Creative Eldering: Eat What You are Made Of
Imagine that you are trying to find the best way to build a house. Your first step might be to create a list of the building materials required. Then you might research reputable sources for high quality materials. If you are not highly skilled in construction you may next begin searching out a qualified team to help build your new, sturdy home. We can use this example as a guide to determining your most healthful diet. The foods and beverages you select, in essence, build your physical body.
“What should I eat?” “What should I avoid eating?” “How can I maximize energy, strength and flexibility through my dietary choices?” These can be perplexing questions, but the most logical first step to find these answers is to examine the chemical and nutritional building blocks of your own body.
The first building block category is macronutrients. The macronutrients are large-molecule nutrients that provide many of the structural components of your body. These include your muscles, bones, skin, hair, teeth and organs. The three subsets within this category are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. All mammals (including humans), fish and birds require a specific balance of these three types of building blocks because their physical bodies are built from various molecules, tissues and structures that are each composed of specific formulations of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
When you properly obtain your macronutrients from natural, unadulterated and unprocessed sources, they are essentially compatible with your body. Human interference with the shape, texture, moisture content, color or molecular structure of a protein, fat or carbohydrate food source reduces that food’s compatibility with your digestive system and your body as a whole. Processed foods are generally less fresh and less nutritious. High temperatures used in processing vegetable oils change the molecular structure so much so that they do not supply nutritional fat that is usable by your body. Research has shown that many of these heat- processed and highly refined vegetable oils are also problematic and sometimes even carcinogenic.
Industrial and chemical processing often strip wonderful whole foods of vitamins, minerals, and fiber; and even biochemically change the molecular structure of what might have been a nourishing food, but now is a lifeless and often toxic waste residue.
- Grass-fed beef
- Grass-fed eggs
- Bacon with nitrate preservatives
- Organic, pasture raised butter
- Brown rice, cooked
- Quinoa, cooked
- Organic apples
- Cinnamon rolls
The second building block category is micronutrients. Micronutrients are much smaller than proteins, fats and carbohydrates but they are also vital substances. These include vitamins and specific nutrient minerals that are required to sustain your body’s critical functions. Nutrient minerals provide the raw materials for all other building blocks. In other words, all proteins, fats and carbohydrates are composed of various combinations of nutrient minerals (such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur) and other biological substances (such as amino acids, a subset of proteins).
The other subcategory of micronutrients is vitamins. Vitamins are vital nutrients that are composed of nutrient minerals and amino acids. Vitamins participate in your body’s ability to use other nutrients and function as catalysts for digestion and nutrient absorption and/or metabolism regulators. To supply necessary vitamins to your body, a robust diet of healthy and natural unprocessed foods is required.
A few examples illustrating the necessity of sufficient vitamin intake:
- An ample supply of vitamin C is necessary for your body to produce the collagen that maintains skin texture and firmness.
- Vitamin C deficiency accelerates and magnifies wrinkling and sagging of the skin.
- A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause anemia, anxiety, fatigue, depression, numbness, muscle weakness and other neurological problems. Some cases of cognitive decline are improved by adding B12 as a dietary supplement.
The simplest guideline to follow when striving to achieve healthy diet and nutrition is to search out foods that still look as if they grew in nature. If they grew in your garden or that of your favorite farmers’ market vendor, you will undoubtedly be eating what you are made of and rebuilding your body’s structure appropriately. I hope you enjoy digging in the dirt of your own garden or getting to know the vendors at your local farmers’ market during this summer and take delight in eating healthier and more nutritiously.