nature, systems, biology, genetics, weight, evolution, efficiency

We’ve become too efficient at feeding ourselves

Obesity, its causes, and solutions are not a soundbite or two.

We’ve evolved to what we are today because of improvements in efficiency.

We are so efficient now at producing food, we waste 30% of it globally.

It’s so easy to feed ourselves, we need to go against our genetics and do things with the sole purpose of removing excess food stores.

Biologically, we want to do things the quickest, simplest way.

Hence fad diets, extreme diets.

Hence arguments about the one cause or cure of obesity.

As Nobel Prize winner, economist and psychologist Daniel Kahnemann’s many studies show, the very act of thinking hard in itself depletes us of energy.

We want a quick fix, like our quick reactions in simply running from bears or hunting them.

Our bodies including the brain organ don’t like expending energy we will then have to replenish.

In the 12,000 years since we started farming, we have grown taller, and are now living longer, becoming more obese, but it’s not obvious we have evolved in such a short time.

Instead, though, our knowledge has grown.

It’s up to us to use the collective knowledge of our tribe to help each other make learning easier, buying the right food easier, and to help make regulating our weight easier to do and understand.

It’s up to us to stop insisting on extremist, over-simplified, and/or fad approaches that we can’t sustain long enough to make all the required changes.

Evolutionary psychology, dieting, hormones, exercise, and injuries

Ideas emerging from the aethers. Been learning bits about evolutionary psychology.

As well as leptin and ghrelin, other hormones seem to affect hunger. e.g. women need more energy intake during certain times in a cycle. (re Lyle McDonald.)
PMS is worse if you’re not eating enough.

Running and exercise help with stress and burning off our fight/flight instincts when most of us have desk or indoor jobs that can be very stressful. But too much intense exercise increases stress (adrenaline and cortisol).

I’ve suspected for a while that testosterone compels men to continually compete and overdo it when they exercise. It’s certainly pretty bad for women comparing ourselves to others in the gene pool. And social media and technology’s effects on top causing us to want to look more awesome than the next person.

I have more I could say about this all leading to injuries, and un-sustainability in fitness.

Dopamine and serotonin can also be nice happy comfortable influences that make competitiveness less important and make us want to be happy just being with our tribe around our campfire safe from wild animals.

I guess these hormones can also be part of the reason people want to stick to a diet their peers prefer.

Leptin and its role in metabolism

The 1994 discovery of the hormone Leptin has led to exponential incremental scientific discoveries and now its role (in obesity in particular) is becoming more widely known.
“Jeffrey M. Friedman, whose [1994] discovery of the hormone leptin has transformed our understanding of obesity, will be a 2020 recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He is being honored for his discovery of a new endocrine system through which adipose tissue signals the brain to regulate food intake. Friedman is the Marilyn M. Simpson Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
“The relatively new Breakthrough Prize, with its accompanying $3 million award, is the most generous prize in the sciences, and recognizes achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics, and mathematics. The prize was established eight years ago by several Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, including the founders of Google, Facebook, and 23andMe.
“Friedman’s 1994 discovery of leptin, and of its receptor in the brain encoded by the obese gene, shed new light on the pathogenesis of obesity. He and his colleagues have since shown that leptin acts on sets of neurons in brain centers that regulate food intake and energy expenditure, and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and immune function.”
 
Jeffrey M. Friedman’s latest Nature article:
Leptin and the endocrine control of energy balance.” – Jeffrey M. Friedman, Nature, August 29, 2019.
(pdf download available.)
 
I’ll add that leptin research is not limited to leptin deficiency.
There is work being done on how leptin (satiety hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels can be altered by diet in beneficial and harmful ways.