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Nourishment comes in many forms and for many purposes:
- Food and activities for the body
- Knowledge and enlightenment for the mind
- Community and laughter for the spirit
When it comes to the body, however, pragmatism tells us that health, longevity, and body composition hinge on proper nourishment.
Let me explain:
Nourishment gives life to the cells of the muscles, organs, bones, and other vital structures. A lack of nourishment can cause disease to any of these cells.
But the reverse is also true: disease can also cause a lack of nourishment to these cells.
Take insulin resistance, for example, a disease that, according to the heavily researched book Good Calories, Bad Calories, has been shown to cause malnourishment.
Insulin Resistance and Body Fat (based on information presented in Good Calories, Bad Calories):
[What follows is detailed information; but I don’t believe in complicating things, so if you want to skip down to the “What to Do” section of this post, go for it!]
The hormone insulin signals the cells of the body to take in the calories we just ate. With insulin-resistance, however, these cells cannot accept those calories. These cells are, therefore, said to be resistant to the signal of insulin — a condition called insulin-resistance.
What causes insulin resistance?
The frequent and large consumption of processed foods (breads, pasta, grains) and sugar stimulates the pancreas to overproduce insulin.
This overproduction of insulin bombards the receptors (doorways) on these cells, and they eventually attenuate (become “deaf”) to the signal of insulin — these doorways no longer “open” to let in the calories and nutrients.
As a result, excess calories remain in the blood, mostly in the form of blood glucose. This can be measured only with a blood glucose test (which might be one of the reasons insulin-resistance goes undiagnosed).
With an increase level of blood glucose, the pancreas produces even more insulin in an attempt to clear it, but the body’s cells still cannot effectively take in the excess blood glucose. (This creates a secondary condition called hyperinsulinemia, or too much insulin in the blood.)
So, ultimately, the increased insulin directs that glucose to — you guessed it — fat cells.
Under this condition, the food that’s eaten are directed to fat cells, while muscle and organ cells become malnourished.
Through complex hormonal signaling, malnourished cells communicate with the brain that they’re “hungry.” So the person with (undiagnosed) insulin-resistance involuntarily eats more to satisfy cellular nourishment.
An overweight person, therefore, can be considered malnourished. Decreasing calories only deepens this malnourishment.
The condition of insulin-resistance must be reverse, in order for calorie intake to return to a “normal” level — which is far less than the current intake of the average Westerner.
What to Do
How do we reverse the condition of insulin resistance?
- Eat whole, real foods — avoiding anything processed.
- Eat less frequently.
Insulin in itself is not evil — but the frequent overproduction of insulin is the a strong contributing factor to insulin resistance, and thus overweight.
Thus, eat foods that are real, because they stimulate less insulin. And eat fewer times through the day, because this stimulates insulin to a lesser frequency. (Remember: lower in magnitude, and less in frequency.)
We can successfully eat less only when we ensure that the body can still be nourished.