A new mice-with-an-engineered-human-genetic-deficiency study is out that promises to shed light on why humans are so darn diabetic and obese – and the cause is an evolutionary “mistake.” A deficiency that apparently slipped through the cracks without somehow leading to our species’ demise. You see, we’re missing a genetic component shared by pretty much all other mammals besides ourselves. While mammals generally produce two types of sialic acids, N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), thanks to a mutation in a gene called CMAH, humans produce only the former. We don’t have the enzyme necessary to convert Neu5Ac to Neu5Gc. Why is this important? Sialic acids act as “contact points” for our cells to interact with the environment and other cells, and the latest research indicates that mice with the humanesque CMAH mutation are more prone to diabetes, especially when they’re overweight.
Calorie restriction is all the rage in anti-aging circles. A few mice and worm studies seem to show that drastic reductions in food intake over a long period of time have the effect of prolonging life – although I’m not sure I’d call it living. For one, these animals are actually restricted. There’s no ad libitum access to food. They’d prefer to eat more, but are prevented from doing so. I guarantee you they’re unhappy and, if they could put (cartoonish high-pitched) voice to physiological state, would say they’re starving.
Diabetes is that rare brand of nasty disease that fails to strike real, visceral fear. It doesn’t carry the weight of a cancer or an AIDS or a heart disease. It’s something you get, like a gut, a long list of prescriptions, and a walker, as you grow older. People just live with it – millions upon millions across the world – and are rarely shocked or surprised to hear that others have it. Their ranks are ever growing, with, if a recent study on the effects of gestational diabetes on the fetus has anything to say about it, much of the conscription taking place in the womb. It’s called intergenerational diabetes, and it means that pregnant women with diabetes or even just poor maternal glucose tolerance could be turning their little ones into future type 2 diabetics. This is fetal diabetes without a genetic component; this is epigenetic owing to environmental (womb) input. The authors speculate that pregnant mothers with type 2 diabetes (diet and lifestyle induced, remember) could engender irreversible alterations to both the unborn kid’s hypothalamic neural network (where leptin, the satiety hormone, does its thing), pancreatic function, and muscle and liver insulin signaling. The idea is that they pop out with type 2 diabetes right off the bat. It’s diet-induced, sure, but not how we normally think of it. No baby bottle full of Coke required here. Of course, I still see this sort of condition as being reversible with diet and exercise…it’s just that it will require a LOT more adherence and starting at an earlier age. Moving on…
The following are both actual and paraphrased versions of questions I regularly get from readers:
If grains are so bad how can you explain the leanness and good health of Clarence Bass?
How do the Kitavans or Okinawans maintain good body composition despite a higher carb diet?
Mark, how were you able to maintain a low body fat percentage despite eating a half gallon of ice cream a day?
Why can my brother eat anything he wants and never gain a pound?
All of these examples seem contrary to what we say in the Primal Blueprint. How can they be explained? Are they anomalies? Tails of the bell curve? Is something else at work?
Stressed, anyone? Whether it’s the holidays, the weather, or just the same old tensions, you know that stress takes its toll on your well-being. Sure, you’d love to motivate yourself to take up a meditation practice, yoga class or some other endeavor that promises an effective retreat from the weight of daily pressures. (A vacation from your problems, anyone?) How about taking a deep breath? No, seriously. Experts are increasingly lining up to recommend simple breathing exercises for both immediate stress relief benefits – as well as deep, lasting physiological advantages.
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