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Posts tagged ‘Digestion’

Chill out before you peg out…

Why stress is so bad for you and you need to sort it out.

It’s all about your hormones

Everything in the human body interacts with everything else.

There is virtually no system or function that operates in isolation, everything is interconnected by your central nervous system (kinda like the wiring in your supercomputer), your blood (the river of life) and by the chemical signals and instructions that blood carries around, in the form of hormones, proteins and other compounds.

Hormones arrive at an organ or a certain type of tissue or cell, and deliver instructions telling those tissues or cells what to do. When hormone signalling works well, like signalling in a computer or on a railway network, all is well. When signalling is ‘shot to shit’, just like on a road or rail network, all hell breaks loose, and we either have major crashes, or everything seizes up in grid lock. That’s how important hormones are.

You have hormones that govern when you feel hungry or full; hormones that make you happy or sad, angry or calm, lively or relaxed. Hormones and minerals between them regulate many complex processes in the body including appetite, blood pressure and elimination of waste.

Fight or flight…rest and digest

You have likely heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response. When you feel fear, when you sense some imminent danger, your body releases a rush of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol are the ones you will have heard of) and prepare you to either fight, physically, or to run away. Yes, this all dates back to caveman and the proverbial sabre-toothed tiger, these hormonal systems have been keeping us safe since we climbed down out of the trees in East Africa seven or eight million years ago.

When those stress hormones flood your body, they trigger a whole bunch of things to happen. They divert your body’s energy resources away from things like ‘fighting off the common cold’ and ‘digesting breakfast’ and ‘making my hair nice and shiny’ in favour of more immediately useful functions like ‘run like f***’ and ‘fight the tiger/wrestle the alligator’ and so on. In effect, what this means is, a flood of stress hormones shuts down your immune system, your digestive system and your anti-ageing, beauty systems, in favour of stuff that’s going to keep you alive for the next ten minutes – the ability to punch, grapple and run. You feel awake, alert, strong…but inside, other systems have been put on hold temporarily for you to do that.

Now, can you see, that if you spend half your life living in a stress response, then you spend half your life with compromised immune function, compromised digestive function and compromised anti-ageing functions?

Can you now see, how 30 years of chronic stress can lead to:

  • Poor immune function – catch coughs and colds all the time
  • Poor immune function long term – increased risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Poor digestive function – IBS, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, poor absorption of minerals and other nutrients
  • Weak anti-ageing systems – look like shit, bad skin, hair, nails

Chronic stress, through hormone havoc, takes a toll.

In broad terms, hormonally, the opposite bodily state to fight or flight, is rest and digest.

Now that makes sense, doesn’t it?

You can see how we evolved such systems millions of years ago. There are times we need to be ready to fight, or take flight, such as out on the hunt, and then there are times we can rest, and divert our body’s energy to digest, such as when we are relaxed around the safety of the camp fire.

Biologically, you can’t do both at once. It’s black and white. North and South. They are opposites. You can’t do both at the same time.

Now you know why they say you shouldn’t eat when you are in a highly agitated state, when you are totally stressed out. It’s because digestive processes require vast amounts of your body’s energy – to produce stomach acid, without which you will not digest proteins properly; to power peristaltic action, moving your food down through your bowels ready for elimination; to increase blood flow around the gut, ready to take the nutrients from your food and move them to your liver and from there off all around your body.

You see, digestion takes a lot of energy (that’s why you feel sleepy after a big meal) and your body cannot be on high alert, ready to fight, if all that energy is working on digestion. So, when the alert signal comes (when stress hormones are released), blood flow is diverted away from the gut and sent to the muscles instead, and digestive function is compromised.

And we are not even starting to talk about many of the subtler nuances here. In ‘fight or flight’ your body is trying to raise blood sugar, to fuel your muscles…in ‘rest and digest’ your body is trying to lower blood sugar, as part of the natural ‘digest and file away’ process of replenishment.

 


This is an extract from my new book, Mother Nature’s Dietavailable on Amazon right now, and for Kindle download.

For 334 pages of common-sense and clear science in plain English, all complete with a 28-Day Plan to get you on the right track, losing weight and feeling better, grab your copy right now –

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To your good health!

Karl

Myth busting – Part 7

Myth: Plants are healthy, they are ‘all good’ and we can eat as much as we like.

 

Truth: No! Many plants contain all sorts of chemical compounds that are extremely harmful to human health! You can’t eat poison ivy! What about deadly nightshade! Apple pips contain cyanide! What about gluten! There are highly poisonous mushrooms and numerous deadly herbs. The list is long! But among the common plants we do eat, there are plant foods containing compounds such as lectins, goitrogens, protease inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, phytate (or phytic acid), tannins, saponins and calcium oxalate, as well as some lesser compounds that are not very good for us.

The reality is that more than 90% of the biomass of plant life on Earth is completely unavailable to humans as food. We cannot eat grasses, we cannot eat trees, and most leaves are indigestible to us. We cannot eat grains unless we process them, and estimates suggest that around half the human population is intolerant to gluten to one degree or another. Raw potatoes will make you sick. Legumes are rich in lectins that upset digestive function. Phytates, or phytic acid, found in legumes, nuts and grains, have ‘anti-nutrient’ properties, leaching other valuable minerals from your body.

Many of these compounds are enzyme inhibitors of one type or another – that is, they stop various digestive enzymes from doing their job properly, meaning your body cannot absorb some of the minerals that you consume in your food.

And you thought plants were good for you!!!! Read more

Myth busting – Part 5

This post is Part 5 of a continuing series of posts tackling persistent myths in the world of healthy eating, with a particular focus on the consumption of animal foods as a source of ill health and environmental destruction.

You may like to read the whole series starting from Myth busting – Part 1

Myth: But big strong animals like gorillas don’t eat meat. A gorilla is a vegan and he’s made of muscle! So who needs all that protein now then?!?!

You may have seen this image circulating on social media sites, lots of folks who don’t really know much about health and nutrition like to share this image as some kind of ‘proof’ that it is healthiest to be a vegan, and no one needs to eat animal foods at all.

I don’t want to sound rude, and this next line isn’t meant to be an attack on any vegans or an insult to anyone specifically, but in all honesty, sharing this Internet meme as some kind of ‘proof’ that people shouldn’t eat meat is pretty much the highest display of ignorance out there in the whole ‘meat vs. vegetarian’ discussion.

Not ignorant because the people sharing it don’t know much about the digestive system of a gorilla; that’s fair enough, most folks probably don’t; but ignorant because the people sharing this are stupid enough to think the digestive function of one animal somehow acts as some guide of evidence-based scientific guide to the digestive system of another. That is just plain dumb.

Why would the digestive system and food habits of a gorilla have anything to do with a human?

Oh because gorillas have muscles, therefore this is ‘proof’ of how to build muscles?

Well elephants have muscles too; maybe I should eat an elephant’s diet? Read more