Anti-nutrients: Stealing the life from your years
Are we destined to break down as we age? Is it a no-brainer that we will be stuck with chronic health conditions, pain and disease as the clock continues to tick? The answer is a resounding NO! We have a great deal of control over our health as we age, despite what media messages prevail. But, if this is true, then why do so many folks battle uncomfortable health issues as they approach mid-life?
In many ways the human body can be compared to a car. A car is built to transport us anywhere we’d like to go. It isn’t without its maintenance requirements, however. It needs high quality gasoline, oil changes, tire changes, fresh spark plugs and belts … the list goes on. We can choose to ignore these maintenance “needs” of our automobile, but then we are risking that it will suddenly give out on us. Or it may spend many years sputtering along, making strange noises, getting less than the expected gas mileage, while all the while the parts are prematurely wearing down. On the other hand, if we take good care of our car and use it for what it was intended, it is likely not to give out on us and it may even last a couple of hundred thousand miles!
Now think of the nutrients that we put into our body as being similar to clean gasoline for a car. This “fuel” will contribute to our energy on all levels, from muscle to brain. When we ingest or breathe in any additives or chemicals, it is similar to putting dirty gasoline into the car. In a car, this “junk” first must be filtered in order for the car to run properly, just as in our body the liver must filter it so that we run properly! Now with a car, various filters need to be changed and parts need to be replaced so that the “gunk” that has potentially built up in the system doesn’t cause the car to fail, but of course the human body doesn’t have the luxury of replacement parts! This fact makes it all the more critical that we take good care of the parts we have!
Nutrients provide our cells with the energy needed to function, even when it comes to the digestive process itself.
We get nutrients into our cells through the process of eating and digesting food. Yet every time we eat something, we use up nutrients to generate enough energy for the process of digestion. You can see how this would typically work well, particularly when we make nutrient-dense food choices. The problems begin, however, when the foods that we are eating don’t contain enough nutrients to replenish the ones used to fuel their very own digestion! These are termed Anti-Nutrients – foods that use up more nutrients than they give back as they are digested. Refined sugar, refined flour and all other processed foods that have been stripped of their nutrients fit this bill and are common offenders when it comes to malnourishment and the breaking down of the body.
To illustrate, let’s say I have just eaten a piece of sugar-based candy. As I chew and digest the candy, the body uses stored nutrients to fuel the process. Now in this case the candy doesn’t have any measurable nutrients to give back to the body to replenish what has just been burned to digest itself. Think of it like a glass that’s full of marbles, with each marble representing energy-producing nutrients. Each time the body digests an “anti-nutrient” like this piece of candy, a marble is removed from that glass and not replaced. Eventually there will be no marbles left, meaning the nutrient stores will be depleted. When this happens in real life, important functions can no longer take place. In fact, the body will begin to pull what it needs from tissues like muscles and bones just to make sure the blood levels of certain nutrients are enough to keep the body alive. Serious nutrient deficiencies will develop and wreak havoc on your health.
This scenario can lead to a silent but destructive downward spiral over the years.
The unfortunate thing is that it may take decades until you experience clear symptoms of nutrient deficiencies or perhaps you’ll have minor symptoms that will go unrecognized by your doctor. Then one day you “suddenly” find yourself with a chronic condition like high blood pressure or arthritis or digestive issues (or all of the above!) that you never saw coming. I’ve often made the comment to clients that it would be a heck of a lot easier to stay healthy if we would become violently ill or at least feel discomfort immediately following the consumption of a food that doesn’t nourish our body. How convenient and enlightening a warning signal like that would be! That’s not what happens though, so we tend to not be so mindful of what we eat until more serious warning signals do go off many years later.
No matter what your age, start taking nutrition seriously NOW.
Those who adopt healthy, real-food eating habits early in life definitely have an advantage. However, although some may argue this, I truly believe that it’s never too late to turn your health around by replenishing those nutrient reserves that have taken years to become depleted. Just ditch the anti-nutrients and adopt a healthy diet of real food! After all, food is meant to provide the nourishment necessary to add life to your years, not the other way around!
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