Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nutrition and Going Back To School

This summer I am going back to college and beginning the process of wrapping up my AA degree.  I became very disenchanted with the academic world ten years ago when a professor who held the keys to my BA transfer became somewhat of a tyrant.  His no tolerance policy for attendance lead to my failing the class when my marriage was falling apart during that semester, and I had to choose one over the other one night I was supposed to attend unfortunately.  There were other contributing factors such as professors teaching business classes that were sadistic when it came to how to manage employees, and meeting students that were overly practical about education as a means to more money and not self improvement.  Perhaps I overreacted by leaving college, or perhaps some should not go to college or teach.  Either way I have resumed my pursuit of mastery of academic trivial knowledge.

The class I am taking this summer is Nutrition.  My interests lie mainly in improving my nutritional knowledge, and gaining the intellectual tools to discern good from bad habits to improve my health.  I also need this class to obtain academic credit toward my AA degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences.  After reading just a few chapters of the textbook for the class I have realized nutrition controls so much of our lives.

The chemical equilibrium in our bodies is maintained automatically, however if we do not supply our body with the necessary ingredients to accomplish their automatic tasks, then the balance can be lost.  Noticing a loss of health balance is difficult sometimes, especially when our brain is affected and self awareness may not exist fully.  Now that I have been eating right, and exercising, the subtle positive improvements are becoming more obvious.

There are many diets out there to try, and with my own experience I can attest that some have worked for me more than others.  However, now that I am being more analytical and examining food on the molecular level and seeing the chemical reactions for what they really are, I understand that it all really comes down to calories and nutrients, and not on a particular diet necessarily.

First, I want to say if you are not being analytical, and delving that deeply into food ingredients, a diet such as low-carb might be your best bet.  Americans especially should consider a low carb diet due to the levels of obesity and diabetes which is directly related to overconsumption of calories due to too many fats and carbs in their diet. There are some serious dangers with going low-carb, and you should do some preliminary research on the diet before attempting it.  The main concerns are drinking a lot of water, and consuming enough protein.

Low carb diets switch your body over to use protein for energy, instead of carbs which it typically uses.  When you make that change your body also starts to cannibalize it's energy reserves.  If you don't consume enough protein in your diet, then your body will cannibalize your skeletal muscles for protein.  Body fat also is consumed and converted into energy.  If you don't drink enough water your kidneys will begin to shrink and may develop serious problems.  Another down side to going low carb is your body becomes more acidic due to the change in diet from ph balanced foods to highly acidic foods such as meats.  Cancer and other diseases thrive in an acidic environment, so try to keep acidic foods to a minimum if possible.

Alternatively, if you lead a really busy life, and don't have time to pre-plan your meals, then taking vitamin and mineral supplements and trying to limit calories may be the best plan for you.  I have been there, and know how daunting it can be to try to plan out every meal when you have more important critical things to do.

It may all come down to priorities in your mind.  When you are just a few pounds overweight, or have not had any diet related illnesses, then it is hard to justify nutrition as an important aspect of your life.  Personally, I have gained too many pounds over the years, which I have lost and gained back, and now have come to the point that it is my number one concern perhaps for the rest of my life.  The other reason I am focusing more on nutrition is I have recently had a significant mental change.  Eating right, and exercising, has woken up some part of my mind that has increased alertness, focus, and general well being.  Depression and anxiety have decreased significantly, as a result this has caused me to want to eat better and exercise more to materialize a positive feed back process within my body mind complex.

At this moment I am using the free nutritional tracking software on the USDA website SuperTracker.  My class textbook pointed it out to me.  This website allows you to easily track all the minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional aspects of the food you eat.  The main reason I prefer using this system at the moment was because I found out that taking too many supplements can lead to a condition called vitamin toxicity.  There are many side affects that manifest if you take vitamin supplements and also eat food with high levels of vitamins or minerals.  The opposite is also true, and if you do not track the vitamins and minerals you consume then you may be missing a few your body urgently needs.  This can lead to the breaking down of vital processes within your body, and you may not even know the cause.

For many years my idea of being healthy was to take a multi-vitamin every morning, along with some other supplements that were anti-oxidants, probiotic, etc, and try to eat a moderate amount of carbs and calories each day.  I did not get much exercise, and lead a sedentary lifestyle for the most part.  I was neglecting my organ health, mental health, and also rolling the dice with many life threatening diseases placing me in a statistical group for heart disease and cancer.  With most of my relatives suffering from those illnesses I also was genetically predisposed to have the same happen to me.  Taking this nutrition class has focused my attention on this more than ever, and has inspired me to make fundamental changes in my priorities.

Over the next few months I will endeavor to document my progress on weight loss, and general well being.  If you want to learn more about nutrition I recommend going to a community college near where you live and take a distance learning course in nutrition.  It is very enlightening.  If you just want a reference book to read, the textbook we are reading in our nutrition class is: https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Nutrition-Eleanor-Noss-Whitney/dp/1305396456