The Connection of Movement and Food: Part II
Previously, I wrote about the connection between Exercise and Health from the movement side of things. As with many things life, it is a two way street here and one must also view the same connection from the other side. The connection gets much deeper when viewing it from the perspective of food.
One thing I purposely skipped in the first post on the connection between Exercise and Health was hormones. They seem best suited on the side of food rather than movement, because hormones are necessary regardless of the movement side of the equation.
There are many hormones involved with bodily functioning every day. For example, the hormone Insulin is necessary only in small amounts so the body can utilize the sugars (glucose) from broken down foods. Insulin allows our muscle cells to get a constant source of energy to perform tasks of daily living. This makes it seem far too simple, but it is the basic way of viewing Insulin.
Another example is that of the hormone, Leptin. Leptin is released from fatty acids floating in the blood stream, which triggers the region of the brain governing the sensation of hunger. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that signals to the rest of the body, “I’m good, I have plenty of energy. I’ll let you know later when I need more.” Fatty Acids floating freely in the blood are known as Free Fatty Acids. They get paired with a protein to deliver them to the liver to process for energy.
A third example of hormones that signal bodily functions to occur is Norepinephrine. This is a hormone that gets released when the body experiences an increase in heat production (increased Oxygen intake) from increased movement patterns (exercise). This leads to increased blood pressure due to the body realizing it now has more physical strain. Norepinephrine triggers the release of Epinephrine (Adrenaline) to signal that there is a potential state of fear and danger, which in this case would be the increased strain on the muscles and bones from exercise. This simply means you disturbed the subtly balanced state of equilibrium, which is extremely easy to disturb anyway.
When Adrenaline gets released, it signals that there is going to be a heightened state of energy use. Once the brain and body realize more energy is necessary, the hormone Glucagon is released causing the body to free up the fatty acids from storage. As the body frees up these fatty acids for use, the liver converts them to usable energy. The body and brain will continue to move and think to escape the potential fear and danger that started the entire chain reaction.
Generally speaking, the type of daily movements and exercising our ancestors performed mostly required energy from fats for light intensity activities. This meant, humans needed fats and proteins and little sugars since the body had an efficient process for getting enough sugars to the muscles during times of need.
Here comes the problem in today’s world. We over exercise and sprint and lift too many heavy objects way too frequently. This type of working out is the exact opposite to what our ancestors did. This modern way of exercising requires far more energy than the body can generate on its basic fatty acid conversion rate. This meant the body had to find energy faster. This can happen fortunately. Enter sugars. The body can convert sugars to glucose extremely fast. This requires the pancreas to release massive amounts of Insulin in order to keep up with the constantly incoming sugars.
When our body truly recognizes a state of fear and danger, we need to rush the sugars in our cells immediately. There is no time to wait for the fats to get converted to energy during emergency situations. Our Genes and DNA however didn’t need to rush sugars into cells very often, so they didn’t need many sugars as a fuel source. They were happy with fats. In times of true danger and desperation though, the body is beautifully equipped with a way to handle the high demand of sugar for us to escape and survive. This is when the body happily produces Insulin.
Insulin is only needed in small amounts and the above is the reason why. It wasn’t necessary all that much, therefore the body produces small amounts. When you exercise too much (frequency or intensity) this produces a “fake” sign of true danger forcing the production of Insulin to the point of where you eventually burn out the Pancreas. You literally burn out the motor for production. This overproduction makes the muscles mad because Insulin won’t stop knocking on the door saying, “I’ve got your sugar!”, causing the body to resist and ignore Insulin even though it is simply trying to do its job. This burn out can lead to pancreatic cancer or a resistance to Insulin, which is the same thing as Type II diabetes. It also produces products that cause you to age at a faster rate.
There is a reason why we have multiple hormones that are connected to fats and the metabolism of these fats for energy use. Contrary to the multiple hormones connected to fats, there is only 1 (Insulin) that the body produces for sugars as a source of energy. Seems like common sense and that the brain and body are communicating to you saying, “I don’t need sugar! I need animal protein and fats!”
When the body consumes too much sugar, the sugar feeds the bad bacteria and promotes inflammation of the digestive tract. When the colonies of bacteria become out of balance like this, the production of certain neurotransmitters gets tampered with and generally leads to a deficiency. One such imbalance is the significant decrease in Serotonin production. This ultimately halts the brain’s ability to fall asleep opening the door for all sorts of physical and mental health issues.
Another issue is the ability to inhibit the nervous system so it can take a break. If you hold down the trigger on something, you will either break the object quickly or it will run out of ammunition. Either way it can’t perform it’s job! This same principle is associated with the nervous system. When the body receives sufficient amino acids from animal foods, the pool is great enough that the body can produce the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid). This is the key to giving your nervous system a break. If GABA cannot be produced, the nervous system will continue to fire due to the opposing neurotransmitter of Glutamate, which keeps the nervous system firing, just like holding down the trigger. The body has a better ability to produce Glutamate rather than GABA since Glutamate is the “Go” system. However, just like a car, it will crash and burn if you cannot provide a “Stop” system.
With the right foods and enough water, the body has regulatory systems in place serving to keep the body in balance. When something becomes deficient, one or more of these regulatory systems will get out of balance and the body or brain suffers from the consequences.
Based on the connection between human movement and human nutrition, you can hopefully gain a deeper insight for knowing what, when, where, why and how to get the types of foods that we were supposed to consume for energy. Proteins and fats come from animal foods (meat, eggs, seafood) with fiber, starches, and oils coming from plant foods (vegetables, tubers, roots, fruits, nuts, and seeds). In combination with water, this will be the most simple and efficient way of taking care of your health for a lifetime.
Does this change your opinion of sugar? Does this give you an idea of how sugar isn’t necessary to our genetic predisposition for slow constant movement and the occasional heavy lifting of objects? Does this help you understand that neurotransmitters and hormones play a critical role in your overall health?
What are your thoughts?