I know! 2 posts in 2 days! It’s thrilling, but don’t get too used to it, I just have a busy weekend coming up and wanted to make sure you guys got your posts before the long weekend. Let’s get on with it then shall we?
Today’s post will sort of be a part two to yesterday’s post. I really want to talk more about the subject of calories and digestion because I believe that this will be a really important factor in the health of this country. Once again I am going to tell you to read this article by Rob Dunn because it really does a fantastic job of explaining some of these concepts. I said yesterday that every person’s body is unique and this includes the way that we digest foods. But every food is unique as well, even the exact same food. Let’s take a piece of broccoli. That single piece of broccoli has had a lot happen to it from the moment it was planted to the moment it goes into your mouth. There is just no way to say that piece of broccoli is exactly 10 calories, and it is entirely crazy to say that every single piece of broccoli out there has exactly 10 calories. There are no methods for us to accurately measure the amount of calories in food like fresh fruits and vegetables and even meat for that matter. But that is ok. I know some of you are hard core calorie counters, so this idea might be a little disconcerting for you. If you don’t know the exact count how are you supposed to lose or maintain your weight? Take deep breaths and I will get to that my friends.
There are some foods that we can accurately measure the amount of calories, and I use the term food VERY loosely here, and that is processed food. We can accurately measure these calories because this “food” has been handled and manipulated and sometimes even changed, therefore we know what exactly went into those products. And if you’re anticipating me dissing food-products again, you would be absolutely correct. There is no way that processed food can benefit you in any way. Most of that food has been made in laboratories, even the “healthy” products. Do you want to eat something that has the word coagulum in the title? No, and your body doesn’t want to digest it either.
Which leads me to another factor of human nutrition, thermogenesis. Simply put it is the energy your body uses to break down food. We all break down food and our body turns it into energy that we use to carry on with our numerous tasks for the day. Well surprise surprise, we don’t all break down food in the exact same way. Your body will break down that salad you ate for lunch much differently than my body will. Just like there were a million little factors that went into growing that piece of broccoli, there are a million little factors that go into how you will use your food. A lot of it has to do with the microbes in your gut (those little things we talked about yesterday). It also has to do with your environment, your activity level and your genetic makeup.
What does all this stuff mean really? It sounds like I have yet again made nutrition and eating complicated and hopeless. But the complexity and uniqueness of our bodies is what makes them so exciting, and what makes nutrition and the new things we are learning every day all the more important. To my calorie counters, stop worrying about calories, because there is no way (yet) to know the exact amount of calories or how your own body will use those calories, so there is no use in fretting over obsolete numbers. Instead, relax and take a break from your adding and subtracting and eat! Eat real food and you won’t have to worry about what calories are being absorbed into your system! Sit and listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs. Give it plenty of water and fruits and veggies and it will thank you and perform at its tip top shape. I know this advice sounds hokey and simplistic, but isn’t that what America wants? Something easy? What could be easier than saying no to processed chemicals and sitting down to a meal of fresh grown food? We need to stop listening to what all the fad diets and food industries are telling us to eat and really tune in to our bodies. We are after all totally unique and no one can know better what you need than your body. It will take some time to learn how to eat for your own body, but I promise it will be a rewarding process and you will love where you end up!