The Importance of Metabolism

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Here’s a great and interesting article by Jessica Alden that precedes a concise summary of the importance of metabolism in disease prevention and elimination that I wrote especially for her new website.  It’s a great introductory article for many of you folks that are new to 180DegreeHealth and found how to RAISE TO YOUR METABOLISM to be overwhelmingly large and/or confusing.  Read the article by clicking


  1. Hey, I was wondering if you think carbs have anything to do with tooth decay, considering all the info on carbs ability to help increase metabolism. I was wondering because recently my teeth have gotten more sensitive, I'm personally not eating sugar but just more root veggies, fruits, and i started eating some cheese and kefir. Just wondering if you had any thoughts

  2. personally, i think it's true, as blood sugar levels seem to be the cause of tooth pain, as well as a lack of fat soluble vitamins and mega doses of minerals.

  3. Hi people,

    I was wondering about the following. Reading on wiki I saw that in the morning ones temperature is lower and that orally measured temperature is also a little lower than actual body temperature. So I was wondering what a normal measurement would be when taken orally in the morning. According to wiki it would be below 98.6. Mine is about 97.4 in the morning and around 98.6 (sometimes higher but often a little lower like 98.4)later on the day. Is this good or should my temperature also be 98.6 in the morning?


  4. Franz-

    98.6 in the morning would be ideal. Better to hit that later in the day than not at all, but it is an indicator of a pretty low resting metabolism. Of course, I've seen far lower.

    Tooth decay-

    Fruit on a high fat diet can cause me tooth pain. No doubt about it. You'll see this theme repeated in the fruitarian/80-10-10 literature (calling it literature is a stretch) as well. Most say to either cut out the fat with your fruit or cut out the fruit with your fat. In my experience, eating a lot of fruit and slowly working more fats back into the diet is the best solution. Starches don't have this effect, perhaps due to underlying differences between fruit sugar and starch, or perhaps due to something as simple as the acidity of fruit wearing down tooth enamel.

  5. Matty,

    Where are you in the comments? I'm gonna offer some repeat questions here from several posts, and some new ones-

    1) Is there any reason that you think this flirtation with sugar will be different from the apparent initial success with low carb, all fruit, all meat, etc, followed by long-term declines? Is it possibly because you were using the wrong rubric before (effortless weight loss, stable blood sugar, less inflammation rather than body temperature)?

    2) Why the hating on natural PUFA like that in mongongo nuts eaten by the San How does the existence of at least one high O6 eating native population differ from the existence of at least one apparently healthy wheat eating population (the Sikhs)? From what I would gather, the same logic that wheat isn't necessarily bad because at least one population thrived on it should translate over to O6 isn't necessarily bad because at least one population thrived on it. Why then no love for natural antioxident rich sources of 06? Also, given your comments elsewhere about real scientists like Staffan Lindeberg suggesting that smallness is humans correlates more strongly with health, do you think the apparent big and strong Sikhs were not necessarily as healthy as you thought previously? Do you think that has anything to do with their wheat eating? Do you think they're worth emulating?

    New questions:
    3) Peat's the rage around here, and he's anti-grain. Are you on board with that now? If so, why? If not, why not?

    4) You mention in this new article sub-clinical nutrient deficiency caused by eating nutrient poor fats and refined carbohydrates. Are fats actually nutrient poor? What about Vitamins A, D, K2, etc? And is sugar actually nutrient rich, especially the refined stuff? Molasses seems to be mineral rich, but gelato isn't rich in molasses usually.

    5) Do you have any system for interpreting bodily cues? When is an apparent improvement a good sign (warmth and energy following sugar?) , and when is it a bad sign (effortless weight loss low-carbing)? When is an initial decline just transient (trouble digesting mixed meals), and when is it a cue to jump ship(chest pain after the milk diet)? Several folks have mentioned tooth sensitivity after eating sugar- does that mean not to? If you suggest to keep pounding it until the pain goes away, why not the same recommendation after the milk diet? Why would we trust one and not another, aside from whatever we capriciously would like to believe at the moment?

    6) How much do you attribute your experiments in metabolic recovery to your apparent vitality now? I know you talk shit about the milk diet, but Michael at Nutrition and Physical Regeneration implied in his post about your muscle gains that it could be attributed to your 30 days on milk and bedrest. Seems plausible to me. Likewise RRARFing for a while, and a low-PUFA diet for some time might be priming the pump for you to thrive on a simple carb diet with even nutrient poor cane sugar, and so recommending those out of the gate for people who haven't undertaken your same litany of protocols might prove counter-effective. Do you have any sense of why that wouldn't be? Why it *would* work right off the bat?

    Ok, that's all Matt. Come back to the comments soon, buddy- we miss our fearless gelato-pounding researcher.

  6. On the repeat questions theme, and it needn't be Matt to answer this, just anyone who knows: measuring morning temps: is there a big difference in reliability btwn sublingual and armpit? According to Franz' comment, oral is lower–but my oral tends to measure higher than my armpit and I'm wondering which is more reliable?
    Off to look at the article…

  7. Ela,
    When I wake up, I use one in my mouth and one under my armpit (leave them both for 10mins)

    Every time I am; 97.2 armpit, and 97.6 mouth. They are both very stable ways to measure, you just need to be consistent with leaving them there for 10mins.

  8. Should add that armpit, you want minimum: 97.8 mouth 98.2 at waking. Those are the optimal values.

    During the day armpit: 98.2 and mouth 98.6

  9. Sally Fallon on sugar and tooth decay:

    "Sugar is the cause of bone loss and dental decay. Tooth decay and bone loss occur when the precise ratio of calcium and phosphorus in the blood varies from the normal ratio of four parts phosphorus to ten parts calcium.

    Dr. Melvin Page, a Florida dentist, demonstrated in numerous studies that sugar consumption causes phosphorus levels to drop and calcium to rise. Calcium rises because it is pulled from the teeth and bones. The drop in phosphorus hinders the absorption of this calcium, making it unusable and therefore toxic. Thus, sugar consumption causes tooth decay not because it promotes bacterial growth in the mouth, as most dentists believe, but because it alters the internal body chemistry.

    The naturally sweet foods from which sugar is extracted – sugar beet, sugar cane and corn – are particularly high in B vitamins, magnesium and chromium. All of these seem to play an important roles in the blood sugar regulation mechanism. These nutrients are discarded when the raw product is refined into sugar.

    Digestion of refined carbohydrates calls on the body's own store of vitamins, minerals and enzymes for proper metabolization. When B vitamins are absent, for example, the breakdown of carbohydrates cannot take place, yet most B vitamins are removed during the refining process.

    Moderate use of natural sweeteners is found in many traditional societies. Thus it is perfectly acceptable to satisfy your sweet tooth by eating fully ripened fruit in season and limited amounts of certain natural sweeteners high in vitamins and minerals, such as raw honey, date sugar, dehydrated cane juice (rapadura) and maple syrup."

    Nourishing Traditions, p. 24


    I don't think sugar is the only culprit like Sally does, but I do think it makes sense that the health of teeth and bones is determined by regulation from the inside out – not just by the external influences like food, bacteria, acidity, etc. in the mouth.

    This would explain why healthy teeth and bones can be found in people with such a variety of diets: fruit, no fruit; sugar, no sugar; starch, no starch; refined and unrefined, etc.

    It seems that the endocrine system regulates the mineral levels in the blood, bones, teeth and tissues. Ray Peat often discusses how low thyroid and high estrogen tends to take calcium out of teeth and bones (osteoporosis) and into the blood stream and then to places where it doesn't belong like tissues and joints (arthritis).

    In my opinion, blaming refined carbs, sugar or fruit for tooth pain & tooth decay is too simplistic. Overall health, including metabolism and gut/digestion needs to be considered.

    Good health/metabolism can protect you from a poor diet – at least until that poor diet destroys your health/metabolism: a chicken-egg scenario, for sure.

  10. @undertow–many thanks for that! I hadn't thought of trying both simultaneously. My thermometer is a digital one that beeps when it's gotten the temperature read: it takes significantly less than ten minutes. I'm guessing you're working with a regular thermometer?

  11. Thanks for the article, Matt: interesting overview. especially on the cholesterol/sex hormones connection. I also really appreciated the distinction between 'metabolism' and 'total energy expenditure:' it gives me a handle for explaining folks like my husband, who are doing strenuous exercise all day long, eat everything, and have low pulse rates and temps (and are afraid of eating if they haven't done massive exercise).

    The part that scares me: my husband's cholesterol is 'world class' (over 300) and his (marathon-running) doctor, as well as my dh himself, consider 'exercise' to be the panacea for that. At least his ratios are good and there's no pressure for him to go on statins…

  12. Thanks for the reply Matt.
    @ Ela: what I read was that oral temperature is lower than actual body temperature (anal measurement? :P)and that armpit temp is even lower than that.

  13. I would love to see all of Rob A's questions answered in a series of articles. I think they're all very pertinent and valuable questions.

  14. Hey Joanne,

    Thanks- me too. Though I think Matt's ignoring me these days.

    Go ahead Matt- prove me wrong! :-)

  15. Hey Rob,

    I think you *might* be right about that.

    Hey Matt,

    Prove him wrong.

    ( show him some love :)

  16. Sorry Rob-

    Not ignoring you or failing to show you love. It's just that, um, I've been showing love to um, someone else lately. I'm tiptoeing back to normal life though. Here are some quick answers. I ain't got all day today unfortunately.

    1. Yes it's possible. This is not an adrenal high/catecholamine honeymoon though. I have had all discoloration disappear under my eyes, have no sleep problems, etc. even though I have absurd energy assuming I get good sleep – which I haven't been, which is indirectly correlated with my absence in the comments section
    2. I will be calling for a boycott on referencing traditional cultures tomorrow. None of them are worth emulating. We are not traditional people living in a traditional environment and shouldn't pretend that we are. I suspect that the health of modern man and lifestyle of modern man is very unique and calls for very unique rebalancing formulas/presriptions. We can also use modern science to show us that an anti-inflammatory, anti-stress diet is the ultimate diet for longevity, slower aging, and disease prevention.
    3. I'm not as Peaty as you would imagine. I still strongly believe in dietary freedom and fukitol. If someone could convince me that health obsession could lead to better health I'd be a believer, but so far the only golden rule in health enhancement I've seen comes from increasing caloric intake and avoiding major restriction. Thinking about minor things like gelatin or the amount of animal protein in the diet or anti-nutrients in grains are much more secondary to what is of real importance to most people.
    4. Yes, fats are very low in nutrients. Richest sources of fat soluble vitamins – like sockeye salmon, liver, or spinach, are not what I would call fatty foods. People probably eat too much oil, butter, and other concentrated fats with abysmal nutrient density.
    5. There is no system for interpreting bodily cues. I think "listening to your body" gets a lot of people in trouble. Rather, I like to provide multiple ways of interpreting them so that people don't convince themselves blindly of one narrow point of view. Here is the best example of someone who had good initial results followed by catastrophe, but because of the initial honeymoon cannot connect the diet to the current health demise, despite this being as textbook of a before and after low-carb story as it gets…
    6. I think RRARF and a year of endurance exercise avoidance is what allowed me to gain muscle so quickly, not the milk diet which caused me to lose muscle mass. I think if someone did RRARF with more ice cream and juice and less meat and potatoes they would fare very well, if not better, and undergo more food rehab as ice cream is a more "forbidden food" that people are afraid to eat because they think they'll go off the deep end if they do.

  17. You do love me, you really do! Thanks Matt!


    1- Not sure what role under-eye discoloration has in all this. Is that an indicator of overworking adrenal glands? Are there otehr reasons that may have gone away?

    2- See thread

    3- Glad to hear you're still commited to dietary freedom, Especially from a psychological standpoint, I think deprivation is a terrible idea. It still makes sense to me, though, that based on different factors some foods won't do well together. PUFA and sugar, for example. So doing the Barry Sears thing and avoiding the nutritional perfect storm, not ever demonizing a certain food, but recognizing when and where it causes problems, seems totally sensible.

    4- Fair enough.

    5- I have trouble believing that. You yourself just emntioned the under-eye discoloration. If that means nothing, why mention it? You say listening to your body gets people in trouble- why, and how can we minimize or avoid that trouble? I have a hard time believing that our bodily cues are irrelevent and that our bodies simply can't be trusted. It makes more sense to me that we can mis-interpret cues than to think that they simply don't count. Also, the example you provide of Diana Hsieh is an example of clearly *ignoring* your bodily cues.

    6- Avoiding endurance exercise has never been my problem. I think you're maybe extrapolating your experience too far and drawing conclusions that are more individual than universal. It remains to be seen, for me, whether ice cream and fruit juice over meat and potatos works better. Maybe for someone who's avoided them as religiously as you. But as you mentioned, it may be because of the food rehab component- abandoning the taboos is liberating and health enhancing beyond any particular nutrients in those foods.

    To be continued, I reckon.

  18. Each body has its own ideal weight and size. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, but listen to your body and notice what feels best for you.


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