Posted On May 31, 2022 by Dr. Max MacCloud DO, ND, PhD
I've been terrible about providing updates and new posts the past 12+ months. I apologize, I've just been swamped. In addition to several new projects and beginning to see patients directly once again after a several year hiatus while I focused on developing & manufacturing, I've had to deal with all of the c0vid-related supply chain disruptions.
I felt compelled to do this post, however, as I believe I've made a major breakthrough in my understanding of, and ability to explain, the underlying cause of ALL chronic disease AND the keys to effectively treating them! This is some really big stuff.
It is a given that the body is extremely complex and that as smart as we think we are, we only know a tiny fraction of its workings. So, how is it that I could think that I've figured it out? I'm not saying that I figured it all out, I'm just saying that I figured out a conceptual way to understand the overall process that leads to chronic disease and how to reverse them.
Everything is important when it comes to our health. Can you identify one nutrient that we can completely do without? Can you identify one lifestyle factor or stressor that is irrelevant? I can't, although I can identify dozens of things that we would be healthier & happier without having in our lives (toxins, junk food of all types, highly processed foods, artificial food colorings & sweeteners, most chemical preservatives, unshielded manmade electromagnetic radiation, excessive/inappropriate inflammation, greed, intolerance, etc., etc.).
Although everything is important, it is simply not possible to focus on, or even be aware of everything all the time. I've spent over 40 years working to understand and boil the key points down to just a few essential concepts to understand what is vital to living as healthy a life as possible. The latest and perhaps the greatest thing I've come up with is the 4M's of Microcirculation, Mitochondria, Metabolism, and Muscle.
- Microcirculation accounts for approx. 99% of the entire circulatory system, it FEEDS & CLEANS all the cells of the body; inside those cells are the most metabolically active subcellular components called mitochondria.
- Mitochondria do some vital things, the best-known function is that they act as the cells energy plants where the vast majority of the energy the cells need is produced; this energy is what our cells use to carry on all of the metabolic processes required for life.
- Metabolism is the sum total of ALL the chemical reactions that the body carries out 24/7 to maintain life. Each of our 100+ Trillion cells carries out millions or billions of reactions every minute of every day. The total number of metabolic reactions that take place every day is a beyond our abilities to conceive or comprehend. It includes all the reactions from maintenance, repair, building, growth, and every single cellular process.
- Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body and is also the body's primary metabolic reserve. There is a very strong correlation between the amount of muscle and other lean body mass (organs, bone, etc.); the amount of total lean body mass is directly correlated with health & longevity. Maintaining muscle mass, or adding muscle if it is low, is one of the most important things a person can do to maintain & support their overall health. Losing muscle is one of the hallmarks of aging and degeneration.
It is, or should be, self-evident that these 4M's
are the very foundation of HEALTH, Healing, Maintenance, and Longevity
. Further, while it may be a presumption that all men & women are created equal from a theoretical perspective, this is clearly not the case with regard to the 4M's. Some people simply inherited or developed a stronger microcirculation, mitochondria, metabolisms, or muscles than others. Even many who may have inherited strong 4M's may have been exposed to various environmental or lifestyle factors that weakened them. The good news is that all 4M's can be repaired and strengthened; unfortunately, very FEW health practitioners know anything about any of the methods and technologies to do so.
How do the 4M's work together?
Simplified diagram of the 4M's of Microcirculation, Mitochondria, Metabolism, & Muscle:
What do the 4M's mean?
Brief explanation & discussion of the 4M's Diagram:
*There is a page devoted to a more detailed explanation & discussion of the 4M's elsewhere.
is the key to delivering nutrients including oxygen to the trillions of cells & mitochondria as well as removing their waste products from the area. The Mitochondria are where 95+% of the cells, and therefore the body's, energy is produced; they also play key regulatory functions such as directing cellular apoptosis. The Metabolism is the sum total of all of the chemical reactions (an incalculable number) that take place 24/7 to allow for life itself. Muscle is the largest & most metabolically active cell & tissue type, as well as organ & system of the body, that provides the ability for communication, locomotion, self-defense, and adaptation to our environment; it is also a vital metabolic reserve that we draw from constantly as needed and must replenish regularly.
As one's microcirculation becomes compromised, cells and mitochondria become depleted and toxins build up; this leads to a steady decline in functional efficacy and degeneration; nothing can compensate for restricted microcirculation which eventually leads to tissue and organ failure culminating in chronic degenerative disease processes and premature death.
As one's mitochondria become compromised, one's useable energy levels decline; reduced cellular energy leads to reduced ability for cells to carry out their normal functions and to repair themselves; this leads to cellular, tissue, and organ damage & degeneration that is progressive and ultimately leads to chronic degenerative disease processes and premature death.
As one's metabolism becomes compromised, the ability to carry on all of the vital chemical reactions required for life, repair, and maintenance, likewise become compromised; this leads to cellular, organ, and tissue damage and chronic degenerative processes eventually leading to a variety of signs & symptoms of distress, as well as toward premature death.
Muscles are completely misunderstood, they are far more than something that helps keep us fit, they are vital organs and together make up the largest organ system of our bodies. Muscles are a major metabolic reserve of proteins that we need for every metabolic reaction and maintenance of our health. As we lose muscle mass, we become weaker not just physically, but biochemically, immunologically, in our ability to adapt, and in every other way. Use it or lose it is one of the most important principles of health and it applies doubly to muscle. Muscle mass is something that is steadily lost as we age UNLESS we work to build and maintain it. Once a person loses 50% or more of their lean body mass (primarily composed of skeletal muscle) they are at a tremendously increased risk of death from all causes.
The sad thing is that there is virtually no understanding, nor efforts to support, the 4M's in the 'Conventional, Modern Medical System'; they are too busy learning about the latest drugs & procedures. Just as sad, the Progressive, Integrative Medical Field appears to be equally ignorant of these vital foundational elements; they are too busy chasing the latest & greatest innovations and potential new cures (that very rarely pan out).
There are some very exciting & promising new technologies on the horizon; many are available right now if you know what to look for. There are stem cells, bioelectric & energy medicine approaches, light, aka photobiomodulation, and specialized nutritional formulations and delivery systems. There is also the hope of reprograming one's genetic code using things like CRISPR technology, however, NONE of these things will ultimately circumvent the need to understand and support the 4M's. Regarding 'reprogramming our genetic code' that has always been possible, it is called lifestyle modification. When we change our lifestyle and therefore the environmental influences on our bodies, our genes selectively turn on or off thereby altering our epigenetic expression of our genes.
An understanding of, in fact the creation of the 4M concept, is just one of the things that sets us apart from all of the others that have recently begun to embrace some of the Progressive, Regenerative Medical approaches.
Our unique approach involves addressing the 4M's. Understanding the 4M's and their role in all chronic metabolic (and many acute) conditions is crucial to being able to properly address and correct them.
- Microcirculation refers to the tiny blood vessels that deliver ALL nutrients to our cells and take away most of the metabolic waste products. ALL nutrient exchange takes place in the microcirculation, not in the arteries or veins. We hear a lot about arteries that get blocked; arteries are basically like garden hoses or plumbing pipes; they transport the blood to the capillaries, whereas veins transport blood away from the capillaries. The microcirculation (capillaries and related tiny vessels) account for 99% of the circulatory system! When the microcirculation is compromised, which it is to some degree in most people over 30, it starts a slow but steady downward spiral of reduced nutrient delivery and reduced waste product removal leading to declining mitochondrial function and reduced metabolic efficiency. That in a nutshell is the underlying pathophysiology of virtually all chronic disease. When was the last time any doctor talked to you about your microcirculation, mitochondria, and metabolism? Probably never. Do you think that this is because they didn't think you'd understand it or because THEY don't understand it? They simply haven't been taught this perspective, they were trained based on the germ theory and a mishmash of partially valid, partially false 'theories & approaches' that obviously don't work very well or tell the whole story.
- Mitochondria are the subcellular organelles that produce 95+% of our cells and body's energy; this essential energy is what allows for all of the essential life processes of metabolism to happen. It gets a bit complicated, but whenever anything disrupts or reduces the delivery of nutrients, or the removal of waste products by the microcirculation, it leads to reduced mitochondrial function, energy production, cellular regulation, and ultimately damaged mitochondria.
Metabolism simply refers to the billions of metabolic reactions that happen every day that allow us to exist, survive, adapt, and heal. There are well over 3,000 different metabolic enzymes that have been identified that play roles in our metabolism. Dozens of nutrients serve roles in those enzymatic reactions; and these enzymes (as well as most other tissues) are made from the proteins that we ingest, digest, and assimilate.
- When enough of a cell's mitochondria are damaged, the cell will have an energy deficit. When a cell has an energy deficit, it is forced to cut back on normal repair, maintenance, and its other functions. Obviously, if the cell is no longer able to do all the things it needs to do, it begins down the path of degeneration.
- When enough mitochondria are damaged in a cell that it can no longer carry out proper maintenance & repair processes, the cell itself either dies or shifts into survival mode. 'Survival mode' for a cell is what we call cancer. This was proven by Dr. Otto Warburg in the 1920s and never refuted! Warburg won two Nobel Prizes for his work. Research over the past 20+ years has clearly demonstrated that this same underlying mechanism applies to ALL chronic disease. The specific chronic health challenge (and therefore the name of the disease condition) that shows up, is based on several additional factors such as one's genetics, environment, lifestyle, nutrition, stress levels, etc.
- Therefore, all nutrients including Oxygen, Clean Water, Quality Proteins, Essential Fats, adequate Carbohydrates, Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytonutrients are all vital to keep those metabolic reactions happening as they need to; they supply the materials that our bodies need to carry out these billions of metabolic reactions each and every day. A reduction or imbalance in any one of these substances leads us down a slow path of declining health (and in some cases it isn't all that slow).
- Obviously, this gets REALLY complicated and NO ONE understands it all. This is where we rely on the basic rules of health and nature. We simply can't micromanage the body or metabolism and anyone that tells you they can is either delusional, mistaken, or lying. What we can do, however, is to follow the basic rules of nature which include sound nutrition, regular movement & exercise, proper amounts of rest & restorative sleep, and a comprehensive stress management strategy and habits while providing additional focused support.
Muscles are much more important than most people realize. To many, anything beyond basic muscle mass is superfluous and mostly for 'show.' Somehow, they think that our advanced 'sophistication & technological innovations' have made the brute strength associated with a well-developed musculoskeletal system as obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our muscles are vital to our very survival and existence. Although we have created all kinds of technologies to allow people to function with less muscle involvement, that has not made us any healthier, in fact, it has made us weaker and less healthy.
- The science is clear on this, muscle & lean body weight are perhaps the most important indicators of health and longevity.
- The average person loses about one pound of muscle per year beginning shortly after high school; by 70 or 80 years of age, that translates into a 30-40% loss of muscle mass and LBM. Of course, in some the rate of loss is faster than in others which leads to a more pronounced decline in health and adaptability.
- One's muscle mass is the biggest determining factor for their metabolic rate and therefore their daily caloric expenditure. This progressive loss of muscle equates with a reduction in daily caloric needs yet most continue to eat the same amount which invariably leads to increased fat accumulation even if their weight stays the same, which it typically doesn't.
- Now, think about some of the biggest health challenges of today; overweight, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and even cancer; can you begin to see how loss of muscle mass contributes to and leads to all of these conditions?
Support for Chronic conditions comes down to focusing on restoring the Microcirculation, Mitochondrial Function, Efficient Metabolism, and building & maintaining Muscle. Any and every chronic condition will benefit from attending to these things.
In the next few newsletters, I'll delve a bit deeper into each of the 4M's, how to assess them, and how to improve their function.
- The Nutrition Ninja signing off.