Some New (Old) Health Concepts

I will be picking up pace on producing content for this blog. Currently I am interested in some schisms in different online communities, especially the MGTOW and MRAs, and will be writing about this (as it teeters on becoming mainstream) as well as my usual interest in health, fitness and sex. As I progress as a writer I will be attempting to tackle bigger projects as more of a scientific journalist and perhaps write scripts and produce content for a youtube channel.

Right now, I mostly just follow where my interests lay and get my information second-hand, from books, blogs, and articles based on scientific literature. There are many intelligent people out there that give excellent interpretations and a holistic view of scientific studies.

In this post, I’d like to go over some gems in other blogs.

You may have heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, but what about…

1)      You are your microbiome

2)      You are how often and intensely you induce hormesis

3)      You are the casts you “wear”

Let’s check it out.

1) You are your Microbiome

microbes

In last month’s Scientific American, a special report from Nature was included about the microbiome. There is a beautiful figure on page 59 of a healthy intestine juxtaposed with a disrupted one. With a thick mucous layer, bacterial colonies that help block inflammatory responses colonize but do not interact directly with the intestinal wall due to antibacterial properties of the inner mucous layer. A disrupted biome has a reduced mucous layer. Certain kinds of bacteria can colonize the mucous layer coating the intestinal wall create by-products (like butyrate, from Faecalibacterium prausnitzii fermenting fibre) that may modulate our immune systems. However, a reduced mucous layer allows opportunistic microbes to colonize closer to the intestinal wall, promote leaky cell junctions and trigger an unfettered inflammatory response (leading to autoimmune diseases).

Studying the microbiome has gained popularity over the past decade. Because we are made up of many more bacteria cells than human, we really are our microbiome. There is evidence that our microbiome can affect our mood, weight, brain function, and immune system. Things that change the bacteria colonies in our guts such as our diets, especially how much fibre we eat, and how often we are exposed to antibiotics can have major consequences.

Those with autoimmune diseases and chronic stomach problems probably already know this. Some are so desperate for a change in their gut they are willing to take someone else’s fecal matter. Yeah.

I am someone with a wacked gut and autoimmune flare ups, usually in form of arthritis and chronic stomach problems, but I’m not so hurting as to explore the fecal transplant option. My own search for gut healing led me down paths exploring the GAPs diet, low-FODMAPs, soil based organisms, and resistant starch. What I find works best, and keep in mind these are the experiences of a smart-ass internet blogger and are in no way prescriptive, is to: manage stress, eat whatever fibre can be tolerated (raw or cooked vegetables, and small doses potato starch), not fear dirt and ferments like sauerkraut, kimchi and real pickles, take a probiotic from time to time, and avoid reactive/allergen foods. With this article in mind, I will probably do some research into how to stimulate a thicker intestinal mucus layer (something I’ve already found is “worm therapy”, oh great) and increasing HCl production, which seems to be the origin of my dysbiosis problem (eating GAPs or low-FODMAP makes problems decrease short-term, increase long-term).

Gem: Richard Nickoley trail blazes Resistant Starch

2) Hormesis…Again

berries

Most “healthy” things like exercise and antioxidants we mistake as inherently so, when really, it is the hormetic response that is gold.

Like “good” bacteria interacting with our immune system and regulating our DNA, some inputs, and very often a lack of expected inputs (e.g. fasting), induce a bodily response by turning genes on and off to keep us in homeostasis. Things that trigger these responses often make us stronger so we consider them good for the body. However, our body will respond to normalize, so consistency of dose and frequency will alter the effectiveness of the hormetic response over time.

So what induces hormesis?

  • Exercise
  • Fasting
  • Short-term Ketogenic Dieting (vs. chronic)
  • Cold Showers

Cold showers for dudes (works for women…besides the sperm count increase. haha):

Here is a slideshow for nerds about the specific hormesis pathways (the adaptive immune system, ROS-mediated pathway, heat shock response, cold shock response, unfolded protein response, mitochodiral unfolded protein response and the hypoxic response).

The take away point here is just because something is good for you, more is not better. But, if you are someone that doesn’t evoke hormesis often, you are leaving pathways that help regulate many helpful functions turned way down.

Gem: Todd Becker’s case against antioxidant [supplements]

3) The Casts of Domesticated Homo sapiens

shoes

This concept ties into the last. Back in the days of our hunter gatherer ancestors there wasn’t furniture, running shoes, cars, high-calorie processed foods, or temperature regulation, at least to the extent there is today. Our genetics were foraged in times where a period of low-food was a more common occurrence, walking was the only option to get to point B, and people spent much more time looking into the distance than starring at screens.

We have very much domesticated ourselves, and like the fallen fin of an orca whale in captivity, many modern humans have lost the structural integrity of everything from small eye muscles (myopia) to the connective tissue in feet casted in shoes.

The gem of this section is Katy Bowman, who uses the analogy of “casts” to explain this phenomenon. We may not see chairs, for example, as casts, as they are very external to us. But imagine your body as it adapts to a daily routine of sitting in a car, sitting at a desk job for eight hours and then sitting on a couch for another few hours in the evening. Your body is being put in a position and forces act on it- changing bones, connective tissue and muscles slowly over time. Compared to a 20 min workout, the chair is going to win out on structural modification.

Gem: Katy Bowman’s Diseases of Captivity

End Thoughts: I hope these concepts have helped you better understand your health. Please explore these blogs for more. They have personally helped me a lot in taking control of my health.

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