We have heard elite athletes describe a great performance as just being in the flow. Their performance seemed natural and almost effortless. We long to be able to achieve such feats. This weekend, I watched the Chicago Marathon. The lead runners were averaging a pace of 4:44 minutes per mile for 26.2 miles (Remember when 4:00 minutes for one mile seemed impossible?) They appeared to glide with their heels coming up behind them almost brushing their buttocks. The length of their stride seemed longer than they were tall. Their breath was controlled and steady. They were focused. They were in the flow. There were 45,000 runners in the field. The majority were everyday recreational runners. I am sure there were several thousand first time marathoners. The gaits of the mid pack runners were widely varied. Their forward progress was much less fluid. The their strides were uneven and pushed. Their faces showed signs of struggle. Most people in the mid pack were looking for a distraction from the pain. They were breaking the struggle down into manageable parts with the goal of finishing with a secondary goal of a personal best.
What does all of this have to do with metabolism? The flow of life’s energy throughout our system, keeping our bodies moving forward, and staying alive happens largely with us being unaware; distracted. Many of us function as mid packers instead of elite athletes. More and more people fall back of the pack as they age. This is largely do to failing metabolism. What is the mechanism of a failing metabolism and how do we get back in the metabolic flow?
It seems that most lifestyle diseases are a problem of metabolic flow. My favorite, coronary artery disease results, in decreased flow of oxygenated blood to the muscles of the heart secondary to plaque in the arteries. Diabetes occurs when fat blocks the uptake of glucose into the muscle and liver cells resulting in increase blood glucose and insulin and decreased energy production. Cancer seems to begin as the mitochondria become damaged and can no longer produce energy effectively resulting in DNA damage and cell production spinning out of control. Autoimmune conditions seem to occur as the result of over production of inflammatory cells crowding the flow of nutrients into the tissue and restricting the flow of energy. And the worst of all, dementia, seems to occur as metabolic toxins and inflammatory cells block the flow of energy and blood flow to and between neurons. The main power station of the body, the brain fails to get power and flow ceases.
Yes, these are somewhat simplistic descriptions of the metabolic mechanisms of the body. But they all share in common the lack of nutrient flow and the accumulation of waste and toxins. We can elect to ignore the slow build up of toxins in our bodies until the power starts to dim, or we can be mindful each day to keep our bodes in a state of good metabolic flow. We can be focused on the details of what our bodies needs like the elite athlete focuses on their performance. Or, we can remain distracted just hoping for a not so painful finish. A body in motion is a beautiful thing just as the thousands if not millions metabolic processes that occur in our bodies every second of our lives. We only need to feed the system and move to do our parts to keep in the metabolic flow.
Eating colorful unprocessed plant foods provides clean burning fuel that reduces metabolic waste products. Foods in wrappers, bags, or boxes are not clean. Powders and potions do not replace vegetables and fruit in their natural states with fiber and their unique symphony of nutrients that allows for the best flow of nutrients. Decaying dead animal products are not without metabolic toxins that decrease the metabolic flow of life. Taking in excessive calories results in the need to store excess nutrients that impede and slow the metabolic flow. Failure to move you body results in the breakdown of cells that become old and inefficient. Try opening a door that has not been opened in years.
We can all have elite metabolic flow states if we remain mindful of our nutrition. Eat colorful real food. Not too much. Move your body and be grateful for the beautiful flow of each day.