Today was such a wonderfully beautiful day to just get out of the house and to enjoy the great outdoors with a good hike. I filled my Camel Back with fresh water, grabbed my trekking poles and took off for Weston Bend, a scenic park with most excellent trails on the bluffs over looking the Missouri River just north of Kansas City about twenty five miles. My nutrition, based on proper distribution of macronutrients was at work all day.
Once I reached the park it was about 40 degrees F., just a little cool, but since I was wearing a sweat shirt already, I tossed my hoodie back in the truck as I figured I would get plenty warm soon enough and did not feel like carrying a jacket along with my trekking poles that already occupied my hands. I set my fitness tracker on my phone, put on my head set, and then turned on some good classic rock music as I set off down the first leg of the trail. What a glorious day to be alive, to be healthy, in top physical condition, and to be able to truly enjoy getting my heart rate up with a brisk pace going up and down the steep hills on the bluff’s trail. I thank God every day for my life, for my second chance at a normal life after blowing out my spine at L5 S1 in August of 2009. Despite suffering chronic pain from a damaged sciatic nerve, I can walk trails for several miles at a time when it took me a year to learn to walk normally again after my spinal injury. As I hiked, I would also take a few brief moments to snap a few pictures and to absorb the sights of the various wildlife moving through the woods. At one point, I actually walked up on three white tail deer. I think it scared me as much as them because I was right on top of them when they bolted. The cool breeze was blowing in a direction to where I assume they never smelled me approaching.
Taking in the beauty of the trail and pondering the miracle of life, I thought about how much the role of good nutrition plays into my health and physical condition. How, good nutrition allows me to still do the things at 58 years old which I could do at 25 years old. I thought for a second that I am just lucky, but the reality is, it is much more than luck. It is personal choices which allow me to live a good life. It is the choice to get up and exercise even when the couch looks more inviting. It is a matter of choice when I go down to my weight pit to lift the iron when I might rather take a nap. It is a matter of choice what I put into my body, to not eat sugar and processed foods. I do not have to settle for junk foods with ingredients I cannot even pronounce, or have no clue what they might be. Think about these two common ingredients in commercial snack cakes; do you know what glycerides and sodium stearoyl lactylte might be without the aid of Google? Probably not…
We were blessed with one life, one body and we need to take care of nourishing ourselves with healthy foods. We were also blessed with the foods to do so. A good healthy diet is going to provide a good mix of the three macronutrients; protein, carbohydrates and fats. These are the building blocks for a healthy body. The nutrients which will help us to live longer lives with quality health over being all stoved up with ailments which used to only afflict the elderly in western society. There really is no excuse for not consuming healthy foods which provide us all the building blocks for a healthy life. Our grocery stores are full of good foods. You can use the excuse that healthy foods are too expensive, and I would counter that you probably spend more on fast and junk foods than what an increase in your grocery bill would be. Remember too that with a healthy diet, you will also be spending less on medical care as a healthy body does not require near as many doctor visits as a sickly body. Eating the wrong foods for too many years will indeed make you sickly at some point, you can take that to the bank.
So, what in the world are Macronutrients?
As the name suggests, macronutrients are nutritional compounds that your body requires in significant amounts to maintain good physical and mental health. You need sufficient quantities of all three macronutrients to be supplied with good energy to get through the day. These nutrients are proteins, fats and carbohydrates and they have different roles in the body while all are playing a role together to optimize your health and well being.
Formed of sugars and starches, carbs are the macronutrient that your system utilizes as it’s main source of fuel for energy. Your body breaks down most carbs pretty easily in order to use them as a vital energy source. While we do need carbs in our diets, and should consume 25% to 35% of our calories from complex carbohydrates, you really need to avoid simple carbs unless they are combined with a good source of fiber such as in fruits and vegetables. Without fiber, simple carbs dump too quickly into your blood stream which obviously affects your blood sugar and insulin levels. Fiber slows the absorption of simple carbs.
While fiber is also a carb called cellulose, it is not digestible. Cellulose, or dietary fiber is found in all fruits and vegetables. Besides playing a role in slowing the absorption of sugars into your blood stream, it also assists your body in waste removal from the large intestine, and keeps your bowels in good working order.
David’s Way is a diabetic friendly way to eat whether you are diabetic or not. For our readers who are diabetic or have a loved one who is, while excluding fiber, carbs are divided into either simple or complex. The science behind this identifies carbs by the length of the overall molecule. The shorter the molecule, the easier your body breaks it down, therefore these carbs are classified as simple carbs. Simple carbs, besides those which are provided by fruits and vegetables, come largely from sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Sadly, the Standard American Diet is unfortunately full of these garbage macronutrients, which is why we have an epidemic of obesity in our society. In contrast to simple carbs, complex carbohydrates are larger molecules that take longer for your body to break down. Despite the differences in simple and complex carbs, a carb is a carb in regards to your macros which means you can not just eat as many complex carbs as you want, especially if you are diabetic.
Protein is the building block of the body. All proteins are comprised of combinations of twenty different amino acids, which your body breaks apart and combines to form different physical structures within your body. Your body utilizes amino acids in three ways; to build new proteins for cellular functioning, as an energy source, and as a building material. In other words, your body requires protein to support organ function, power enzymes reactions, and to form your hair, nails and other tissues.
Of the twenty amino acids, nine are classifies as essential, which means your body cannot produce them and they must come from your diet. To maintain your health, you must consume these nine amino acids or you can actually find yourself with damaged DNA over time, besides other maladies which come from incomplete nutrition. The good news is the other eleven amino acids can be synthesized by your liver if you do not consume them in your diet. If you are not a vegetarian, you will consume all the aminos your body requires through meat. If you are a vegetarian or considering becoming one, know that it is imperative that you eat a well balanced diet that also meets your needs for all the essential amino acids. This can be accomplished by eating multiple plant based sources of protein such as nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
If you believe everything you eat should be low fat or fat free, forget everything you think you know about fats. Despite years of bad press, we need fat in our diets. Fats are not the demon of macronutrients. Despite the hype which caused their reputation to be damaged in the past, you need to be consuming fats in order to remain healthy. Eating sugar makes you fat, while actually eating fat does not cause obesity unless you are eating far too much and exceeding your caloric needs. You need to make sure that your daily calories are 20 to 35 percent fats.
Fat gets a bad rap because there 9 calories per gram, while carbs and protein only have 4 calories per gram. Despite the higher caloric value, your body still needs this macronutrient in order to remain healthy. Eating adequate amounts of fat ensures good hormone function, and promotes healthier skin and hair.
Fats are an energy reserve, as it is your body’s preferred method for storing unused calories. Your system only stores a limited amount of glucose in your tissues, while body fat allows you to store unlimited amounts of energy which are burned as a part of your basal metabolic rate function. This is also why it is critical to track your caloric intake as when we are not burning off enough glucose and fat, we then become obese. You cannot consume more calories than you burn and think you are not going to get fat.
When consuming fats, you need to ensure that you are supplying your body with the fatty acids it needs but cannot make, such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. You can source omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish, walnuts, and eggs. You can get omega 6 fatty acids from most vegetable oils.
Dietary fat assists your body in absorbing fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Fat adds flavor and texture to your food. There are three primary types of dietary fats, saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat. Each have a different impact on your health.
- Saturated Fat is found in meat, butter, cream and other animal sources.
- Unsaturated Fats are found in olive oil, nuts, avocados, canola oil, and other plant sources.
- Trans Fats are found in commercial products like snack foods, fast foods and margarine.
You really need to avoid Trans Fats as they can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and obesity. For this reason, at David’s Way we try to simplify things by never telling you specifically what to eat, we do tell you what not to eat; simple refined sugar and processed foods which are almost always full of added sugars and trans fats. David’s Way is not a diet plan, it is a life style which involves healthy eating of whole foods, exercising to your ability and with your doctors approval, and reduction of stress by doing everything in your power to “Make your word small”. In other words, make the personal choice to not let outside interferences have any control over your life as much as humanly possible. I am not saying it’s always easy, but the manner in which we live is still a personal choice. We can decide what we are going to eat. We can decide how to balance our macronutrients. We can decide to exercise our bodies instead of vegetating in front of a television. We can decide to not get caught into the constant daily drama of others. We can make the choice to always be the best we can be, to be a little better today than were yesterday, and even better still tomorrow.
God bless and be wise in your lifestyle choices.