Lunch: Chicken and spinach salad with bacon, onion and bell peppers; ½ avocado
Dinner: Salmon and green veg
I think it would be useful to describe some of the basic components of food. We can talk about different diets, but unless we understand what the foods we eat are made of and how our bodies react in response to their digestion, we are just groping in the dark.
I’ll start by talking about the macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrate and fat.
Protein is what makes our skin, hair, nails, muscles neurotransmitters, hormones etc. Protein is made of molecules called “amino acids”. There are 21 amino acids. Eight of them are essential amino acids (EAAs). Our bodies can’t create EAAs, so they must come from our diet. They are not necessarily more important than any other aminos, but it is essential that our diet contains them. The more complete the amino acid profile of a food, the better the quality of the protein. Good sources of protein are animal meats, fish and eggs.
The most basic forms of carbohydrates are monosaccharides. Mono = one, sacchar = sugar. One molecule. The most common monosaccharides are glucose and fructose. Glucose is the most common sugar used for energy in our bodies. Fructose is the sugar in fruit. Sucrose, table sugar, is a disaccharide of glucose and fructose. Polysaccharides come in two types: digestible and indigestible. The digestible polysaccharides are called starches and can be found in grains and roots and tubers (i.e. potatoes). Indigestible polysaccharides are known as fiber.
There are no essential carbohydrates. Some parts of our bodies require glucose, but our bodies can make it from protein and fat, so it isn’t essential that our diet contains them. That’s not to say we should exclude them completely, but excess carbohydrate can cause a range of problems that I’ll discuss later. Good sources of carbs are sweet potatoes, fruit and vegetables.
There are good fats and bad fats, and the good fats are essential. The good fats come in wild fish, avocados, nuts and coconut products. How we came to vilify fat is a story for another day. Right now I’ll just say that there are saturated (saturated and trans) fats and unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats.
That’s not terribly interesting. In fact, most of what I’ve just written isn’t interesting, to me at least. I don’t really care about the biochemistry of food. I want to know what these foods do to my body, and how I should eat in order to get the results I want. I’ll get into some of that tomorrow.