Well, while preparing to teach Nutrition III at National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, OR; I have been compiling information about blood sugar regulation and…. naturally, insulin. Insulin is a hormone that many of you have heard/read about in relation to diabetes and blood sugar regulation. Those who are in the body-building and/or weight lifting industry have heard about it because of some of insulin’s anabolic (muscle building) properties. What does insulin do?
Click on the following link for an article that addresses the function of insulin and relates those functions to body composition (body fat, lean muscle mas and more): Insulin and Body CompositionYours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
I’ve been working on a new project and came across an interesting research paper. Here’s another great reason to be lean (like you needed one); a 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine studied lean and obese men and the effects cold has on activating their brown adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue, or brown fat, gets its color from the increased number of mitochondria compared to regular (yellow) adipose tissue. Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside our cells and can utilize fat for energy. With more of them, brown adipose cells can actually burn fat as it “spills” out of the adipose cells. Regular adipose cells need other cells’ mitochondria to burn fat that is liberated from them.
Classical thought was that brown adipose tissue serves an important role in infants but disappears in adults. Modern research is showing that adult men (especially non-obese adult men) still have brown fat and exposure to cold can activate it, allowing it to burn fat and produce heat. Interestingly, cold exposure can also activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis; this can help to bring a sluggish thyroid gland “back online”.
Here’s the reference: Cold-Activated Brown Adipose Tissue in Healthy MenYours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
OK, lately, I have been obsessed with “The Dog Whisperer” on Animal Planet
Now, stay with me for the next paragraph, I will tie this all into the title of this post and a simple and effective way to set your body up for the efficient utilization of the calories you eat….
Early in 2010, we adopted a 5 week old lab/Shepard/pit bull mix. I have always been an animal lover and with both my dog and cat dying of cancer in the past 4 years, I have decided that we must investigate how best to keep our pets healthy; much in the same way I investigate ways to keep myself and my patients healthy. The first thing I did was to dive into the vast amounts of information on dog training. Huck (the lab/shepard/pit mix) is incredibly sweet, healthy and is fun to go off-road unicycling with; this is in part due to the principle laid out by Cesar Millan:
Providing these things in that order helps to set rules, limitations and boundaries for dogs but also helps to support them physiologically as this is how their body is meant to work. This is where my dog training research started to parallel my human health and wellness research. Regarding dogs, it has been amazingly helpful and healthful with our dogs to take them for a walk, play Frisbee with them, go unicycling with them or rough-house with them before they eat; it’s what they would do (or technically, their ancestors would do) in the wild, they chase their food down and eat it.
Well, for the better part of human history, this is what we would do too. Research is telling us that this is the way our physiology is set-up too; metabolic and lifestyle diseases have been on the rise for the better part of the last 60-100 years and food has become easier to get and eat every day. So, regarding food, we should consider food as the affection, it’s how our internal environment communicates with the external environment and how we nourish (READ: love) ourselves. I know; what about the discipline part?
Well, that could be built into our “how to eat equation” by stating this; we should eat until we are 75% full and have the discipline to choose a diet that is plant-based or mostly plant-based and not processed. OK, it’s a little bit of a stretch but it works well for my agenda
Here’s more, in fact, I’ll cut to the chase with my recommendation regarding exercise and meals:
Do some quick muscle contractions a few minutes before you eat to make sure you maintain a healthy relationship with sugar, insulin and fat deposition.
Now, I’ll get to the “how” and “what to do” in a little bit; first the “why”.
I’ll start off by saying this idea is not necessarily new ; it’s fairly well-established in research to one extent on another (see my references) and the idea has permeated a few resources for the every day individual; most notably, in a book called, 4 Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss (click for link to book). In this book the idea is discussed under the premise that this technique and other explained in the book will help you look and feel better. I want to expand upon this idea and state that it can help you regulate the sugar in your body.
Why would you want to do this?
It’s scientifically-solid and well understood that after an intense work out, food calories are less likely to be stored as unwanted fat. When our muscles perform work (especially intense work and even in VERY short bouts), they use sugar. Most of the sugar used is supplied by glycogen; this is a storage unit of sugar in muscles and the liver. As such, exercise depletes muscle glycogen and therefore many of the calories you take in after contracting muscles intensely serves to replenish this glycogen so it’s there the next time your muscles contract for more than a few seconds. In fact, it appears that this process occurs with as little as 60-90 secs of muscle contractions.
The appropriate exercise carried out a few minutes before eating may encourage glycogen restoration and not favor fat deposition, this is a GOOD thing.
In addition, this “habit” seems to be a good recipe to improve insulin sensitivity and improve your blood sugar regulation long term. Exercise before eating does this by increasing a substance in your body named GLUT-4 (glucose transporter type 4). By contracting muscles before insulin is secreted after a meal, it appears we can make sure that the calories we eat are used to replenish glycogen and not be stored inside our fat cells.
What type of exercises should you do? Here is a list of things you can do but the main principle is, 90 seconds of intense muscle contractions:
- Go through each big muscle group and squeeze them as hard as you can for 10-30 seconds until you accumulate 90 seconds of muscle contractions. (the bigger the muscle group, the better
- Do 90 seconds of kettlebell swings
- Do 90 seconds of jumping jacks or jumping rope
- Do 90 seconds of squatting up and down
The list goes on; NOTE: if the activity you choose causes pain, stop and talk to your chiropractor or trainer.
So, be good to yourself; regarding food, use this formula:
- Exercise first (60-90 seconds),
- Discipline next (make the right food choices; real, unprocessed foods, eat mostly vegetables)
- Affection last (EAT )
I should also note that those of you who regularly workout should eat readily-available carbohydrates within 60-90 minutes after your workouts. This is the window of opportunity to maximally replenish your glycogen after a longer workout.
Questions? Ask away…..
- Terada S, Yokozeki T, Kawanaka K, Ogawa K, Higuchi M, Ezaki O, Tabata I.Effects of high-intensity swimming training on GLUT-4 and glucose transport activity in rat skeletal muscle.J Appl Physiol. 2001 Jun;90(6):2019-24.
- Barnard RJ, Youngren JF. Regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle. FASEB J. 1992 Nov;6(14):3238-44.
- Youngren JF, Barnard RJ.Effects of acute and chronic exercise on skeletal muscle glucose transport in aged rats.J Appl Physiol. 1995 May;78(5):1750-6.
- Richter EA, Kristiansen S, Wojtaszewski J, Daugaard JR, Asp S, Hespel P, Kiens B.Training effects on muscle glucose transport during exercise.Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;441:107-16.
- Kawanaka K, Tabata I, Katsuta S, Higuchi M. Changes in insulin-stimulated glucose transport and GLUT-4 protein in rat skeletal muscle after training. J Appl Physiol. 1997 Dec;83(6):2043-7.
- Terada S, Tabata I, Higuchi M. Effect of high-intensity intermittent swimming training on fatty acid oxidation enzyme activity in rat skeletal muscle. Jpn J Physiol. 2004 Feb;54(1):47-52.
- Fujimoto E, Machida S, Higuchi M, Tabata I.Effects of nonexhaustive bouts of high-intensity intermittent swimming training on GLUT-4 expression in rat skeletal muscle. J Physiol Sci. 2010 Mar;60(2):95-101. Epub 2009 Dec 19.
- Hiltunen JK, Qin Y.beta-oxidation – strategies for the metabolism of a wide variety of acyl-CoA esters. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Apr 12;1484(2-3):117-28.
OK, I am perpetually asked about my opinion on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). There is an ever-growing spectrum of opinions to HFCS is the root of all evil to HFCS is harmless (conveniently, this stance has been taken by the Corn Growers Association). For those patients and clinicians that know me, I am sure you know my stance; for those that don’t let me write about it here. As an evidence-based nutritionist and chiropractor who focuses on real food, not consuming too many calories and eating a large variety of locally-grown vegetables, meats and other food products…. here’s my opinion on HFCS
- No one NEEDS HFCS
- No one will be harmed by NOT consuming it
- Some people may be harmed by consuming it (even though the evidence is still in the preliminary stages)
- The consumption rates of HFCS (an other processed substances) and various liver and metabolic issues have risen together
My Conclusion: I don’t recommend anyone consume it; the research community would have to prove that it’s actually GOOD for people to consume HFCS for me to recommend it. There are just too many yummy sugars out there in nature and processed foods really shouldn’t have much of a place in our diets; come on people, it’s 2010….. nobody should be smoking and almost no one should consume processed foods!
Natural sugars in non-processed foods are going to win every time in my book. Nature put sucrose in whole foods and interestingly, research has suggested that (regarding IBS at least) consuming glucose and fructose together is better for us. Just about all of the food and nutrition evidence suggests that non-processed foods are healthier than processed. We need to eat “real” food; this kind of food does not have HFCS in it….. period. Most of my opinion is based on research, especially a recent paper from Duke this May suggesting a link between HFCS and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) AKA “fatty liver”or the multiple papers on fructose and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Glucose and fructose are absorbed and metabolized differently, that’s a physiological fact….
Suggesting or even proving that a substance is not harmful does not prove that it’s good for us. The problem with HFCS is that there IS some evidence suggesting that it’s harmful; that’s good enough for me.Yours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
This is just too good to be true! Finally, the government “for the people, by the people” has taken a step towards doing something that our health as a nation will benefit from….. Wow!
Here’s the link:
What do you think?Yours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
Here’s an interesting article about “Orthorexia”. While I do agree that we need to have a healthy relationship with HEALTHY, NUTRITIOUS foods, I fear this could lead to people getting slapped with a label just because they don’t want to put trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup in their body (which science is telling us we shouldn’t be doing anyway). What do you think?
Here’s the link: Orthorexia: Can Healthy Eating Be a Disorder?Yours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
Processed sugars, including food and drinks that contain them, harm our health more than anyone wants to admit: BP Drops when Sugary Drinks Are ReducedYours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
This is absurd! Activists call foul on KFC bucket campaign
We need some “Nutritional Reform” or “Dietary Reform” or “Food Relationship Reform”. Only then will health care measures be able to truly help us!Yours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health
There’s been some research suggesting that consuming nuts can lower cholesterol. As many of you know, I am no a big fan of demonizing cholesterol; this strategy doesn’t seem to but down cardiovascular related deaths and can be quite miserable for patients. That being said, there are situations where paying close attention to cholesterol levels is necessary. I recommend a VAP Test to look at your cholesterol fractions. There is more to cholesterol than LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides.
In fact, a recent study showed that consuming nuts helps to lower cholesterol, especially LDL-C (an LDL fraction) and especially in those with low body mass indexes. So, the take home is, natural ways to lower your cholesterol and have a healthy lipid profile is to lose weight, exercise and eat healthy fats like those found in nuts and seeds.
Reference:Yours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health