturated fats are easily introduced therapies that protect us from already stored polyunsaturates.” Rob Turner, Low Blood Sugar Basics
“Your body manages its resources in relation to need. The chart below attempts to provide a visual of the manipulation of resources that occurs during stress.
Our physiology is designed to handle occasional stressors, but if the stressors are frequent or elevated in intensity then expect adverse consequences eventually. We can only borrow from other areas of the body to nourish others in a time of need so many times until the adaptive systems break down.
When the adaptive systems do break down, we experience symptoms of some sort. The symptoms are usually a result of a prolonged problem so have patience when attempting to correct them.” Rob Turner, Stress — A Shifting of Resources