I read this today in the book Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan MD and Luke Shananhan, and thought that I would share it. The bold bits are my added emphasis.
“On a pro-inflammatory diet, our physiology starts making fat cells so fast you’d think it were some kind of nervous habit. . .
In patients with age-related dementia, grey matter gets replaced by cells containing excessive amounts of fat. Osteoporotic bones have had bone-forming cells replaced by fat cells. And fatty liver, a common cause of indigestion and GERD symptoms (like heartburn), is caused by fat cell formation at the expense of normal, functioning liver cells. To put all this in terms of the larger regulatory picture, when muscle, bone, gland and nerve cells are denied a full complement of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and so on, they seem to take that denial as a signal to dedifferentiate and start storing fat. With so many cells abandoning their posts in healthy tissues to join the growing ranks of fat cells, you can imagine how poorly these tissues function. This whole degenerative process can be expedited in the presence of cortisol from stress and lack of sleep, or from the many inflammatory factors that build up from lack of exercise. An imbalanced diet, which releases still more inflammatory signals, makes things even worse.
Fat-making may seem like the body’s default reaction, but really it’s just the default reaction in periods of stress and nutrient deprivation. When the body gets all the real food, exercise, and rest that it needs, the default reaction is to convert unwanted fat cells into something better. . .
Some nutrient deficiencies and stress levels are so severe, however, that it becomes increasingly difficult to ship nutrients throughout the body effectively. If sugar and fatty acids can’t make the journey from wherever they were (usually your digestive system) into a proper fat-storage cell, then they end up lining your arteries, seeping into your tendons, and polluting your body. Now, instead of building fat, you just get sick. White blood cells will have to enter these polluted segments of artery, joint, or any other compromised tissue and try to clean up the mess. But white blood cells cause inflammation, which damages tissues (including arterial walls), makes your joints hurt, and clots your blood. This is why a diet that makes you fat also makes you feel bad, raises your blood pressure, and causes diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, and so many other diseases. . .
Cancer is a consequence of unhealthy cell communication: The cell mutates because it receives abnormal chemical instructions. . . Many cancer cells produce hormones to maintain a state of constant growth, unrestrained by the body’s instructions. Like cancer, fat produces inflammatory factors that stimulate its own growth. More fat sends a louder signal to the body to create still more fat. And fat cells invade other tissues, just as cancer does. Even thin people can, through poor diet, encourage fat to infiltrate healthy tissues. When fat invades, we develop cellulite, weakened bones, and brain and muscle atrophy. . . Obesity behaves like a self-sustaining tumor, and anyone who is overweight can feel trapped in its vicious cycle. I see people whose losing battle against their weight has them as frightened as someone with cancer, willing to pay anything for a cure.
Fortunately, fat cells can be retrained.
A key point of my message is that our cells react to the signals we send them through diet and activity, and they do their best to comply. Once you’ve cleared your body of inflammation, then exercise helps your body know what to do with the food it gets. It’s like sending a wish list to your cells . . . ” (pp 250 -253)
“Calorie restriction without exercise tells your body to convert stem cells into fat cells as soon as you start eating again. And the body doesn’t just wait patiently. It cranks up your appetite to prod you into increasing your food-seeking efforts while readying fat cells you already have to receive any forthcoming bounty. When you do finally eat a full meal, your body rushes energy into storage – hence the typical yoyo cycle of weight loss and rapid gain with small portion diets.
For as long as you manage to deal with your hunger, your body is forced to start using up fat cells – just as you’d hoped – but will also mine other tissues for vitamins, minerals, and essential fats. These tissues can include brain, connective tissue, and muscle. Of course, since muscle burns calories all by itself, once you start losing muscle it becomes harder to lose weight. The lesson here is that hunger is not the way to reshape your body. Here in Hawaii, the surfers have a saying: Never fight the ocean. If you want an athletic, svelte, attractive figure, then don’t fight your body. Call a truce by eating foods from the Four Pillars, exercising, cutting stress, and getting a full night’s sleep.” (pp 249-250)
I think the answer to obtaining and maintaining a slim, healthy, athletic body is a relatively simple A, B, C:
A) Avoid key inflammatory factors such as chronic stress, insufficient quality sleep, consumption of refined vegetable oils and excess sugars, and over-exposure to chemical and environmental pollutants.
B) Eat a high nutrient whole-foods diet ie eat food as close to its natural state as possible and include nutrient dense foods like bone broth, offal and fermented and sprouted foods.
C) Be active in your daily life – walk when you can, play with your kids, hang washing on the line rather than putting it in the dryer, make your own food etc. You don’t necessarily need to be a gym bunny – just move far more than you sit each day.
But while this is simple in theory, many people struggle to practice it either because they don’t know how eg they don’t know how to cook or because it is too hard to go against the mainsteam flow, or because they simply do not want to give up the taste of processed foods or the ease of sitting front of the tv.
I can’t help those people who are not ready to change their lifestyle and diet habits. But for those people who do want to change, one of the things I aim to do through this website is share my learnings to try and make it as easy and economical as possible to eat an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich diet and live a relaxed, happy life.
That is also why I wrote my book Relax and Eat Yourself Gorgeous. I wrote it after running a series of workshops and seeing that people needed a step by step guide to help them establish healthy habits in their lives in order to obtain and maintain weight-loss and health. Relax and Eat Yourself Gorgeous is available as a Kindle book for only US$4.52 so its very cheap if you want to check it out.
I would love to know your thoughts about the information in this post so feel free to leave a comment here or on Facebook.