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Food: What We Are Made From

July 27th, 2021 by Debbie Martilotta

Some advice is just so sound that I feel the need to share it. Your diet and nutrition are hugely important!

Every cell in our body turns over every 7 years. Some turn over daily, some weekly, and some take longer. Ever wonder how we make new cells, organs, tissues, skin, muscles, bone, and even brain cells? The raw materials all come from what we eat. Do you want to be made of Doritos or grass-fed steak? Coca-cola or wild blueberries?  

Our structure, which determines our function, is dependent on what we eat. The building blocks—the proteins, fats, minerals, and more, make up who we are. 

If you are a healthy, lean male, your body is made up of 62 percent water, 16 percent protein, 16 percent fat, 6 percent minerals, less than 1 percent carbohydrate, and small amounts of vitamins. The problem is that our processed diet is about 50 to 60 percent carbohydrate, mostly low-quality, refined starches and sugars that are the raw materials for processed food.

Funny enough, we are not actually made of carbohydrates and they are not considered an essential nutrient. If those carbs don’t become our structure, where do they go? We burn some, but most get turned into dangerous disease-causing belly fat.

Every part of you has a structure and function. If you are made out of poor-quality parts, you will create a poorly functioning body.  

Muscle loss and bone loss are huge factors in aging and age-related diseases. Muscle is where our metabolism is (low muscle mass equals slow metabolism and worse). The effect of poor quality muscles is an increase in diabetes, inflammation, and aging.  

Imagine building your house out of rotten wood or disintegrating bricks. Why would you build your body from defective ingredients? For example, we need the best quality fats—our brain is 60 percent fat, our nerve coverings are all made from fat, every one of your 10 trillion cells is wrapped in a little fatty membrane. Do you really want to make them from oxidized damaged refined oils in your French fries or KFC? 

We also need the best quality protein. The body makes most of its important molecules from protein including muscle, cells, and immune molecules. Not all protein is the same. The best type of protein to build muscle is other muscle—animal protein. You can get protein from plant foods, but the quality is lower and it has lower levels of key amino acids needed to synthesize new muscle, especially the branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and also lysine and sulfur-based amino acids).  And don’t forget all the vitamins and minerals we need to build tissues, muscles, and bones, including vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and more.

Next time you chomp down on something, ask yourself if you are fine with it becoming part of you for the long term.  If not, don’t eat it and find the best quality ingredients you can, ingredients that help you thrive!

by Mark Hyman MD