If diet and exercise haven’t done much to reduce your pooch, then your hormones especially insulin may be the cause.
Read the article below by ESTHER of Girlshealth.blog.
Fat is an essential part of our diet and is important for good health. There are different types of fat, with some fats being healthier than others, but let us focus on belly fat. Fat stored under the skin is called subcutaneous fat while fat stored in the abdominal cavity and around your organ is […]
This is the second of two posts, so please follow up with the first part if you did not go through it, for the full story.
Now, let’s look at ethanol (drinking alcohol):
To see what makes it so different from glucose, here is what happens in the liver when you have an alcoholic drink. As you can guess ethanol is not necessary for any biological process, so a majority of it is processed like a toxin in the liver. 10% will get processed in the stomach and intestines and another 10% gets processed by the kidneys, muscle and the brain. This is the first big difference between glucose and ethanol. The liver has to work four times as hard because it processes 80% of alcohol that comes in. Ethanol doesn’t need insulin to get into the cells, it just diffusers in there and is converted to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde generates something called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS damage proteins in the body, can cause cancer and are thought to be the key factor in ageing. This is how antioxidants are supposed to combat ageing because they deal with these ROSs. The acetaldehyde then gets converted down to acetate and goes into the mitochondria like last time. With glucose, only 20% of the substrate went to the liver and maybe half of what went to the liver, went to the mitochondria because the rest went to glycogen. So what alcohol is doing is overloading your mitochondria.
So a bunch of acetate comes in, goes through the TCA cycle and you’re left with a ton of citrate. The same three enzymes that start new fat making are stimulated and you end up with a lot of bad fat (VLDL). These will go to your fat stores primarily your visceral fat. This is the stuff that causes a lot of health issues and surround your organs giving you a big gut. This is why people get beer bellies because that’s the area that gets filled with the fat produced by alcohol.
So the liver has all of this fat being produced that doesn’t want sitting around inside it, so it will also export some of the fat out in the form of free fatty acids. These can get into the muscle causing muscle insulin resistance which is very problematic. Some of the fat won’t even be able to get out of the liver, so you’ll have a fat droplet just sitting in the liver and now you have your alcoholic fatty liver disease.
So, the excess of Acyl-CoA, the ethanol and the reactive oxygen species activate an enzyme called JNK-1 which is the bridge between metabolism and inflammation. This ends up further damaging the liver and promote insulin resistance within the liver by inactivating IRS-1, that insulin receptor from before. This means that the pancreas has to work a lot harder and pump more insulin out to do its job.
Now, let’s look at Sugar:
Sugar is made up of equal parts, glucose and fructose. Fructose is what causes the problem, so let’s see how it’s metabolised very similarly to ethanol. Here’s that’s going on in the liver when you have a glass of something sweet like orange juice.
Like ethanol, fructose is not necessary to the body, so it’s treated like a foreign substance and almost 100% of it is processed in the liver. It comes in, gets metabolised down to pyruvate and enters the mitochondria. Now we have the same situation where everything goes straight to the liver, does not get stored into glycogen and overload your liver cells’ mitochondria. The pyruvate goes through the TCA cycle, produces a bunch of citrate and that gets converted down to VLDL. This leads to increased risk of heart disease and visceral fat accumulation. Now you’ve got a soda-belly.
Like before, it also exits the cell as free fatty acids leading to insulin resistance in the muscle. Not all the fat can get out of the cell so fat accumulates in the liver and now you get non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The same JNK-1 cable and get stimulated which promote inflammation and JNK-1 acts on the same IRS insulin receptor, causing insulin resistance in the liver.
All of this is actually illustrated really well in the movie ‘That Sugar Film’. Damon Gameau goes on a diet with plenty of low-fat and so-called healthy foods like yoghurt, wholegrain cereals, fruit juice and fruit smoothies. The aim is to eat foods that are marketed as ‘healthy’, while reaching the average sugar intake of the typical Australian which is about 40 teaspoons. His results demonstrate all these biochemical processes we just talked about. He gained 8.5 kg and an extra 7% total body fat, mainly in the form of visceral fat. His heart disease risk went up, he’s developed insulin resistance and after only 18 days he developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. What I thought was interesting was that he didn’t change the amount of calories he was consuming, yet he packed on such a significant amount of fat.
Actually there is another element to fructose metabolism that makes it generate so much fat. Fructose form something called Xylulose-5-phosphate and this further stimulates the De Novo Lipogenesis enzymes leading to even more fat-making. That explains the obesity epidemic. Also, when it is getting converted to fructose 1-phosphate, it produces uric acid. Uric acid raises your blood pressure and now, you get hypertension too.
Oh, and Coca-Cola still wants to pretend that obesity is all about calories and a calorie is just a calories, no matter where it comes from. One thing I should mention is that fibre helps prevent the sugar in fruit from becoming a problem. Fibre reduces the rate of intestinal absorption, meaning your liver can easily handle the steady stream of sugar from a piece of fruit. The fibre will also fill you up. So, four apples might actually be a lot of food to take in one sitting but you can get four whole apples worth of sugar delivered to your liver in a few seconds from one glass of apple juice. One night of tequila shot isn’t going to cause your liver to explode but having a shot of whiskey with every meal and for a snack would do some serious damage. By the same token having a big piece of cake with ice cream at a birthday party isn’t that big of a deal but most of us are loading up on sugar all throughout the day without noticing it.
We’ll have a breakfast of cereal and juice, then a Starbucks in a pseudo milkshake thing on the way to work, have a sandwich with low-fat yogurt for lunch, a granola bar for a snack then some pasta with a salad for dinner. But we are not realizing that the yoga has as much sugar as candy, the granola bar has as much sugar as a package of Oreos, and even your pasta sauce and salad dressing has sugar pumped into it. 80% of the 600,000 packaged food items on the market have added sugar in them. By the way, you are not going to have any of that protective fibre you find in whole fruit or vegetables; the fibre has been removed to improve the shelf life of the products. The average American child sees 30,000 TV commercials a year, advertising fast foods or candy. While something like ‘Kid Beer’ sounds jokishly evil, maybe it’s not all that different from these fun colourful, sugar-packed items kids have access to wherever they go.
First off, this is the first of two posts, so please follow up with the second part for the full story.
We are all familiar with the dangers of alcohol and the fact that frequent alcohol consumption can fry your liver. Anyone who has had alcohol before will not doubt that it is a toxin even if they are not familiar with what it specifically does inside your body. This is because you can experience the immediate or acute effects of alcohol exposure in a single night after just a few drinks. You might not notice your heart rate becoming irregular, your blood vessels dilating or your loss fine motor control but you will notice that something is different as you become drunk or intoxicated. Then if pleasant feeling of being drunk had you doubting whether or not alcohol is a toxin, the hangover that comes the next day will surely confirm that it is.
So you don’t really need much education or convincing about whether or not frequent consumption of alcohol has a potentially serious effects on your health. The reason you can feel the effects of alcohol right away and get drunk is because a little bit of the alcohol is metabolised by the brain. Actually what goes to the brain is less than 10% of the alcohol. The majority of it about 80% gets metabolised by the liver. This is why you can develop all sorts of serious liver issues quite quickly if you drinking on a daily basis. However, your liver is a very powerful organ that can handle various toxins relatively well so one night of celebrating your birthday at the bar isn’t going to have you trying to get on the liver transplant list.
But what if we can make an alcoholic drink with a special type of alcohol that didn’t get metabolised in the brain, so you wouldn’t experience the acute effects of alcohol toxicity? You could have several beers at lunch and still be sharp as a tack during the company meeting at 2 PM. Maybe you’d even be allowed to drink and drive because it wouldn’t impair your motor skills. Companies might even get away with marketing this special alcohol to kids. Hey, I mean if the kid isn’t falling down, it should be okay, right? Well, of course not! No parent in their right mind would give the kid alcohol simply because they don’t appear drunk.
So here are the immediate health effects and the long-term health effects that come with alcohol consumption. How you feel about a substance that doesn’t get metabolised in the brain, so you get none of these immediate effects and you only have to worry about 8 of these 12 problems from frequent consumption? Still not okay with that, I’m guessing. Well, we already have a substance like this that is consumed on a daily basis. Like alcohol, is not necessary for any biochemical reaction in the body, you don’t need to survive, is not metabolised in the brain so it doesn’t get you drunk, but like alcohol and other toxins, is processed primarily in the liver. And frequent consumption of it, leads to all sorts of health problems. This substance is fructose.
Sucrose is made up of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. Fructose is in honey, it’s in fruit juices, it’s in high-fructose corn syrup; it’s what makes the really sweet stuff sweet.
“Now, you wouldn’t think twice about not giving your kid a Budweiser, but you don’t think twice about giving a kid a can of Coke; but they are the same.” Robert Lustig.
He is one of the biggest factors in bringing the detrimental effects of sugar to light. At first, he can sound a bit over the top when talking about sugar.
“Sugar is poison, it is a chronic…dose-dependent hepato liver toxin.” Dr. Robert Lustig
However he can back all of these statements up with more than 16 years of medical research, academic discourse, policy analysis, data analysis, a whole lot of patient care and maybe the most important, the biochemistry of how sugar is processed in the body. There is all sorts of compelling statistics we could talk about but the actual mechanisms that cause sugar to have such bad effects in the body, paint a much clearer picture. Once you understand how sugar is processed in the body it leaves very little debate as to whether or not sugar could be considered a toxin and you start to see how a lot of modern health issues are caused by sugar.
Let’s look at how sugar is metabolised:
First, let’s look at glucose or starch to see how non-toxic carbohydrate is metabolised. By the way is not necessary to remember all the specific terms that come up, just pay attention to glucose flows through the cell so we can see how it is different from alcohol and sugar.
So here’s was happening in the liver when you eat something like a slice of white bread. First off, only 20% of the glucose you eat will actually hit the liver because the other 80% is metabolised by all the other cells in your body. Therefore, glucose can get into the liver cell. It needs to stimulate the pancreas to make insulin. The insulin will stimulate this insulin receptor IRS-1, which causes a series of reactions to then stimulate SREBP-1 and activates this enzyme called Glucokinase. Glucokinase takes glucose to Glucose-6-phosphate which mostly gets stored in the liver as glycogen. Glycogen is a good thing because it acts as the reserve tank of energy that your body can access when necessary. This is why runners will carb-load before a race to completely fill up the glycogen stores and have more energy during the race than when it is just sitting in their gut.
What doesn’t go glycogen gets metabolised down to pyruvate. Pyruvate enters the mitochondria. Mitochondria is like the coal furnace of your cell because it converts the pyruvate to Acetyl-CoA, then burns that in the TCA Cycle to produce a bunch of energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate).
Not all of this is going to get burned up so a little bit may be leftover as Citrate. The SREBP-1 from before, activates these three enzymes, ACL, ACC and FAS, to start a process known as De Novo Lipogenesis (De Novo means NEW; Lipo means FAT; and Genesis means MAKING). So, the cell is taking this leftover Citrate and converting it into fat. The liver really doesn’t want the fat sitting around inside it so it’s converted down to something called VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein) which is stored in your fat tissue. Not only can this make you fat but VLDL is actually a big contributor to heart disease.
While it might sound bad, it is actually not that big of a deal because remember only 20% of the glucose made it to the liver then half of that with the glycogen then a lot of that is burned off for energy so maybe 1/50 of what you ate will actually turn into VLDL. So, can farmer who’s eating rice and vegetables at every meal die of a heart attack? Maybe, but it’s going to happen when they are about age 90, so it’s not too bad.
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