Here’s an interesting question. Are you a chicken, a fish or perhaps arugula or maybe a turnip? Are you someone who believes you are what you eat? These questions may sound ridiculous, but in fact are meaningful and worth your time to consider.
From a biological viewpoint, our bodies are made up exclusively of environmental factors. For cells to build and remain healthy in our bodies, they need nutrients. A complex series of events must take place to feed our cells, and that is why our cells have the mitochondria, which are the engines that keep our cells fed.
Now the biochemical manufacturing that keeps our body running and our mitochondria powering our cells come from the food we eat, the liquids we drink and the air we breathe. It is not some magical process or deep, mysterious understanding to know that our physical body, with all its parts, is made from nutrients, water, and oxygen. When food is consumed, it breaks down to build your body at the cellular level. If you think about it, cells make up and build tissue, tissue forms organs and your organs make up your digestive tract, cardiovascular and respiratory system, bones, hair, connective tissue and muscles. Every cell in your body has a set amount of time to live, thrive, build and then die. This life and death process with cells is called apoptosis and is essential for us to stay vital and healthy. From this replacement process, our body regenerates itself with a new set of cells every seven to 10 years for an average human being. Some critical organs and systems actually replace themselves even more rapidly.
So you can see from a fundamental understanding of how the body grows, replenishes itself and does daily repairs, we are made from what we eat and influences from our external surroundings. If we fill our bodies with processed foods, chemical preservatives and breathe polluted air or drink water laced with impurities, these elements become part of us.
Recently, I wrote that specific forms of exercise can change how your genes are expressed, influencing your overall health and wellness footprint. The foods you eat affect how your genes will behave and express themselves also. Often these genetic changes caused by the foods we eat present themselves in the form of autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome and chronic inflammation.
What we put into our bodies is far more critical than many of us realize. We live in a fast, disposable world of food where most of the time we do not even know what the food is made from. This starts with agriculture introducing GMO modified foods into the supply chain. Then the process moves through food manufacturing with chemical additives, nitrates and trans fats blended into most packaged food products. Feeding the masses in a hungry world comes with high risks to your body.
What’s the best approach to actually manage your food and beverage intake to stay at the peak of health? This goes back to how our ancestors ate from a pre-agricultural time eating only what we could gather from our environment.
1. Stick with whole fresh foods. This term is overused and misused often. A whole food means food that is entirely unchanged from its natural source. An example would be fresh arugula or unaltered nuts or seeds. Grass-fed meat or fresh fish from a clean water source would be considered a whole food.
2. Raw foods should make up at least 40 percent of your diet. This is a very natural aspect of incorporating healthy food into your diet, but most people rarely get 10 percent of their intake from raw foods sources. Fresh fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, mushrooms and even certain fish and meats can make up your daily installment of raw natural foods dense with essential nutrients, enzymes, and fiber.
3. Eat a balanced set of macronutrients. Your macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and good fats. Most people eat 60 to 70 percent of their daily calories from carbs. This fact alone changes how your cells fuel themselves and how your genes up-regulate building and managing your critical systems in your body. Depending on your age and activity levels, you should lean more to protein and good fats and less on carbs. If nothing else at least eat an equal balance of all three on a daily basis.
4. Drink water instead of processed or sugary beverages. Water in a proper amount helps keep the body balanced, cells healthy and waste by-products flushed from your body. Adequate hydration is a critical factor in your body’s chemical balance between acidity and alkalinity which plays a part in how you are what you eat.
5. Your body is home to trillions of microbes with all those trillions of little creatures that build a symbiotic relationship making up most of your physical form. This symbiotic relationship is so significant, you would actually die if you were not made up of these trillions of microbes. What you eat defines if they are good or harmful microbes. Disease and inflammation are promoted by bad microbes, so maintaining a healthy gut and overall good body bacteria will boost immunity, promote your body to heal efficiently and help your skin and dental health.
6. Finally, to feed and nurture the physical body’s symbiotic relationship with all the microorganisms, you should feed them raw fermented foods. Fermented foods are one of the most important aspects to keeping you healthy, in balance and filled with good happy bacteria. Fermented food goes to the heart of you are what you eat.
What we eat every day defines who we are on so many levels. The most important standard is it sets our bodies in a literal sense as to what we are made of.
Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation and Certified Health Coach.