|PART II: WHOLE FOODS
Exercise, however necessary and magnificient, doesn't nourish the body directly. It facilitates nourishment and greatly improves digestion, absorption and elimination, but moving the body doesn't supply the essential micronutrients that catalyze the release of energy from ATP. Exercise in and of itself doesn't provide the body with the building blocks of structure and repair or sustain it with the elements needed to withstand the stress of training. I know this sounds obvious, but you should see how some of the greatest athletes eat! It's as if they've never heard of the concept.
Pure, wholesome organic food, meaning free of unnecessary chemicals, preservatives, contaminants, and other harmful substances, is vital to your health and well-being. Eat a diet rich in a variety of whole, unrefined foods and the quality of your bones, muscle tissue and entire body will continue to repay the favor for the rest of your life. By whole I mean the skin with the potato or brown rice instead of white. White rice is polished and peeled, a process that removes a significant amount of fiber and most of the micronutrients, including vitamin E and magnesium.
But on the other hand I don't mean you have to eat the peel of a mango. Obviously there are components of whole food that we cannot digest or that are not desirable. However, most of the food on your plate should be as close to its natural state as possible. Things like fresh greens, raw vegetables, homemade soups, halibut, farm-fresh eggs, whole grains, venison, raw nuts & seeds, lentils,
things like that.
And why organic? Well, for starters the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers that 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides and 30% of all insecticides used in our food supply are carcinogenic. Plus, organic food is simply more nutritious and tastes better. If the soil is fertile and rich, then the food grown from it will be also. Organic refers to a system of farming that maintains and replenishes the fertility of the soil without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizer. Was there ever a time when food was grown without chemicals? Of course there was, although we have been led to believe otherwise. For millions of years, or at least for thousands, we humans have subsided on nothing except organic food, and do you know why? Because that's all there was.
It's also acceptable to consume foods made from whole foods, provided the constituents of the original whole foods are still intact, however, that doesn't mean the end result is equivalent. Grinding kernels of rye into whole rye meal flour for example reduces the vital energy that was originally locked into the whole rye kernel seed. Energy literally flies out as the grain is milled; it's just that you can't see it.
Converting any natural whole food to a different form, a lesser form, whether by chopping, grinding, mixing or using some mechanical means, always reduces the value of the food to some extent. In this case, the milled grain now has a major disadvantage of increased surface area and no means of protecting the delicate germ from exposure to oxygen and light. This makes the once stable solid kernel (now in the form of flour) highly susceptible to spoilage and less, not more nourishing. The best way to eat rye kernels is in the form of a hot cereal; in their whole form and boiled. If the kernels are ground into fresh flour, the flour should be used immediately or sealed in an airtight container and stored in the freezer.
Ask yourself this about most of the food you currently eat. Is it a product of modern technology or a product of Nature? Is it a food artifact designed purely for esthetic and taste appeal or is it real food formed through adaptation and natural selection? Is it lifeless and sterile and incapable of spoiling, or does it have an extremely limited shelf life and spoils easily? Did it exist 500 years ago or is it something your ancestors wouldn't recognize? Does the ingredient panel on the package lists words impossible for a 9 year old to read or understand?
I can't really emphasize the importance of whole food nutrition enough. It's what separates convention from non-convention, the orthodox from the alternative. It changed the direction of my life and put my entire family, many friends and me on the road to better health. Did you know that the entire health food movement was founded on the basis of whole food? The vitamins came much later, and even they at first were pretty coarse compared to what we have today. When's the last time you added rice polishing's, brewer's yeast, bone meal powder, desiccated liver or ground rose hips to your protein shake? That's how I started.
The effect of food on our health and performance is greatly underestimated. In fact I can't believe how many people either take food completely for granted, or pay no attention to food quality. And I'm not talking about children. I'm talking about mature, intelligent and educated adults, like doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, and accountants...and so on. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a French fry coated with ketchup, a bowl of salad, a can of beans or a chocolate bar. To them it's all just food going down the gullet. There doesn't seem to be any conscious connection between the food they eat and their state of health. And that's what I find even more amazing, because the connection seems so damn obvious!
It's enormously important to consume fresh, non-refined, non-processed foods from nature as often as possible. This pertains to both plants and animals. It's not either or but rather the quality and freshness of what you choose to eat as food that makes the difference. The objective is to use food as a means of supplying the biological demands of the body, and that is simply not possible with commercial fast food, or canned food or foods made of white flour and sugar. In fact it's also not possible with organic whole food but we can get much, much closer to the ideal, and then fill in the gaps with high-quality supplements. Unfortunately, the gaps are too wide if the diet is way off track, and no amount of supplements, although helpful, can correct such dietary incompetence.
Of course calories are easy to obtain with refined food, especially carbs and fat. People aren't dying of starvation in Canada, they're dieing of malnutrition. Many people consume more calories (macronutrients) than they expend in any given day (and it's not because they eat too much broccoli or raw carrots) but they are grossly undersupplied with micronutrients (vitamins & minerals). Removing the fiber, the water and the spoilage factors from natural food creates space for sucrose, salt and chemically altered fats. Food processors generally use lots of heat, various solvents, acidifying chemicals and dozens of fancy sterilizing techniques that destroy enzymes, heat-labile nutrients and the vitality or "life"; force of food. The net effect is a massive increase in addictive, easy-to-overeat, and non-nutritive empty calories.
A Simple Comparison
|*Bran Muffin ||100g ||260 ||1.8g ||7.8g ||9.8g ||43g ||448mg ||172mg ||---- |
|*Organic Apple ||100g ||54 ||0.7g ||0.2g ||0.3g ||14g ||0.7mg ||106mg ||5.2mg |
* Bran Muffin Ingredients: enriched white flour, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, wheat bran, liquid eggs, baking powder, modified corn starch, salt, sodium propionate, stearoyl-2-lactylate, artificial flavor, propylene glycol monoesters, sodium aluminum phosphate.
* Organic Apple Ingredients: apple
What is the sole function of food? Do you know? Why do animals and all living things require sustenance? What is the ultimate reason why we need to eat? If your food base does not sustain your biochemical need for every essential nutrient in optimum amounts, then your food base is incomplete. "Thinking"; you're getting enough is an extremely subjective and unreliable approach to nutrition, unless you're an expert in the field and choose food based on pure logic and objective reasoning without preference to taste. And it doesn't matter if you're a vegan, a vegetarian, a breath Arian, an omnivore, a carnivore or whatever. These terms are just labels and labels are reserved for products of men, not Nature. Ever see a Nutrition Facts label on a grapefruit or a fresh garden tomato? Guess you don't need persuasion that's it good, or do you?