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The sedentary (r)evolution: Have we lost our metabolic flexibility?

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  • The sedentary (r)evolution: Have we lost our metabolic flexibility?

    https://f1000research.com/articles/6-1787/v1 The sedentary (r)evolution: Have we lost our metabolic flexibility?

    by Jens Freese, Rainer Johannes Klement, Begoña Ruiz-Núñez, Sebastian Schwarz, Helmut Lötzerich


    Abstract


    During the course of evolution, up until the agricultural revolution, environmental fluctuations forced the human species to develop a flexible metabolism in order to adapt its energy needs to various climate, seasonal and vegetation conditions. Metabolic flexibility safeguarded human survival independent of food availability. In modern times, humans switched their primal lifestyle towards a constant availability of energy-dense, yet often nutrient-deficient, foods, persistent psycho-emotional stressors and a lack of exercise. As a result, humans progressively gain metabolic disorders, such as the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer´s disease, wherever the sedentary lifestyle spreads in the world. For more than 2.5 million years, our capability to store fat for times of food shortage was an outstanding survival advantage. Nowadays, the same survival strategy in a completely altered surrounding is responsible for a constant accumulation of body fat. In this article, we argue that the metabolic epidemic is largely based on a deficit in metabolic flexibility. We hypothesize that the modern energetic inflexibility, typically displayed by symptoms of neuroglycopenia, can be reversed by re-cultivating suppressed metabolic programs, which became obsolete in an affluent environment, particularly the ability to easily switch to ketone body and fat oxidation. In a simplified model, the basic metabolic programs of humans’ primal hunter-gatherer lifestyle are opposed to the current sedentary lifestyle. Those metabolic programs, which are chronically neglected in modern surroundings, are identified and conclusions for the prevention of chronic metabolic diseases are drawn.


    Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”


    Conclusions


    A return to Stone Age conditions is neither possible nor desirable. Plants are highly cultured, movement has lost its existential necessity to forage, and stress influences act no longer as acute danger signals but are subtly persistent. Paleolithic times were certainly no paradise. Survival always hanged by a threat. Modern achievements such as food preservation, mechanization, antibiotics, high-tech medicine and the virtual elimination of infant mortality have significantly increased life expectancy in the Western biosphere. Even contemporary hunter-gatherers do not reach the age of modern humans, predominantly due to much higher rates of infant mortality and serious, unhandled infections. Nevertheless, the era in which modern humans suffer from chronic diseases is extending and metabolic disorders occur much earlier. Periodic fat gain is considered physiologic, whereas persistent overweight contradicts humans’ evolutionary designed metabolic flexibility and promotes a chronic low-grade inflammation, which can be considered as the hotbed for WD. Apparently, since evolution is a slow-acting process, modern humans are not yet well adapted to a sedentary lifestyle. Approximately 99.5% of our existence, we lived as hunter-gatherers, which means being metabolically prepared for any kind of environmental condition. According to the present article, today´s sedentary lifestyle limits our primal metabolic flexibility to a stress and rest mode. If not consciously integrated in daily life in the form of periodic fasting, fasting mimicking diets, such as a ketogenic diet, or exercise programs, the starvation and foraging mode are consistently neglected. To maintain metabolic flexibility in a modern habitat, characterized by energy abundance, prolonged psychosocial stress and physical inactivity, people should retrain all described modes periodically, which secured our survival in the wild. We argue that no specific diet, exercise or anti-stress program must be followed if behavior is adjusted based on human being’s evolutionary heritage.


    "Don't sweat the small stuff and relax about the whole process"

  • #2
    So the solution is periodic fasting and move more around? Seems logic.
    Take a walk on the wild side.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ToldUzo View Post
      So the solution is periodic fasting and move more around? Seems logic.
      Hunt/Gather. Feast. Fast. Play. Sweat. Sleep.
      Last edited by lovebird; 10-10-2017, 04:00 AM.
      "Don't sweat the small stuff and relax about the whole process"

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      • #4
        So what about the Japanese, who eat lots of noodles and rice? Have they lost their metabolic flexibility? Does it matter?
        I moved to primalforums.com to escape the spam.

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        • #5
          Weekend Link Love 473 (Oct 16): A nice paper summarizing how and why modern people have lost their metabolic flexibility.
          "Don't sweat the small stuff and relax about the whole process"

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by sharperhawk View Post
            So what about the Japanese, who eat lots of noodles and rice? Have they lost their metabolic flexibility? Does it matter?
            The article doesn't actually say anything about complete avoidance of carbs...

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DawnHoff View Post
              The article doesn't actually say anything about complete avoidance of carbs...
              From the artice:
              In other words, if a human being’s brain is adapted to satisfy its energy demands by ingesting high-glycemic dense nutrients (push-principle), it forfeits the ability to allocate (pull-principle) substrates from peripheral storage organs, i.e. glucose and ketone bodies from the liver, free fatty acids (FFA) from adipocytes and lactate from skeletal muscles
              The Japanese eat lots of high-glycemic dense nutrients. Japanese are healthier than Western populations. When Japanese emigrate to the West, later generations adopt Western diets and lose the health advantage.

              Let me propose a simpler explanation than the article: accumulating excess body fat causes metabolic problems. Don't look at the metabolism for clues as to why the average person gets fat; that's putting the cart before the horse. People are eating too much energy-dense food (fat, carbs, or both), getting fatter, and THEN becoming insulin resistant, diabetic, etc. The sheer excess of food is the problem, not the glycemic load.
              I moved to primalforums.com to escape the spam.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by sharperhawk View Post

                From the artice:


                The Japanese eat lots of high-glycemic dense nutrients. Japanese are healthier than Western populations. When Japanese emigrate to the West, later generations adopt Western diets and lose the health advantage.

                Let me propose a simpler explanation than the article: accumulating excess body fat causes metabolic problems. Don't look at the metabolism for clues as to why the average person gets fat; that's putting the cart before the horse. People are eating too much energy-dense food (fat, carbs, or both), getting fatter, and THEN becoming insulin resistant, diabetic, etc. The sheer excess of food is the problem, not the glycemic load.
                Let me refrase what I said: It doesn't say that we need to be in permanent ketosis or even be perpetually low-carb - it says that weight fluctuations are natural - ie. you overeat sweet fruits in the fall and store it as fat (like the canada geese who will gorge them-selves on figs and nuts and get fatty liver - yum-yum), and then you go into ketosis in the winter and loose all of it. But as I read it - they did also talk about perpetual over-eating. And yes the Japanese culture is all about moderation - and they have heavy taboos on over-eating, and long rituals surrounding food to make you enjoy it more and eat less.

                At least that was how I read the article.

                I think there is a variable in the equation called antibiotics. I had 1-2 rounds of antibiotics a year as a child. My son (11 yo) has had 1 in his entire life, and my daughter (8 yo) has had 0 (this is less than I have had after I had them...). The reason for the difference is a conscious choice on our part as parents. One thing is that there might be gut bacteria that affect your metabolism, but I think there are also gut bacteria which will alter your pallet - make you crave the fat and starchy foods more, and like the greens less.

                At least that is my personal experience - that if I try to eat complex carbs in moderation I can't find the stop button, and after something like a week I don't feel like eating greens at all, and start finding myself making excuses for why it would be OK to eat cakes or drink a coke. But you are right that it is only after doing that for a while that I might start having unstable blood sugar and feel lethargic etc. I cannot possibly do IF if I am not also LC - I simply become to hangry. I think it is the glycemic load, and the excess, and the unhealthy gut micro-biome, combined with the sedentary lifestyle.

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                • #9
                  The article has a lot in it, and most points I find unobjectionable. However, it does try to integrate a Taubes view that carbs are uniquely fattening. It even uses the a section heading titled "Good Calories, Bad Calories," though without even a reference to the Taubes book.

                  It's more useful to think of the body as being very good at meeting its energy needs in many ways, depending on what is available. However, each macronutrient does fit into certain roles better than others. Carbs are good for immediate energy. Fat is good for energy storage. Protein is good for maintaining and building muscle. It is possible for carbs to be converted to fat, but it's an inefficient process that is going to be little used when dietary fat can be stored for close to zero cost.
                  I moved to primalforums.com to escape the spam.

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