In this first post on a series about food, I’m going to take you through what food actually is (hint: it’s more than just fuel) and what it does (the good, the bad, and the beautiful).
What is Food?
I know it seems like a silly question, but if you were asked that question, what would you say? Food is something that organisms consume that provides nutritional support.
Food can be plants, animals, bacteria, algae, and fungi. There has been a great resurgence of interest in those last three things… Americans are brewing their own kombucha, now, and eating kimchee all the time.
Bacteria are used in the preparing fermented and pickled foods like leavened bread, alcoholic drinks, cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee, and kombucha. No matter where you’re from, and who your ancestors were, they were very likely to know the benefit and find good uses for bacteria and fungi.
Experimenting in your kitchen can be interesting and fun. My ancestors had a yoghurt drink like keffir, sauerkraut, and other pickles. They also ate plenty of sea algae and fungi.
Adding some of these ancestral foods can help strengthen your digestive system by adding in more of the bacteria that you already have inside your stomach and by feeding it. Gut bacteria is a much needed part of your system that does four basic things: defends against pathogens, fortify defense of the body by keeping the epithelium healthy and developing antibodies, metabolizing indigestible compounds in foods, and the gut-brain axis.
Maybe you’ve heard of the gut-brain axis? This includes the central nervous system, neuroendocrine, and neuro-immune systems as well as the sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of the autonomic nervous system including enteric nervous system, vagus nerve, and of course, the gut microbiota.
Can you see how powerful this bacteria is?
Already you can tell that food is much more than simply fuel, like gas for a car.
Food tells your DNA what to do. To switch on the gene that helps you get stronger, or switch off the gene that makes you hold onto fat. Food gives you more than macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Too much of the wrong kind of bacteria can make you very sick, but the right kind can give you optimal health.
Thinking about food merely as a form of fuel is so 1980. We do need fuel and we get it from food, but we don’t stop there because when people think about food in terms of calories or macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, they miss out on the bigger picture.
Food is medicine. Food is INFORMATION.