We had a great time last week hosting the Nutrition Workshop! Thank you to everyone who attended. Dr. Karo never disappoints with his new and in-depth research delivered in a structured & “digestible” way – ha! We learn so much every time. These workshops allow us the opportunity to delve into health topics & tips that we otherwise wouldn’t have time for on a typical day. If you weren’t able to make it, we have an abbreviated recap to get you started!
In order to better understand the body & how it works, let’s first address some scientific truths:
- All living things are composed of individual cells working harmoniously in a self-healing & self-regulating ecosystem to maintain homeostasis, health & life.
- Our cells are programmed for health & they never dysfunction without physical, emotional, or chemical stress.
- Health, by definition, is a state of consistent homeostatic cell function.
- In contrast, sickness, by definition, is a lack of consistent homeostatic cell function or a state of stressed or forced adaptive cell function.
So what is nutrition, and how does it work? Nutrition is the process by which an organism ingests, digests, absorbs, transports and utilizes nutrients and disposes of their end-products. When we eat, we consume food that gets broken down and absorbed to be used as energy and rebuild our cells.
When we eat food, our body digests it in the gut and puts smaller particles in the blood. Our body then sorts and utilizes some for immediate energy and repair; the rest is stored for later. The body then signals the pancreas to create insulin in order to transport all the nutrients from the blood to every cell. Anything in excess gets stored for later use as fat.
There are two distinct ways our body uses energy. One is from food, and the other is through the liver glycogen and body fat. Your liver can make its own sugar from a process called gluconeogenesis. Think of these as energy storage compartments resembling a fridge and a freezer, respectively – short-term storage and long-term storage. The critical takeaway is that our body does not go into the freezer (body fat stores) until the fridge (glycogen) is first emptied.
When we eat in excess or when insulin is high, we don’t empty our blood of contents fast enough. The pancreas keeps creating more insulin and cannot tap into the fridge (glycogen through the liver for energy, let alone the freezer (body fat). Instead, we keep filling them both with more, and our body begins to create more freezers (Fat cells) to compensate. Obesity rates are increasing exponentially for several reasons, including the fact that food is plentiful these days and often processed. We are encouraged by advertising to eat every day, three times a day, with snacks in between as well. This keeps our insulin levels high all day, never allowing us to tap into our storage compartments for energy use. This will eventually and inevitably present a long list of serious health concerns due to our body developing insulin resistance as an adaptation to chronic insulin in the blood.
The goal of various diets, including Carnivore, Keto, Paleo, Zone, Mediterranean, Atkins, and most Vegetarian variations, is to reduce insulin levels by decreasing processed food, calories, and simple carbohydrates. Low-carb diets effectively put your body into a state of nutritional fasting by lowering blood insulin levels. By reducing the blood of insulin and other hormones, the body can access fat stores for energy.
So what’s the most simple and effective way to reduce insulin levels? The answer:
Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both for a period of time. A myth about fasting is that it’s not healthy. Actually, our bodies have the intelligence made for just that. Think about how our species survived in pre-agricultural times. When we don’t eat, our senses sharpen so that we can hunt.
In addition to lowering glycemic levels by allowing your body to tap into your energy storage compartments, fasting has been shown to offer a multitude of benefits:
- Increased adrenaline
- Metabolism speeds up
- Growth hormone goes up
- Anti-aging properties increase
- Stem cell production increases
- Autophagy increases – breakdown & recycling of old broken/mutated cells
- Inflammation decreases
- Mental clarity and function improve
There are different methods of fasting with varying timeframes of eating. Here’s what’s happening in your body depending on the timeframe of not eating or drinking:
- 6-24 hrs in: blood glucose & insulin drops, the liver starts using stored glycogen for 24-36 hrs
- After day 2: Glycogen stores are emptied, the liver starts making its own glucose through gluconeogenesis. In a non-diabetic person, glucose falls into a normal range.
- After day 3: low insulin stimulates the breakdown of fat for energy.
- After day 4: the body produces high levels of human growth hormone to maintain muscle mass & adrenaline to maintain metabolism.
- After Day 5: the body continues to self-regulate its energy & growth; autophagy is maximized.
This is what would happen t for any adult body in normal good health. People with any health conditions, such as pregnancy, diabetes, medications, etc., should not fast or should reach out to their health provider for additional support. The best way to eat depends on each individual’s state of health and health goals. The most important thing is to develop a long-term sustainable method.
Talk to the front desk if you’d like to learn more and schedule a nutrition consultation with Dr. Karo!