Humans evolved to live for extended periods of time without food. Our physiological systems boast adaptations to both survive and thrive during periods of starvation. In our modern food system, we have plentiful access to processed, high-sugar foods. We are no longer hunting and foraging for our food and going long stretches of time with absolutely nothing. If we want the benefits of unintentional fasting that our primal ancestors reaped, induced intermittent fasting may be the answer.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is intimately involved in hormone regulation and metabolism. It plays a crucial role in food intake and weight management. Endocannabinoids, which our bodies naturally produce, are altered during fasting and feeding.
According to neurologist Ethan Russo, we all have a clinical endocannabinoid tone, which is basically the overall state of your ECS. Individuals who are obese may have an elevated (or imbalanced) endocannabinoid tone, which impacts overeating. Intermittent fasting can break the cycle by theoretically reducing the expression of CB1 receptors along with endocannabinoid levels.
Intermittent fasting works to calibrate your body’s sensitivity to hormones such as insulin. During fasting, your body is burning through glucose stored in the liver for 10-12 hours. After that, a process called metabolic switching happens, where fat is used for energy .
Though the term “fasting” may conjure up negative thoughts and emotions for many, this type of intermittent fasting can be manageable. Thinking about “dieting” is generally more stressful than the doing. Like everything wellness-related, it requires planning. That means that you need to schedule your mealtimes. Here are few choices for intermittent fasting:
16/8: eat all your food within an 8-hour daily window and fast the remaining 16 hours.
5/2: consume your typical calories for 5 days and 600 calories or fewer for 2 days.
Eat Stop Eat: fast for a full 24-hours 1-2 times weekly.
Balancing your endocannabinoid tone by implementing intermittent fasting may help you achieve an optimal weight, improve longevity, and provide additional health benefits.
This article originally appeared in The Fresh Toast.
If recent studies on mice are any indication, CBD will someday be in the toolbox of every healthcare practitioner and in the homes of every health and weight-conscious consumer.
One way to categorize the fat in our bodies is by its color: white or brown. The vast majority of our body fat is white fat, also called white adipose tissue (WAT), which is the stored fat. Categorizing this fat a step further is visceral fat versus subcutaneous (under the skin) fat. Visceral fat is stored in the abdomen and around organs, such as the stomach, intestines, and liver.
Referred to as “active fat,” visceral fat is associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic disorder. White, visceral fat is the unhealthy fat that accumulates in obesity and the fat that you want to reduce in weight loss to improve health.
On the other hand, brown fat, also referred to as brown adipose tissue (BAT), gets its color from iron-rich mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. When brown fat burns, a process called thermogenesis happens, which creates heat without shivering. Guess what else happens? Calories in the form of white fat are burned for energy. Not surprisingly, individuals at optimal weights have more brown fat than those who are overweight.
The next question: Is there a way to turn white fat into brown fat? Because brown fat gets activated when your body is cold, keeping the heat down in winter, getting outside during the cold weather, and taking ice baths may be helpful. In the field of obesity, exercise is recommended to maintain weight loss, while changing food intake is recommended for weight loss. It appears that exercise can incite brown fat production and adequate sleep can theoretically promoting weight loss.
There may be one more lifestyle factor that can potentially create brown fat. You guessed it, CBD. In one mouse study, CBD was found to increase the expression of multiple genes that are involved in the browning of fat. Gene expression is the process where DNA in our genes is translated into instructions for making functional gene products, such as proteins or other molecules.
Multiple factors can impact gene expression, including diet, nutritional status, stress, physical activity, and much more. If these animal studies can be replicated in humans, CBD will be in the toolbox of every healthcare practitioner and in the homes of every health and weight-conscious consumer.
Substances, called cytokines, which are secreted by immune system cells, can create other health issues, including insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes, which is frequently (but not always) related to obesity. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, do not happen overnight. They happen over a lifetime of less–than–optimal lifestyle habits. A habitual diet high in sugar and processed food raises blood sugar, which tells the body to make insulin to clear glucose from the bloodstream.
Chronic consumption of these foods forces the body to produce increasing amounts of insulin in order to keep up with the increasing influx of sugar. Eventually, the body becomes desensitized and insulin stops responding. The result is high blood sugar, which causes more inflammation, further exacerbating insulin resistance. And, so the vicious, unhealthy cycle continues.
Signaling in the gut may drive overeating of the Standard American Diet (SAD) of processed, low-nutrient foods, which leads to elevated levels of endocannabinoids and potentially more overeating. What eventually happens when consumption of processed, sugary foods increases? Insulin resistance. Now, we are back at the beginning of the cycle again.
The question is: how to reduce the inflammation? Changing eating habits to follow an anti-inflammatory food plan is vital. For those with endocannabinoid system dysfunction and resultant food addiction, changing lifestyle routines can be challenging. Consulting with a nutritionist who is well-versed in the endocannabinoid system is helpful.
To kick-start quelling inflammation, adding cannabis cultivars (strains) that are high in CBD may be just what the dietitian ordered. CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory compounds in the plant world. In fact, the US government has a patent on this cannabinoid as an anti-inflammatory. Because the ECS is involved in the modulation of many physiological systems, CBD can work to combat inflammation throughout the entire body. Ultimately, CBD may help reduce disordered food consumption, lower inflammation, and help manage obesity.
This article originally appeared in The Fresh Toast.
Is coffee just a familiar vehicle for cannabis consumption or is there something more to it?
From its reputation as a taboo herb that the hippie crowd smoked in college to a socially–acceptable add-on to your favorite barista drink, cannabis has completely rebranded itself. As cannaphobia is diminishing, people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of using cannabis products in everyday life.
Why not combine two plant products, coffee and cannabis, that boast mind-altering substances, caffeine and cannabinoids, respectively? Is coffee just a familiar vehicle for cannabis consumption or is there something more to it? Do the seemingly opposite effects of each cancel one another out? Well, not exactly. Science is always a bit more complicated.
Difference between Cannabis & Coffee
Let’s examine how caffeine works its magic to rev us up. Essentially, it’s all about adenosine, a neuromodulator, whose primary purpose is to promote sleep. Caffeine functions as an antagonist to the adenosine receptors. That means that it gets in the way by blocking adenosine receptors. The end result is a delay of drowsiness signals to the brain. On the other hand, cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid in cannabis, interferes with the reuptake of adenosine, increasing adenosine levels.
For some people, caffeine can trigger anxiety and an over-alertness and jittery sensation. CBD is a well-known anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety compound. Perhaps, this is the reason why coffee and CBD have been together, effectively working to take the smooth the edges, so to speak.
While coffee is consumed to rev up the body and help individuals focus, cannabis is typically used to chill and relax. THC, the most potent psychotropic in cannabis, can impair short-term memory. As one of its fundamental properties, forgetting is why cannabis can be useful for individuals with PTSD. Memory loss is not always a bad thing. Interestingly, caffeine can ramp up the memory impairment brought on by THC.
At the end of the day, it’s all about biochemistry and biochemical individuality. What about the differences that can be attributed to genetics in caffeine clearance from the body? Are you a fast or slow caffeine metabolizer? Though a genetic test can reveal this difference, most of us already know. Can you fall asleep before your head hits the pillow immediately after a cup of joe late at night? Or, do you need to stop your caffeine consumption in the morning to avoid insomnia? Maybe a study comparing the impact of cannabinoids on fast and slow caffeine metabolizers is in the works.