Effective communication is key to the success of any operation, or relationship for that matter, and it’s no different in the relationship you choose to have with your body.
A breakdown in even one area of communication causes all sorts of complications and inefficiencies. Have you ever played the game where you and your friends sit in a circle and one person whispers a message to the person next to them, and this is repeated all the way around the circle.
By the time the message gets to the last person, what started off as “I want to raise hens so that I can eat fresh eggs” ends up being announced by the last person as “Eat some chicken.” Huh?! Those are 2 very different messages.
When miscommunication occurs over a period of time in the human body, especially messages related to the use of energy and nutrients, it leads to malfunctioning organs, disease, and death sooner than normal.
The Human Intranet
Hormones are chemical messengers that form an intranet-like communication system in your body. They relay messages from one organ to another in order to maintain homeostasis, or balance.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, “Smoothies and Juicing for Breakfast, Why You Shouldn’t!”, the brain and gut are the 2 major players that direct the process of ensuring your body has sufficient energy and nutrients (via eating food, or not), although many other organs are also involved.
Likewise, many hormones are involved. However, the 4 hormonal stars of the show that orchestrate how your body responds to food are:
Hopefully, by understanding the effects that these hormones have on the food you eat, and conversely the effect that the food you eat has on these hormones, you will be able to anticipate what will happen in your body if you choose to have the frappucino and stack of pancakes with syrup instead of the veggie omelet for breakfast.
And after all, that’s really my master plan, muahahahaha….to get you to eat more veggies for breakfast! (for inspiration, check out the Is Disease Hereditary™? Instagram gallery where I post my brilliantly colorful veggie breakfasts every morning.)
Anyway, on to a light-hearted and simplistic view of digestion and its hormones!
Organs involved: pancreas, adrenal glands, liver & muscles, fat….and, of course, gut and brain.
INSULIN: Secreted from the pancreas (beta cells) in response to incoming “energy”, especially carbohydrates including sugar. It’s the key hormone for keeping the amount of sugar (quick energy) in your blood balanced; too little starves your cells to death, too much poisons them.
Healthy message to liver and muscle cells = “Here comes another delivery of energy (sugar and/or carbs that break down to sugar), we only need a little bit in the blood so store the rest for later.”
Healthy message to brain = “Looks like we have enough energy supply, blood sugar is at a good level, the liver and muscle storage capacities are filling up so you can stop the intake…..hey! Enough already….stop!” (Note: this message travels a bit slowly…think dial-up modem not DSL).
GLUCAGON: Secreted from the pancreas (alpha cells) in response to intense exercise or in response to messages received from the hormone CORTISOL, usually during times of stress. GLUCAGON helps provide energy in between meals by releasing stored energy.
Healthy message to liver and muscle cells = “Energy demand is increasing and blood sugar is a bit low…release some sugar from storage to meet current demand.”
LEPTIN: Secreted from fat cells and released in proportion to the amount of fat (alternative energy source to sugar) that is stored; often called the “satiety” hormone.
Healthy message to brain = “Fat storage facilities are at recommended levels, find some food about every 4 hours and in the meantime increase your physical activity a bit.”
CORTISOL: Secreted from the adrenal glands in response to low blood sugar, stress (physical or emotional), intense or prolonged exercise, or sleep deprivation. It is also known as the “stress hormone” or the “flight or fight” hormone and it stimulates GLUCAGON to release energy (sugar) from the liver and muscles into the blood. CORTISOL levels fluctuate throughout the day (circadian rhythm) and are controlled by light-dark cycles; levels are highest in the morning just before waking.
Healthy message to liver and muscle cells = “Blood sugar is really low, energy demand is really high, we need some sugar…now please!”
Healthy message to brain = “Whoa! Looks like we need to respond quickly and intensely, this is going to require an immediate delivery of quick energy to meet this apparent big increase in demand.”
The messages, however, that occur in response to an unhealthy lifestyle (such as frequent over consumption of highly processed foods, little to no physical activity, and irregular or very little sleep) are much different.
They might go something like this…
OMG! The energy delivery for the whole day has just been dumped on us in the last 10 minutes. I don’t see any nutrients, which means we won’t have anything to support our reconstructive work later.
Looks like a huge caramel frappucino with whipped cream and pancakes with Karo corn syrup. SCRAMBLE, SCRAMBLE! Call up the reinforcements. Liver & Muscles, store as much as you can! Fat, be on the ready, the excess will be sent to you. Brain! Close the shute! Adrenals, we’re in Defcon 1, launch CORTISOL!
Oh no! Another delivery…we’re doomed!!!
FIRE! FIRE! SNAKE! WATCH OUT! SHARK! RUN LIKE HELL!! CRITICALLY LOW BLOOD SUGAR – EAT. SUGAR. NOW! WHAT’S NEXT?! BE READY! STAY AWAKE! SURVIVE!
Well, I think you get the picture.
If you continuously eat food products that are highly processed and/or high in sugar (even overconsumption of big volumes of natural whole fruit), you exhaust the natural ability as well as the nutrients that your body needs to keep you healthy, healing quickly, thinking clearly, moving briskly, and being happy.
Additionally, if you eat very few vegetables (the mother load of nutrients), your body cannot sufficiently repair worn out cells or produce the millions of molecules (including hormones!) needed to run YOU….an amazing, intricate, dynamic, and wondrous human being.
Practice Healthy Communication
Join my Veggie Brekky challenge. Eat more vegetables for breakfast and post a photo of your veggie brekky on the Is Disease Hereditary™? facebook page. Follow Is Disease Hereditary™? on Instagram for inspiration and ideas.
If cereals are engrained (sorry, heh) in your morning ritual and eating vegetables for breakfast sounds like a bizarre concept, then simply pick ONE morning each week and experiment with eating a plateful of vegetables and a bit of lean protein. Get creative; have fun with it. Challenge a friend to join you.
And remember, in addition to being loaded with colorful nutrients, vegetables are very low calorie, so eat heaps!
Check out my blog “Feed Your Gut Microbiome” to learn how microbes in your intestines also participate in your human intranet. And learn more about how chronic stress and nutrient-poor foods cause disease at “How Unhealthy Food Causes Disease.”
Hartwig D, Hartwig M. It Starts With Food. Victory Belt Publishing, 2012. Kindle file.
Sears B. The Mediterranean Zone. Zinc Ink, Penguin Random House Company, 2014. Kindle file.