Sunday, May 18, 2014

On the sex organ that controls your life

Ok, I employed the "sex" word to lure you.

This post is not about sex.  Though, I have blogged enough about sex.  About a hermit's penis and monkey sex too.  For that matter, even about vibrators.  Hey perv, don't click on those links--continue reading instead!

So, with the pervs gone, it is now only the really interested reader and me.

Now, you, the reader, are even better informed than this pretentious blogger is and, therefore, you know really well that the brain is the real sex organ.  The down there merely carries out the instructions from the big one up there.

It is time for another full disclosure: this post is not about the brain's role in sex.  Hey, hey, come back.

It is about the brain and food. The brain and obesity.  Yes, yet another post on "Sanitas Per Escam."

When we were kids, our grandmothers always implored us to eat quickly and not to make eating a long-drawn affair.  "Eat quickly and you will be big and strong" they said and we kids would race to claim the championship, for that meal at least.  Grandmothers might have had their own reasons for encouraging this behavior.  Or, perhaps they did notice a correlation between those eating quickly tending to look healthy (which, to them, almost always meant being a tad chubby) versus those who ate slowly being, well, lean and not looking "healthy."

There is a reason for that correlation.  It takes time for the brain to analyze the data it gets from the gut and the bloodstream before it can issue the "stop eating" instructions.  Eating quickly often then means that we end up ingesting quite some quantity before the brain can shut down the intake.  Such an approach meal after meal, day after day, means that before we know it, we end up carrying a few extra pounds.  The "spare tire" as we often referred to in the old country.

Once that fat is stored, it triggers a set of biochemical processes that lead to even more unhealthy outcomes.  While this essay is not about eating quickly versus eating slowly, here is an explanation of what happens after the fat deposits accrue:
What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?
The more calories we lock away in fat tissue, the fewer there are circulating in the bloodstream to satisfy the body’s requirements. If we look at it this way, it’s a distribution problem: We have an abundance of calories, but they’re in the wrong place. As a result, the body needs to increase its intake. We get hungrier because we’re getting fatter.
We get hungrier because we are getting fatter.  Or, as the essay notes " we overeat because we’re getting fat."  And thus a vicious cycle gets established.
According to this alternative view, factors in the environment have triggered fat cells in our bodies to take in and store excessive amounts of glucose and other calorie-rich compounds. Since fewer calories are available to fuel metabolism, the brain tells the body to increase calorie intake (we feel hungry) and save energy (our metabolism slows down). Eating more solves this problem temporarily but also accelerates weight gain. Cutting calories reverses the weight gain for a short while, making us think we have control over our body weight, but predictably increases hunger and slows metabolism even more.
The essay is, therefore, a discussion on why "diets that rely on consciously reducing calories don’t usually work."
obesity treatment would more appropriately focus on diet quality rather than calorie quantity.
... Addressing the underlying biological drive to overeat may make for a far more practical and effective solution to obesity than counting calories.
Indeed; merely counting calories is pretty darn stupid!  It is all about what we eat and how we eat.  My grandmothers had it half-right by cooking healthy foods.  But, they didn't factor in the role that the brain plays in this.

My grandmothers will be very happy, I bet, that I make and eat stuff like this, though they would have wanted me to eat it quickly ;)


3 comments:

Anne in Salem said...

Have fork, will travel! Your salad looks scrumptious. Excellent brain food.

Ramesh said...

Diametrically opposite comment to Anne

@sriram - When will you stop being obsessed with food. Your situation is as bad as Tiger Woods' addiction :)

Sriram Khé said...

To chew the cud, literally and metaphorically, is a lot healthier than to go about using one's club, a la Woods, literally and metaphorically ;)

If I were Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi," it will be "no soup for you," Ramesh!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVqBzP0xdKk

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