Eat to Optimize Your Connexins
We defined connexins two weeks ago as the links between cells that allow them to communicate rapidly and fluidly back and forth, leading to organs acting in similar coordinated fashion. Connexins allow multicellular organisms to exist, because individual organs can carry our separate functions. Liver cells act like liver cells, and blood vessel cells act like blood vessel cells, in part because they are connected to the cells next to them by connexins. Last week, we identified that many if not most diseases show reduction in connexin behavior and number. In particular, adult diabetes shows reduction in the ability to secrete insulin. There is evidence for many diseases that connexin disfunction is at the heart of the disease.
Now, can we change our connexins by lifestyle changes? To which the answer is an emphatic YES! What you eat, how you exercise and how you handle stress all have implications for connexins. That means the nature of the food we eat can get to the heart of healthy actions.
What is that nature? What makes the difference? Acid and alkali. What you eat has net acid or alkaline implications. Darrell Tanelian, MD’s book, Molecular Fitness details the implications. When you eat any food, your body digests it and the biological ash left over after you have used the food for what you use it for, is either acid or base. As a general rule, vegetables and fruits have magnesium and potassium salts which make for alkali. Meat and cheese makes for acid. You can see the sum of what you ate in the pH of your urine. As a general rule, Americans eat a lot of meat and cheese, and our urine is pH 5.5, slightly acid. Vegans tend to have less acid in their diet, and have more alkaline urine. Chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys are mostly vegetarian, and have quite alkaline urine.
As the acid passes through your body, your don’t change your pH in your blood. At least, not very much. Instead, you breathe differently and change the balance of pH buffers in your blood. Your serum pH doesn’t change but for a tiny bit, but your buffers change a lot as you balance out the acid passing through. And that has a huge impact on connexins. At a healthy pH of 7.4, the connexons, (the name for the link made by six connexin proteins assembled into a coating tube) are wide open. At a pH of 6.9, they are shut and cells aren’t talking to each other. Your body is shutting down. An example of that would be when you run and leg shin splints. Your muscles won’t work because you built up too much lactic acid in your leg muscles. At the molecular level, you have connexons failing. Now, in normal living your pH never ever goes below 7.3 from 7.365, but the trend line is there.
The implications of this are significant. In the long run, optimal health is going to come from a diet of abundant vegetables and fruits that makes you alkaline. Raisins, for example, are premier alkalizing foods. All vegetables have magnesium and potassium salts that participate in “alkalizing” you. That keeps your connexin proteins making open, functioning connexons.
What to do with a ketogenic diet that is higher acid? Losing weight and reducing blood glucose is so critically important that the cost benefit is clearly on the side of losing weight. Once your weight is lost, the more vegetables you eat, the better. Fat is pH neutral, so butter, coconut oil and olive oil are dandy.
www.What Will Work for me. I have diabetic genes, as do most of us. I’m finding lots of recipes that are rich in fat and vegetables. We went to an Indian restaurant this weekend and I had okra curry. Delicious. Hold the rice. I managed to make it through dinner and not mention connexins once to my table mates.
1. Connexins are the proteins that assemble together to make connexons, the communicating links between cells of similar types. T or F
True. Whew, you get it right, after three weeks.
2. Connexin proteins are necessary for animals to have multicellular structure that works in a coordinated fashion. T or F
3. We haven’t been able to identify changes in connexons with diseases making them an interesting oddity, but not clinically useful. T or F
Pants on fire, false. We don’t don’t know how to test them, but their are dramatically altered in just about every illness of any organ system.
4. We don’t know how to alter connexin function? T or F
Pants on fire again. Many supposedly “healthy” behaviors also have beneficial impacts on connexins. Exercise, stress reduction, good sleep, healthy eating all have beneficial impacts on connexins.
5. The most significant thing we can do improve connexin function is to eat what?
Answer: More alkalizing foods; rich in potassium and magnesium – fruits and vegetables.