Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Excess Calories - Too Much Junk!

We all know that full feeling after consuming a large meal. That same sensation is felt at the cellular level as your body attempts to cope with the massive overflow of calories, and the breakdown by products of your meal. The human body has an amazing capacity to accomodate extra fuel intake which has been necessitated through evolutionary starvation periods. The few extra pounds which we retain are an example of energy storage.

While it is well documented that excess fat on the midsection is directly associated with a number of serious illnesses, we typically don't think about the additional stress our tissues endure at the cellular level. Each of the trillions of cells in the body is required to burn fuel for energy and just as in your household, must eliminate the waste on a regular basis. This process is known as 'autophagy', or the cellular elimination of waste products of metabolism. During our younger years, we are much better at efficiently processing our cellular waste and virtually no buildup is left from the process. As we age, metabolism slows and becomes more inefficient. Cellular debris accumulates which eventually slows our metabolism and cause cellular inefficiency. Some of this is inevitable, but most in the scientific community now understand that much is under our control.

The quality of our energy sources will determine largely how much waste our body must deal with. Highly refined food sources and dietary elements which are not natural to our body (think plastic trans-fats and manufactured high fructose corn syrup) require a much higher level of cellular cleanup. Eventually the cell cannot fully respond to the continual burden of poor food choices and debris begins to obstruct the normal function of the basic biological unit. This is directly related to aging, along with many other environmental factors such as pollution, smoking and lack of exercise.

It is therefore critical to ensure that our food is natural, the way our evolutionary ancestors would have eaten. This is known as the 'paleo' diet, and stresses elimination of unnatural foods, refined carbs, sugars, fast foods and over cooked meats, in favor of raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean protein choices and minimal fruits. Eating in this manner regulates blood sugar surges which are now directly related to cardiovascular disease and diabetes and many other maladies. This eating style also dramatically modifies the lipid profile of the blood by reducing small LDL-C particles, triglycerides and raising HDL-C. And to many people, a natural loss of body fat will occur as a positive consequence of proper eating.

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