My previous post looked at loss of metabolic flexibility, created by poor food choices and not enough physical activity, and the potential influence this has on female hormones.
I finished off by saying that there was a final really interesting reason why this was the case…
I’d like to share that with you today.
So we were talking about metabolic flexibility and how a diet high in refined and processed carbohydrates and low in physical exercise can create an environment which disrupts female hormones.
I wanted to talk about something today which is your immune system or more specifically, if you read the title of this post – the selfish immune system.
Why is it selfish?
The body has 3 major systems which compete for energy.
- The muscles
- The brain
- The immune system
As you can imagine, when one system is dominating, it pulls energy away from the others.
The immune system, when it is inactive, does not cost the body a lot of energy. However, get a virus or infection and how do you feel?
- Foggy brain
- Very tired
- Aching muscles
- Completely out of breath when you walk up even a small flight of stairs
- Low in mood or even depression
- Lacking in motivation
This is a classic example of the immune system pulling energy away from the brain and metabolic system.
Our survival relies on the immune system to create a large response to resolve a threat from a foreign invader.
Although we know that insulin resistance can develop across time from poor diet, stress and lifestyle choices, many do not know that we can become insulin resistant in any moment should we be exposed to an infection.
The evolutionary benefit of this is to prioritise all energetic resources to the immune system and therefore shut down systems which would otherwise compete for energy.
Wow. The body is an amazing thing!
Now here is the problem.
A lot of modern disease is not due to acute infection, but chronic (long term) activation of the immune system.
A lot of modern disease comes from what we call low-grade inflammation.
This means that the immune system is switched on, but it’s not the raging fire we get when we have a really bad bout of the flu or a stomach bug. It is smouldering under the surface at a level that most wouldn’t even realise is there because it is the new “normal”.
How does this smouldering start in the first place and what does this mean for your health, weight and hormones?
It always comes back to the same stuff:
- Poor diet (too many refined carbohydrates and not enough beneficial fats, proteins and colourful veg)
- Use of medications, pain killers, asthma pumps, oral contraceptives, ant-acid medications, antibiotics etc.
- Poor digestive health (influenced by the poor diet, stress, medications)
- Lack of physical exercise
- Not enough sleep
- Not enough time spent outdoors
- Never experiencing evolutionary stressors; food is always available, if we get cold we turn the heating on, if we get hot we turn the air con on, drinking water 10 times a day
- Disconnection / lack of physical touch / loneliness
A combination and any or all of the above is leading to chronic, low grade activation of the immune system that can create poor health.
This is why you cannot out exercise a bad diet.
And it might be worth doing some fasted exercise from time to time.
This is why stress management and prioritising basic needs like sleep and love are so important.
This is why “carbs are bad” and I am not a fan of low carb diets but I do think almost everyone needs to moderate their carbohydrate intake.
This is why you could take a walk on your lunch break.
This is why you could walk barefoot, go hiking and occasionally get an open wound or stung by some stinging nettles (it brings the immune system to the surface)
This is why you could stop being a body builder and trying to eat 6 times a day – 3 times is plenty – you don’t “need” to snack
This is why you could avoid using any medications unless absolutely necessary. A little pain won’t kill you, it will literally make you stronger (please do not take this as medical advice, always consult your doctor).
And all of the above helps to draw energy back into the metabolic system and the brain and away from a chronically activated immune system.
- Better metabolic flexibility and being able to use fat as fuel
- Better satiety and feeling full after eating because energy is going to the brain
- Lower insulin
- Weight loss, especially central
- And of course… better hormonal balance and everything that comes with that.
You are welcome
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