Dr. Magryta: Is snacking ok?
Is snacking a good idea? The simple answer is NO!
There are many reasons why.
Snacking is the process of frequently eating small volumes of foods to alleviate hunger or emotional symptoms or – for the very, very few among us that have low blood sugar issues.
Why is snacking a problem?
1) When you provide the GI tract with food stuffs, you turn off the MMC (migrating motor complex) of the gut.
What is the MMC? It is a peristaltic wave [involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine] that occurs in four phases throughout the gut, from the stomach to the large intestine, to push residual alimentary canal material toward the anus.
It occurs only during the fasted state. This is a critical housekeeping role where the body cleanses the gut wall lining during a period of no food digestion or ingestion.
There is also an accompanying release of acids and other secretions throughout the gut to aid the cleansing role.
This is very similar to other housekeeping roles in the body during rest and fasting. Think of the deep phase of sleep and the impact that it has on glymphatic cleansing of the brain.
There is a developing pattern in the scientific research that sleep, fasting and relaxation all have significantly beneficial housekeeping roles.
The more that I read, the more that I believe strongly that we all need to randomly fast, sleep deeply often and meditate or pray daily.
2) The fed snacking state in a frequent and repetitive pattern stops the activity in the MMC, and inadvertently can allow bacteria in the intestines to move north toward the stomach – raising risks for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or imbalance.
Both of these conditions are associated with many diseases of inflammation. This process is always a negative change for human physiology. (Deloose et. al. 2012)
3) Along with number 2, there is the fact that if we snack with the Standard American low fiber, high saturated fat and refined carbohydrate diet, we will negatively alter the intestinal microbiota toward a pro-inflammatory and intestinal permeability-inducing state.
This microbiome shift and subsequent inflammatory profile will negatively affect the MMC and increase the risks of SIBO and dysbiosis further. (Guarino et. al. 2016)
4) Snacking, especially on protein sources, activates mTOR, the mammalian target of rapamycin, which is a master metabolic switch in the human body.
If you snack all the time, mTOR senses the nutrients and stays in the anabolic (or build) state all the time.
This in effect eliminates the period of time when your body breaks down and cleans the damaged and dysfunctional cells of the body, in a necessary process called catabolism and autophagy.
This leaves sleep as the only time to clean cells – not enough folks! (Sabatini et. al. 2017)
I cannot scream loud enough from the treetops that the science is very clear right now that we are not only eating the wrong foods but also eating far too often.
Begin the process of weaning yourself off of food.
Try to get to a state of two, or at most three, times a day eating cycles.
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at email@example.com