Dr. Ron’s Research Review – January 17, 2018

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This week’s research review focuses on Metabolic Winter.

The concept of the "Calorie" originated in the 1800s in an environment with limited food availability. Soon thereafter, the energy densities of the major macronutrients-fat, protein, and carbohydrates-were defined. However, within a few decades of its inception, the "Calorie" became a commercial tool for industries to promote specific food products, regardless of health benefit.
Modern technology changed our relationship with food from one of survival to palatability. Calorie scarcity is less prevalent than calorie excess in the modern world.
Many still approach dietary macronutrients in a reductionist manner and assume that isocalorie foodstuffs are isometabolic. It legitimizes certain foodstuffs as equivalent and nourishing as whole food.
Modern humans evolved to cope with seasonally cool temperatures (cold stress) and periodic periods of food scarcity (calorie restriction). The health benefits of physical activity are actually adaptive responses related to times of cold stress and shivering.
In nature, animals do not intentionally participate in high levels of activity to mitigate excess calorie ingestion - available calories are limited and animals conserve activity. The main factors influencing energy expenditure are body mass and ambient temperature, not activity.
Perhaps the most important meal of the day is not to break fast in the face of obesity, but instead to center our plate on nutrient-dense, calorically poor vegetables and fruits. At the very least, we should heed Atwater’s advice and not be “influenced too much by taste” or “let natural instinct be overruled by acquired appetite.”
Our 7-million-year evolutionary path was dominated by two seasonal challenges - calorie scarcity and mild cold stress. Refrigeration and transportation have fundamentally changed the food to which we have access and the environments in which we live. We also sleep less and are exposed to considerably more artificial light, particularly in the winter months. Obesity and chronic disease are seen most often in people and the animals (pets) they keep warm and over- nourished. Similar to the circadian cycle and like most other living organisms, it is reasonable to believe we also respond to the seasons and carry with us the survival genes for winter.
Maybe our problem is that winter never comes.

 

Dr. Ron


Articles

 

The "metabolic winter" hypothesis: a cause of the current epidemics of obesity and cardiometabolic disease.
            (Cronise et al., 2014) Download
The concept of the "Calorie" originated in the 1800 s in an environment with limited food availability, primarily as a means to define economic equivalencies in the energy density of food substrates. Soon thereafter, the energy densities of the major macronutrients-fat, protein, and carbohydrates-were defined. However, within a few decades of its inception, the "Calorie" became a commercial tool for industries to promote specific food products, regardless of health benefit. Modern technology has altered our living conditions and has changed our relationship with food from one of survival to palatability. Advances in agriculture, food manufacturing, and processing have ensured that calorie scarcity is less prevalent than calorie excess in the modern world. Yet, many still approach dietary macronutrients in a reductionist manner and assume that isocalorie foodstuffs are isometabolic. Herein, we discuss a novel way to view the major food macronutrients and human diet in this era of excessive caloric consumption, along with a novel relationship among calorie scarcity, mild cold stress, and sleep that may explain the increasing prevalence of nutritionally related diseases.

If the Metabolic Winter Is Coming, When Will It Be Summer
            (Wood, 2017) Download

Response to: "If the Metabolic Winter Is Coming, When Will It Be Summer?" (Metab Syndr Relat Disord 2017;15:3).
            (Cronise et al., 2017) Download

References

Cronise, RJ, DA Sinclair, and AA Bremer (2014), ‘The “metabolic winter” hypothesis: a cause of the current epidemics of obesity and cardiometabolic disease.’, Metab Syndr Relat Disord, 12 (7), 355-61. PubMed: 24918620
——— (2017), ‘Response to: “If the Metabolic Winter Is Coming, When Will It Be Summer?” (Metab Syndr Relat Disord 2017;15:3).’, Metab Syndr Relat Disord, 15 (1), 4-5. PubMed: 28165301
Wood, T (2017), ‘If the Metabolic Winter Is Coming, When Will It Be Summer’, Metab Syndr Relat Disord, 15 (1), 3. PubMed: 28045599