Nutrition… just what is it and why does it matter? This is absolutely the core question that MUST be answered if we are pursuing optimum health and optimum weight. Nutrition is, by definition, the nourishment necessary for health and growth. My passion is to apply nutritional concepts that empower people to achieve optimum health. The reason and core method is simple. Everyone can achieve and maintain improved health if they consume essential human nutrients in proper amounts. Let me explain…
A well-intentioned acquaintance asked me recently, “Dr. Tague, as long as I’m working out on the treadmill every day and counting calories, isn’t it okay if I get my calories from Oreo cookies? Won’t I be able to build muscle with exercise while simply eating the snack foods that I love?”
One thought came immediately to mind. “Don’t you know that you are what you eat? You can never build muscle with Oreos!” I then contemplated my response as I gently informed him of the crucial nature of essential amino acids from protein to build muscle. The actual truth is that we can make our tissues ONLY from what we eat, except that food which we waste or burn. Think about it…
Once we swallow some food or beverage and it enters our body, there are limited options for where the actual food molecules will end up. Think about that “cookie diet”. Packaged cookies typically contain molecules of sugars and unhealthy fats. These sugar and fat molecules, like all foods we eat, have a destiny, but only one of 3 possibilities:
Destiny #1: Wasting food.
That’s correct, we waste some of our food, even after we eat it. The sugar and fat does not all get absorbed after we eat it and it will exit the body harmlessly through the intestines. In fact, 18.3% of all protein molecules we eat are never absorbed! 7.9% of all fat molecules are never absorbed and 1.7% of carbohydrate molecules exit the body unabsorbed. Stated another way, we absorb and have to manage 98.3% of all carbohydrate calories that we eat… be very scared of sugar and other carbohydrates! We only have access to around 80% of consumed protein however, another reason why eating protein speeds weight loss.
Destiny #2: Burning food.
Some of our food is burned for energy production. This allows us to move, breathe, pump blood, repair wounds, run, walk, and stay warm. This combination of food burning processes and activities is known as our daily metabolism. We burn much of our food through our metabolism each day, somewhere around 2,000 calories per day.
Destiny #3: Storing food.
Our bodies only have one other option, and that is storing the sugar and fat molecules. And guess what, this is often not pretty! Sugar and non-essential fats can be stored short term as glycogen fuel reserves, but more likely the sugar and fat will be stored as body fat. Sugar and non-essential fats (i.e. typical cookies) CANNOT be transformed miraculously into muscle, bone, liver, eyeballs, lungs, heart, etc. These tissues require protein, vitamins, and minerals to be grown or repaired. However, body fat tissue will absolutely grow and thrive when we eat too much sugar and fat!
When considering possible destinies for food that we eat, it becomes clear that we must eat for a well-defined purpose. And that purpose is to have the essential nutrients necessary for human health. Once we have that purpose in mind, it is then quite clear that we must consume the 40+ essential nutrients that promote health. Get them every day! Here they are:
- Essential vitamins and minerals in optimal amounts. These must come from foods (research indicates not even possible with American foods) or take supplements (i.e. Metabolism Essentials Multi).
- Essential oils… omega-3 and omega-6 (from seafood, vegetation or supplements). Since Americans have an excess of omega-6 oils, the focus should be omega-3 type oils. Wild ocean fish are a great food source, as are Omega-3 Essentials.
- Essential Proteins (high quality)… these contain the essential amino acids in proper amounts and ratios, the building blocks for all human tissues.
Meeting these essential nutrient goals does not have to be difficult, but it does require being intentional with your nutrition. Develop a personal plan to get your essential nutrients each and every day as you pursue optimum health!