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I am sure that you have experienced this inner challenge all too often, probably not that far from home either. It’s frustrating isn’t it, when the chance of an altered life (for the better) is within reach but requires a change in actions, behaviour, circumstance and choices.
Even when changes are made, they can be lost again and the opportunity trickles away, without some process or support system in place to capture and revert.
Let’s take Broccoli, it’s a pretty innocuous vegetable that carries natural compounds with pretty impressive effects on disease risk and management, and it can be eaten raw or cooked, does not cost a lot but seems to be a food too far for many.
One of the reasons it’s a challenge is that plants in their original environment devised defence mechanisms, you see they do not like being eaten either, and these defences tend to be the opposite of sweet – they are bitter compounds.
For some, bitter compounds are far more of an organoleptic challenge than for others, and that means behaviour change now has a second rationale to resist. The phytochemicals such as indole-3-carbinol that generate the bitter tastes which are produced by the breakdown of the glucosinolate glucobrassicin are found at relatively high levels in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale. They are known to bind to environmental sensors called aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AhR) which are key in generating protective mucins and repairing epithelial cells. Without them, nutrients absorption is diminished, stem cells start to divide uncontrollably, leading to nutrient depletion and an allied risk of cancer generation in the gut.
Another source of cruciferous compounds is Sauerkraut, a meal of bacteria infused vegetables that take this mechanism option one step further by binding one of its metabolites to another receptor, unique to humans and apes, via a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCRs) belonging to the family of hydroxycarboxylic acid receptors (HCAR). A metabolite released by the lactic acid bacteria in the meal, called D-phenyllactic acid, binds strongly to this receptor. Promoting signalling to monocytes in the immune system and allowing our continued consumption of foods that are starting to decay, promoting an anti-inflammatory and immune mediating effect whilst also increasing our tolerance to alcohol – a mutation many are eternally grateful for!
Compelling though the two vignettes are, these and others like them rarely work to convince the reluctant consumer that eating cruciferous and other vegetables are a better choice than the easily accessed processed foods that so dominate the nutritional intake of the majority, with the resultant loss of function and creation of non-communicable disease.
So another pitch for vegetable and related fibre intake could work by employing the mid 50’s approach to sci-fi movies – ‘normally helpful bacteria in your colon will begin to eat you unless they get what they want’.
You see unless bacteria that inhabit our digestive tract and particularly the colon get adequate supplies of fibre, they begin to munch on the natural layer of mucus that lines the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall.
While this work was in mice, the take-home message from this work for humans amplifies everything that doctors and nutritionists have been telling us for decades: Eat a lot of fibre from diverse natural sources. Your diet directly influences your microbiota, and from there it may influence the status of your gut’s mucus layer and a tendency toward disease.
Does this narrative ensure behaviour change? Probably not, but does it create opportunity, or supply additional options to stimulate behaviour change, possibly? One of the takeaways from the recent Institute for Functional Medicine International Conference on Stress, Pain and Addiction was that breaking addictive or dependency related habits or engaging in health-promoting ones requires a collective approach, stresses that alter various metabolic, immune, endocrine and neurochemical pathways can be hard to reset.
Emotional contagion, a phrase employed by Dr Mogil requires a strategic engagement to unwind and found that specific strategies to achieve behaviour change were in the main, best employed by women (much to the agreement from the audience). Dr Garland explained that teaching people to take in the ‘good’ and mindfully savour natural, healthy pleasures may provide the learning signal needed to restore adaptive, hedonic regulation and ultimately facilitate the adoption of healthful non-addictive behaviour.
This year IFM also provided the opportunity for poster presentations, and Leonie Ash RNT revealed her long thought out application of intersecting interventions to resolve the life-damaging effects of adverse childhood trauma. Her presentation was selected by the attendees as the most deserving of the related IFM award, and her technique to break the triad of physical, mental-emotional and social ill health was well received and will no doubt attract further research and application. We recommend reviewing her presentation, as it’s very practical and may just help put the broccoli resistance issues into perspective!
Finally, Dr Robert Sapolsky gave one of his outstandingly entertaining and informative presentations on stress, which if you were denied the opportunity to hear, can be revisited here, where he presents largely the same lecture at the Beckman Institute in 2017.
Vitamin K is an essential bioactive compound required for optimal body function. Vitamin K can be present in various isoforms, distinguishable by two main structures, namely, phylloquinone (K1) and menaquinones (K2). The difference in structure between K1 and K2 is seen in different absorption rates, tissue distribution, and bioavailability. With K2 being better absorbed than K1. Read the rest of this entry »
Chronic consumption of a Western diet along with sedentary behaviour causes chronic metabolic inflammation (termed metaflammation) and is ‘memorised’ by innate immune cells through long-lasting metabolic and epigenetic cellular reprogramming. Suggesting that the innate immune system, thought to have no memory, can be programmed over time to adopt a fast memory induced response. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a movement growing in the UK’s GP surgeries, hospitals and outpatient clinics. As depression and anxiety rates climb and the obesity and related illness epidemic continues unabated our health care providers are losing patience with their traditional (allopathic) tools. Witness the publication in April 2019 that over 50% of people on the medical industries primary medication for raised cholesterol – statins – do not show sufficient improvement to warrant the continuation of the medication. Read the rest of this entry »
This editorial is a little different but is also connected to health management and wellbeing. You see many, many people feel frustrated and agitated about just not getting things done. Procrastination and deviation, as well as focus absence drags us away from completing or in many cases even starting tasks. The result in many cases is an insidious sense of lack of productivity and associated satisfaction. Read the rest of this entry »
In the intellectual schism between the hardened scientific reductionists and those prepared to explore beyond their current margin of confidence and institutional remit, there is an emerging pattern in the comprehension of the role of chemical pollutants. Included in this is the almost heretical concept that modifying primary enzyme pathways through the ingestion of food concentrates might aid in protection and or recovery! Read the rest of this entry »
Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is a vital part of the foundation for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime. Yet many people – perhaps even yourself find it difficult to sleep as much as you would like to and forlornly hope that a longer lie in may let you catch up! Did you know that the average Briton gets just six hours and 19 minutes sleep a night, yet back in the 1940s they would average almost 8 hours. In the blink of an eye, in evolutionary terms, humans have radically altered a fundamental biological necessity – with repercussions we are still only beginning to understand. Read the rest of this entry »
In a week of political defections and naked activists appearing on TV and radio to discuss the matters around Brexit, it’s clear that divisions in the opinion of the electorate continue to pull apart established norms. The structural changes proposed by the UK’s impending exit from the European Union are far more complex and convoluted than were proposed and ‘sold’ and outcomes far less clear than promised. Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this month after 2 years of consideration the EAT-Lancet Commission published its report in the medical journal the Lancet. The project set out with admirable aims, to pull together the thoughts and evidence base from a large group of experts to see if they could identify a ‘healthy diet from sustainable food systems’. General media opinion since publication has been positive and there are many commendable aspects to the report, but as with many big data driven reports some of the underlying subtleties have been missed out or glossed over. Read the rest of this entry »
The start of anything new, including a new year brings change and disruption. For many this feeling is also attached to defined age-related landmarks, typically at the end of different decades.
But…. change occurs at any age and managing the related transition can be challenging, raising stress responses, which if not adequately countered may generate disadvantageous and unexpected outcomes. The period – in many people’s mid-twenties – has attracted attention as a typical time for just such a transitional crisis. Read the rest of this entry »