Is what we eat really that important?
Yes; quite simply it is the most important element in our lives that we can control completely.
Imagine your body is a petrol car. Instead of fuel at the pump you fill up with a different liquid; like water, oil or bleach. We all know the car might work for a while, but the fuel will start to run out and the car will use the other liquid. As a result the car stops functioning correctly to the point it no longer works as it did not have the correct fuel.
Food is our fuel. Everything we eat has a direct impact on our body and how it performs as a machine.
Our bodies need a certain amount fuel (calories) every day to create enough energy for essential functions. In addition to these functions any movement we make requires additional fuel. If we eat too much fuel so we have too much energy available our weight will increase as the body stores it as fat. If we eat too little fuel we use our fat reserves for our energy and we lose weight. If we eat just the right amount our weight remains the same. This is the uncomplicated secret to weight loss, which is another blog altogether.
So a calorie is a calorie right?
Unfortunately no, not all calories are created equal.
Our bodies are much more demanding than this, they are not satisfied with just with a certain number of calories if we want them to perform at their absolute best. We are not just hungry for calories but for nutrients too.
If we fuel our body with 1000 calories made up of a can of coke, a cheeseburger and chips , or 1000 calories from a selection of fresh organic fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds it is obvious that we provide it with completely different things. The burger and chip version is pretty poor whilst the fruit and vegetable version is full of a wide variety of nutrients.
Imagine your car has gone for a service. Oil, brakes and water etc. are checked and “ticked” off a list once attended to. The vitamins and minerals in the food we eat tick our body’s nutritional requirement list, so our brakes, oil and water are all as they should be. If we eat the burger and chips on a regular basis we are definitely not servicing our bodies, our brakes might not function properly after a while and eventually these very brakes would fail, and thus we become ill.
So what should we eat?
There are so many different suggestions and the research is ongoing as to what really are the best foods to incorporate in our diet for optimal wellness.
Personally I eat a mostly plant based diet, if asked this is what I would advise. I realise that this is not for everyone so if you aim to work on increasing the volume of plants in your diet; and reducing the animal products then this is great.
I eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. I would advise anyone taking the plant based route to ensure you research it fully and seek professional advice to ensure you can make the transition sustainable as the same fundamentals reply to ticking all the nutritional boxes when eating this way too !
If you are incorporating animals and animal products in your diet try to ensure these are as close to source as possible, grass fed and organic. This is not always possible, the same goes for organic vegetables for a whole variety of reasons so just source the best produce that you can.
So if I eat well then my body will be operating at its best?
Not exactly…. Now we have got the food side of things clear, no matter how important it is this alone cannot make for optimal health.
There are a few other things we need to pay attention to (another whole blog!) Hydration, stress, sleep, and emotional health. Lastly but my no means least our bodies also need to move on a regular basis, this is what we were designed to do! It is preferable that in addition to general movement we also do some sort of weight training. This can be quite intimidating for many people or there are just too many barriers to doing so. Activ5 has developed a little tool to help. It is a mobile gym which works with your smart phone to provide short isometric workouts that really work. Combine three Activ5 workouts a day with some other form of movement with adequate water and quality food you are well on your way to optimal health!