Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fiaf: Starving amidst plenty

Our gut bacteria live in our gut. OK that's obvious, but if the system is in good working order they are almost all, several trillion of them, in our colon.

Our colon is anaerobic. No oxygen.

In general oxygen is required to accept electrons at the end of the respiratory chain. As mammals we are exquisitely dependent on molecular oxygen for this. Not so the bacteria. Given a few billion years you can learn how to use other susbstances, sulphur being a favourite, to accept the respiratory chain driving electrons. In fact sulphur may have come first. Bacteria were around long before plants poisoned the planet with oxygen. Anyone who has eaten a sulphur and fiber rich meal will be well aware that hydrogen sulphide can be a highly aromatic feature of subsequent flatus. I won't translate that, let's just say roomclearing.

So bacteria are pretty sophisticated at energy extraction. I mentioned extracting sugars from fiber and extracting short chain fatty acids from sugars in my last post. So if there is some sort of electron acceptor around bacteria will extract energy. But some circumstances defeat even these metabolic wizards.

Strict anaerobic conditions impose certain limits.

Getting energy out of glucose without molecular oxygen is easy, just rearrange the molecule to free up the oxygen from those six hydroxyl groups. The end product can be anything from methane through ethanol, hydrogen or acetic acid. They all contain less oxygen than the parent glucose because the parent glucose has provided oxygen to the gut bacteria.

Given long enough bacteria will extract so much oxygen from organic molecules that all that is left is carbon and hydrogen. Bury an intact swamp with some bacteria for long enough and you end up with natural gas and crude oil.

But what I'm really driving at is that not even bacteria can extract energy from pure hydrocarbon molecules without oxygen.

Our colon is anaerobic. Eating a balanced diet feeds our gut bacteria with fiber. In return they grace us with flatulence and suppressed levels of Fiaf. At their behest we store fat under these conditions.

The bacteria never ask for the fat back directly as there is very little even the most enthusiastic bacterium can do with palmitic acid under the strict anaerobic conditions of the colon. Long chain fatty acids, especially the saturated ones, contain enormous amounts of energy per gram but we absolutely must have oxygen to liberate it.


So let's consider a normal fiber consuming rolly-polly human being carrying around 20kg of excess fat, property of their gut bacteria. Each day they consume their routine 1500kcal of food, which has failed to allow weight loss while it has been made up of a balanced fiber rich diet.

Then one day they eat 1500kcal of lard. Please don't try this at home, it's a thought experiment, strictly in your head. Under the anaerobic conditions of the colon there is no way the bacteria there can tap in to any of this energy, assuming some of the fat gets that far. It just might, which could be unpleasant.

So the gut bacteria are swimming in a sea of energy rich lipid, without any oxygen to work with. They cannot extract any of this energy. Energy deprived bacteria are hungry.

The human is not hungry!

What happens to Fiaf when our gut bacteria get hungry? As far as the gut bacteria are concerned this is starvation land and it's time to get Fiaf levels up, mobilise some host fat and get the host metabolism switched to serious fat burning. Weight loss under these circumstances becomes easy.

So with a little information it is quite possible to manipulate our gut bacteria and modify their ability to manipulate us.

High fat diets are a simple energy balance between us and our prey. Once the carbs, especially fiber rich carbs, come in there is a whole new ball game going on which includes our gut bacteria.

There is a paper out there on pubmed which I found and lost and cannot re locate. If our gut bacteria control our weight to their own advantage, wouldn't you expect them to control our food preferences to their own advantage too? They actually do this by altering peptide neurotransmitters in our brain. Anyone with a reference for this? I'd love a copy!

But it's worth noting that humans LOVE sweet things, yet there is absolutely no biological need for any carbohydrate in our diet whatsoever, except avoiding full ketosis might be benefical in terms of energy balance.

Which organisms want us to eat carbohydrate? The ones that want us to be fat! And, no, I'm not talking about the FDA of the USA here, though that organisation does seem to be acting on behalf of our gut bacteria.

You want to control your weight? Control your own energy balance.

To quote the title from one of Barry Groves' books:

Eat fat get thin.

Peter

23 comments:

Robbie said...

I just discovered your blog as a result of the comment at Seth's. Very interesting and informative. I'll be reading it regularly from now on.

leahys said...

fascinating. thanks for teasing that out of the research.

question: why avoid ketosis? you mentioned this on an earlier post and say so again in this one, unless I am misunderstanding you.

Varangy said...

As a result I eat a high fat diet, approximately 80% of calories from animal fat, with enough protein to meet my needs and enough carbohydrate to stay out of ketosis (just).

I too am interested in that. Why avoid ketosis?

Also, if it is to be avoided, how many grams or what percentage of calories will just let you avoid it?

Varangy said...

BTW have you read Taubes' book? Would love to know your thoughts on it.

In the book, he outlines the mechanism that allows lard, bacon etc to decrease cholesterol levels.

Peter said...

Hi leahys and varangy.

About the ketosis, I have to admit I'm not that successful in keeping ketone negative but it doesn't worry me that much. I came up in LC through Groves and Lutz, neither of whom restrict carbs to ketogenic levels. But by far my strongest influence is Kwasniewski. Dr K is a very strange person with some very strange ideas. He never gives any refs for anything, pretty well. But whenever I follow him up in the published data he is usually uncannily correct. He suggests 50ish g/d carbs. I find at this level I am still in mild ketosis and if I skip a meal or two it's far in to the purple.

Apart from a hunch that Dr K is correct I guess I'm looking for metabolic efficiency, ie looking to eat the minimum calories for fully adequate metabolism without waste. The conversion of fat to ketone bodies seems wasteful when you can burn the palmitic acid straight for most of your needs.

It's pretty clear from Dandonas work that eating calories of most types is a metabolic stress. Eating fat and burning fat generates least free radicals and wastes least energy.

I guess the other aspect is that there are no data on long term full ketosis. I have the Freemans' book on ketogenic diets for epilepsy but this is very extreme in terms of food choices and comes with occasional metabolic catastrophes. From Stefansson's books it looks like the eskimo were only ever in mild ketosis due to relatively high protein intake.

So no data for what we are able to do nowadays by choice... certainly the drifting in and out of mild ketosis has turned out to be normal for me. Interestingly ketones peak for me post prandially, not at overnight. My guess is that LPL spills NEFA in to the blood as well as in to the tissues, if there is a high enough fat load.

Peter

Peter said...

PS Taubes book is on my Christmas list!

Stan said...

Hi all,

My impression on Dr. Kwasniewski is the sam as your's Peter: no references whatsoever but every time I tried to challenge his theory for my own sake and dig into publications he seemed to have been hundred percent correct! Where did he get it from?

I cannot explain his unwillingness to publish, except perhaps being extremely cheesed off by the academic science standards in Poland (as a physicist, I wasn't impressed either). Kwasniewski found more sympathy among some high ranking communist officials and army general who were more willing to listen to him and to experiment with new nutrtrition than his own medial colleagues. That should tell us something about the nature of the problem. I think you are going to experience exactly the same mental resistance in the UK as we deal with here in the N. America as long as you confine yourself to acting among the academics, medical professionals and intellectuals.

I am following his nutrition style since July 1999: per 1kg of ideal body weight per day, this is 1g of animal protein, 1.5-3.5g of animal fat and 0.5-0.8g of carbohydrates. For me there are absolutely no negative side effects for me, all positive!

That is not a long term proof but at least for anyone attempting to try it, contrary to what some medical doctors would want you believe, I can assure you that you won't die immediately because of it!

Stan (Heretic)

P.S.

robbie, what is that Seth blog?

space holder said...

Hi, I also found your blog through Seth's Blog. Very interesting, I'd like to try your diet. What do you actually eat on a typical day?

dave_lull said...

". . . what is that Seth blog?"

That would be Seth Roberts' blog and the reference is to the posting found here.

Liz said...

Hi space holder,

Sorry for the delay, two days working, done now.

Normal food for the day?

Breakfast almost always is six egg yolks fried in butter. Lots.

Lunch, varies sometimes happens sometimes doesn't. A chunk of Brie is common.

Supper. This is my main meal, usually meat based, Bolognaise sauce with cheese and a vegetable. Chili mix with cheese and a vegetable, fried salmon and vegetable, steak and chips, Belly pork with a Mexican sauce, Lamb casserole with vegetables included, Goulash is good, assorted curries (extra fatty lamb chops a fave here), chicken (but loaded with butter or coconut oil) often with chips. Chips are popular, fried in beef dripping. Based on potatoes (boring) or sweet potatoes or parsnips (yummy but fructose loaded...).

I usually get through 1000kcal of double cream each day, mostly used with Green and Blacks organic cocoa powder, sweetened with a small amount of glucose powder (within my carb limit) alongside meals. Or just have the cream as a simple drink for a full meal at lunchtime. I ferment my cream for this use.

I eat quite a lot of Sainsbury's 85% cocoa chocolate. Cocoa beans approach my main vegetable intake.

I take some vitamin C occasionally as a supplement, probably not needed as there are loads of sweet peppers in most of my dishes but it's cheap and easy and I do use it as a paracetamol substitute when I have a cold (commoner since my son goes to nursery now).

I take 5g/day fish oil to balance the estimated 15-20g omega 6 fatty acids from the UK food chain.

I take 10,000iu D3 a day in winter. I lie in the sun in summer.

I eat offal as often as I can, should be once a week but I don't always manage this. Usually liver or kidneys

That's about it. It's very simple. My wife and I cook from scratch. We're fortunate to be fully aware that we are both gluten intolerant. You have to cook for yourself! Eating out occasionally is fine, tends to be a bit heavy on protein but the occasional high protein day is no stress. I have been known to butter my roast beef if it's a bit low on fat...

Peter

PS Never forget Optimal ice cream. Cream, egg yolks, vanilla and a little glucose powder (sugar or honey if you don't mind the fructose). Mmmmmmmmmmmm Consume as a chore to make up any calorie deficit. Or because it's yummy. It's about the only unfermented dairy I eat. No grains.

Peter said...

Oh! How did that happen?

I'm not liz, she's my daughter. Never lend your lap top to your daughter! Should be logged in as me now.

Peter

Jen said...

Hello, Peter. I just discovered your blog, which I devoured in its entirety last night, with frequent pauses for amazement at all the new ideas I was encountering. I had to laugh when you claimed cocoa as your main vegetable; I might say the same about coffee.

space holder said...

Thank you, that looks much more pleasant than I expected. Especially the cream with cocoa.

ttlaitin said...

some researchers claim that the gut bacteria SHOULD be fed carbs/fiber.

the bacteria produce butyrate, which they believe "prevent cancer cells in the gut from continuing to grow".

any thoughts about butyrate?

Peter said...

Hi ttlaitin,

Yes, I remember when this came out. The paper is on pubmed now.

My take on colorectal cancer is that it is sugar poisoning fueled by chronic hyperinsulinaemia working through assorted ilgf receptors. The basic framework appears to well understood by these people:

Gunter and Leitzmann (2006) Obesity and colorectal cancer: epidemiology, mechanisms and candidate genes. J Nutr Biochem. 17(3):145-56

My assumption is that butyrate, as a short chain fatty acid, is far less useful to a cancer cell than glucose. Ditto beta-hydroxy butyrate from a ketogenic diet, used to treat brain tumours with some success.

If you feed a lab rodent on NTP-2000 it will develop assorted cancers by 13 weeks of age. If you feed NTP-2000 to humans (Ornish style Food Pyramid) they will need any fatty acids they can get. Butyrate from gut bacteria is still better than glucose from wheat.

The Aberdeen group did essentially what I've been discussing here, but don't see the relevance of their own findings. They may not have read the Fiaf papers or have considered the roll of glucose and insulin in carcinogenesis. No one can read everything...

So what about butyrate? It's preferable to glucose. It is a fatty acid after all. But where's the need for it if you normalise glucose and insulin?

Peter

CR said...

Peter, could I make a suggestion about how you are using "Labels"?

They're designed to allow posts to be grouped according to the label. So in the case of this article, the label might best be "Fiaf". The advantage of that is that when I would click on the Fiaf label in the right hand column, all of the posts related to Fiaf would come up together and I could read them sequentially.

By labeling the posts with the title of the post, you defeat the purpose of this, so that if I want to see all of the posts concerning Fiaf, I have to go back and forth and click on each one individually.

You're using the Label as more of a TOC.

Not a criticism, just a suggestion to make it easier for your readers to be able to see all the posts on a particular subject.

Peter said...

Yes, that's exactly how I started using labels when the blog was small and I only ever put up one post per subject. It's sort of grown and I can now see the use in grouping. I only found that I could get an email notification of comments last week! Duh. They really shouldn't let us idiots with Macs on to the net!

Peter

Lisa said...

Peter,
I have a BSc MSc and PhD in Computer Science and I only just worked that out that you can get an email notification too! Great isn't it :)
Lisa

George must lose weight said...

I showed Peter's diet to a chef and he immediately said: "I bet that guy only goes to the toilet once a week!"

rosenfeltc said...

Peter,
I know this is a late post but I decided today to start from the beginning and read all of your posts so even though I'm late hopefully I can get your opinion on something.
Basically my question is, are carbs from organ meats the same as carbs from vegetable and fruits? This might be a silly question but honestly if I eat vegetables and fruits I start to break out and get acne, yet if If eat only animal foods including some organ meats I still have clear skin.
Is it possible that there might be some differences between animal carbs and vegetable carbs just like I think we can agree that there is a world of difference between animal fat and vegetable fat?
Ultimately I'm also curious on how those differences would affect the gut and colon bacteria. Thanks for your time.

P.S. your blog and Kurt Harris's blog are the best out there in my humble opinion

DancinPete said...

"What happens to Fiaf when our gut bacteria get hungry? As far as the gut bacteria are concerned this is starvation land and it's time to get Fiaf levels up, mobilise some host fat and get the host metabolism switched to serious fat burning. Weight loss under these circumstances becomes easy."

how does mobilizing the host fat help out the bacteria in the gut? is it just to give the host some energy to go hunt/gather some more carbs/fiber, or is there some mechanism whereby the bacteria can get access to the the energy stored in the host's rump?

M said...

Do you think it's possible the only reason we like sugar is because the bacteria "tell" us to? Theoretically, could one for instance take a pure carnivor who has no natural taste for sugar at all, like a cat, and make it like sugar by feeding it a high carb diet?

George Henderson said...

Here is a paper on ways that microbiota can manipulate host mood.
http://felixjtapia.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Forsythe-et-al-2007-microbiota-modula-mal-humor.pdf

One detail that impresses me is that some can ferment glutamate to GABA (GABA made from acidophilus fermentation of glutamate is actually used in asian health drinks - http://www.biosynergy.com/GABA.htm). Benzodiazepines are GABA agonists and they can give you a hell of an appetite.

Also see:
Effects of gut microbiota on the brain: implications for psychiatry
Karen-Anne Neufeld, BSc and Jane A. Foster, PhD
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2674977/