Thursday, June 1, 2017

Food and gut

A week ago I wrote about Susan Peirce Thompson's book, web site, program and boot camp, all aimed at weight loss.  Her stuff goes by the name "Bright Line Eating".  Her two basic rules are nothing with added sugar and no flour, wheat or rice or any other kind.  We have looked at "Wheat Belly" but the idea of singling out flour itself as a problem never made much sense to me.  However, Thompson makes plenty of sense and has evidently helped a lot of people.  I don't have too much weight to lose and I have not even found much on the recommended body mass index for those over 70.  But I am still interested in the scientific and the social aspects of excess weight and healthy eating.


Thompson gives the basic explanation of flour's special importance by comparing it to a block of ice and ice chips.  Put a block of ice in the sun and it takes a while to melt.  Throw handfuls of ice chips in the sun and they melt quite quickly.  We still basically think the overweight = overfat = too much energy ingested and stored.


I have been following Thompson's basic rules for a week now and I have lost two or three pounds, depending on what I take to be my weight at the beginning and now.  We have a good scale and it seems quite accurate but I know that humidity, chance and a day's menu can all affect one's weight.  


While eating more nuts and drinking more 1% fat milk, I have been going through the "10% Human" book by Alanna Collen, I wrote about two days ago.  It is mind boggling and the more so the more I read.  The really surprising parts, so far, related to behavior.  A given bacterium can infect rats and cause them to seek out cat urine.  That is not a healthy activity for the rats who tend to meet the cats and die.  The cats eat them, and the bacterium gets to go through another cycle of life.  


How can bacteria change rat behavior?  By secreting chemicals that affect the rat's brain and thereby its behavior.  Scientists over the last 15 years have been uncovering all sorts of evidence that the things that live in our gut, on our skin, in our mouths and elsewhere have much greater effect on us that we ever suspected.  At this point, I don't have any great answers but I can say that microbes are going to feature more and more in our thinking about both human health and human behavior.  

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