Q is for Quitting (or Rather NOT Quitting) Sugar

Dear Genevieve,

To quit sugar is to quit creating energy in a way that is harmonious to creating cellular energy. (See the principles of the universal of energy here: http://www.functionalps.com/blog/2014/06/21/universal-principle-of-cellular-energy/).

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The Hippocratic Oath states we should, “first, do no harm…” and that is what you must always take into account. Your safety is everything. If it’s inappropriate, inefficient, unhelpful and or harmful to yourself and or others, it is probably not a good idea. Yet it is the diet culture, which has really painted sugar as the bad guy. Our physiology knows otherwise though and will give us cues by dictating our cravings. (See more on cravings at https://ichooseicecream.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/g-is-for-guide/). We are bombarded by so much information that we can’t be so hard on ourselves for being nervous about enjoying sugar. We even have pills ready at our disposal, claiming to curb sugar/appetite cravings. Yet, we know when an animal is sick that he/she is unwell, yet we sick to curb our appetite, especially our appetite for sugar to benefit our health?

Smiling, laughing and other normal physiological activities tell us that a baby is well. This is just a short way of saying that the trillions of cells making up the baby are well. Similarly, when the baby is sick, it is a short way of saying that some or all of the baby’s cells are sick. When we give medicine to the sick baby (or sick grown-up), our hope is that the medicine will make these sick cells well again. But unfortunately we are not sure.” – Gilbert Ling

Then we have articles and people preaching the benefits of quitting sugar and suddenly feeling so much better, with a loss of appetite, bounds of energy and exaggerated weight loss. Yet, what we don’t realise and what these people most likely do not realize is that these results are short and may be at the expense of a long-term healing process. It’s “the honeymoon period” these people are experiencing and when someone finds something that works for them, even just for the moment, you can bet that they will shout from the rooftops to every person they come in contact with, not knowing that these results may be sustained by STRESS HORMONES. From my personal experience, I have found I can become very talkative when starving and then calm right down and be more pleasant when well-fed.

Fundamentally, stress hormones do exactly as the name states – place stress on the body. Since we were born, heck, since the dawn of time, “our cells primary and preferred energy source” has always been glucose. (See article The Nutrition Coach http://www.thenutritioncoach.com.au/anti-ageing/defending-fruit-and-other-noncomplex-carbs/). When we work against our own physiology, we create cellular stress and that causes a rise in stress hormones. What does this mean?

Well from the book, “Don’t Quit Sugar,” by Cassie Platt, we learn that this results in:

  • Damaged metabolism
  • Weakened digestion
  • Decreased immunity
  • Sexual and reproductive issues
  • Impaired glucose metabolism
  • Sleep issues
  • Accelerated ageing

…and more, which your body will indicate, take note and take care…


….but what about burning of storage fat as an energy source?

(From: Politics & Science: William Blake and Art’s Relationship to Science. Thanks to Light. See: https://l-i-g-h-t.com/transcript-474 )

Dr. Ray Peat: It’s very stressful to get in that condition for most people. Extreme hypoglycemia is needed and that typically turns on lots of cortisol production and that has many undesirable consequences, but the worst thing is that almost everyone, the older you are the more polyunsaturated fats you have built into your tissue and those being mobilized and oxidized damage practically everything. They interfere with mitochondrial respiration but they also break down and have cause oxidative damage to everything outside as well as inside the mitochondria. So for a 10-year old, it is not so damaging because their tissues are usually not so loaded with polyunsaturated fats but for a 30 or 40 year old, it can be really harmful.

John Barkhausen: Okay, all right. See, somebody used the metaphor of burning fats is like a slow burning log and burning sugar is like burning kindling. How do you – what’s your take on that metaphor?

Dr. Ray Peat: With a good hot fire you don’t get any smoke, burning unsaturated fats you get very toxic smoke.

So the lesson is burning sugar is a clean way to create energy. It is synonymous with having a “youthful metabolism” and it’s not into old age or in a less than optimal metabolic state that we become inefficient in doing so. Do not make this task more challenging for your body. Work with it and not against it. We need carbohydrates and your body will give out cues to indicate this. In fact, if you can’t get carbs, your body will safeguard you by finding and making glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. It can do this in by two ways:

  1. Lipolysis: fat breakdown
  2. Gluconeogensis: protein breakdown (amino acids).That means, yes, your body will catabolise itself and get amino acids from wherever, including your own muscles to turn them into glucose. This prevents you from the consequences of insufficient blood sugar

If you don’t get enough sugar or starch, then you’ll use protein for energy.” – Ray Peat, PhD

To help facilitate this process, balancing your blood sugar must be prioritized. Basically, making sure you are physiologically not stressed/starving at any point of the day will improve your sleep. Ultimately, the result is freedom from being governed by stress hormones and improved sleep. Even though, sometimes you cannot control external stressors, you probably could exert some control over your blood sugar. (Read more here from Functional Performance Systems http://www.functionalps.com/blog/2012/11/16/low-blood-sugar-basics/ ). Balancing blood sugar = lowered stress hormones = better sleep = better health. For me, I find it is not enough to make sure I just balance my blood sugar for one meal, but rather all day for better sleep and thus better health.

But in energy-deprived humans, increases of adrenaline oppose the hibernation reaction, alter energy production and the ability to relax, and to sleep deeply and with restorative effect.” – Dr Ray Peat, PhD (Thyroid, insomnia and the insanities http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/thyroid-insanities.shtml)

Feed your body better and both it and your mind will thank you from the better sleep.

“Yes. The first thing when your blood sugar falls because your liver hasn’t stored enough glycogen to turn into glucose, the first reaction is for adrenaline to increase to try to squeeze more glycogen into your circulation, for your brain primarily. And when the glycogen is absolutely gone, the adrenaline keeps activating the breakdown of fat and provides increased amounts of circulating fats to make up for the lack of sugar. But, after the fat becomes a source of energy, your cells still need some sugar to maintain their basic processes, and so they turn protein into sugar. And to do that, they increase cortisol, which breaks down gland (thymus is the first to go). And the cortisol will eat up your muscle and skin and immune system pretty quickly to feed your heart, lungs and brain, to keep them alive. So every time your blood sugar falls, you’re shifting over to fat metabolism and breaking down protein, so that your muscles are one of the places that store glycogen. So as your muscles get smaller, then more burden is put on your liver to keep your blood sugar steady and that makes your liver progressively suffer, and eventually it gets to the point that your brain isn’t getting either the right energy or the right kind of energy. One of the things that happens with aging, is that we progressively, from the time we are born, at birth, we’re very highly saturated in our fats, because they’ve been formed from glucose in utero. And we can only make saturated, mono-unsaturated and omega-9 unsaturated fats when we’re supplied with either sugar or protein. But once we start eating in the ordinary environment, our tissues start loading up on the polyunsaturateds from the environment. By the time a person is 40, the brain is pretty full of either the arachadonic acid series or, if they have eaten a lot of fish, there will be mostly the long highly unsaturated fats, mostly the DHA type of fish-oil derived omega-3 fats. And even with a pretty average diet, the old person’s brain is very highly biased towards the DHA type fats. And if you look at Parkinson’s Disease, their favorite genetic protein — that some people like to say is the cause of Parkinson’s Disease, synuclein — is the Parkinson’s equivalent of the glutamine repeat of Huntington’s, or the amyloid, or tau fibrils of Alzheimer’s Disease. Each disease tends to have its own protein that goes haywire. In the case of Parkinson’s, it’s the alpha-synuclein . And DHA, the fish type of unsaturated fat, causes the synuclein protein to change to its toxic form that appears in Parkinson’s Disease. And saturated fats can protect against that. in Parkinson’s you can see the role of fat, inclining the brain towards that degenerative change in the protein. And since pretty much everyone in the environment accumulates these highly unsaturated fats, especially in their brain, but in all tissues with aging, by the time you’re 30 or 40, you become more and more susceptible to all of the degenerative, inflammatory diseases, very much in proportion to the unsaturated fats. And you can find the breakdown products corresponding to the seriousness of Alzheimer’s Disease or Huntington’s or Multiple Sclerosis. The specific breakdown products, such as acrolein, which comes largely from the omega-3 fats, the various reactive break-down products show that these unstable fats are breaking down at an increased rate in the degenerative brain conditions.” – Dr Ray Peat, PhD (Politics, Science, Autoimmune and Movement Disorders).

Personally, I’m fuelled primarily by carbohydrates with adequate proteins and fats for my context. I’m fuelled by balance and I’m never gonna give that up. Never going to let sugar down, unless it’s in coffee…note: I function best on at least 400g of carbohydrates a day, with 120g protein, but your mileage may vary….

Recently, I was alerted to an article by Chris Masterjohn on making glucose from fatty acids. See that article here: https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2012/01/07/we-really-can-make-glucose-from-fatty/

It’s a pertinent reminder that just because we can do something, does not mean we should or it’s helpful. And sometimes, we don’t really know how much we are suffering until we are out of a situation. Like being in a bad relationship with someone – you can become so accustomed to being treated less than what you deserve that you become desensitised and believe that is normal. But it is not until you are out of that situation that you realise how much you weren’t coping or how heavily you relied on stress hormones to sustain you. We are strong, until we do not have to be. The same may be applied to going from low-sugar to incorporating sugar again. At first, we feel guilty for indulging in our own happiness, after periods of putting diet culture first and going against our physiology and our own needs, but soon we will feel relaxation and as we heal, with balance in our mind, homeostasis will manifest in both our body and mind.

Staying true to ourselves and our physiology is what leads to integrity. In truth, we will always be glycogen-guzzling machines. Feeding your cells with the right sugars will lower your stress hormones and you will get the glucose you need to support many functions, including your brain (thinking power. Note: the brain is the most voracious guzzler of glycogen) and the production of thyroid hormone. When we bring it back to physiology and actually listen to our cravings rather than people preaching fake science, we are able to exhibit more compassion to ourselves and others and the world is never short of enough kindness, especially when we have an increasing amount of angry-sugar-craving or just plain-starving people around.

For me, I’m fueled primarily by carbohydrates with adequate proteins and fats for my context. I’m fueled by balance and I’m never gonna give that up. Never going to let sugar down, unless it’s in coffee…note: I function best on at least 400g of carbohydrates a day, with 120g protein, but your own mileage may vary.

Context is everything, and it’s individual and empirical.” – Dr Ray Peat, PhD

In closing, I’d like to add with gratitude, Dr Ray Peat’s response to Chris Masterjohn’s article:

You seem to be getting both mileage and power from your sugar.

Chris Masterjohn has written some good articles on cholesterol, but this one isn’t so good. The fact that, under extreme conditions, some fat is converted into glucose, doesn’t make ketosis less harmful; most of the glucose is still coming from tissue proteins, and the pathway they identify, through methylglyoxal, just helps to explain some of the long-range harm done by ketosis, since methylglyoxal made from the glycerol released when tissue triglycerides are metabolized is (along with acrolein and other lipid peroxidation products) a major factor in the degenerative changes produced by diabetic ketosis, or by the increased free fatty acid metabolism caused by trauma. Any extra methylglyoxal from fatty acid conversion adds to the effect of that from triglyceride metabolism and any from lactic acid, to accelerate aging, autoimmunity, neurological degeneration, etc.

Klin Lab Diagn. 2010 Mar;(3):22-36.

[Methylglyoxal–a test for impaired biological functions of exotrophy and endoecology, low glucose level in the cytosol and gluconeogenesis from fatty acids (a lecture)].

[Article in Russian]

Titov VN, Dmitriev LF, Krylin VA, Dmitriev VA.


In philogenesis, due to the failure to store a great deal of carbohydrates in vivo as glycogen, all animal species began synthesizing from glucose palminitic fatty acid and depositing it as triglycerides. During biological dysfunction of exotrophy (long starvation, early postnatality, hibernation), cells also accomplish a reverse synthesis of glucose from fatty acids under aerobic conditions. Under physiological conditions, acetyl-CoA that is converted to malate and pyruvate in the glyoxalate cycle is a substrate of glyconeogenesis. Under pathological conditions of hypoxia and deficiency of macroerges, gluconeogenesis occurs without ATP consumption through the methylglyoxal pathway when used as a substrate of ketone bodies via the pathway: butyric acid (butyrate) –> beta-hydroxybutyrate –> acetoacetate –> acetone –> acetol –> methylglyoxal –> S-D-lactol-glutathione –> D-lactate –> pyruvate –> D-lactate. Under physiological conditions, this gluconeogenesis pathway does not function. We believe that with low glucose levels in the cell cytosole (glycopenia), under pathological conditions of hypoxia and due to failure to mitochondria to oxidize fatty acids, gene expression and gluconeogenesis occur through the methylglyoxal pathway. At the same time, the cytosol, intercellular environment, and plasma shows the elevated levels of methylglyoxal and D-lactate that it is converted to by the action of glyoxalases I and II. Under pathological conditions, glycopenia develops in starvation, diabetes, and metabolic acidosis, neoplasms, renal failure, and possibly, metabolic syndrome. The chemical interaction of methylglyoxal with the amino acid residues of lysine and arginine results in the denaturation of circulating and structurized proteins via carbonylation–glycosylation.


Mech Ageing Dev. 2016 Apr;155:48-54.

Novel insights in the dysfunction of human blood-brain barrier after glycation.

Hussain M(1), Bork K(1), Gnanapragassam VS(1), Bennmann D(1), Jacobs K(2),

Navarette-Santos A(2), Hofmann B(2), Simm A(2), Danker K(3), Horstkorte R(4).

(1)Institute of Physiological Chemistry, Martin-Luther-University

Halle-Wittenberg, Hollystr. 1, D-06114 Halle (Salle), Germany.

(2)Clinic and Policlinic for Cardiothoracic Surgery, University Hospital Halle,

Ernst-Grube-Str. 40, D-06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.

(3)Institute of Biochemistry, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1,

10117 Berlin, Germany.

(4)Institute of Physiological Chemistry, Martin-Luther-University

Halle-Wittenberg, Hollystr. 1, D-06114 Halle (Salle), Germany. Electronic

address: ruediger.horstkorte@medizin.uni-halle.de.

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) provides a dynamic and complex interface consisting

of endothelial cells, pericytes and astrocytes, which are embedded in a collagen

and fibronectin-rich basement membrane. This complex structure restricts the

diffusion of small hydrophilic solutes and macromolecules as well as the

transmigration of leukocytes into the brain. It has been shown that carbonyl

stress followed by the formation of advanced glycation endproducts

(AGE=glycation) interfere with the BBB integrity and function. Here, we present

data that carbonyl stress induced by methylglyoxal leads to glycation of

endothelial cells and the basement membrane, which interferes with the

barrier-function and with the expression of RAGE, occludin and ZO-1. Furthermore,

methylglyoxal induced carbonyl stress promotes the expression of the

pro-inflammatory interleukins IL-6 and IL-8. In summary, this study provides new

insights into the relationship between AGE formation by carbonyl stress and brain

microvascular endothelial barrier dysfunction.


Diabetes. 2016 Jun;65(6):1699-713.

Methylglyoxal-Induced Endothelial Cell Loss and Inflammation Contribute to the

Development of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy.

Vulesevic B(1), McNeill B(2), Giacco F(3), Maeda K(2), Blackburn NJ(1), Brownlee

M(3), Milne RW(4), Suuronen EJ(5).

(1)Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa,

Ontario, Canada Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of

Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

(2)Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa,

Ontario, Canada.

(3)Diabetes Research Center, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pathology,

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

(4)Diabetes and Atherosclerosis Laboratory, University of Ottawa Heart Institute,

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

(5)Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa,

Ontario, Canada Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of

Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada esuuronen@ottawaheart.ca.

The mechanisms for the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy remain largely

unknown. Methylglyoxal (MG) can accumulate and promote inflammation and vascular

damage in diabetes. We examined if overexpression of the MG-metabolizing enzyme

glyoxalase 1 (GLO1) in macrophages and the vasculature could reduce MG-induced

inflammation and prevent ventricular dysfunction in diabetes. Hyperglycemia

increased circulating inflammatory markers in wild-type (WT) but not in

GLO1-overexpressing mice. Endothelial cell number was reduced in WT-diabetic

hearts compared with nondiabetic controls, whereas GLO1 overexpression preserved

capillary density. Neuregulin production, endothelial nitric oxide synthase

dimerization, and Bcl-2 expression in endothelial cells was maintained in the

hearts of GLO1-diabetic mice and corresponded to less myocardial cell death

compared with the WT-diabetic group. Lower receptor for advanced glycation end

products and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels were also observed in

GLO1-diabetic versus WT-diabetic mice. Over a period of 8 weeks of hyperglycemia,

GLO1 overexpression delayed and limited the loss of cardiac function. In vitro,

MG and TNF-α were shown to synergize in promoting endothelial cell death, which

was associated with increased angiopoietin 2 expression and reduced Bcl-2

expression. These results suggest that MG in diabetes increases inflammation,

leading to endothelial cell loss. This contributes to the development of diabetic

cardiomyopathy and identifies MG-induced endothelial inflammation as a target for


© 2016 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long

as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the

work is not altered.


Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:691491.

Role of the RAGE Axis during the Immune Response after Severe Trauma: A

Prospective Pilot Study.

Uhle F(1), Lichtenstern C(1), Brenner T(1), Fleming T(2), Koch C(3), Hecker A(4),

Heiss C(5), Nawroth PP(2), Hofer S(1), Weigand MA(1), Weismüller K(3).

(1)Department of Anesthesiology, Heidelberg University Hospital, 69120

Heidelberg, Germany.

(2)Department of Medicine I and Clinical Chemistry, Heidelberg University

Hospital, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

(3)Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine,

Justus-Liebig-University, 35392 Giessen, Germany.

(4)Department of General and Thoracic Surgery, Justus-Liebig-University, 35392

Giessen, Germany.

(5)Department of Trauma, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital of

Giessen-Marburg GmbH, Campus Giessen, 35392 Giessen, Germany.

BACKGROUND: Severe traumatization induces a complex pathophysiology, driven by

the patient’s own immune system. The initial activation is a result of

damage-associated molecular patterns, which are released from disrupted and dying

cells and recognized by immune receptors, for example, RAGE. In this study we

aimed to evaluate the contribution of the RAGE axis to early and late immune


METHODS: We enrolled 16 patients with severe trauma together with 10 patients

after major abdominal surgery and 10 healthy volunteers. Blood samples were taken

on admission and every 48 h for a total of 8 days. Plasma concentrations of

various RAGE ligands as well as RAGE isoforms and IL-6 were measured by ELISA.

Monocyte surface expression of RAGE and HLA-DR was assessed by flow cytometry.

RESULTS: High and transient levels of IL-6 and methylglyoxal characterize the

early immune response after trauma, whereas samples from later time points

provide evidence for a secondary release of RAGE ligands.

CONCLUSION: Our results provide evidence for a persisting activation of the RAGE

axis while classical mediators like IL-6 disappear early. Considering the

immunocompromised phenotype of the monocytes, the RAGE ligands might be

substantial contributors to the well-known secondary stage of impaired immune

responsiveness in trauma patients.


Eur J Med Chem. 2016 Oct 21;122:702-22.

Multifunctional diamine AGE/ALE inhibitors with potential therapeutical

properties against Alzheimer’s disease.

Lohou E(1), Sasaki NA(2), Boullier A(3), Sonnet P(1).

(1)Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Laboratoire de Glycochimie des

Antimicrobiens et des Agroressouces, LG2A, UMR CNRS 7378, UFR de Pharmacie, 1 Rue

des Louvels, F-80037, Amiens Cedex 01, France.

(2)Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Laboratoire de Glycochimie des

Antimicrobiens et des Agroressouces, LG2A, UMR CNRS 7378, UFR de Pharmacie, 1 Rue

des Louvels, F-80037, Amiens Cedex 01, France. Electronic address:


(3)Université de Picardie Jules Verne, UFR de Médecine, 1 Rue des Louvels,

F-80037, Amiens Cedex 01, France; INSERM U1088, Centre Universitaire de Recherche

en Santé (CURS), Avenue René Laënnec – Salouel, F-80054, Amiens Cedex 01, France;

CHU Amiens Picardie, Avenue René Laënnec – Salouel, F-80054, Amiens Cedex 01,


An important part of pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is attributed to

the contribution of AGE (Advanced Glycation Endproducts) and ALE (Advanced Lipid

peroxidation Endproducts). In order to attenuate the progression of AD, we

designed a new type of molecules that consist of two trapping parts for reactive

carbonyl species (RCS) and reactive oxygen species (ROS), precursors of AGE and

ALE, respectively. These molecules also chelate transition metals, the promoters

of ROS formation. In this paper, synthesis of the new AGE/ALE inhibitors and

evaluation of their physicochemical and biological properties (carbonyl trapping

capacity, antioxidant activity, Cu(2+)-chelating capacity, cytotoxicity and

protective effect against in vitro MGO-induced apoptosis in the model AD

cell-line PC12) are described. It is found that compounds 40b and 51e possess

promising therapeutic potentials for treating AD.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


J Physiol Biochem. 2017 Feb;73(1):121-131.

Ferulic acid prevents methylglyoxal-induced protein glycation, DNA damage, and

apoptosis in pancreatic β-cells.

Sompong W(1)(2), Cheng H(3), Adisakwattana S(4)(5).

(1)Department of Clinical Chemistry, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences,

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand.

(2)Research Group of Herbal Medicine for Prevention and Therapeutic of Metabolic

Diseases, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand.

(3)Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine,

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA.

(4)Research Group of Herbal Medicine for Prevention and Therapeutic of Metabolic

Diseases, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand.


(5)Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences,

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand. sirichai.a@chula.ac.th.

Methylglyoxal (MG) can react with amino acids of proteins to induce protein

glycation and consequently the formation of advanced glycation end-products

(AGEs). Previous studies reported that ferulic acid (FA) prevented glucose-,

fructose-, and ribose-induced protein glycation. In this study, FA (0.1-1 mM)

inhibited MG-induced protein glycation and oxidative protein damage in bovine

serum albumin (BSA). Furthermore, FA (0.0125-0.2 mM) protected against

lysine/MG-mediated oxidative DNA damage, thereby inhibiting superoxide anion and

hydroxyl radical generation during lysine and MG reaction. In addition, FA did

not have the ability to trap MG. Finally, FA (0.1 mM) pretreatment attenuated

MG-induced decrease in cell viability and prevented MG-induced cell apoptosis in

pancreatic β-cells. The results suggest that FA is capable of protecting β-cells

from MG-induced cell damage during diabetes.


Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Feb 15;18(2). pii: E421.

Methylglyoxal-Derived Advanced Glycation Endproducts in Multiple Sclerosis.

Wetzels S(1)(2), Wouters K(3), Schalkwijk CG(4), Vanmierlo T(5), Hendriks JJ(6).

(1)Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht,

Maastricht University, 6229 Maastricht, The Netherlands.


(2)Department of Immunology and Biochemistry, Biomedical Research Institute,

Hasselt University, Martelarenlaan 42, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium.


(3)Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht,

Maastricht University, 6229 Maastricht, The Netherlands.


(4)Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht,

Maastricht University, 6229 Maastricht, The Netherlands.


(5)Department of Immunology and Biochemistry, Biomedical Research Institute,

Hasselt University, Martelarenlaan 42, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium.


(6)Department of Immunology and Biochemistry, Biomedical Research Institute,

Hasselt University, Martelarenlaan 42, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system

(CNS). The activation of inflammatory cells is crucial for the development of MS

and is shown to induce intracellular glycolytic metabolism in pro-inflammatory

microglia and macrophages, as well as CNS-resident astrocytes. Advanced glycation

endproducts (AGEs) are stable endproducts formed by a reaction of the dicarbonyl

compounds methylglyoxal (MGO) and glyoxal (GO) with amino acids in proteins,

during glycolysis. This suggests that, in MS, MGO-derived AGEs are formed in

glycolysis-driven cells. MGO and MGO-derived AGEs can further activate

inflammatory cells by binding to the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts

(RAGE). Recent studies have revealed that AGEs are increased in the plasma and

brain of MS patients. Therefore, AGEs might contribute to the inflammatory status

in MS. Moreover, the main detoxification system of dicarbonyl compounds, the

glyoxalase system, seems to be affected in MS patients, which may contribute to

high MGO-derived AGE levels. Altogether, evidence is emerging for a contributing

role of AGEs in the pathology of MS. In this review, we provide an overview of

the current knowledge on the involvement of AGEs in MS.


Int J Biol Macromol. 2017 May;98:664-675.

Formation mechanism of glyoxal-DNA adduct, a DNA cross-link precursor.

Vilanova B(1), Fernández D(2), Casasnovas R(2), Pomar AM(2), Alvarez-Idaboy

JR(3), Hernández-Haro N(4), Grand A(5), Adrover M(2), Donoso J(2), Frau J(2),

Muñoz F(2), Ortega-Castro J(2).

(1)Department de Química, Institut Universitari d’Investigació en Ciències de la

Salut (IUNICS), Universitat de les Illes Balears, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain;

Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Palma (IdISPA), 07010 Palma de Mallorca,

Spain. Electronic address: bartomeu.vilanova@uib.es.

(2)Department de Química, Institut Universitari d’Investigació en Ciències de la

Salut (IUNICS), Universitat de les Illes Balears, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain;

Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Palma (IdISPA), 07010 Palma de Mallorca,


(3)Facultad de Química, Departamento de Física y Química Teórica, Universidad

Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F. 04510, Mexico.

(4)CEA, INAC-SyMMES, F-38000 Grenoble, France.

(5)Univ. Greboble Alpes, INAC-SCIB, F-38000 Grenoble, France; CEA, INAC-SyMMES,

F-38000 Grenoble, France; Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Carlos Antúnez 1920,

7500566, Providencia, Santiago de, Chile.

DNA nucleobases undergo non-enzymatic glycation to nucleobase adducts which can

play important roles in vivo. In this work, we conducted a comprehensive

experimental and theoretical kinetic study of the mechanisms of formation of

glyoxal-guanine adducts over a wide pH range in order to elucidate the molecular

basis for the glycation process. Also, we performed molecular dynamics

simulations to investigate how open or cyclic glyoxal-guanine adducts can cause

structural changes in an oligonucleotide model. A thermodynamic study of other

glycating agents including methylglyoxal, acrolein, crotonaldehyde,

4-hydroxynonenal and 3-deoxyglucosone revealed that, at neutral pH, cyclic

adducts were more stable than open adducts; at basic pH, however, the open

adducts of 3-deoxyglucosone, methylglyoxal and glyoxal were more stable than

their cyclic counterparts. This result can be ascribed to the ability of the

adducts to cross-link DNA. The new insights may contribute to improve our

understanding of the connection between glycation and DNA cross-linking.

P is for Pride

Dear Genevieve,

You have got a lot to be proud of, but you fight for control, but ironically lapse further away from it…

“Life is a condition alternating between excitation, destruction and unbalance, and reorganization, equilibrium and rest.” -Kurt Goldstein

We all do it. We lie to ourselves every day, convincing ourselves we are invincible. Deluding ourselves to believe that our resources are finite…but truth be told, “the body’s resources are finite, and the rate at which they are depleted is determined by your body’s demands.” – Rob Turner (Read more here @Functional Performance Systems http://www.functionalps.com/blog/2016/08/01/bodily-resources-vs-demands/ )

And whether we like it or not, the more we keep working against our body, the more it will fight against us to restore homeostasis (balance). The mind may even hit the ground faster and harder, before your body does. Either way, your body will give you feedback on how much it can handle from you and from your environment. Listen to it, instead of letting your ego get the better of you and deluding yourself that you are invincible. Though you may have found pride in finding so much strength in your ability to push through pain, there comes a point where it’s no longer pride, but about health. Everything you do should be conducive for good health. Good health equates to success and suffering is not a requirement for success. Allow yourself permission to rest and engage in more helpful forms of movement, where possible, like a walk in the sunlight or just simple play with pets or kids.

Pay also very careful attention to the people you hang around, for subconsciously, we will become a little like them. So pay very careful attention to the qualities of the people you spend the most time around. Don’t lie to yourself and convince yourself that you deserve to be treated in any way that disrespects you. Stay as far away from negativity as possible. Don’t hang out with people you don’t like out of loneliness or fear of social exclusion. Don’t lie to yourself and tell yourself you like hanging out with these people when they make you feel less. Don’t let them lie to you either and dictate to you how you should feel about the way they treat you. We have our intuition for a reason. Listen to it, your body will tell you to stay away from these people too. They will drain your energy just the same as any environmental toxin. Normally, we will stay strong until we do not have to, i.e. resilient in the face of destruction due to elevated stress hormones. But when we are away from a stressful situation, it is only then do we realize how much we have been suffering. We stay strong, until we don’t have to…stay away from negativity. People in your life should build you up, not down. If not, get away from them and build yourself up.

Lastly, always be the one to build yourself up. Be the foundation in which you find your own strength. Find the beacon of light within and use it to shine. Don’t lie to yourself and do things you don’t even want to do just to fit in. The irony is that in trying to fit in, we move further away from aligning ourselves to our own values and morals sometimes and that is what is most important. Don’t lie to yourself to the point where you move away from your own integrity. We try to find pride in groups, when we should be most proud of our ability to stay true to ourselves in a world constantly trying to change us. Unless it is for the better (physiologically), don’t ever change. Stay true to your own character. Believe in kindness, even when you don’t see it around it. Be the standard you want to see around you. Don’t let the negativity get you down. Instead be the positivity you want to see in this world.

On a final note, if you’re feeling lonely, sometimes, being around better books is better than not being around better people.

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” – Carl Sagan

Books are powerful tools that are able to connect us with the minds of others. Most people don’t eat enough to power what should be between their ears or to understand that the brain is the most voracious guzzler of glucose. Faulty science is everywhere and with it comes a bounty of logical fallacies. This creates isolation for those who think with an open-mind, but not too open. Like Carl Sagan also said, “’it pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.” So read and read widely. It will connect you with like-minded people no matter where you are and give you what money can’t buy – knowledge from self-directed learning. Indulge in different lines of thinking if you must, but at the end of the day, ask question and formulate your own opinions. Never accept anything without questioning.

When you start looking for ulterior motives, you might conclude that your physician is greedy, that your chemistry professor has a contract with the rubber company that makes ice cream, and that food producers are so pleased with their profits that they don’t care about the increasing numbers of deformed and mentally retarded babies, or the increasing rate of cancer and diabetes. If you do this, then you are probably involved in a demystification of the world. Eating good food can alter your consciousness; so can thinking about how we’re going to get it.” – Dr Ray Peat, PhD

We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.” – Carl Sagan

You deserve happiness and some people don’t have that in mind. Human nature is often profit-driven. Society has deluded us into thinking we have to suffer in order to be successful, but no we don’t. If we do so, we deplete our body’s resources until we are back to where we are back to the beginning. Like I could push myself and work overtime, but then end up really sick and having to take time off work and so my end wage, would end up the same. The body will push to balance resources. Work with it and not against it. Ask yourself, why are you being so mean to yourself? There are enough people in this world being mean to us or someone close to us already for us to do that to ourselves.

Sometimes pride comes from biting the bullet and accepting that we are not invincible. We are human and are not designed to run like robots. (This includes running on certain formulas of exercise and/or fixed caloric amounts daily.) It may be painful to rest when the whole of society has this attitude of calling us all-sorts of names for not pushing against our own physiology, but bite the bullet. Listen to your body’s physiology far first then society’s pressures. In most cases, mainstream society isn’t going to be the one to help you pick up the pieces when your body is out of resources, but you will be. Doctor yourself now, before you run out of resources.

Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” – Hans Selye

You are human and like Zachariah Salazar said, “We are all at the mercy of our own resources.

Control comes from listening to your body’s physiology and not working against it. Take every opportunity to pay attention to every cue your body is trying to give to you. In every stressful situation, there is an opportunity to find a way to take better care of yourself and not give in to society’s pressure and do questionable things that aren’t physiologically sound. Take the first approach, bite the bullet and take pride in the fact that you are taking better steps to better health now, before your body forces you to do it down the path.

Love always,

A recovered me.

O is for Only You

Dear Genevieve,

“…Eating good food can alter your consciousness; so can thinking about how we’re going to get it.”

“…Making an effort to learn how to use techniques of food, hormones, light, activity, etc., is similar to the effort needed to work with a psychologist, and the effort itself is part of the therapy—-the particular orientation of the psychotherapist isn’t what’s therapeutic, it’s the ability to participate in meaningful interactions, that is, the ability to provide a situation in which the person can practice being human. When people start thinking about the things in their life that can be changed, they are exercising aspects of their organism that had been atrophied by being in an authoritarian culture. Authoritarians talk about protocols, but the only valid ‘protocol’ would be something like ‘perceive, think, act.” – Dr Raymond Peat, PhD

In 1957, an experiment conducted by Doctor Curt P. Richter demonstrated the effects of learned helplessness on rats, in a test where they had to endure really stressful swimming conditions. When rats were singularly dropped into a clear cylinder of water, they frequently drowned. They just gave up in despair. But, when two rats were dropped into a clear cylinder together and the doctor “saved” one, the other rat swam in hope for three days until it reached a point of exhaustion.*

So when we see or even hear another person overcome their struggles, it may serve as motivation. But social media distorts the hell out of these images and stories, because as you know, sensationalism sells. In the words of Dr Raymond Peat, “…don’t trust anything! Read it carefully and think about what they are doing and even think about who they are and what they are trying to do. For example, I recently saw some discussion of the anti-cancer drug called Bucain and some English researchers offered to give it an objective test and the producer enthusiastically agreed. But then when he learned what they were going to do he said, “well, no I want some independent evaluation” and they wrote articles in Lancet saying that the producer was unwilling to submit it to an objective test. But when I looked at their 200 previous publications they were absolutely aligned with the cell toxic chemotherapy industry and they were going to test his substance in violation of the standard research procedures for the European Union and that got into the literature as the producer of the substance being unwilling to have an objective test – where they were the ones trying to put it through a non- objective situation. Reading about the history of the person making the claim is part of the process of finding out what they doing and looking at the nature of their work and nine times out of ten will show that they had some ulterior motive.”

Remember, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

So who can we look up to for motivation? Who will save you? Truth be told, the best person to do this is you. No one knows you better than you do. No one knows exactly what you are capable of, except you. Though there are ways of bringing out the best of you. Here are some ways to bring out the best in you:

  1. Get rid of negativity. Stay as far away from negativity as possible. Imagine your life as your work site. You are in charge of inducting people into it. You would not induct dangerous people there, so consider not doing that in your personal life. At work, you risk losing your job, but in your personal life, your health is the risk. People spend so much money on supplements to boost their energy, but from personal experience, the best pre-workout and I dare say, best all-round-energy-giving-thing you could do is getting rid of negativity. Toxins in our environment are just as negative for us as toxic people. For me, toxic people are like the plague. They have the same ability to drain your health, so be very careful with who you surround yourself with. Be very careful with who you share good and bad news with and every other aspect of your life with, as these people, for whatever reason, may either make or break you. Though we may be strong enough to not let them get to us, over time, our defenses may be shot. So pick which battles to fight wisely. Some battles are best won by walking away.
  2. Be careful with where you derive your self-worth from. Investing your self-worth in your looks, your performance and other people’s opinions of yourself never ends well. Avoid comparing yourself with anybody. They say comparison is the thief of joy and this also implies to comparing yourself with your former self. Competing against each other, let alone ourselves – against our own body – in the long term, never serve us well. Competition erodes self-esteem. Alfie Kohn goes on to say, “most people lose in most competitive encounters, and it’s obvious why that causes self-doubt. But even winning doesn’t build character; it just lets a child gloat temporarily. Studies have shown that feelings of self-worth become dependent on external sources of evaluation as a result of competition. Your value is defined by what’ve done.” Bill Sampen, former major league pitcher expressed this erroneous concept with the formula: my performance + other’s opinions of me = my self worth. As stated earlier, it is a formula – a recipe – for discontentment. Your looks, your performance and other people’s opinions of you will change over time and that is okay. Your body and your performance will adapt to your environment. Hence, as stated earlier, it is so very important to let go of negativity. Some things we can control, some things we can’t. It is about realistically being aware of what we can control. One of those biggest things is our self-talk. Be careful what you say to yourself, as over time, you will become those things and mirror those things on to others. Studies again and again show that cooperation gains far better results than competition, so cooperate with yourself and listen to your body. Be compassionate, courageous and confident.
  3. Find meaningful activities to invigorate you and break free from routine. “Regeneration is the spontaneous result of the disappearance of restraint,” as Dr Raymond Peat says, and this is what I have found for myself. Breaking free from routine, doing something spontaneous, as long as it doesn’t have any negative ramifications may do wonders for your health. Life is full of so much awe. Especially in nature, there is so much beauty around us and when we take the time out to indulge and immerse our senses into nature, we can sometimes make conclusions from our observations that may help us better our lives. For example, watching bees and their ability to cooperate rather than compete and extinguish gives us a better example to follow than humans at times. At times when we cannot break free from routine, it is up to us to be creative and derive meaning from what would seem to be a meaningless activity on the surface level. The mind is wonderful and our experiences are what we make of them. Hans Selye talks a lot about gratitude being an antidote to stress and when we really take the time out and break away from routine, we may come back regenerated, and find a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have, what may have been and our future.
  4. Creativity and motivation amongst many things takes energy. For me, tasks that require heavy intellectual and creative thinking will require a higher energy intake to get me motivated. In other words, things like, writing this blog will take a lot more calories to get me motivated than going to the gym. That is because I run more on auto-pilot playing around at the gym, rather than writing. Things that are foreign to us will require more energy, yet it is these very things that make life so much more worth living. Creativity, all our wonderful interests that are all unique to us, depends highly on our ability to think differently. Thinking outside the box is a remarkably skill that things like group thinking eliminates. If you are going to derive your self-worth from anything, derive it from your ability to be yourself in a world constantly trying to change you. Social media, the mass media, your workplace, everywhere you go, you will be bombarded with messages alluring you to conform. Conformity after all, almost guarantees fitting in and thus a sense of belonging. The cost is your individualism. Ask yourself if that is worth it? After all, your individualism is what ultimately makes you beautiful. None of these fancy-pants clothes and accessories and trends and forever-failing-diets (which are someone’s attempt at a get-rich-quick-scheme) will ever guarantee happiness. But, all I’m saying is that a better option may be to derive your self-worth from your ability to stay yourself in a world constantly trying to change you. That is your unique selling point. It guarantees no one will ever be like you. No one will ever be able to replace you and no one will be as beautiful as you, at least in your eyes and that’s what should matter to you. Being different is beautiful and should be celebrated. Be compassionate, courageous and confident. That way you may never be afraid of death, as you will forever be alive in the hearts of those you make a difference in. Be compassionate, courageous and confident, no matter how many times the world breaks. The world will break, but there are people who will always stay strong no matter how many times the world breaks them. Be one of those people. Be the standard you want to see. This all takes energy though, so never forget to eat and eat enough.

We have to understand. Whitehead said, “Understanding is the apperception of pattern as such”; to fear death is to misunderstand life. Cognitive activity is the defining act of humanness. Language, thought, analysis, art, dance, poetry, mythmaking: these are the things that point the way toward the realm of the eschaton. We humans may be released into a realm of pure self-engineering. The imagination is everything. This was Blake’s perception. This is where we came from. This is where we are going. And it is only to be approached through cognitive activity.”
-Ray Peat, William Blake as biological visionary. Can art instruct science

“Adaptation to one’s environment makes for a sort of survival; but after all, the supreme victory is only won by those who prove themselves of so much hardier stuff than the rest that no power on earth is able to destroy them. The people who have really made history are the martyrs.”
-Ray Peat, Adaptive substance, creative regeneration: Mainstream science, repression, and creativity

  1. Sleep. You will know if you slept well, if you wake up with the appetite of a thousand horses. If you can’t get your mind off food, before you start your day or whenever, that is a good indication you need to eat and probably shouldn’t start your day off without enough food. Prioritizing sleep is just as important as prioritizing food. Roger Federer and LeBron James apparently snooze for an average of 12 hours a night (reference here: https://m.signalvnoise.com/trickle-down-workaholism-in-startups-a90ceac76426). You need a constant supply of food all day, as well as consistently good sleep to reach your full potential, so optimize both and you’ll have energy of more of what you want to do. For example, people who prioritize working out over sleep, in the long term may find themselves eating more, because less sleep will make them hungrier. That is, if they don’t decide to go against their appetite and restrict themselves with a low-calorie diet. This is not sustainable. As a general rule, anything that goes against your body’s physiology is not sustainable. The more you try to work against it, the harder it will fight back to get what it needs to survive at a bare minimum. It is like pulling an elastic band as far as possible and expecting it not to snap or, holding your breath under water for as long as possible and expecting not to eventually come back up to the surface (reality), gasping for every ounce of air humanly possible. The body has ways of trying to protect you from harm. Work with it or it will go into auto-immune mode and force you to work with it. Listen to it. It is like a truly well-meaning person. Truly well-meaning people never have to say how much they love you, as they show it and leave you no doubt in your mind. Your body does the same thing. It gives you many clues as to how much it loves you, so love it back, by working with it and never against it. Here are two great blogs on how to optimise sleep:

It’s the things that don’t fit into the culture’s myth that are memorable, it’s like when they superimpose two images of the night sky, one positive and one negative, only the things that move are visible.”  – Dr Raymond Peat

  1. We are designed to move and the body will sense a lack of movement as a threat. When it does we will lapse into a “threat” posture called the “startle reflex”, also known as “the red light reflex”, “going fetal” and the “flinch response.” Due to a lack of movement, most of us will walk around “armoured” all day and that is pretty exhausting physically and mentally. Moving daily and efficiently removes the threat response/the startle reflex and so removes pain. They key is to move efficiently and when I say efficiently, I mean in a way as to not cause injury. As it is just as important to learn the techniques of food, it is important to learn the techniques of movement. Generally, it is ideal to train in a way that is sustainable into old age. Any activity may result in injury, but there are ways to train to minimize injury. This includes training with food or after having enough food. In one experiment (where I can’t be bothered finding), immobilized rats were quickly getting stomach ulcers and intestinal bleeding. (I suspect this was from the excess serotonin and adrenaline created from being under conditions of learned helplessness). Anyway, when they were given a stick to bite, they felt like they were able to defend themselves, even though they were still restrained. As a result, they were able to even slightly block the stress reaction and lower the serotonin. Dr Ray Peat has spoken about this being analogous to two types of exercise: “The concentric so-called exercise, where you are basically walking uphill and shortening the muscles under force, and eccentric, where your muscles are stretching against the attempt to contract them, like walking downhill, it makes your muscle sore. And I think of the ability to bite the stick as the same as doing concentric exercise. They have shown that old people with very damaged mitochondria in their muscles, two or three weeks of doing concentric exercises, only shortening of muscles under resistance that they can repair or create new functional mitochondria in their muscles. And I think that same sort of thing happens in the nervous system when you can do something protective or constructive.” So exercise has this wonderful ability to make you feel less helpless by empowering you if done right. Basically, any movement is better than no movement. Moving efficiently and with safety in mind is the best kind of movement, so move and have fun while doing it – PLAY. Motivation to move will depend on your energy levels. Just as it took enormous amounts of calories to become motivated to write this very blog post, it will take enormous amounts of energy to find motivation to move. If you don’t feel like moving, it may be wise to consider doing more working in, before working out. Recover now or recover later, the choice is up to you. Either way, your body will make you listen to it. You can either let your body do this gently by cooperating and listening to it, or you can let it do it by force, by running its tank down so much that it will force you to take bed rest. In the words of Rob Turner, “it is difficult to heal when the stressor is ongoing. It would be like trying to empty out a bath tub with a cup, while the tap is still running.” Move, but be smart about it. Move with restoration, safety, sustainability and longevity in mind.

You were given the wonderful priceless gift of live, what you choose to do with it is up to you. “Choosing the right foods, the right atmosphere, the right mental and physical activities, and finding the optimal rhythms of light, darkness, and activity, can begin to alter the streaming renewal of cells in all the organs. Designing a more perfect environment is going to be much simpler than the schemes of the genetic engineers.” – Dr Raymond Peat, PhD

An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” ― Goi Nasu.

So, Always believe in yourself, never let anything change you. Be yourself. Celebrate your ability to be yourself in a world constantly trying to change you. Embrace your differences as that is what will always make you beautiful. Dream your own wildest dreams and chase them. Be your own unstoppable force and eat. Eating is going to give you the energy to be and do anything you could dream of and more! Eating will also give you the energy to show compassion, be courageous and confident and no one needs that more than you. Give that to yourself first and then you will be able to mirror that on to the people who you choose to have in your life. Life may deal you with unexpected cards, but with food and hope in your heart, you may deal those cards right back at life way better and keep building and lifting yourself up.

Love always,


*(source: http://www.dannyroddy.com/weblog/characterarmorpatternbaldness, Richter, C.P. On the phenomenon of sudden death in animals and man. Psychosom Med. 1957 May-Jun;19(3):191-8.)

N is for Not Guilty

Dear Genevieve,

You are never guilty for listening to your body and trusting your instincts. Counting calories, workouts, new diet trends, feeling guilty, shameful, never adequate, out of control – all this our culture has normalized. It’s blame culture, and the irony is, the further we attempt to attain perfection, the further we move away from it.

Thomas Gordon said it well: “Children sometimes know better than parents when they are sleepy or hungry; know better the qualities of their friends, their own aspirations and goals, how their various teachers treat them; know better the urges and needs within their bodies, whom they love and whom they don’t, what they value and what they don’t.”

“In any case, we can’t always assume that because we’re more mature we necessarily have more insight into our children than they have into themselves,” Alfie Kohn noted.

“In terms of how much they eat, then, children seem to have a remarkable capacity for self-regulation. Unless, that is, we try to run their bodies for them.”

Indeed the same applies when it comes to activity. Children will naturally self-regulate their activity, so when they get tired, they will rest. However, at some point, children, us, our former selves, become indoctrinated and conditioned into exercising as a means to justify our eating. We class food as either “punishment” or “reward” and exercise as what governs which hole we dive down.

Ultimately, “what rewards and punishments do is induce compliance, and this they do very well indeed. If your objective is to get people to obey an order, to show up on time and do what they’re told, then bribing or threatening them may be sensible strategies. But if your objective is to get long-term quality in the workplace, to help students become careful thinkers and self-directed learners, or to support children in developing good values, then rewards, like punishments, are absolutely useless. In fact, as we are beginning to see, they are worse than useless—they are actually counterproductive,” states Alfie Kohn. The same may be applied with using food as a reward or punishment. Again, the more we try to control what we eat and how much we exercise, the more we begin to lose control and sway further away from our natural instincts and listening to our bodies. In turn, we perpetuate the blame culture. Exercise becomes a punishment, a torture, a catharsis for being fat or for eating whatever we term as “bad” foods.  Hence, we punish ourselves with foods that don’t fulfil our hunger, but instead perpetuate and fulfil our guilt.

Further, as a society we have normalized food and fitness obsessions and we have all collectively accepted not just women, but men, that part of being human is to count calories and feel guilty after every morsel of food we eat. I see people being pleased when they are sick, because they will lose some weight. I see people eating healthy portions in social situations, but bingeing, starving and/or purging behind the comfort of closed doors. This has become normal. But is this really what it means to be human? But more importantly, is this really living?

So what is the solution?

Let’s bring it back to childhood, before we associated food with anything than just calories. After all, food is culture, enjoyment, taste, memories, experiments, traditions and everything else neglected by restrictive diets. Some foods may have little nutritional value, but hold such depth in special significance in the hearts of many. For example, every dish your mom makes you. Learn to let go of how much calories the meal entail and instead embrace the amount of love, time, memories and enjoyment that comes from a meal made from a loved one. Let these memories stay in your heart, not how many calories were just consumed. Consume memories, rather than letting the calories consume you.

As with childhood, let’s bring it back to exercising when you feel like it. The ‘no excuses’ or ‘what’s your excuse?’ culture only perpetuates guilt and the blame culture. We feel guilty listening to our body’s need for rest after a day’s work. Though some of us aren’t engaged in physically laborious work, we may be engaged in mentally demanding work. This too, takes its toll.

Dr Ray Peat, PhD, has mentioned, “an active large brain uses energy at a very high rate, and it needs lots of support from the body. The liver is the main store of glucose (as glycogen) for mental work, and if it isn’t efficient, it can’t support prolonged original thinking. (The need for some nutrients, other than calories, can be very high when mental activity is intense.) Thinking while lying down, or sitting in an almost horizontal position, makes less demand on the liver. Familiar physical activities reduce the brain’s glucose consumption by stopping the energy-expensive brain processes. (The active brain produces lots of heat, so snacks are helpful. I used to notice that when I was working intensely mentally, even on a warm day my glasses and nearby windows would fog up with condensed water. Oxygen and calorie consumption can be more than twice as high as normal during intense thinking.)”

So it’s important to take into account both mental and physical work when addressing your capacity to exercise after a day’s work. Exercise is meant to enliven us and be restorative, rather than punish us and further drain our energy stores further. When it becomes fun, it may be a healthy habit. The important thing is not to push the habit into action, as then it becomes a drill. Instead, let the habit/s change your life. Make it easy, make it judgement free. Make it fun. Always bear in mind, exercise is meant to be fun – never painful, but always enlivening; restorative and helpful and never harmful. (For more on exercise, see this link http://www.thenutritioncoach.com.au/anti-ageing/rethink-how-you-exercise-an-interview-with-rob-turner-part-1/).

Also, it helps to view things like a math problem. Like your friend, Zachariah Salazar says, “did you do said thing? Why or why not? What tools did you have to fix that issue? This way it is an equation not a personal failure. It’s either SUCCESS or DATA!” No one gets personal about two plus two equals four or knowing 6537862786 plus 83279739 equates to whatever on the top of your head. All this means is you either have the tools or you don’t.

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the results.” – Oscar Wilde

Additionally, treat yourself as your own child. You wouldn’t blame your child for not completing a goal, because he or she did not have the tool/s to do so. There is no need for blame or shame. Just acceptance and a realignment of focus of what we do have now, rather than what we don’t. Always focus, on what you may ADD IN rather than what you have to SUBTRACT to get to your goal/s. Think addition, not subtraction. And as always, know whatever you are fighting took a while to get there, so it will need a while to undo. With patience, comes more data and with that always comes a greater chance of success.

At the end of the day, let’s count compassion (- kindness in particular), courage and confidence to be ourselves in a world constantly trying to change us. Let’s move away from judgement and more towards healing and finding the tools that would help us change our lives at our own pace. Let’s bring it back to listening to our bodies and trusting our instincts and above all, let’s let go of guilt. You are never guilty for loving yourself, just the way you are. And I want you to always, remember that the greatest test of willpower is NOT your determination to push past pain in a workout and/or your determination to go against your hunger cues, but it is going against the norm of ‘blame culture’. You wouldn’t let your own child go hungry or exercise beyond pain, so why would you let yourself? Compassion, courage and confidence always wins.

Love always,

A recovered me.

M is for Made for food. 

Dear Genevieve,
You are made for food and food is made for you. You two should and will be in love. I promise food is your perfect match. You two will be lovers forever. It might take a while for you to get to know each other again or maybe you’ll fall in love again at first bite, depending if it’s ice cream…
Today and everyday, let’s go back to what “healthy eating” really means. Firstly, when people say, “healthy eating starts tomorrow,” they have no idea what they’re talking about. People who say this rarely ever stick to their “plans” for “healthy eating.” I’ve noticed that a lot of people who say they will do something, often don’t accomplish what they say. For example, you often say you have plans for world domination, but never set about ACTUALLY actively doing it. But when it comes to “healthy eating,” I would say, you’re on the right track to mastering it. Healthy eating” is eating whatever YOU like and whatever keeps your furnace burning! That is, what keeps your metabolism revved up! In essence that would mean:

1. Ample calories, everyday, all day! The best amount of calories for you will always be the one you will be able to sustain forever. It is an amount that will bring out the most of you. That is, an amount that will unleash your full potential. I see so many people with such talent, who aren’t fully unleashing it, as they forget to eat or don’t eat enough. This wrecks havoc on their body and would affect their sleep. Imagine how well these people would do with talent plus great sleep! Now you wouldn’t last a day comfortably on a 1500 calorie diet, so you sure as hell won’t be ever lasting the rest of your life on that amount. As a grown woman, you will do best on at least 3000 calories a day. This amount greatly differs for each individual, but women in particular really should be eating from upwards of 2500 calories per day to sustain their lives fully. 

2. Pro-thyroid foods. These are foods that you do well on not just today, but everyday. You can tell based on your mood, temperature with pulse and sleep. Daily favorites for you would include, milk, cheese, fruits and chocolate. If you can’t live a day without it and it’s included in your daily diet, you’re doing well! For example, you’re not going a day without chocolate. I could imagine you swimming across the French Riveria to get it or you know, trying to be normal and just going to the stores. That shows how much you love it and you should never restrict foods you love everyday. That’s torturing yourself and what for? You deserve food and good food everyday in whatever amounts you choose, simply because you are alive and that takes a lot of work internally (a lot of processes go on inside of you, including thinking) and externally (all that incidental and non-incidental exercise) to sustain to a functional level.

3. Eating “well”. The only person who should define “eating well” for you is you. This starts with enough calories for you and eating whatever you like. Some people like vegetables, you don’t, except for chocolate and coffee. The foods you enjoy daily are the ones that sustain your weight and allow you to function best though, so that will always be “eating well” for you. Don’t let others describe what is “healthy” food or “eating well.” No one knows you better than you do, so no one knows what “eating well” looks or feels like to you. 

So remember, “healthy eating” is whatever you’re able to sustain not just today, but everyday. The best amount of calories for you is the one you will be able to live off and live off well everyday. Eat “well” and eat enough to bring out the best of you! You have so much talent and it will always be brought out better with not just enough, but more and whatever food you like, whenever you feel like it and whenever you want all day, everyday. 
You’re made for food and food is made for you. It’s a never ending love story and you deserve love. The best kind is the one you show yourself daily and part of that is making sure you eat, eat well and eat enough. 
Love always,
A recovered me. 

L is for Living

Dear Genevieve,

Anorexia, orthorexia and sports anorexia aren’t the greatest ways to live. Experiencing the fullness of what life has to offer requires being full. By full I mean well-fed, both spiritually and physically. As this is a multi-factorial issue, the answer is never a single simple factor. Eating is one part of the equation and with professional care and, the right environment, amongst what may turn out to be a trillion other things, it’s possible to recover.

In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

You can’t heal what you don’t confront. Sometimes it takes baby steps; other times it takes a big leap. Healing IS and looks different for everybody and is important to embrace forgiveness throughout the process. Relapse never ever erases successes. View your setbacks as steps forwards in better understanding who you are and how you will be able to do better next time. Nothing is ever lost as long as a thing or two is learned in the process.

When you confront your fears, you’ll see that they weren’t so big after all. Remember the words of what Dr Ray Peat said to you, “for myself, I’ve found that it’s helpful to pay attention to the places in my body that the unpleasant emotion concentrates, and then to see how particular memories and thoughts affect it. With repetition, the sensation fades, so that the thought or memory doesn’t have the same weight as before.”

Understanding is the base of compassion. When you understand yourself better, you’re more capable of caring and forgiving yourself more.

In the words of William Blake, “Opposition is true friendship. Dr Peat said, “Just as the brain stimulates and maintains the other tissues, and each hemisphere has a trophic, stimulating effect on the other, the older, instinctive systems of the brain activate the cortex, and exert a trophic, growth-promoting influence on it. Wild animals have larger brains than caged ones, which implies life and freedom are brain stimulants. Problems are opportunities. People can be the richest kind of opportunity, the most stimulating kind of problem. To do this, they have to arouse tension. (Blake said “opposition is true friendship.”) This is not to advocate competition. Competition tries to eliminate a problem by defeating an opponent, and can exist only in the armored character, which allows energy to flow only in one direction, and which can’t tolerate tension. (An opponent-friend is one who “inspires” you, who makes you gasp for breath and resolution.)

Just as people may provide this stimulation, so may our fears and own problems. When we view them as opportunities for growth, we can be the ones to inspire ourselves and reach new depths of understanding and thus a greater appreciation of ourselves.

Understanding paves the way for clarity. You begin to see so many new doors (i.e. opportunities). To see those doors, you need energy. Energy comes from food, but is also illuminated by such things as who you surround yourself with and the way you treat yourself and others. So be gentle on yourself always. There are so many factors required to see those doors and sometimes we need professional care to see them or at least a trusted friend.

“In the Universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between there are doors.” – William Blake

Believe, trust and know things will get better in time. Take each day as it comes. Through food and with food, listen to your instincts and pretty soon, more doors will open and like I said, you can’t ever lose. With so much to learn with so many new experiences, as long as you keep your mind open and well-fed (physically and spiritually), those doors will never close for you. This is the essence of being alive and I want you to embrace every part of you, including your fears.

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

Love always,

A recovered me.

K is for Kindness

A special Valentines letter to everyone:

Dear you,

“Then tell me, what is the material world, and is it dead?” He, laughing. answer’d: “I will write a book on leaves of flowers, if you will feed me on love thoughts & give me now and then A cup of sparkling poetic fancies; so, when I am tipsie, I’ll sing to you to this soft lute, and shew you all alive The world, where every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.” – William Blake, (1794)

“Here too, as in those days, the world of nature is made into the human world. It is – make no mistake it is – an act of love. Just as the neolithic farmers sometimes lay full-length upon their fields to seed them with their own bodies, others extend them into the natural world, penetrate it, thereby (as we shall see later) allowing it to enter them, becoming a part of themselves.” – Dr Ray Peat, PhD

To be loved is one of the most wonderful things in life and no one will ever be able to give you that feeling better that you are. You are whole, complete and beautiful as you are. No matter what life throws at you, showing as much care and love to yourself during those challenges will strengthen and uplift you. Here are some tips:

  1. Practice mindfulness. Sow thoughts of compassion, courage and confidence into your hearts and weed out the negativity. Look forward and only back to learn from the lessons of the past. Life gives us enough challenges for us to beat ourselves up simultaneously.
  2. Allow yourself food. Food gives us energy. When we have more energy, happiness is more attainable. After all, it takes less energy to frown than to smile. The body is smart and will adapt to the calories (energy) you give it. Give it more and you will give it more energy to smile, laugh, create, play, LOVE and more.
  3. Free yourself from food guilt. Easier said than done. Dr Peat wrote, “It’s good to be surrounded by happy people. If you insist on being happy in the presence of authoritarians, you risk losing your job or being considered insane, or worse. One rigid person can freeze up a large group, but sometimes it can go the other way.” That being said, it isn’t easy coming across truly happy people and so it is easier to fall prey to following the flock with self-punishment rather than self-care. When we really look at what we accomplish in our day and NOT compare it to what others have and look at it from OUR context, we see how truly amazing we are. Everyone is amazing in their OWN context. Whatever it is that makes you different is your most beautiful asset and know that whatever you do, you deserve food. You essentially are ‘working for your calories’ with every breath you take. After all, staying alive is no easy task. I’ve read differing stories on how much calories it takes to sustain a girl in a coma and I’m able to conclude that a lot of girls would not be eating close to that. So eat and eat freely. Eliminate food guilt and replace it with food joy.
  4. Lastly, remember, you are whole, complete and beautiful as you are and are every bit capable of being your own Valentines every day.

    Love always. Love conquers all.