Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hormonal Downfall of our Diet

The low-fat, high-carbohydrate, low-protein diets of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s have had wide-sweeping implications on our health. These diets have triggered high frequencies of degenerative diseases, unmanageable levels of stress and excessive weight gain. No attention was paid to the importance of hormonal balance or the nature of a functional hormonal axis.

Many nutritional researchers feel that accelerated aging, beginning from 35 to 50 years of age, is mainly due to hormonal dysfunction or hormonal miscommunication.The following four factors are the primary markers of accelerated aging—all of which stem from poor food choices and excess stress.

Excess Blood Glucose Levels: Excess glucose, from eating refined or processed food that is high in calories and sweeteners, can combine with proteins in our body to make advanced glycated end products (AGEs). AGEs represent a serious problem for our body. They are very sticky and quickly adhere to places they shouldn’t, causing accelerated biological damage to all cells. They accelerate the occlusion (opposing walls stick together) of blood vessels and capillaries that nurture the heart, eyes, kidneys and brain. This means we become more prone to heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.

Excess sugar consumption (natural or synthetic sweeteners), from any source, elevates blood glucose levels. Part of the hypothalamus is responsible for sensing the amount of glucose in the blood and controlling the pancreas hormonally, to stabilize blood sugar levels using the hormone insulin. Chronic sugar consumption leads to constantly high blood glucose levels that wash over the hypothalamus in a glucose swell that causes glucose-induced toxicity in the hypothalamus that jams its switches on “off.” In this situation, insulin cannot do its job well and we become insulin resistant, a primary marker of aging.

Excess Insulin Levels: Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to incoming calories (primarily processed carbohydrates). The fewer the calories consumed, the less insulin is secreted. As insulin levels go down, we lose excess fat and support the synthesis of hormones such as testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone and hormonal communication. High levels of insulin inhibit the release of the important brain-feeding hormone called glucagon. The stress hormone cortisol acts as a back-up system to raise blood sugar levels for the brain. Cortisol is able to make more glucose by cannibalizing existing body structures such as muscle. The problem is that even though cortisol may be trying to help the brain by raising blood sugar levels, elevated cortisol levels destroy the hippocampus portion of the hypothalamus.

Excess Cortisol Levels: Too little stress in our body is just as bad as too much stress. To be alert, keen and observant, we require small amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s molecular mediator of stress, for short periods of time.

Cortisol output is governed by circadian rhythms. Levels are highest in the bloodstream between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and then gradually decrease throughout the evening.

Excess cortisol has the capacity to kill at the cellular level. The thymus gland, the central control station of our immune system, is very sensitive to excess cortisol.
This is why the thymus shrinks with age and we experience a loss of immune function.
Excess cortisol also reduces brain longevity by directly destroying cortisolsensitive neurons in our body’s “control center”—the hypothalamus. Engaging in low levels of prolonged moderate exercise (like walking) and simply learning to relax can dramatically help us to lower cortisol levels.

Excess Free Radicals:
The mitochondria are the power generators, or furnaces,
in each of our 100 trillion cells. A well-conditioned muscle cell may contain 1,000 to 3,000 mitochondria. They burn glucose to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), or aerobic cellular energy. The constant biochemical functioning of mitochondria gives off a “smoke” called a free radical. These free radicals are destructive to our cell walls and cellular processes.

In short, the fewer free radicals you make, the longer you can live. Research shows that 90 percent of all free radicals are formed from the vast amounts of food we consume. Our body must do something with all of those incoming calories, after all. The bottom line is, the less food we take in and the fewer the calories we consume, the less energy is required to process incoming food, and hence, the fewer free radicals we make. The fewer the free radicals we make, the longer we live! In other words, unrestricted eating is the best way to accelerate aging.

The goal, therefore, is to eat enough food—good food—to maintain optimum mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, but never too many calories. Consider, for example, that a commercial cinnamon bun contains 670 calories and virtually no essential nutrients, while a power protein shake has only 130 calories with 35 grams of protein and adequate amounts of immunesupportive nutrients. Share Health|Fitness
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