What’s In Food?

FOOD nourishes us and keeps us alive. Moreover, the nutrients in food can become tools to greater health and well-being.  Alternative medicine doctors (natural medicine doctors, naturopathic doctors) study the effects of nutrient deficiency and how to correct them.  They apply these principles to help their patients regain their health and maintain it.

Food contains the building blocks of life.

Food in the form of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meats, dairy, legumes, etc., provides the building blocks to build and maintain a healthy body and mind.  These building blocks are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins (water soluble, fat soluble), minerals, and many other biochemical compounds.

However, food also contains many additives, such as food coloring, flavor and texture enhancers, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics (in meats and dairy — fed to the animals), and pesticides, among others.  Hence, food can heal and literally kill us.  It matters what we put into our bodies.

We think about food, dream about it, fantasize about it, love it, hate it, smell it, taste it, and, of course, eat it.  Through the process of digestion, the food is broken down into its sub-components to make it available to the tissues.

Let’s take a closer look at the building blocks provided by food:

CARBOHYDRATES are the sugars (mono- and disaccharides), such as glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and lactose (milk sugar), as well as oligo-and polysaccharides, such as starches, and cellulose.

PROTEINS are composed of amino acids, nine of which are essential and the remaining eleven are non-essential.  The body can synthesize the non-essential amino acids.  However, the essential ones need to be supplied by food.

FATS can be saturated (solid at room temperature), or mono-, oligo-, or polyunsaturated.  The more saturated, the more solid at room temperature.  Fats are essential components of all cell membranes, thus helping to maintain their integrity.  They also are structural components of the myelin that covers long nerve fibers.  Myelin covering of nerves greatly speeds up nerve conduction.

VITAMINS are essential to catalyze and/or enhance the strength of biochemical reactions.  In other words, they help the body do its work of growth, maintenance, and restructuring.  They are either water soluble, such as the B-Vitamins and Vit C, or fat-soluble, such as Vit A, D, E and K.

MINERALS, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, are necessary for bone strength, muscle contractility, nerve conduction, and as co-factors in many biochemical reactions, similar to the vitamins.  We all are familiar with calcium, magnesium, potassium, and salt.

Trace elements and other biochemicals are equally important to help the body be and remain strong and resilient.