Book Report

Book Report: Fat for Fuel

Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy by Joseph Mercola

I had been studying the ketogenic diet through various sources (papers, articles, podcasts, etc) for some time when this book launched, but it did an excellent job of bringing together the concepts and mechanims behind this powerful intervention

As this is a book about how diet can impact us at the cellular level, it starts out with a detailed look at the mitochondria. These are the organelles (components inside the cell) that are responsible for energy productions (and many other things). In the review of Tripping Over the Truth, we learned cancer is a process of mitochondrial breakdown.

As mitochondria make energy, there is a byproduct called ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). I like to think of this as cellular exhaust. As the name suggests they are reactive and if given the change they can oxidate other components, described here as “biological rusting”. However, they are not all bad – trend we see often in biology (a U-shaped curve):

But it is also true that free radicals play a role in health and not just disease. Under normal physiological conditions, they actually play many very valuable roles in your body. They regulate many crucial cellular functions, such as the creation of melatonin and nitric oxide, and the optimization of important metabolic signaling pathways that regulate functions such as hunger, fat storage, and aging. They act as natural biological signals that respond to environmental stressors such as toxins and chemicals in cigarette smoke and the environment. They are responsible for the anticancer effects of pro-oxidative chemotherapy drugs. They play a role in the beneficial effects of exercise, as your body produces more free radicals when you exercise, simply due to the increase in mitochondrial energy production.

It is not ROS that are bad, but when they are in excess. One of the examples of this would be in taking high amounts of antioxidant supplements. We have heard these are good (And they are) for years. However, if we suppress ROS too much, we can give cancer cells cover as one of the things that kills them is excessive ROS stress. As you can guess from the title of this book, fat can help modulate ROS activity. Fat decreases your exposure by up to 40% when it is the primary fuel compared to when surgar is (hint, the fuel of most Americans)

Another mitochondrial toxin is glyphosate, sold as Roundup. It is among the most used chemicals in the world – unfortunately. I have been following one of the main researches of glyphosate, Stefanie Seneff, for a few years, and there is an enormous impact to much of our biology when we are exposed to this herbicide. Dr. Mercola touches on a couple of them in this book:

There are two main ways glyphosate damages your mitochondria: The first involves manganese, a mineral that our bodies need in small amounts for healthy bones, immune function, and neutralization of free radicals. Glyphosate binds manganese and many other important minerals in plants sprayed with Roundup, with the result that a creature that eats the plants will not get the benefit of these minerals. Glyphosate can also bind to and deplete these minerals from your body. This is a problem because your mitochondria require manganese to convert superoxide, a potentially harmful by-product of oxygen metabolism, into water. This is a critical process that protects your mitochondria from oxidative damage. Without manganese, this mechanism is severely compromised. Glyphosate also interferes with ATP production by affecting your mitochondrial membranes. When coupled with the so-called inert solvents included in Roundup, the toxicity of glyphosate is magnified as much as 2,000-fold.20 This makes the membrane more permeable, allowing the glyphosate to go straight to the heart of the mitochondria.

When we use fat for the main fuel, ketones are utilized to distribute energy. There are a number of advantages they bring to the table:

  • They are protein sparing. Meaning if we are truly using ketones for fuel, even in fasting states, we won’t break down muscle to access proteins for energy creation
  • provide a protective benefit for ROS
  • increase mitochondrial biogenesis (making new brain cells=good)
  • reduces mTOR activation (see previous article about mTOR), allowing repair processes (cancer is associated with increased mTOR)

Dr. Mercola then goes on to describe his recommended diet format to attain an ideal metabolic state; the MMT (Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy). It is a large portion of quality fats, low-moderate protein, and low carbohydrate. Many people are somewhat familiar with low carb, but often miss the importance of moderating protein. Protein activates mTOR and can be used to generate glucose (preventing the use of ketones as fuel). Further, Dr. Mercola also points out that this should be cyclical, meaning introducing carbs back in on some days so as to not be permanently ketogenic. There are many reasons to do this, but again many diet advocates miss the key concept of maintaining metabolic flexibility, or the ability to utilize multiple fuel sources.

There is a copious amount of information that was packed into this book that we don’t have space to dive into in this summary. Hwoever, if you are interested in implementing metabilic dietary strategies, I have done so in many patients (and even a few dogs) and would be happy to help you as well! 

This Book Report collection is meant to provide some of the best take-home points from the health and science genre I read. I will continue to go thru my notes of the 160+ and counting (as of January 2019) Kindle books I have on file. To view ALL the notes I saved on this one AND many others without a Book Report post yet, THAT IS ALSO SEARCHABLE, please click here.


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