Some body basics

Have you ever wondered about how the food you eat gets turned into your new body cells, tissues and organs? And then, how what you eat will be the building blocks for a great body build or how what you lack will set your body up for weakness, poor function and possibly disease or injury?

God has created such an intricate body for us that is filled with cells that make up tissues that make up organs that make up systems and make the body run. We can renew, regenerate and adapt to our environments. The weather, stresses and food are examples.  I’d like to focus on some of the basics of food and how nutrition will affect the body as a whole.

Contrary to what many people believe, vitamins and minerals do not produce energy. I have heard people say, “maybe I need a vitamin, I am so tired…” While they are needed to process what makes energy, they help you to burn carbohydrates for energy. Taking an excess of them will not cause your body to make more energy, they will just give you expensive urine.

We really get out energy from macronutrients, which are fats, proteins and carbohydrates.  Carbs are the favorite source of energy, fats the second and protein is third. With that said, you also need to eat the correct types of these macronutrients – there is a difference between low/complex and high/simple glycemic carbohydrates. Examples of simple carbs are: milk, fruit, honey and table sugar. Examples of complex carbs are all grains – wheat, rice, corn, potatoes and vegetables. Complex carbs are better for maintaining a steady blood sugar level. They are contain fiber, antioxidants and are low in fat. There is also a great source of nutrients relative to the number of calories in the food. Many of our vital vitamins and minerals are also plentiful in complex carbs. According to Dale Ames Kline and Ellen Coleman who wrote Practical Nutrition for Fitness Professionals, they state that Americans eat a lot less complex carbs than we need excess in simple carbs.  “Most dietitians recommend 55 to 60 percent of our calories come from complex carbohydrates; 10 percent would be simple.” (Non Type 2 diabetic persons). Also remember, too much of anything – good healthy food included will be stored in the body as fat, so calories need to be watched. A diet high in plant based material – complex carbohydrates and fiber is what we all need to strive for (55 to 60 percent of our diet).  Eating “clean;” close to the source – orange verses orange flavored drink like Sunny D; eliminating packaged food which is sodium and preservative laden; take out and eating out. You’ll save money, be healthier and can make meal and food preparation a family time to prepare, versus the grab and go lifestyle.

Fats come in many forms – saturated, unsaturated, and the man made never to eat hydrogenated fats. (Side note, hydrogen is added to natural fats changing them for long shelf life ruining the fat and making it a substance that is harmful to the body).

Protein’s special task in the body is to build healthy cells. Some amino acids in protein get converted to glucose (“blood sugar”) which the body can burn for energy. Protein has many vital health functions in addition to being a building block and for energy. They also help with enzyme production, immune function, fluid electrolyte balance and move nutrients across cell membranes. They also are involved in blood clotting and making our tendons, bones and scar tissue. While protein is important, too much of it can place a burden on the kidneys.

As Americans we need to shift out portions, what we eat and how we view food. Food is not comfort, entertainment or difficult. Getting back to the basics of food, a diet largely consisting of plant sources that have natural fiber, vitamins and minerals with complex carbohydrates for energy production is needed. With a side order of protein and fats.

About Janelle Baldwin

Janelle Baldwin is a physical therapist assistant (PTA) and lead fitness trainer for Agnesian HealthCare’s on-site fitness center, called the ZONE. She is a certified weight trainer (CWT), a strength and conditioning specialist (STS) and a certified strength and conditioning instructor (CSCI). Her 15 years of professional experience ranges from home care and work hardening/conditioning with the Agnesian HealthCare Sports, Spine & Work Center for many years to her role as a certified personal trainer; teaching fitness classes for which she is trained and certified for and maintaining the on-site fitness facility.

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