Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Body" -> Aging And Diet Part I

Okay, here's three things to track:

1. Metabolic syndrome: If we get fat, and our triglycerides go up, and our HDL (the good fat in the blood) gets lower, the medical community would call this metabolic syndrome, and you don't want it.

2. People with metabolic syndrome have much higher chance of dying of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Looks like it could also have links to arthritis and depression.

3. 21-39% of the population has this problem. And if you don't have it now, don't worry, as you age your chances of getting it goes up dramatically.

Now there is a very simple way of lowering our chance of metabolic syndrome: Lose weight.

Ahhh, but here is the rub, because losing weight and keeping weight off is just hard, hard, hard. Why is it hard? Perhaps, you have heard of the set point theory. I am very convinced that the set point exists, and is a massive issue. The reason that you and I are fatter than we'd like to be is because of our brain. Our brain drives our body to eat, or more accurately our hypothalamus region of our brain controls our desire to eat.

It works like the following:

1. You hypothalamus locks in a given "fat weight" or set point.
2. You lose fat.
3. You hypothalamus says "oh, I lost fat, so I'll turn on the hunger."
4. You gain back all that you lost because you were hungry all the time and ate.

A couple of time, such in 1995, the researchers thought they had found the signaling pathways for this. One such pathway is Leptin. Fat (or white adipose tissue or WAT) produces Leptin. Thus if you lose fat, your Leptin goes down and the hypothalamus knows you've lost weight so "turn on the appetite."

The inital hope was that by injecting Leptin, we could fool the hypothalamus. However, we are not so lucky, because there are other signaling pathways that tell the brain how much fat you have and just Leptin doesn't cause people to lose weight. Just Google terms like Ghrelin, cholecystokinin (CCK), pancreatic polypeptide, peptide YY, insulin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin and (c)AMP. All of the above contribute to how we feel hunger. However, the impact of each one vary by age and fat level.

Man, we just don't know what going on. We don't even know if we should be focusing on the gut, brain, or the fat.

We're fat and getting fatter, and we don't know how to stop. And every week, a new fad diet comes out. My favorite one is focusing on the glycemic index. It sounded sort of good, but the research doesn't look like it supports the idea. High glycemia foods do not make you fatter.

However, all most all popular magazines and even magazines for your medical doctor will insist on low glycemic being the way to lose weight. I predict it'll be five years before the general medical field catches up. Even Doctors hang to their myths because they don't have time to stay on top of the research.

So is all lost? The answer is no, but this will have to wait for a later post.

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