Floating a Concept: The Proteomic Index – The Protein-”omic”?
Reference: CNN Special By Sanjay Gupta and Bill Clinton: “The Last Heart Attack”
This idea is NOT out there so I am asking you to think of a conceptual idea that I believe is coming and explains a lot as to why vegetarian type diets differ from animal diets. I want to understand why Dr Esselstyn is having success with completely reversing heart disease, and why Bill Clinton is going to see Dr. Esselstyn to reverse his coronary artery disease. My Uncle Paul did the same thing back in 1977-81. He completely reversed his coronary artery disease by being a vegan. Five vessel bypass surgery and he opened his native arteries back up. We had some interesting Thanksgiving dinners, but he lived and thrived.
Here is the idea. You are familiar with the glycemic index, right? We compare different foods and their ability to raise your blood sugar in comparison to pure glucose. Our body runs on glucose, so it’s a good comparison. Our body also runs on fats and proteins, but we haven’t counted them to date. What happens with high glycemic foods is that they set off the release of insulin. Above an index of 55 or so, you force your body to secrete insulin and that insulin then stores calories as fats. Curiously, our insulin and inflammation pathways are linked in the “common soil” hypothesis. High insulin equals high inflammation. Eating high glycemic foods forces you to get fat and to get inflamed, and then you get the long-term diseases of inflammation.
So, here is the “Proteinomic Index” hypothesis. When we eat meat, we get complete protein with all 20 amino acids that our bodies use to build our own proteins. We have always claimed that meat is “high quality” because it provides all of the 8 “essential” amino acids that we cannot make ourselves in our cells. What we neglect to mention is that our bodies include a condo association in our guts that constitute a separate and distinct organ in an of themselves. The trillions of bacteria in our colon have 100 times the DNA of the human genome in them and the ability to make all the amino acids our bodies need. We get amino acids from those bacteria, included the essential ones. Just slower. When we eat a vegetarian diet, we feed ourselves and our colonic condo association. The bacteria in our colons go to work and make their natural products, including the essential amino acids which we then absorb from our colon. Not to mention that we also get the amino acids we need from the variety of plant products we eat, but again at a slower pace. We start to see our colon as a vital organ that contributes importantly to our overall health and metabolism. It’s not just an excretory organ that salvages water. And its chief contribution might well be the slow and steady release of nutrients back into our bodies, instead of the rapid rise brought about by eating “high quality” animal protein. This turns the concept of “high quality” on its head and changes it into a slow and steady release, instead of rapid and sudden release.
My hypothesis, if you will, goes as follows. A slower absorption rate of amino acids is as valuable to us as a slower rate of absorption of glucose and carbohydrates. The rapid rate of rise of amino acids that follows a meat or animal meal, forces the secretion of insulin (and with meat, glucagon too) and that results in an insulin rise. The glucagon element is slightly confounding, as that seems to soften the metabolic consequences of meat, but the hypothesis remains. And the content of essential omega fats is another complementary concept that moves the formula a bit too. So, it likely needs to be refined further. But a vegan diet will provide you all the necessary amino acids at a slower pace than a meat diet. And that is better for you. That’s the hypothesis. It may not depend solely on the insulin effect. It may be a mix of other hormonal and nutritional effects. But it explains a lot. I’m putting it out there.
WWW: What will work for me. I just feel better the less animal I eat. I love the taste of animal in all its forms. But I sleep better, think better, feel better with less animal. And apparently, my arteries, my brain, my immune system, my gut all agree. I think the evidence is accumulating. I would plea for any comments, thoughts, agreements, passionate disagreements (always the best). But I think we have an idea here whose time has come. How I wish I had 20 years in an academic lab to chase this one down.
Written by John E Whitcomb MD
Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic
17585 W North Ave
Brookfield, WI 53045