You Control Your Metabolism
How energetic you feel and what body weight or mass you maintain are determined by how you regulate your metabolism with the food and activity choices you make. Five factors affect this dramatically:
- Whole foods: Consumption of high-energy, healthy foods vs. low-energy, poor food choices
- Calories: Total food consumed in a meal vs. energy required over the next few hours
- Exercise: Average total physical activity expended during a day
- Sleep, toxins and whole foods: Proper hormone function
- Whole foods, clean water, clean air: The pH balance of your bodily fluids
Balance in minerals, fats, oils to control weight
When these factors are properly balanced you can control your weight as you wish. While the first three of the above are pretty obvious, many are not aware that the fourth factor, proper hormone function, is very important, and dramatically affected by the types of food you ingest, particularly by the ratio of various minerals, sugars, fats and oils in the diet.
The fifth factor, pH balance, is affected by the quality and ratio of various minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, oils and fats you eat. The charts provided below will make it easy for you to pick the foods best for you.
There are many different types of protein, sugar, carbohydrate, fat and oil discussed below. You may not recognize various terms at first, but each type is explained. If you are just learning about foods, you should read these sections once to become familiar with the terms and general message, and then read it again for better comprehension and retention. The appendix also contains several books which discuss all of this in greater detail, and very concisely as compared to many texts.
If You Need to Lose or Gain Weight
Proper dietary choices combined with moderate exercise are the answer to losing or gaining weight. The food choices you make (particularly as applies to carbohydrate and oil) determine whether the body ingests foods that speed up or slow down human metabolism. For example excess consumption of simple sugars makes you fat. Increased consumption of healthy oils, like flax oil, increases oxygen uptake & transport, raising metabolism and burning calories. Exercise levels and other daily activity also determine whether you will stimulate or depress your metabolism. All of this is discussed in detail in the sections below.
The Importance of Proper, Relaxed Digestion
Digestion requires more energy than any other bodily function. Processing food is the single most important bodily function to an animal‘s survival, and as such, is a biological priority.
Thinking uses enormous amounts of energy as well. This is why you can fall asleep after a heavy meal—as all of your energy required to stay alert is temporarily diverted to digestion.
Good digestion requires healthy food, a relaxed atmosphere, and thorough chewing of food. Incomplete digestion can lead to serious health problems.
All digested food that we use passes from our digestive system into the bloodstream. In a utopian world our blood would only contain substances that are good for us, however there are many ways for pathogens to enter the bloodstream—through organisms and contaminants in the foods we eat and drink; contaminated air we breathe; insect bites, cuts and other perforations of the skin; etc.
The digestive system is the foundation of our immune system strength. Proper gastrointestinal function is critical to adequate nutrient delivery and can impact all aspects of body function and our health.
Any digestive disorder has the potential to cause nutritional deficiencies which can cause disease. As well, the digestive system is designed to keep invading organisms out of our bodies.
A simple analogy is helpful in understanding the basic form of our digestive system as it relates to the rest of the body. Consider the geometry of a donut shaped object. The human body‘s fundamental form is similar to that of a donut.
The inside surfaces of our mouth, throat, stomach and intestines – everything that we call our digestive tract (i.e. the donut hole) – is continuously connected to the outside surfaces of our body, that we call skin (i.e. the outside of the donut). If we stretch our imaginary donut into a longer tube, the digestive tract is still on the inside, and our skin is on the outside. The inside and outside surfaces make up one continuous unbroken surface.
This simple geometric analogy teaches us that, anatomical differences aside, a common trait shared by our skin and our digestive tract is that they both face outward from the body. Nature designed us this way to provide a continuous protective barrier from the outside world.
The human body‘s immune system is designed to attack foreign complex molecules (combinations of simple molecules) not made by our own bodies. This is one of the reasons Nature evolved our bodies to require full digestion of our foods for proper health. To ensure our immune system to functions properly, we are designed to break down complex food groups into their smallest parts, and to later reassemble them into the more complex parts specific to our individual needs and familiar to the immune system. Therefore complete digestion is critical to proper function of the immune system.
If a person is not fully digesting his/her foods a number of problems arise. For example:
- Partially digested food molecules are usually too large and in the wrong chemical form to pass into the
- Partially digested food is not available to many of the body‘s enzymes requiring foods in their simplest
- Undigested food can also feed other unfriendly organisms in your digestive track. This can lead to and overgrowth of yeast and bacteria leading to gas, bloating, and chronic infection.
- Should you develop ―leaky gut syndrome‖, where a weakened digestive system allows undigested food or waste to pass from the small or large intestine into the blood stream, this can cause food allergies and other adverse reactions as the immune system attacks the complex molecular structure of the ―unknown invader‖.
Many of us take digestion for granted. This is a big mistake, because most health problems ultimately result from a nutritional deficiency, or a digestive disorder that prevents us from absorbing various nutrients properly. The first line of defence for a healthy immune system is a healthy digestive system. Improper digestion almost always leads to disease.
The Electrically Charged Building Blocks of Foods
Food, like most other things on the planet are electrically balanced, or ―neutral‖ to touch. You will not get an electrical shock touching them. However this can be deceiving, as most compounds on the planet are made up of vast quantities of electrically unbalanced (or ―charged‖) acidic acids and alkaline bases.
As most people know, opposite electrical forces ―attract‖ and like forces ―repel‖. It‘s the electrically unbalanced, or polar, nature of the microscopic components of our food which make them healthy for us. Nature is able to move things around in our bodies primarily due to electrical attraction or repulsion.
Therefore one of the things your body must first do is to break down ―neutral‖ foods into their dynamic and reactive acidic and alkaline building blocks.
How Various Parts of Your Digestive System Work
For a brief overview of the many parts of the Digestive system and their many functions, if you are on line, please refer to the Virtual Anatomy Textbook-Digestive System on the web.
There are four basic parts of the digestive system for breaking down your food (the mouth, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine) and two for the elimination of wastes (the colon and kidneys). The four digestive sections are responsible for the acidic and alkaline breakdown of your food.
The first alkaline digestion of carbohydrates starts in the mouth with enzymes found in your saliva. This is why thorough chewing of your food is so important, as without thorough chewing this initial alkaline breakdown is less complete.
This is also why rapidly digesting refined foods can accelerate rotting of teeth. If there were no enzymes in your saliva, this carbohydrate could harmlessly sit on your teeth doing nothing as it does on a cupboard shelf. However refined carbohydrates react with enzymes to produce simple sugars too rapidly, wreaking havoc on your teeth and mouth.
Next the chewed food is soaked in an acid bath contained in your stomach. (The very powerful acids in your stomach are contained within the alkaline lining of the stomach‘s walls. The stomach needs adequate bio-available sodium to maintain this protective alkaline lining.) Some simple foods and nutrients are passed through the stomach lining into the bloodstream, but most do not enter the blood until they pass through the small intestine.
Nature has evolved our bodies to makes sure everything is broken down into its simplest forms. Once the food has had its first alkaline and acidic digestion, our body‘s repeat this process a second time. Our partially digested food once again goes through an alkaline breakdown in the duodenum, the uppermost section of the small intestine, with secretions from the pancreas. If we are not chewing our food properly to achieve adequate alkaline digestion in the mouth, we can put unnecessary strain on the pancreas.
Next, this slurry of nutrients, or chyme, heads to the acidic middle section of the small intestine, for the final acidic breakdown of our foods. Bile, first manufactured in the gall bladder, and then stored and secreted from the liver, helps to digest fats and oils. With digestion and nutrient breakdown complete, the majority of dissolved nutrients pass through the small intestine‘s walls into the bloodstream, about 3-4 hours after we have eaten it.
The acidic liquids of the small intestine now need to be neutralized and dried out. This occurs in the large intestine or colon and take about 8 hours (if you are regular—with 2 or more normal bowel movements per day). The large intestine represents the terminal phase in digestion. Here, large amounts of water and salts are reabsorbed back into the blood and recycled, leaving only the familiar fecal matter. Unlike the fast-moving chyme in the small intestine, this fecal matter moves slowly and contains few nutrients and much less water. A properly functioning colon contains 3 meals most of the time.
However, if you are lacking regularity, one bowel movement or less, you probably have 6 meals in the colon at once. Chronically constipated people often have as many as 8-9 meals in the colon at once. As described below, this is not a healthy situation, but it usually can be improved quickly with a change of diet and/or exercise.
Constipation is a Slow Killer
The colon is designed for continuous expelling of waste and toxic substance. If this process is slowed on a chronic basis, a person risks increased chance of reabsorbtion of waste and toxins into the body, causing auto-intoxication which can lead to any number of serious degenerative diseases.
Adequate exercise, water, essential fatty acids, and vegetables (for alkaline mineral, fiber and roughage) are important for maintaining regularity. Eat in a relaxed environment and at regular hours. Chew your foods well.
Exercise keeps the abdomen physically moving, thereby stimulating elimination. Too much exercise can disturb digestion as well, particularly if too soon after a meal.
Because digesting protein requires adequate water, high protein diets can cause dehydration which can lead to constipation. Athletes ingesting additional pure protein powders require a lot of extra water to prevent dehydration, constipation, and muscle cramping associated with dehydration.
Flax oil and the other essential fatty acids help keep the colon healthy, as well as improving flow of material. Healthy stools should be firm, but slightly softer rather than hard.
Two to three regular bowels movements per day is optimum. Once a day, is not enough and indicates that one is slightly constipated. Anything less is usually a problem that will lead to health problems in the longer term.
Total Food Digested in One’s Life and Lifespan
Studies on mice have led many researchers to predict the body can only digest a limited amount of food over a life time. While there are many factors associated with aging, even if these researchers are only partly right, it would make sense to eat the foods that are most easily digested while providing the richest source of nutrients. And even if they are wrong, this still makes sense, as your body functions best on nutrient rich food.
Using Food and Your Body Efficiently
Building cells takes energy and uses up one‘s available lifespan. Once we have reached adult age, cellular replication slowly becomes less effective and efficient with each new copy.
Therefore once cells have been developed, you want to preserve their health as long as possible. When they age, or are damaged (degenerate), one wants to regenerate news ones as efficiently as possible. Such regeneration requires nutrients, energy, and chemical processing. The less regeneration we need to do, the better, as it‘s less work for our body.
Proper work and exercise choices are essential to maintaining healthy muscles and body parts with a minimum of regeneration and energy. For example, by eating the wrong foods, or by running out of the right fuel to provide fuel for a particular activity, you can unwittingly cause your body to cannibalize itself.
This is because the brain only runs on sugar available in the blood (blood sugar levels are the product of carbohydrate digestion, see below). If you run too low on blood sugar, the body must break down proteins (usually from muscle) into the sugars required for brain function. The body is unable to make sugars for the brain from fat. Fat can only be burned as a slower burning fuel for muscle.
Therefore intensive mental activity for long periods of time without adequate proper carbohydrate consumption will cause muscle wasting to occur. Eating protein to fuel the brain is very inefficient, as protein digestion is energy intensive and taxing on the kidneys, as excess nitrogen (in the form of toxic ammonia) produced by metabolizing protein must be removed as urine. To prevent muscle wasting, adequate long chain carbohydrates should be consumed to provide a slower burning, steady supply of sugar to the active brain, as described below.
Strenuous physical and mental activity also produce acid by-products in our body. Acids are produced when there is a lack of oxygen and other key nutrients to burn fuels properly in our body. As you will learn below, various foods and nutrients prevent our cells from overproducing acid and protect us from the destructive actions of acid build-up in our tissues.
However, those who work too hard without proper foods and rest can overwhelm their cells ability to eliminate acid. They develop a silent and serious condition known as acidosis.
Assuming a sick person‘s problems are not the result of environmental contamination or other toxins, acidosis is now considered by many health practitioners to be at the root of much degenerative disease, including many cancers.
While many parts of a cell are designed to handle longer exposures to acidic conditions, other sensitive cell structures, such as our DNA are not.
As is discussed further below, three primary factors allow an excessive buildup of acid in the body:
- The consumption of the wrong balance of
- A lack of moderate exercise, which keeps our tissues saturated in oxygen and our lymph system
- Continuous excessive anaerobic exercise, which can generate too much acid for the body to
- Continuous high stress of any
Acidosis refers to a general build-up of acid in all of our body‘s cells. Do not confuse this acid build-up, with acid reflux that causes heartburn, although acidosis can certainly contribute to acid reflux. Acidosis refers to the acid level in all of our cells, not just those in the digestive tract. And, while strong acids play an essential role in digestion and other processes, in a healthy body those powerful digestive acids are contained by special mucous linings in our digestive tract.