We know that the number-one stress of the human body is physical inactivity; we have to move the body physically. Exercise will extend our health span, increase our life expectancy, and help us decrease morbidity. By simply moving our body in a structured way and learning how to nourish our body - knowing when, what, and how much to feed it - increases our quality of life.
I started skating at age two and have been athletic my entire life. I've played all the sports that Canada has to offer on a competitive level, and not once, did a coach ever tell me anything about nutrition. There was always a strong emphasis on skill training, and for that I am very grateful, but unfortunately, any information relating to how to feed a human organism under stress was sadly lacking.
At 17, I stumbled across a book on nutrition entitled Are You Confused, by Paavo Airola ND, PhD, and I learned that my diet of white bread, white flour, homogenized milk, white rice, refined breakfast cereals, and fast food was poisonous and destructive, and would prove to be my demise. My attitude had been, "Food is food. You shovel it in." Everyone thought I was lucky because I could eat so much and not gain weight. I didn't realize that I was setting myself up for erosion disease and damage as a result of refined foods burning out my neuro-circuitry.
Kids and teenagers can withstand the impact of eating junk food, but eventually all the resources of youth are expended and the organ reserves depleted. We end up being completely exhausted bio-mechanically, bio-chemically, and bio-energetically. By the time we're 25 or 30, our systems begin to fail and we end up with autoimmune conditions, chronic disease, inflammation, and depression. That's the downside of not understanding nutrition as a young person. Arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis starts in children as young as seven or eight. Bone scans done on 13-year-old-girls show that 20-30 percent of them are already headed in the wrong direction. These are young girls playing high school sports, living on chips and 'slurpies.'
The design of nature contains nothing except whole, fresh, organic food. The term 'organic', however, has become a misnomer because, at one time, there was nothing except organic food. There is a lot of good data indicating that eating fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, provides the body with polyphenols, bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and substances in those carbohydrates that are essential to our function. Most people don't eat those types of carbohydrates, however. They eat white pasta and white bread, and a whole variety of refined, processed carbohydrates that do not have the vital factors in them.
I think that most people don't even know what a carbohydrate is, let alone a protein or a fat. The science of nutrition or exercise isn't taught in our school system, so very few people know how to feed themselves or train correctly. Many people also don't understand that the protein in plants is of very low biological value, and that protein in general is denatured by heat and destroyed by excess cooking.
If someone were to ask me if I were a vegetarian, I would say no, I'm a human being. The point that I am trying to make is that we are human beings and human beings have a pre-determined minimum requirement for about 60 essential elements. We know that there is a structural need for amino acids, minerals and essential fatty acids. We also know that we do not 'need' to consume sugars or carbohydrates, and yet they are emphasized more than any other macronutrient.
I think it is the label of "vegetarianism" that I have an issue with. Why do people have to label themselves? When you delve into the function of their understanding, they don't necessarily understand that their approach to nutrition must parallel science and not some fictitious concept, which they have pre-determined in their mind as equivalent to an outcome, which may or may not be true. We have an essential need for amino acids - the right ones at the right time - so it doesn't seem to matter what it is that you're eating as long as you're deriving your essential requirements from the environment that you live in and consume food in a fresh and untainted form.
Traditional Native people around the world eat a great variety of both plant and animal foods, and as long as they don't stray from this standard, their food supply sustains them with excellent health and wellness, while improving resistance against disease and infection. The true function of nutrition is to supply your biological demand without damaging your digestive tract and internal organs in the process.
In terms of vitamins and supplements, I call them "the intelligent choice." We've discovered through research and science that if we eat a whole food diet of the highest vibrational quality and supplement our diet with about 10-15 thousand mgs of Vitamin C, we increase our potential to tolerate stress, to the point where it does not cause an infection or disease. A lot of adrenal exhaustion and erosion of the immune system - especially in women - could be prevented if young people were encouraged to take 1000 mg of Vitamin C, three times a day. All human beings are scorbutic, meaning that they will die from scurvy if no Vitamin C is consumed. But the new paradigm isn't based on prevention of classical disease; it's based on prevention of degeneration and decay as we age.
Most people don't understand the difference between exercise and physical activity; they think that when you walk out the door and go for a walk, you're actually exercising, but you're not. Exercise is a function and component of physical activity, but it is differentiated by being structured, organized, and planned specifically to develop and maintain physical fitness. For instance, if you are on a treadmill at the gym, you're actually incorporating an intensity in the exercise component that raises your heart rate, improves your lung capacity, and your potential to utilize oxygen. Whereas, if you walk out the door and go for a walk, there is no strain that is being measured and you have to measure the function of exercise in order to determine a standard.
As they age, people tend to lose their vital capacity, which means they can't utilize oxygen from the atmosphere efficiently. That relates to an increased rate of cancer, heart disease, cardiovascular disease and chronic fatigue. If they continue to eat an excessive amount of carbohydrates - pasta, potatoes, bread, rice, and sugar - that will, in itself, increase energy, but as a result of not expending an equal amount of energy, they will slowly, gradually begin to accumulate body fat. And in the absence of weight bearing exercise, which creates an anabolic flux to preserve lean tissue and strength, the body will continue to lose lean functional mass over time, further reducing one's basal metabolic rate. This is due to the forces of gravity, oxidation, radiation, stress, sleep deprivation, dehydration, etc
a condition known as sarcopenia.
When incorporated as a strategy for life, exercise improves insulin sensitivity, which has a tendency to reduce as one ages, as a consequence of not eating correctly and not exercising. As we become more insulin resistant, we become prone to the accumulation of fat, and the development of vascular disease and damage to hemoglobin, which reduces the transfer of oxygen. Over time, this develops into what Dr. Gerald Reaven calls "Syndrome X."
Food is first and foremost essential to our survival; second to that, there is a certain pleasure derived from eating it. Most people use only their sight and their taste buds as the single determinant in choosing what food to eat. They are absolutely incognizant of choosing food from a functional, logical approach, which is the reason why they need to eat it. They don't look at it first and determine what it is that they're eating from a science point of view, especially with regards to the concept of biochemical uniqueness, body type, food intolerance and chemical sensitivity, which the complimentary medical field considers as monumentally significant.
If your target is to achieve optimum health and wellness, and a feeling of high energy, you have to understand how to achieve what you want and come to terms with the steps you must take. Then, and this is perhaps the most difficult aspect, you have to take action. If we ask ourselves, "What does it take to maintain the wellness in a human being?" then we simply apply those principles day by day and the athlete in us will begin to reveal itself. By design, we are meant to move. By design, we are meant to be energetic, to run, swim, and play. A lot of adults are unable to do this because of physiological, structural limitations, which are not in fact caused by 'age', but rather by neglect and sedentary living. In this case, nurture far outweighs nature.
The exercise, food, and adequate rest that we nurture our bodies with on a physiological level are strictly to enable us to achieve our goals for our lives. It doesn't make sense to ignore the laws of science and the principles that guide life on the planet. It doesn't make any sense to work our whole lives and then lose it all at a time when we have the opportunity to really start engaging when we're wiser and more intelligent, and equipped with some of the tools that make life even more enjoyable. Exercise and optimum nutrition are a means to an end, not an end unto themselves, however, if you decide to neglect the science and not apply the information currently available, chances are you will meet your 'end' sooner that later!