“Their metabolism is so slow that they may take a half a minute to move a leg a few inches. Their digestive system is so slow that they need only defecate about once a week. They even sneeze slowly.”
Some people still don’t get it. When I say “it” I mean the centrality of a high cellular metabolic rate in disease prevention, body composition, and overcoming many common health problems big and small as discussed in how to RAISE YOUR METABOLISM.
Big names in “alternative nutrition” like Mark Sisson and Joel Fuhrman, who make relatively sound general dietary prescriptions (eat nutritious foods at the exclusion of most junk), have both negated the importance of metabolism – and even believe it’s good to have a low metabolism. Everyone else shrugs it off, typically because they have convinced themselves that they are the healthiest person on earth, and when they see that their body temperature is low they say either:
a) Body temperature must not matter
b) It might even be good to have a low body temperature
c) Matt Stone is a douche
d) All of the above
It’s time for a simpler example to establish the real differences between high cellular metabolic rate and low cellular metabolic rate. After all, that’s all that I’m really concerned with. If you are talking about total calories burned, the best way to “raise your metabolism” is to get as muscular and fat as you can possibly get, like Sumo wrestlers that have the highest metabolic rates of any humans. But I doubt that’s what most people are after. Most people want to be lean, energetic, not have to spend all day sleeping, and otherwise not live like a sloth – or look like a Sumo.
Speaking of sloths, isn’t it cute that the mammal with the lowest metabolic rate (other than hibernating animals which are so lifeless as to be almost indistinguishable from a corpse), is the animal most notorious for having next to zero vitality, vigor, speed, and strength?
The sloth has the lowest metabolic rate of any mammal – and the body temperature to show for it at about 93 degrees F supposedly. Of course, in the modern world we blame our sedentary lifestyles on laziness or modern convenience. Well, my eight year-old niece has access to plenty of couches and televisions and computers, but after spending a week with her I fully understand why she eats 2,500 + calories per day and literally has a little visible (slightly) 6-pack. That kid cannot sit still, and can be hot even when sopping wet in cool temperatures. That’s what happens when you eat ice cream in quantities equal to the size of your head on a daily basis.
Anyway, tail wagging the dog people, tail wagging the dog. I just wanted to say that. I’m not fully sure what it means.
And speaking of tails, does anyone know if sloths have them? I’m not sure. I am sure that I googled “sloth metabolism” (who hasn’t really?) and found a nice article featuring factoids such as sloths having a body temperature of 93 degrees F, a transit time of up to 30 days, they sleep 14-16 hours per day, have very little muscle mass, strength, energy, or speed – and otherwise spend most of their time conserving energy just like a human in hibernation/famine/starvation mode does.
So when I paint a portrait of certain things being quite simple – “Oh, raise your metabolism and your digestion will get better and you’ll probably eradicate constipation for life by the “turd” week of following THIS GENERAL PROGRAM,” in many cases it really is precisely that simple. Not all of course, but a high percentage of cases.
Take sloth digestion for example. They eat, and the food takes 30 days to get out the other end because they digest it so slowly. In a reduced metabolic state, the bowel transit time slows down to extract as many calories from the food as possible. It stays in the gut fermenting and putrefying, causing gas and irritation and inflammation and toxin absorption, bacteria proliferate (in humans this might cause bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, or SIBO – in turn causing fructose malabsorption, hypoglycemia, yada yada), stool moisture decreases causing stool hardening typical of the constipated, this causes gas and more irritation – potentially wearing away at the intestinal wall and causing serious problems and who knows what else, straining to expel stools can cause hemorrhoids, fissures, diverticulosis, and varicose veins, and on and on and on and on. It is all interconnected to metabolic rate.
The only question one needs to ask is what kind of health experience are you looking for? Do you want to have lots of energy? Strength, endurance, and vitality? A decreased need for sleep and rest or an increased need for sleep and rest?
To me it seems painfully obvious. The modern diet, lifestyle, and other factors seemed to have combined somehow to cause an epidemic of slothlike metabolism. Yes, a sloth metabolism epidemic. That’s what we’re looking at in the world today. This is why a nurse I spoke with recently said that she saw a body temperature of 98.6 degrees F or above in an average of ZERO out of 150 daily readings. Yet, although this body temperature is now an extreme rarity, at one point this was so normal that it helped to establish 98.6 degrees F as normal. We ain’t what we used to be.
Fixing it requires a well-strategized approach in my view. Just eating some nutritious food and not trying to break any records running marathons is probably helpful for a lot of people, but getting out of sloth metabolism and into a state in which your body’s cells are producing energy at a high enough level for it to translate into massive increases in overall vitality probably takes more than that.
If you’d like to know how a low metabolism translates to poor fertility and low sex drive I encourage you to research the bear with the lowest metabolic rate. You know, it’s the one that is about to go extinct because of the horrible and biologically-inappropriate diet it evolved to eat during the Paleolithic era (almost entirely vegan, 99% bamboo). It’s the one that zookeepers can’t figure out how to get to have sex, much less reproduce – the one they are now resorting to showing pornographic images to in hopes of getting them in the mood.
The biggest question is, how appropriate is a Baby Ruth candy bar for a Sloth? Will it help, or will it make your friends insist that you do the truffle shuffle before entering their home? I would think potatoes and coconut oil would be more helpful, but I’ll be damned if I’m not enjoying the heck out of some juice and key lime pie right now. I don’t want to eat foods with a low calorie density like sloths, panda bears, and koalas – regardless of what that might do for my huggability.
Of course I’m terribly torn. On the one hand high-calorie density foods with a pornographic nature (pornographic foods Sally Fallon calls them – a great term) seem to short-circuit the homeostatic weight regulation mechanism, causing those sensitive to “conditioned hypereating” to eat more without a rise in metabolism. Yet, the pornographic foods (within reason – low-PUFA sans chemical flavor enhancers), make me strong like bull. We’ll save that for a future masturdebate I suppose.