Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some Thoughts on Nutrition

Lets talk a little about nutrition.  Nothing divides people more than this topic... and I am fixing to punch it right in the face.  To me nutrition is simple, but people make it waaaaaayyyy too complicated.

First do something simple; think about foods that upset your stomach in any way, shape, or form.  Does it make you nauseous after you eat it?  Do you get gassy?  Does it make you feel bloated?  Chances are that you have a insensitivity to a food.  Now, insensitivities are not full-blown allergies, but they can be just as detrimental to your nutrition.  Lets take wheat(and other cereal grains) into consideration. 

People that are insensitive to wheat have absorption issues.  When they eat wheat and it is introduced into the small intestine the villi(small finger-like projections) in the small intestine will lay down.  Now the purpose of these villi is to increase the amount of surface area in the small intestine to increase chances of absorption of nutrients.  They lay down and you are not absorbing the nutrients that you need.

I hate that "Paleo" has become a fad, but there is some merit to it.  If you could not go out and pick it or kill it yourself, don't eat it.  What does this do?  It just eliminates processed foods.  The exception that I make to this is supplementation.  You have to think like this.  We have been around for 1.2-2 million years, depending on who you ask.  We have only had agriculture for the past 10,000 years and most of that was centered around Northern Europe.  That is a flash in the pan when you think about the grand scheme of things.  You can't go out and take wheat off of the stalk, throw it in your mouth and digest it.  You have to process the ever-loving bejeezus out of it to be able to digest it.  With that processing comes extra crap that does not need to be put in your body. 

Chances are, unless you are of 100% northern European descent you will have an intolerance or an insensitivity to agricultural products like wheat or milk.  It is more uncommon to be able to digest milk properly than it is to be lactose intolerant.  Why is this?  Milk has not been in the human diet long enough to elicit an adaptation.  A great example is Native Americans.  Dairy has never been in their diet so intolerance is 100% in adults.

Next point...Eat things in their natural state.  Wheat grows in nature, but we have turn it into something else before we can use it.  Same thing with corn.  Not to be crude, but you can always tell when the last time you ate corn was.  If it looks the same way coming out, as it did going in, you are getting no benefit from it.  Chicken grows naturally, but a chicken nugget isn't natural.  There are 38 different ingredients in a single chicken nugget.  Pretty gross right?  Now look at a box of Cheerios, there are over 20 ingredients in a single Cheerio.   They beat the crap out of the grains they are using and process them so much they have to add back vitamins and minerals that were already in the original grain.  Plus, the more you pulverize something, then more the surface area is increased.  Why is this important?  Surface area affects the Glycemic Load of a food.  The higher the Glycemic Load, the more it affects your blood sugar levels, which in turn affects insulin response. 

I'll go into more depth a little later, but if you got nothing else out of this, remember the bold points.  When you shop, ask yourself these two things when you pick up an item.  Next time we'll talk about portion sizes and protein selection.  Trust me...I worked my way through college as a Meat Cutter/Butcher.


  1. Have you been reading Primal Blueprint? If not, you should - it echoes what you're saying and goes really in depth as to why certain foods that Conventional Wisdom has us believe are good for us, are actually hurting us, like "Whole Grains".

  2. No, I have not read directly on the Paleo or Primal way to eat. I've developed these opinions from reading about anthropology, but it is also a common theme when you look at some of the best nutritional coaches.