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Thread: Theory of Obesity/Metabolic Syndrome and its treatment page

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    SJW2's Avatar
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    Theory of Obesity/Metabolic Syndrome and its treatment

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    So I have been obsessively reading lately. This post may be too much for some, but at least it helps me work out my thoughts and hopefully it is stimulating for others.

    Obviously most people here think carbohydrates play a crucial role in metabolic syndrome. However, there are varied opinions on the causes of metabolic syndrome and the best way to deal with it. Stephan Guyenet has leveled a pretty tough criticism of the CIHO (carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis of obesity) and makes some relatively convincing arguments for Food Reward Theory and the problem of the hyper-palatability of modern food. Others, I think like Dr. Kurt Harris (Archevore blog) argue that the neoloithic agents of disease may have a role in hurting our metabolisms. He used to argue more for low-carbs and was a believer in the CIHO, but has been someone convinced by Stephan and also his own self-experiments. Robert Lustig focuses on the causal role of fructose rather convincingly. People in the primal/paleo community are becoming a little more pro-some-carbs due to athletic demands for example. But also, looking at the Kitavans for example (who ate a traditional high carb diet) but had no symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Taubes indicts most all carbs, though says refined carbs are probably particularly bad. He also lays some heavy arguments against the calories in-calories out theory. A lot of people here have probably enthusiastically read him and been influenced him. However, many within the community now emphasize that calories count despite Taubes' theory. So if you are still with me - here is my theory.

    Calories in and calories out are each variables that matter of course. We can affect their #s through our independent actions. However, we can be acted upon by biological mechanisms that heavily push us to ingest more or less calories or expend more or less calories. These mechanisms act via hormones - that we can manipulate to some extent towards our ends. So while Taubes is right that there are major problems with the standard interpretation and application of the first law of thermodynamics, he does not go far enough to acknowledge that, while hormones can affect our calorie intake for example and that the two sides of the equation are not in fact independent variables, we can affect our weight by limiting our calories - even if that is an oversimplification and does not address many other important factors. Lyle McDonald has a good article on his site about how the 1st law of thermodynamics holds very true, but that many factors don't usually get accounted for in calculations (digestive issues, the fact that as you lose weight, your BMR decreases, and a host of other nitty gritty issues).

    I currently believe that fructose IS the biggest CAUSE of metabolic syndrome. See Lustig's bitter truth youtube video. I also believe that Food Reward and the hyperpalatibility of modern food plays a key role through the addiction of fructose, removal of fiber, addition of salt and other factors. This causes us to overeat which is a problem in itself, depending on the foods included will probably lead to excessive insulin stimulation, and if it includes fructose, further exacerbates the damage and insulin resistance caused by excessive fructose consumption. Along with an inactive lifestyle and probably some other things, we become more or less insulin resistant. This causes us to become leptin resistant. As a result, we are not able to turn our hunger off, and continue to overeat - even more than otherwise because the food is hyperpalatible - causing the problem to spiral out of control.

    So low-carb diets work, IMO, not because carbohydrates were the problem PER SE, but for one because many of our metabolisms are so damaged through other mechanisms, that we MUST limit carbohydrates as a therapeutic action. In a normal undamanged metabolism, limitation of natural carbohydrates would never lead to metabolic syndrome. Our strict focus on carbohydrates is the price some of us must pay. As Mark says, it is hard to eat enough fruits and vegetables to cause a problem. But for some us, we have to pay pretty close attention. Secondly, they work through increasing satiation, thus limiting actual caloric intake. So the first reason relates to insulin levels, the second to caloric intake and satiation. As we lose weight, ingest less fructose, and move around more, we improve insulin sensitivity and correct SOMEWHAT the problems of our damaged metabolisms. We also maintain a lower caloric level. And furthermore, that lower caloric intake is SUSTAINABLE due to its satiating effects and nutritional density.

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    You've got a good handle on all of it. All of the people with theories you've mentioned have one thing in common--they are trying to a) Sell Something and b) Lay out a one-size-fits-all approach to weight management.

    Fat loss is a huge industry. Trouble is, everyone's different. What is true for a 20 year old obese man is not true for a 52 year old post-menopausal woman with Hashimoto's, but they both want the same thing: fat loss.

    I have spent several years reading the same people you talk about. Just when I think I have it nailed, someone talks about a new novel approach to weight management.

    Fixing someone who's spent a lifetime eating SAD is different than laying out a healthy eating plan for a young person. Also, as you have alluded to, there's way more to the equation that what you are eating: stress, sleep, toxins, hormones, circadian light cycles, and so on all play a role.

    Bottom line, unless you are wanting to fix the world and/or write a book, you can only worry about yourself. Use all that you read to develop a plan you can live by for the rest of your life.

    Great post!

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    for me, personally, it's wheat and not fructose that messed me up badly
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    yeah you are

    I mean there's so many ants in my eyes! And there are so many TVs, microwaves, radios... I think, I can't, I'm not 100% sure what we have here in stock.. I don't know because I can't see anything! Our prices, I hope, aren't too low!

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    Wheat here too...
    Never underestimate the power of gluten and it's negative effect on peoples lives.
    Most of them don't even know it.

    Wheat/gluten = serious autoimmune disease for me.
    This is something I wish I had known 15 years ago... but back then my disease was random and not even connected to an autoimmune problem at all. It took a second autoimmune disease to drive me to Primal/Paleo and away from ALL grains/gluten and towards the journey to recovery.

    That said... I don't participate in HFCS either... all man made processed junk is out the door.
    But I'm not afraid of a piece of fruit!
    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche
    And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.


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    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Wheat here too...
    Never underestimate the power of gluten and it's negative effect on peoples lives.
    Most of them don't even know it.

    Wheat/gluten = serious autoimmune disease for me.
    This is something I wish I had known 15 years ago... but back then my disease was random and not even connected to an autoimmune problem at all. It took a second autoimmune disease to drive me to Primal/Paleo and away from ALL grains/gluten and towards the journey to recovery.

    That said... I don't participate in HFCS either... all man made processed junk is out the door.
    But I'm not afraid of a piece of fruit!
    Well I definitely think wheat is a part of the picture. I'm not sure it is big of a contributor to metabolic syndrome, but certainly has its detrimental effects, and I agree with Mark that there is no reason to consume it. And if it is a contributor, which it may very well be, that falls in line with Kurt Harris' argument that the neolithic agents of disease (NADs) have a big part to play in obesity - and gluten would definitely play into that.

    As far as the fruit issue. Fruit is not the issue so much. It comes with fiber. It is also hard to consume enough to cause a problem. As with carbohydrates in nature, there may not be an amount one could reasonably consume to cause any sort of health problem. However, once one's metabolism becomes deranged, carbohydrate consumption can contribute/exacerbate/help maintain the problem, which is why people find so much success reducing carbs, and some need to reduce them more than others to see benefits. It's the same with fruits. I think I do well limiting my fruit intake. Others may not need to do the same. I think it probably depends on how damaged one's metabolism is. Fruit intake certainly did not CAUSE any of our modern problems, IMO.

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    I agree with otzi here. There are lots of reasons that people are obese -- and so it's difficult to say that it's this, that, or the other.

    What I believe, personally, is that if more people just ate real food in healthy quantities and got good movement, then they would be a lot closer to a healthy, natural state. From there, they may need to tinker based on special requirements -- IBS, hashimotos, age/sex/hormones, etc.

    Here, I think that the largest two factors in why people are pudgy is because of a heavy use of pastry/breads (surprisingly so) and wine. Most of my wine-drinking friends drink 1/2 to 1 bottle of wine *per day*. I find that shocking, because they generally eat a normal, healthy diet (calories around 1800-2000), but then add an additional 400-800 calories per day in wine. It truly is overconsumption.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodorchid View Post
    for me, personally, it's wheat and not fructose that messed me up badly
    Well there are different ways to get "messed up badly". In what ways were you messed up and why do you think it is wheat? You very well may be right, but I'm curious.

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    While you're reading/researching you should consider reading Dr Richard Johnson's book "The Fat Switch." I see Johnson's work as building upon Dr Lustig's. What Johnson now believes is that the terminology "metabolic syndrome" should actually be called "the fat storage mechanism."

    From Lustig's Sugar The Bitter Truth you know fructose increases uric acid. What Johnson's lab believes (and it's submitted to peer review) is that uric acid's affect on mitochondria's ability to make ATP sets fat storage in motion. Certain foods cause more uric acid production then others. Fructose is one of those foods. Krill/shrimp being high purine foods also drives uric acid.

    So what's going on? According to Johnson's theory animals are eating seasonal foods that set them up to store fat for coming lean months. For humans and other animals fructose is the main trigger. For humpback whales it's krill....but it's this intracellular uric acid that's responsible in all animals to trigger fat storage, and that includes fatty liver.


    The problem for us humans, however, is that we are now eating fructose year round. In addition to that we eat wheat. As it turns out, wheat is a major source of "Fructans" in the diet. Just like there's polymers of glucose called glycogen, plants can produce polymers of fructose called fructan. In his book, The Fat Switch, Johnson devotes a chapter to wheat titled "The Pillsbury Doughboy Syndrome."

    Here's an interview with Dr Johnson on Dr Mercoa talking about his research The Fat Switch Book | Weight Control Guide - Mercola.com
    Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJW2 View Post
    Well there are different ways to get "messed up badly". In what ways were you messed up and why do you think it is wheat? You very well may be right, but I'm curious.
    i have pcos, and because i grew up eating wheat, and because when i have wheat products now it causes some of my uglier pcos symptoms to rear up
    beautiful
    yeah you are

    I mean there's so many ants in my eyes! And there are so many TVs, microwaves, radios... I think, I can't, I'm not 100% sure what we have here in stock.. I don't know because I can't see anything! Our prices, I hope, aren't too low!

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    IMO theories of metabolic syndrome and obesity all conclude with ....it is multifaceted and highly complex. The treatment however is fairly simple for most.

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