From skwigg's journal:
I'm reading a great book, "10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness" by Alanna Collen. Anybody read it?
I bought it ages ago and finally remembered it. It has those real world examples and medical mystery stories that make the science exciting to read. There is a significant connection between gut microbes and mental health, which is fascinating. Specifically, they talk about personality changes, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and autism in connection with changes to gut bacteria. Then there's the weight factor.
There's a big difference between the gut microbes found between lean and obese individuals. I'd learned that in other books but this one had interesting thoughts and examples. It talks about the futility of standard calories in / calories out math. Your particular community of microbes plays a big role in determining how many calories you absorb from what you eat. It's not as simple as what it says on a nutrition label. Two people eating the same portion of the same food will absorb a different amount of energy from it. It's also what your body chooses to do with that energy, whether it burns it off immediately or stores it away.
Talking about the 3,500 calories = 1 pound theory:
"Even in some of the earliest studies of weight gain, the numbers didn't add up. In one experiment, researchers fed twelve pairs of identical twin men an excess of 1,000 calories per day, six days a week for 100 days. In total, each man ate 84,000 calories more than their bodies needed. According to theory, this should have led to to a weight gain of 24 lb in every man. In reality, it was not that straightforward. For starters, even the average amount the men gained was far less than math dictates that it should have been, at 18 lb. But the individual gains betray the real failings of applying a mathematical rule to weight gain or loss. The man who gained the least manged only 9 lb - just over a third of the predicted amount. And the twin who gained the most put on 29 lb - even more than expected. These values aren't '24 lb more or less,' they are so far wide of the mark that using it even as a guide is purposeless."
That sums up my experience with calorie counting - purposeless. LOL I was always many pounds and a bucket of sanity away from what my calculations suggested should have been happening. I know others have better luck.
The fact that nearly all the men gained less than predicted suggests that the body resists sudden weight gain the same way it resists sudden weight loss. In its efforts to protect us, it wants to stay the same or move slowly, nothing shocking or dangerous.
The book says it's true that energy in must equal energy out for weight to remain stable. But mechanisms that go way beyond how much we eat and how much we move are responsible for regulating both the calories we absorb, and even more so the calories we either expend or store.
What fascinates me is that if I let my body be in charge, telling me when it's hungry and when it's not, my weight settles in a good place and stays there, without me trying to closely manage days or meals. When I was tracking and following arbitrary rules, I was convinced that VERY BAD things would happen if I stopped. I was certain that I would spiral out of control and gain a million pounds, but my body actually does a much better job than I was doing. I don't track anything but I know if I'm hungry. I know if I like my food. I know if I'm totally satisfied or if I want more. That seems to be enough, which is mind boggling after thirty-ish years of unnecessary scheming and manipulation.
Sounds really good. I'm pretty obsessed with the gut and microbiome right now, and how it communicates with the brain, acts as a second nervous system, its role in our immune system, etc. Your quote is so interesting to me and definitely belies the whole "cals in, cals out" thing, perhaps even moreso than the hormonal theories of Dr. Fung. I think this is part of why I no longer buy into ANY system or person who claims to have the answers, because truly our brains, while magnificent, probably can't come close to grasping the complexity of the situation.
I agree about the complexity, and about being suspicious of anyone who says obesity and weight struggles are caused or cured by one simple thing. There was a quote in the book, "Obesity isn't rocket science. It's much more complicated."
There are so many interesting tidbits that jumped out at me from the book. I can't cover them all without writing a novel. The warblers were fascinating. These little birds fly thousands of miles from Europe to Africa every year. Before the journey, they all put on a huge amount of weight in a short time, much more than their intake suggests they would gain. They'll be flying over open water in the Mediterranean with scarce food sources and a huge energy output. Once they arrive in Africa, they quickly lose all the extra weight again. The boggling thing is that captive warblers who don't fly anywhere, gain the same weight at the same time with no changes in diet, and then they lose it all again without flying thousands of miles. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!
Another one was a discussion about how microbes can change the personality of the host. For example, rabid dogs become aggressive and bite other dogs, spreading the disease. Rats infected with Toxoplasma lose their fear of bright light and open spaces and become attracted to cat urine. They seek out their main predator to continue their life cycle when the rat is killed and eaten.
One human example of personality change is that of autism. There was a case study of a toddler with an ear infection who was given repeated mega doses of antibiotics. He was a normal healthy boy before. Afterward, he became withdrawn, stopped talking or making eye contact, and started screaming all day and walking on his toes. His mother knew he was fine before and that something had changed with the antibiotics. Through her painstaking research, she realized that the antibiotics may have allowed a tetanus infection to take hold, and that it was affecting his brain instead of his muscles. She went through like 37 doctors before finding one who agreed with her and was willing to test and treat. He confirmed that the antibodies for tetanus were higher than they'd ever seen. When they treated for that infection with a different round of antibiotics, the kid's personality shifted back to normal, temporarily. The results weren't lasting though. I guess there have been other human trials with similar results, suggesting a connection between autism and gut microbes and opening up a whole new area of research.
Another thing I found fascinating is gastric bypass surgery. The assumption was that it works because it gives people a stomach the size of an egg to stop them from overeating. But there might be more to it than that. Within weeks of bypass surgery, the gut microbes stop looking like those of an obese person and start looking like those of a lean person. Again, what the what?
Maybe in the future, we will be able to change an unhealthy microbiome to a healthier one without surgically scrambling people's guts. Dietary changes, supplements, fecal transplants, who knows. I'll keep reading and get back to you.
I'm drinking my gingerberry kombucha right now. Gut bugs like those. I'm in this goofy state where I want to make friends with my gut bacteria. If they're healthy and happy, so am I. OR, it's possible that I'm their puppet and they're only using me to obtain fiber and fermented foods. I guess as long as I don't become fixated on bright lights and cat urine. LOL