You read it right!
Food IS more than just nutrients. Hard to think though… With so many of us seeking out better nutrition to fuel our goals, our lives, and then stay in symbiosis with our hectic social lives, it’s hard to think food can be more than just nutrients to fuel us like we fuel a car.
‘What the hell you on about?’, I hear you shouting… ‘You’ve gone on about ‘Good Nutrition’ for so long and now we’re doing it. What more is there?!’
Let’s go deep! 🙂
Food isn’t just a heap of nutrients
It’s really not just about that! Not only does food have physiological and psychological contributions way beyond what we often recognise, but all food effects our environment somehow and also represents a part of our social-culture too. You could say further that, actually, food tells a story about YOU.
It will click when we start to highlight the various physiological effects it can have on our bodies. You’ve probably sometime experienced a time when you smashed a load more calories than you should, but ended up feeling a bit leaner the next day. Or maybe ate fewer calories than you thought you should but gained weight the next day. Hell, I bet a few have realised that actually including a breakfast instead of skipping it has helped to shift a few inches from your waist…
Calorie maths, no matter how good it is and can actually assist us, doesn’t correspond to 100% energy transfer on the surface of our body, not for fat loss and muscle gain anyway.
We’re not like a car when we can put petrol in and expect to go (roughly) 400 miles on one tank, every time. We’re dynamic, organic and highly sensitive organisms.
Illness, negative energy balance, unstable gut micro-biome or hormone imbalances are just a few variables that could vastly effect how the food you eat is digested and utilised in your body. We’re starting to see how food can impact slight variable in our body.
Your gut flora
We’re not on about plants or flowers in your digestive system, no!
In fact, they’re are trillions of microbial organisms living in and on us that contribute to the digestion of nutrients from our food, as well as digestive efficiency in general. It’s also been shown each one of us has an individual ‘gut microbiome’, similar to a fingerprint in that it’s unique per every individual.
Drastic changes in our diet can positively and negatively impact our microbiome, further effecting the way we absorb and digest nutrients from food. Go one step further and we can see how this corresponds to changes in our health and body-composition.
We’re starting to see even more that, maybe, food is more than just, well… fiel! If it isn’t fuel, then what does it contribute?
The food we eat plays the role of messengers, to some degree. In fact, digestion starts before food has even touched your hands or even been seen.
The smells of food, and even more so certain foods dependent on their mental attraction to you, signal the body to start secreting saliva in our mouths in the expectation that food will be eaten. Amylase, a digestive enzyme present in our saliva, has the initial role of assisting the breakdown of starches (carbohydrates) in our mouth, the very first stage of digestion. Lipase is also present which begins the digestive process of fats.
All this has happened and we can’t even see the beautiful food!
Food, and individual nutrients within, can be summed up by saying they send instructions that set of a cascade of events:
- Make hormones…
- Don’t make that hormone…
- Contract this organ…
- Close that organ off from more food supply…
It all comes down to the information that food translates across.
Furthermore, our mental wellbeing and levels of stress further dictate the presence of certain hormones which can either aid or detract from nutrient processing.
Further more, food is a story about YOU
The way we eat, where we eat and the things we eat tell a pretty interesting story about us. The times of year we eat, the seasons!
Consider different cultures like the Spanish are more in-touch with socialising around food than we are, and that there are cultures in the world who eat predominantly rich foods yet possess some of the leanest individuals on the planet. It really does tell a story about who we are.
Hell, I love a mince pie and come Christmas I fall into such a state of joy at the amount of food variation that I tend to just get carried away. But I won’t ever change that, as I enjoy it.
- It can show you’re thoughtful about where your food comes from, such as a farmers market or with organic products leaving less an impact on land.
- It highlights the country your from with your choice of dishes.
- It effects how we socialise, such as with sunday dinners.
- It shows how adventurous you are: ‘I’ll eat anything at least once’.
- It shows you’re careful with your food choices ‘I try and avoid processed foods’.
- It can be used affectionately in gift or with cooking for your loved one.
It IS so much more than just fuel.
It’s hard to remember that food is something we can nourish ourselves with, as well as impact our whole lives, when we’re rushing around and potentially abusing our bodies due to, quite simply, unknowing.
So I’ll ask the question…
What is food… to you….? What story does it say about you?
Myself included, I think we all could do with being more omnipresent when we eat foods. Not only has the lack of omnipresence detracted our own sense of hunger and fullness, but ultimately the self-awareness of hunger and fullness could just be the only hurdle you need to get the goals you want through nutrition.
If I can also spend quality time with the people I love and eat food and smile, then at the end of the day, a mince pie isn’t going to do me any harm…
This is the first in a series of new articles exploring the impact food has on our bodies, as well as the direct triggers it presents on our hormones, and the actually process of digestion itself.
Next week will be covering what that fabled ‘Good Nutrition’ should entail, and how it transpires to our body.
In short, good nutrition in my opinion boils down to energy balance and a healthy mindset, but we’ll explore this later. Some key terms there for you to google until our next article…
Until next time, Team.