By Josh Lamaro, Jack Kruse and Yew-Wei Tan
Unavoidable in the Australian media of late has been Pete Evans’ relentless dietary tirade as our “Paleo High Priest”, touting the whole-foods-cure-all-ailments message to the masses (Autism included!) That’s right, the reason you have autism is because your (or your parents’) diet sucks (!?)
At its heart, the message that Pete Evans and his crew have told the Aussie public is that ‘Paleo’ is about taking a “balanced approach”, returning to eating whole, nutrient-dense foods, and living in a more sustainable and holistic way. The benefits of disease reversal apparently come as an added bonus to those who follow this approach.
Whilst moving towards whole foods and shunning processed junk is undeniably a move in the right direction, what he hasn’t told his fan-base is what happens to mitochondrial signalling when you adopt this lifestyle in the context of a modern world loaded with EMF-transmitting technology.
The human genome has been shaped by millions of years of evolution, during which it adapted to the conditions of existence. These conditions absolutely included the types of food that were available, but were undeniably affected by many other factors. With so many evolutionary pressures having shaped our genome, and so much having changed in the last 50 years, one has to ask why food became the main target?
Among the many lessons that emerge from the paleolithic record, perhaps the most sobering is that in life, as in the stock market, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Food is a Product of the Environment; Your Environment is not a Product of Food
There is no mention from modern Paleo dogmatists of how food is handled differently in different people, given the drastically varied environments that we each live in. The dietary differences between the Inuit and the Kitavans confused many Paleo 1.0 subscribers for this very reason.
Pete does not seem to understand the science of how our modern environment negatively affects cellular signalling, and how food is just one of many inputs to a circadian sensing system.
What is “Circadian Signalling”?
Life is 100% about circadian biology and seasonal cycles. It is about the ways in which those cycles determine how food is grown, how it carries energies, and how and where these energies are fed into and used by our mitochondria.
The daily rotation of the Earth on its axis, and the yearly revolution of the Earth around the Sun, require that living organisms adapt to nyctohemeral and seasonal periodicity.
Terrestrial life-forms have developed endogenous molecular circadian clocks to synchronize their behavioral, biological, and metabolic rhythms to environmental cues, with the aim to perform at their best, regardless of these forever changing environmental pressures. The coordinated circadian regulation of sleep/wake, rest/activity, fasting/feeding, and catabolic/anabolic cycles is crucial for optimal health.
Circadian rhythms in gene expression synchronize biochemical processes and metabolic fluxes with the external environment, allowing the organism to function effectively in response to predictable physiological challenges.
What does this all mean in english?
It means the goal of the body is simply to match it’s internal signalling mechanisms to respond properly to any external signals. We can say that all systems of the body simply strive for metastability given a changing external environment. A circadian clock is simply something that measures these external environmental signals, and relays that information to internal components of the system (the body), so that those other components knows what is going on. These components can then ensure and allow the body to be as energy efficient as possible in its physiological functioning.
The Master Circadian Controller
In mammals, this daily time-keeping is driven by multiple biological clocks in the body. However, the master molecular time-keeping oscillators are found within the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus.
These SCN oscillators send neural and hormonal signals to self-sustained and cell-autonomous molecular oscillators in peripheral tissues all around the body, coordinating the body as a whole to respond appropriately to external changes.
Nutritional status is sensed by nuclear receptors and coreceptors, transcriptional regulatory proteins, and protein kinases. These receptors help sense the alternating light and dark cycles, and synchronize them with metabolic gene expression and epigenetic modification, as well as energy production and expenditure.
Physiological rhythmicity characterizes these biological processes and body functions, and multiple rhythms coexist in the system, presenting different phases which may determine different ways of coordination among the circadian patterns, at both the cellular and whole-body levels.
Move to the rhythm, step to the beat!
Any alteration of circadian rhythms leads to the onset of desynchronization of internal clocks. The end product is metabolic derangement and disease (chronopathology).
What happens when you stare into your TV at 10pm at night while munching on paleo sweet-potato chips after a long day at work?
The SCN says it’s daytime because of all the light getting into the eye. Your liver on the other hand, is exhausted from all that stress from your office-job, but it now needs to rev up again to deal with the incoming food ….. Your liver can only take so much beating before it starts to fail.
One recent study pointed out rather clearly that desynchronization between the central and peripheral clocks by altered timing of food intake can lead to uncoupling of peripheral clocks from the central pacemaker and is, in humans, related to the development of metabolic disorders, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. For further reading on these papers, please check out @calories proper’s excellent commentaries here and here.
There’s been so much recent talk and media hype about the role of diet in obesity and diabetes, and Pete’s PR machine is at the helm. There has yet to be any speak of the timing when food is eaten, nor any mention of the most drastic change in our environment since the Paleolithic era — fake light and the introduction of non native electromagnetic frequencies (EMF.) There has been no discussion on how this might disrupt our molecular clock system, despite the evidence mounting in the literature.
Artificial Light Inputs
Chronic and indiscriminant use of artificial blue light is the metabolic equivalent to chronic excessive carbohydrate consumption, because both contain high-powered photoelectric energies.
Reminder: we need to stop thinking about food as simply carbs / fats / proteins / alcohol. When carbohydrate is consumed, the substrate is broken down into high-powered electrons, and those high-powered electrons are fed into mitochondrial Complex I. Electrons carry energy and information.
Our mitochondria evolved expecting a seasonal variation of energies in both photons and electrons. Summer-time photons are high-powered, and winter time photons are lower-powered.
What happens when you give your mitochondrial high-powered photons and electrons all-year round?
Unrelenting high-energy photons and electrons destroy the brain’s ability to properly signal environmental cues to our cellular machinery. It affects this molecular machinery quickly by fast-forwarding our circadian chemical clocks. These clocks are all biologically tied to the cell cycle that controls growth.
It seems clear that it is more than just our food that needs to get more “paleo” if we are to truly combat Neolithic disease.
Visualising High-Powered Electrons
In 2011, Nora Volkow et. al. published a paper entitled “Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism”, which showed that when a cellphone is placed next to a human head, the brain sends a ton of blood to the cellphone-exposed region, and upregulates Glucose metabolism in this area.
This is essentially the brain saying, “I need more fast-metabolising high-powered energy RIGHT NOW to deal with this threat.”
Volkow isn’t the first to find this result, and we’ve actually developed lots of ways to visualise this sort of effect.
Blood-Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data shows us directly how blood flow is regionalized and controlled by the brain using the cues of light and the fluctuations in the electromagnetic field of the environment on earth, via water chemistry on the surface of the neocortex (CSF).
Environmental electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are directly linked to neurotransmitter responses found in the brain. This includes the EMFs emitted from cellphones.
The brain senses the local, seasonal, and environmental electromagnetic frequencies to make decisions on which neural networks should be filled with electrons first.
These interpreted signals are then used to determine how we recycle and maintain the proteins that make up all of our tissues, determining what life you’ll have, how long you live, and how ill or well you will be as your lifetime evolves.
Introduction to Circadian Protein Maintenance
Proteins form the backbones of all cells. It should be made clear that DNA and RNA code only for proteins, and the function of these proteins is determined by its local environment. Like any supporting structure, these proteins require care and maintenance over time to ensure that they continue to function well. A protein that is too damaged may even have to be replaced.
Such protein maintenance is controlled by Ubiquination rates, and regulated by a protein called Ubiquitin.
As it turns out, ubiquination rates are a critical component of cellular communication that are fundamentally linked to proper SCN function and proper clock controlled cell signaling.
In part two of this series on Circadian Inputs, we will delve into the intricacies of Ubiquitin, its roles in cellular repair and maintenance, and its reliance on proper circadian signalling.