Why do we need to understand nutritional facts in the products we consume and in the metabolic responseMay 31, 2022
Written By: Audrey Belleville
Have you ever wondered how in the same regions of the world (India, China, Japan) people live to more than 100 years old disease-free?
There are two factors which highly contribute to their longevity, the first one is their
impeccable knowledge of the food they consume from their nutritional facts down to the culinary techniques employed when preparing the dishes.
The second one is that they don’t suffer from the same mental deterioration as we see in the west. It is an accurate, scientific proven fact that a nutrient-rich, and balanced diet composed of low-fat, low carbohydrates, vegetables, legumes and fruits is the best medicine.
“Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food”
Over 2383 years after his death, we have finally come to fruition with this fact.
We are all familiar with the term nutrition, but what does it really entail?
When we think of nutrition, we usually think food. However, nutrition goes much further than food; it is defined as “The process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair. Nutritional stages are ingestions, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation, and excretion.”
Let’s break down some of these stages:
Ingestion is anything we take orally, food, drinks, medicine; our digestive system absorbs what we take orally through the walls of the intestine from where molecules are then transported to continue their journey.
Our skin also absorbs all the cosmetics we put on it daily; their chemical compounds are then transported, assimilated and in some cases excreted. What else do we absorb? Smells and sounds – for the purpose of this article I will not discuss how sounds affect the auditory cortex and temporal lobe in the brain, but it is a very interesting subject for another time.
Smells, although called inhalation follows a similar process to absorption. Every time we inhale, we detect smells. People and substances around us give off molecules
which connect with our sensory cells in our noses.
The odor receptors inside the nose channel interacts with scent molecules sending signals to the thalamus in the brain.
Have you noticed how you become suddenly hungry when you smell the aroma of food
Scents go straight to the limbic system, including the amygdala and hippocampus; both play an essential role in the formation of emotions and new memories of past experiences. This mean that smells can affect our moods, concentration, emotions, and remembrance. Research has shown that there is a 40% improvement in mood when exposed to pleasant smells.
You might now wonder why/how the effect of scents and eating a balanced diet are
Well, the response from our bodies to what we ingest and inhale (food, cosmetic products, medicine, scents and more) is controlled by hormones.
Hormones are chemical messengers which are secreted by the endocrine glands (there are many throughout our bodies) into the bloodstream – this is known as the endocrine system.
Hormones coordinate different functions in the body by interacting between the brain and cells in our organs, skin, muscles, and other tissues, telling our bodies what to do and when to do it.
“Hormones belong to the endocrine system”
They are responsible for a very important process called homeostasis – keeping the body in balance – and accountable for including but not limited to:
Receptors in our digestive system and nose channel are particularly sensitive to
preservatives, flavourings, additives, E- Numbers etc… these chemical compounds are added into food, to keep production costs low and to be pleasant to the pallet; and it is where cravings for a particular kind of food happens.
These and more toxic chemical compounds are also added to a range of other products like drinks, cosmetics, scented candles, diffusers, cleaning products…
In the same way cravings made us buy junk food we also buy certain cosmetics because we like their colour, smell, or texture not paying attention to whether the products are actually good for us.
Eating according to cravings or using cosmetics according to the way the look, smell or feel is definitely the wrong approach and by doing so we unconsciously put our bodies at risk, because the more we do this the more create hormonal imbalances.
With this said, the truth is that when it comes to food, the microbiome of our digestive
system is so complex and unique to each and every one of us that it is almost impossible to prescribe a diet that helps everyone find their optimal health. We are so repleted with information, diets, highly calorific easily accessible food, cheap products at our fingertips that the fundamentals of thriving have long been lost and forgotten.
In order to thrive we must keep things simple for a healthy mind, body and soul.
What we give our bodies has an impact on our mind, body, and soul system so:
1. Don’t compromise on quality
No single food or product contains the vitamins, minerals, and proteins our skin, organs, muscles, tissues and brain need:
2. Eat whole food with a variety of colours
Only use products that toxin free
Our ability to metabolise is directly linked to our emotional and mental state
Hormones play a crucial role when it comes to metabolising nutrition; a meal high in
nutrients will not be metabolised properly if we eat in a rush or in a state of stress or anxiety and hence these nutrients will not be absorbed properly:
3. Be in a calm state before eating
Your psychology affects your physiology
Indigestion and energy dips can be due to eating quickly or in an unrested state; the cause
could also be due to food/product allergies or intolerances, the cause could also be due to food/product allergies or intolerances, but this is a subject for another time:
- Enjoy self-care and practice it mindfully
Stay away from low-calorie diets and restrictive trends. Restricting an entire macronutrient is for the most part not a sustainable solution:
- Consume to meet YOUR individual needs and goals
Keep a record of what and how much you eat. Recording your food intake can help you figure out which foods are your friends, and which are your foes. You can do the same with all your self-care practices:
- Keep a diary
Balanced diet nutrition
Lastly, I wanted to touch base on advising other people what to eat. It isn’t because it works for you that it works for everyone. As we have seen everyone’s hormones, and digestive microbiome is unique and it is of vital importance to remember that many people have food allergies or intolerances.
Things as simple as kale, nuts, apples, pears, berries, gluten, dairy, legumes, cabbage can trigger something as small as a rash to severe eczema or allergies which may even be fatal.
Before changing to a different diet, it is important to get an allergy and intolerance test to be sure we are giving our bodies what is suitable for it. Some people are lucky enough what triggers a reaction, but many do not, so encouraging someone with an unknown legume allergy to turn vegan is a rather bad idea.
Another approach to a balanced nutrition is looking at Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, food is selected conforming to each persons’ specific type of dosha and are grouped according to their harmony, encouraging proper digestion and maximum absorption of essential nutrients. Ayurveda works from the principle that our diet has a strong influence on our physical and mental states.
The quantity of food intake at any one time is also taken into consideration, some doshas should eat smaller quantities more frequently than others. Herbs and spices are used to balance the food agents as changing their mode of action.
So, I would encourage you to start exploring your own balanced nutrition, you may be surprised by what is revealed!