Food: New Paradigms and Timeless Wisdom
We all know that diet plays an important part in our health and wellbeing. But how what we eat affects our biology isn’t so clear, as evidenced by the diverse and often opposing diets promoted by trustworthy physicians. Should you eat for your blood type? Follow the Paleo Diet, Atkins plan or Mediterranean diet? Take notes from Dr. Oz? New research suggests that we may have been looking at the subject through too narrow a lens. Food may actually act like a hormone.
As Karen K. Ryan and Randy J. Seeley point out in their Science article, “Food as a Hormone”: “Nutrient substrates derived from food can activate intracellular signaling cascades to regulate metabolic health.” This finding could change the way that specific diseases are treated, as well as the way we think about our daily diets.
Looking at food as a hormone cocktail reframes what we thought we knew about food’s role in obesity, for example. Focusing on fat and sugar could well be misguided. Instead, it may be more accurate and effective to consider the signaling properties of foods and “food metabolite-receptor interactions.”
Food certainly provides us with necessary fuel and nutrients. Yet it now seems that there’s more going on. The components of food “travel through the blood, and nutrient substrates can act as signaling molecules by activating cell-surface or nuclear receptors.” In this way, food acts as a hormone. Hormones are chemicals released by certain cells, glands or organs that travel through the blood to affect cells elsewhere in the body. They can be thought of as chemical messengers that send signals from one cell to another, altering cellular metabolism in the process. Apparently, this is also what food does.
The intricate complexities of the body are astounding, and the more we learn, the more amazing it all becomes. New scientific findings are changing how we look at things as basic as our daily diet, and very often also highlight the value of ancient wisdom. In our next Nutrition + Health class on January 17th, Restore Your Body Weight and Your Soul after the Holidays, you’ll gain some insightful and useful information, followed by more tools throughout the year as we address the latest research and share traditional wisdom to help you be your most vibrant self.
We hope to see you there!