Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Feast and Famine: Is that what our bodies expect?

Feast and Famine: Is that what our bodies expect? has been re-produced at my new blog Cell Your Sole.

I thought I'd already blogged about this but I just checked and I haven't. Ok, then background. I was in the OU library a couple of weeks back. I had the urged to pop down the human biology section and see what caught my eye. I know I shouldn't admit to that it's far too sad. But that's how much this stuff fascinates me.

Anyway I picked up a book named 'Human Biology and Health: An evolutionary approach' and I was hooked for the first. I can't remember every detail but basically began forming a few theories based on what I read here. I also used other references but can't for the life of me find them. Oh well. I'll just have to launch in. 

the theory I was working on is basically a way toxins can build up in the body and how they can be got rid of. With this knowledge we can adjust our lifestyles to take advantage of this. Eliminating toxins from our body should be a great way of minimising their bad effects. Much like taking out the trash. 

The way this works is because the body has certain mechanisms in place to get energy from cells that aren't needed by the body or are marked as dangerous. This mechanism is not used if you eat plenty. Thus those who eat less than others are more likely to use it and thus get rid of bad things from their body. I think I've held off putting this out there in case anyone reads this too literally. You still need to eat enough high quality food to thrive. My approach is through using intermittent fasting so I flush my body with great food regularly so I'm always healthy. Then when I think it's full of nutrients I fast for a day or so to encourage my body to break up the bad cells for food and get rid of their contents.

Ok, here I'll explain this in a little more depth. 
From human biology and health I came across a possible explanation why people who eat little could live longer.  The theory began with how toxins build up in the liver and ultimately cause it to fail. 
  • Toxins in food get absorbed in gut and sent to the liver.
  • Liver doesn't get rid of toxins. They get more concentrated.
  • Toxin build up causes problems.  These mount up. 
  • Organs start failing.
  • Then u die.
Then I came across research that showed another pathway by which our body get energy. From devouring its own cells. Apparently it's not a random act. The immune system is constantly patrolling our body through killer b and t cells. Any bad cells that can't be devoured on the spot are marked for deletion. Since we've normally lived in a periods of feast and famine you body seems to assume that during the next period of famine these cells will be lost and the body will be cleaned. 

The main problem these days in western societies is that few of us have problems getting enough to eat all year round. Thus it's entirely possible that we're all slowly building up bad pollutants and cells in our bodies and over time their effects show as all the diseases and problems that affect western society. 

Obviously that's a big claim and I can't vouch for exactly how much it all stacks up. It does make sense in a logical way though. That our bodies mark up cells for deletion is something I've heard a lot before. That they'd be the first to go if we couldn't get enough food. That makes sense too. That only recently has there been enough food for all. That's well known. That all those who reach truly exceptional ages over a hundred are all on the thinner side and seem to eat frugally in general. That seems to be the case too.  I have noticed many times that while larger people can be very healthy there seem to be less and less of them that make it to an older age. That said I'm not sure if they just get thinner as they get older. Maybe they were larger when younger but not when older. 

What also makes sense is that cells that have become cancerous would, in theory, be ejected from the body in this way reducing the likelihood that a cancer could take hold. It also implies that without this mechanism risk of all related diseases would be higher. That seems to be the case according to health statistics. 

I do wonder if our bodies are essentially well adapted for feast and famine and thus our constant feast is something we're not suited to. If that's the case then coming up with safe ways to implement a famine (I'd prefer just a simple fast of a day or two) could be useful. As long as we're aware of the risks and don't get carried away. Don't forget just living your life according to hunger. That often works for me. If I'm not hungry I don't eat. If I am I do. 

It sounds like a very simple answer to a complex problem that fits with what is currently known and explains how we could survive in the tough conditions we've faced over the years. There could easily be a lot that I haven't thought of or I could have misinterpreted things. 

Either way I look forward to seeing if this theory holds water over time. 
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