The phrase “You are what you eat” has been around for a long time. When we were kids, we interpreted the phrase as “if you eat a lot of grapes, then you would turn into a big grape!” Keep in mind, many kids also humor the idea that eating watermelon seeds would cause a watermelon to grow inside their stomachs; Silly kids!
Now that we are older we know better than to think that we will turn into a tomato by eating a lot of tomatoes, but do we really know better? A literal application of the statement may not be true, but many people fail to realize that this statement still is 100% true.
To prove this statement as fact, let’s hop into the magic school bus and transport ourselves back into biology class, where we are learning about cells.
Biology 101: Cell Basics
All living things are composed of cells. Humans contain about 10 trillion cells that contain information for every vital function that occurs in the body. Cells undergo a cell division cycle; in humans, a single-celled fertilized egg multiplies to form a baby. This same mechanism is how many of the tissues in our body are renewed and how we grow throughout the years.
Jonas Frisén, leader of a Swedish team of researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, has shown that a large majority of cells in a human body are less than 10 years old. There are cells in the body that endure from birth to death, like those of the cerebral cortex, but cells that comprise each kind of tissue of the body have different turnover times.
The lifespan of a specific tissue is partially based on the workload endured by the cells it is composed of. Cells lining the surface of your gut last for only five days. The life span of epidermic cells (skin cells) is roughly two weeks. Red blood cells are constantly moving through the circulatory system and last around 4 months. The livers main function is to detoxify the body, cells comprising the tissue of the liver recycle every 300-500 days.
Cells obtain their energy from the complex organic molecules of food such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Most of the energy is stored within the chemical bonds that hold these molecules together. Through large complicated processes in the body breaking down food molecules, cells obtain glucose for energy.
The energy the cells obtain, not only supplies the energy needed for humans to carry out every task of life, but also is used to divide a single cell (parent cell) into two new cells (daughter cells). The two daughter cells are exact replicas of the parent cell and undergo cell division to produce more cells as well.
Cells don’t multiply forever; a healthy cell death is call apoptosis, where the cell “chooses” to die. Apoptosis is required for normal development and good health through life. Other ways that cells can die are through infection, lack of oxygen, overheating, or poisoning.
These undesirable causes of cell death are much messier and destructive than apoptosis. The cell will swell up and leak its contents, causing undesirable effects to other surrounding cells. Cancer, diseases, and other medical conditions are some of the possible outcomes from undesirable cell death.
Food, Ingredients and Health
Now knowing that everything we eat and put into our body provides the energy to make new duplicate cells of the old, let’s look at some ingredients of a typical food product that people fuel their cells with.
Common cereals may have a whole grain guarantee, but look closer and you’ll reveal that these whole grains provide only 1g of fiber. Fiber is what keeps our metabolism regular and unfortunately many Americans fall short of the recommended amount.
Marshmallows that contain artificial colorants have been linked to hyperactivity in children. Around 11 grams of corn syrup and sugar gives this cereal great taste, but is the equivalent of putting 3 teaspoons of sugar into your coffee.
Trisodium phosphate is an additive derived from phosphate rocks and is also used to clean a surface before someone paints! Putting these types of substances into our body for energy, there is no wonder why there is an abundance of health issues in today’s modern society. Sure there are some fortified vitamins and minerals in the cereal, but ask yourself, wouldn’t it make more sense to get your nutrition straight from the source and not from a lab?
Nowadays, with all of the wild claims of food products being healthy in one way or another, it can be a daunting task figuring out which ones really are healthy for you. The first thing that I would advise would be to take a look at the list of ingredients on the products nutritional label. The ingredients shouldn’t look like a science experiment; rather it should look like a recipe.
You should know exactly what each ingredient is; if not, you will be welcoming any of the possible outcomes that ingredient can inflict on your body. I for one wouldn’t eat trisodium phosphate if it was on a menu, but that is essentially what you are doing when you eat common cereals.
To know exactly what you are putting inside your body, I recommend forming your diet with truly natural nutrient dense foods such as meat, vegetables, legumes, and fruit. There are no hidden ingredients when you eat these types of foods.
The ingredients in steak and broccoli are steak and broccoli! Wash everything down with a cold glass of water and there will be no doubt in your mind that you are being healthy. You are what you eat, so eat healthy and be healthy!