You Are What You Eat.
Did you know that our body turns food into (a new) us! How? Our body continuously replaces our cells. Cells in our digestive system for example are replaced daily. Our taste buds renew themselves every 10 days. Our skin is replaced every 30 days, our lungs every six weeks and the heart is replaced every six to nine months! The quality of the replacement of cells relies on the food that was available when the replacement took place. So we literally become what we eat. The food we eat becomes us. The food a pregnant woman eats turns into a small human being… Isn’t that mind-blowing?
Once you know that you are what you eat, you can change the way you perceive food and your diet. Don’t make weight loss a mission on its own. Don’t think losing weight or gaining muscle with powders, pills or highly processed (diet) foods. Think nourishing your body on a cellular level with high quality, whole, nutrient dense, living foods. When nourishment becomes the new focus, your weight, your appearance and your fitness will all fall into place.
The human diet: Aren’t we omnivores by nature?
“Animals that live on other animals eat raw meat, straight from the flesh, eating muscles, organs, blood and other body fluids as well. Humans do not enjoy devouring bones, gristle, raw fat, flesh and bits of hair”. – Dr. Douglas Graham
According to the book ‘The 80/10/10 Diet’ a few of the many differences between human anatomy and that of omnivores and carnivores:
• We lack claws, making ripping skin and flesh extremely difficult. We possess much weaker, flat fingernails instead.
• Our opposable thumbs make it easy to collect fruit. We could no more catch and rip the skin or tough flesh of a deer than a lion could pick mangoes or
• The digestive tract of a carnivore is only 3 times the length of his torso, which is necessary to avoid rotting or decomposition of flesh inside the animal body. Ours is roughly 12 times the length of our torso, which allows for the slow absorption of sugars and water-borne nutrients from fruit.
• Our ability to grind our food is unique to plant eaters. Meat eaters have no lateral movement in their jaws.
• The teeth of carnivores are pointed and sharp. Ours are primarily flat, for mashing
• The stomach acidity of carnivores is at least 10 times to even 1000 times stronger than humans.
• Our digestive enzymes differ. We produce ptyalin to initiate the digestion of fruit, meat-eaters don’t.
So what should we eat for good health, especially for good digestion?
As I experimented to manage my IBS (Irratable Bowel Syndrome) and my food allergies, as I tried many different ways and theories, as I educated myself about nutrition, digestion and health, as I got into eating for athletic results, I came to the following conclusion:
- Eat real food. Food that is as close to its natural state as possible (potatoes instead of potato chips. Apples instead of prepackaged apple juice etc.).
- Eat whole, plantbased foods.
- Eat the rainbow (brightly colored, deeply pigmented fresh produce).
- Avoid processed food. Vegan Shmegan. Processed food is bad for you, don’t care if its vegan.
- Eat mostly local, seasonal and organic.
- Avoid soy, sugar, artificial sweeteners, dairy, meat, alcohol, caffeine and gluten and limit salt intake.
- Hydrate with water.
- Include (green) smoothies and cold pressed vegetable juices in your diet.
- Heating damages nutrients and kills enzymes in food. Aim for (at least) 50% of your diet to be raw.
- Pay attention to proper food combining (I will write a blog on this topic soon).
- Focus on alkaline forming foods (will also write a blog on this topic).
- Give your body and digestive system a rest every once in a while by eating monomeals or by fasting.
- And last but not least, pay attention to the signals your body is sending you, weather it is really understanding the sensation of hunger and fullness, or why you are low in energy, sick or in pain. Train yourself to listen to your body.
“The body knows how to heal itself. It does not want to be sick. If you eat healthfully, live healthfully and move joyfully, your body will be kind to you.” – Dr. Klaper (M.D. and leading educator in applied plant-based nutrition and integrative medicine)
There is one thing more important than eating the right foods, and that is absorbing the right foods. Dr. Klaper states: “You are not what you eat. You are what you absorb”.
All the good nutrients of plant-based foods are locked up in though cellulose walls. In order to absorb the nutrients from these foods, we must break down the cell walls. The bad news is that we lack enzymes to do this, but nature never fails, so the good news is that we were provided with perfect natural ‘juicers’: mainly flat teeth, perfectly designed to chew, grind and extract the juice of plant materials.
Using our teeth and chewing our foods properly makes the digestion easy. Not chewing our food properly will not only cause bad digestion (bloat, gas etc.) but will also prevent the absorption of the highly needed nutrients. So taking time, lots of time, to chew our food before swallowing it is very important. Once the food reaches our stomach, the acid continues the breakdown of the food. From there the digested food moves into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed for use in the body. The final stop is the colon, where water and some minerals are absorbed. In this stage, whatever your body hasn’t absorbed you excrete as waste.
Natural ‘juicers’ versus mechanical juicers.
Mother Nature put a set of great juicers in our mouth, which we should use thoroughly, but there is nothing wrong to help nature a little from time to time by mechanically breaking down plant cell walls with the use of a blender, processor, juicer or hot water (steaming / cooking). Where blending and juicing maintains living enzymes (essential to cellular health and growth) cooking does not. On the other hand blending and cooking maintains fiber, where juicing does not. Finally the benefit of cooking compared to juicing and blending is that it maintains structure, which allows you to chew your food, which in turn has a positive effect on your digestion because the process of chewing releases digestive enzymes. There is no 1 absolute way to health. Mix it up a little. Drink fresh vegetable juices on an empty stomach to spoil your cells with all the living nutrients, add greens to your smoothies and keep them chunky so you have something to chew on. And when heating your food, go for short and lightly, so you maintain as many nutrients as possible.
With Love from the Happy Earth Kitchen
The 80/10/10 Diet – Dr. Douglas N. Graham
The PH Miracle – Dr. Robert O. Young
Gutbliss – Dr. Robynne Chutkan
Digestion Made Easy – Dr. Michael Klaper