You are 65% water. You are, on average, 12% fat and 20% protein. There are ten times more bacteria in and on your body than there are human cells in and on your body. Your gut is wired to the nervous system with 100 million neurons. This ‘second brain’ that is not in your head affects not only your digestion, it effects your mood. Most of the traffic in these nerves originates at the bowel end. 100 million neurons is a high-bandwidth information superhighway.
The human life is a process. Eating and drinking are also processes. There is a lot that goes on, and to try to assign causes for a thing like overweight or underweight to one component of one process is the height of folly. If I look at you and you are obese, I cannot begin to understand why you are that way. You live in your body 24 hours a day and you don’t understand it either. I could assign blame for your poor physical condition in a lot of different ways and have an equal chance that any one would be right, or that every one has it’s part in turn. Here are a few guesses:
- You are overweight because you eat carbohydrates instead of fats. You are taking the advice of the US government and the medical and nutritional high priesthood and eating ‘healthy’ according to the food pyramid. You are still gaining weight. I could, rightly, say that you are gaining weight because you are eating the wrong food.
- You are overweight because you eat too many calories. For those that think the body is a simple machine, they will tell you that you are overweight because you cannot control your appetites, or that you are not active enough. These people think you are just an energy balance.
- You are overweight because your metabolism is low. This idea comes from the observation that some people can seem to eat what they want without becoming obese and some people can seem to turn anything they eat into fat. It is true, so it might be this way for you.
- You are overweight because you are an emotional eater. These people eat for pleasure, and any time they are stressed they will go for food for comfort. This idea brings the ‘second brain’ into play…it must be possible that something in the gut is communicating the need for certain foods.
- You are overweight/underweight because you are addicted to fattening foods. Once again the emotions play a role in food choices, in this case eating is compulsive, and shameful–this eater hides his/her eating, or starving, or binging and purging.
- Your overweight is genetic. Your family is all heavy so it makes sense that you are going to be heavy–this theory would not account for the explosion of overweight in the US, now 2/3 of us are overweight. It is still a popular rationale for why you are overweight.
- You are overweight because you are poor. Poverty seems to be related to weight, with the poor not being undernourished and thin, but undernourished and fat. The theory here is that poor people can only afford the cheapest of foods, which are found in fast food and convenience stores. If you want to be thin, get a better job/life…(silly advice, right?)
We go online, each of us, and we look for things that we can do to relieve our lives of the burden of being fat. Most of the advice is ‘low calorie, more exercise.’ This diet and exercise life fails to correct the issue for 90% of everyone that tries to do it long-term. Using more calories makes you hungry. Being hungry all the time is no way to live, thus the yo-yo of weight loss. Yes, you can starve your way to a lower pant size, but when you return to living without hunger you will gain weight again. You are correcting nothing in this way.
Some experts advise that you just eat meats and fats (like me). This does not work for some people, at least not right away. These folks still can’t seem to get the energy they need, or to utilize stored energy, from their fats. For these people there is growing evidence that they do not have the right microbes in their bowel to make the body produce hormones needed to digest fats. The body is a system and even the brightest genius biologist does not fully understand the complex interlocking systems that make up a single human machine. This area of science is not fully studied and when it is it may produce ‘pills’ that will, possibly, contain living microbes to correct the abnormal bowel micro biome.
There are people who cannot give up sweets and carbohydrates even when convinced that it is for their long-term health. There are emotional and energetic components to this, because the human being is not just a machine that needs fuel. If I put one type of fuel in, but the mind wants another type, the mind must be reckoned with. As a system we cannot succeed if we fail to account for a major player. We also must account for the role played by the ‘second brain’ of neurons, 100 million strong, that are sending their commands and requests to the big brain up top. It is now thought that some microbes use these nerves in the gut to convey cravings to the brain. It may be possible that a microbe in your gut is begging for that next drink of Coke. It may be hard to quit as long as that type of microbe survives.
I spend my time writing and alternating between topics of nutrients (carbohydrate versus fats), mental health, micro biome (the bacteria that contribute to our digestive system), fermentation of foods, and “how-to” articles. Each article focuses on one area, usually. It is actually difficult to write a short article that will encompass all of the different things that you should try to lose weight. Here is my short list.
- Quit eating carbohydrates. By this I am not asking you to take a religious vow to quit, on pain of Hell. I am saying don’t try to eat them on purpose. I eat dessert. I eat potato chips occasionally. If carbohydrate is not a major contributor to your daily diet you will prosper.
- Quit eating processed food. Most processed food is dead. Real food contains beneficial bacteria to bring reinforcements to your bowel. Artificial foods contain chemicals to kill bacteria so that they last forever on the shelf. Not good for your guts.
- Come to terms with your relationship to food. If you are a compulsive eater my advice will not help you. Just knowing how it’s done is different than being able to do it. If you are a compulsive eater you are going to need help that you probably won’t find on the internet.
- If you are poor I can tell you that eating right is less expensive than eating fast, convenient food. It takes less food, if its meat and fat, to fill your family up. They get full fast and the don’t get hungry again for a long while. Being healthy is obviously a very much less expensive thing than deductibles and co-pays on US healthcare, not to mention more fun.
- The best source of probiotics is from eating real food. Cabbage contains the bacteria that will create vitamin C right in your guts. Fermented foods can give you not only naturally created vitamins, it also gives you the germs that make it (if you eat them raw)
- Don’t worry about overeating. You cannot eat too much meat, it is not fattening. If you aren’t eating carbs you can never overeat fats. If you are hungry, eat a sausage. If your kids are hungry feed them–just not carbs.
Well, I have managed to give shorthand for just about every health idea I have. You are a total system, and inside of you there are many interlocking parts. You will never know how it feels to be healthy and not on sugar until you manage to get off of it for a few weeks. Once you re-learn how normal feels you will be able to tell how much bad food you can eat before you start feeling bad. You will then be able to tell what kind of emotional toll there is for eating wrong. Right now you always feel bad but you just do not realize it yet.