How can you build solid overall health? Feeling strong, fighting off colds and cancer, and fitting comfortably into your jeans? Fix your metabolism.
Metabolism isn't just how quickly we burn off food. It's all the chemical reactions keeping your body alive. The science is still being uncovered because so many complex parts interact. But one piece is so basic to our lives and health, it's worth paying extra attention. Energy.
That's right - we're talking about food. Specifically, a particular type of sugar - glucose. Our bodies use glucose as the most basic chemical for powering up. It's like 5V electricity in a computer or 89 octane in your tank.
Lightning in our blood
Think of glucose like electricity and our bodies as PCs. Computers need electricity, but power spikes can easily fry the circuitry. Same deal for glucose - a reactive molecule that damages cells when there's too much.
Sugar surge protection
We're born with many different ways to keep our glucose levels constant because we fall apart otherwise. No other body chemical is controlled by so many systems. You can read up on some mechanisms in a good bio textbook:
- The pancreas pumps out insulin, telling your muscles and fat cells to sop up glucose
- The liver stores up a form of glucose and converts fat into glucose when energy runs low
- The kidneys push out extra glucose in urine when conditions are extreme
- Our cells step down the energy from glucose through a chain of conversions, pulling a little energy at each step.
Other systems also smooth the spikes and dips. They're subtle enough to ignore, but they really matter.
- We get hungry when glucose levels dip - especially for sugary snacks
- We grow tired and stop moving when we dip into our energy stores
- We sleep to build up long periods without any food (spikes) or exercise (dips)
The most important factor? Until just recently, humans almost never had a chance to eat sweets.
Cage the lightning
Glucose doesn't have to be trouble. There's something even better than biochemical defenses for fighting the spikes - our brainpower. Logic can provide unintuitive answers for maximizing our health. I'll explain the thinking behind surprising ideas to harness your natural defenses in future articles. For now, here's a taste of a few:
- A good diet isn't painful - you can enjoy all the food you want if you fill up with fat instead of carbs
- Timing matters - big meals are better than grazing and a late supper is extra healthy
- Occasional desserts are fine - after the rest of your meal
- Spikes fight spikes - high intensity workouts and weights keep glucose in the cage
- Clothing and posture matter - they affect your ability to control blood sugar
The payoff from constant power
Steady blood sugar doesn't mean less power. It's pulling the right amount of energy when you need it.
Blood sugar levels are at the foundation of good health. As we move deeper into the details, I'll point to the studies that show glucose branching into many areas of human health. Sugar been linked to everything from extra fat and wrinkly skin to infections, eyesight, cancer, heart disease, and brain problems like Alzheimer's.
Fixing your metabolism doesn't need to be painful - and the results will add healthy years to your life.