The Miracle of Human Metabolism

The other topic of the radio show I mentioned a few posts ago is concerned with digestion and metabolism of processed foods. The doctor in that show speaks with authority about how digestion and metabolism are different with these foods as opposed to foods found or grown in the environment.

Specifically, he describes how processed foods are immediately available for digestion and absorption which leads to instant changes in blood energy levels. There is increasing evidence that the complex hormonal regulation of blood energy struggles to adapt to these new foods. More natural foods provide a buffer to delay and slow absorption, something our digestive system depends upon for normal regulation of blood energy. 

The doctor's step towards vilifying processed food and added sugars though is unrealistic. From his vaunted perch, it would be more helpful to discuss how to live in a world with our current food supply. Being able to eat processed foods in moderation is a cornerstone in modern life, but it's also crucial to understand why the majority of one's diet needs to be real food for our bodies to function normally. 

People generally think about metabolism in terms of burning energy. The goal in this rubric is to maintain a high metabolism to keep weight down; however, this is not the true definition. The pressures from the food and diet industry intend to place blame on the individual while hawking products that lead to weight gain. 

Metabolism is the bodily function that digests food, turns it into usable energy and transports the energy to parts of the body that need it. It is a complex interplay of the endocrine and gastrointestinal system which maintains healthy function throughout the body.

Our conscious part in this system is to eat regularly and eat predominantly a varied diet of real food. People like the NYU nutritionist Marion Nestle have written at length about what that means, but it's not about following the most recent fad, just following logical conclusions. 

The purpose of reflecting regularly in this blog about metabolism is for readers to understand and admire the way our bodies use food and energy in complex and amazing ways. With that knowledge, we can try to avoid the current trends and pressures about food and just do the basics each day. That's true for everyone, those with or without an eating disorder.

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