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Disclaimer- This blog is based on my personal experiences which I am sharing for educational and informational purposes only. The information presented is not intended to replace a one on one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to make your health care decisions together with your own doctor or healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for you.

Food is information

08.01.2018

photo: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

 

We normally think of food as fuel that gives us energy throughout the day. We view it as either good or bad, as something that we enjoy with friends and family: “Oh, it was so good today!”, or that we would rather not eat again.

 

 

Many of us also think that food’s only impact on the body is to make it either gain weight or lose it. It seems logical when we are told that a healthy weight is a result of the number of calories ingested versus the number of calories burned. But we know now that a calorie is not just a calorie. In a lab, the calories from all foods release the same amount of energy when burned, but when we eat them they have profoundly different effects on our hormones, our brain chemistry, and our metabolism. It is not the calorie content but the macro composition and quality of the foods that we eat (and the effect they have in our hormones and biochemistry) that determines our weight and our health.[1]

 

Related: The truth about fat (coming soon)

 

 

The human biology is incredibly complex – it is a network of genetic, hormonal and biochemical reactions that dynamically change under the influence of the environment. And food is the biggest “environmental” regulator of the complex system that our bodies are.[2] Food is not just energy, food is information that communicates with the body on a cellular level. It controls every aspect of our bodies and the risk of developing diseases by deeply shaping our genes, hormones, immune system and even the gut flora with every bite.[1] This process is called nutrigenomics and it shows just how deeply connected our diets are to our health.

 

 

The food that we eat provides the nutrients that enable our cells to perform their functions, giving instructions to each cell about how to work. For example, sugar does a lot more than just providing calories. It causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to spike, which gives quick energy, followed by a hard energy crash. When glucose binds to the surface of any cell in the body, it starts a chain reaction that causes the cell to make inflammatory molecules that can cause many health problems, if this goes on for too long.

 

 

Naturally anti-inflammatory foods can, in opposition, activate some genes creating a positive chain of events. A good example is how our cells respond to resveratrol. Studies have shown that when we eat red grapes or drink red wine, the resveratrol from these foods travels into the cells in the body, where it turns on what has been called the “longevity gene” because it makes enzymes that help the cell live longer.[3]

 

 

This is the reason why even though an avocado and a bag of candy can have the same amount of calories, the response they generate in the body is totally different. The avocado contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, among other functions.[4][5] The candy, on the other hand, is loaded with sugar and bad fats, two things that can create inflammation. So you should keep in mind that every food has the potential to cause an immune reaction, either increasing or decreasing the level of inflammation in the body.[6] And we know now that inflammation is present in virtually every chronic disease that we can think of, from autoimmune diseases to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and even Alzheimer or depression.[7]

 

 

Everything we eat is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, eventually arriving to feed all our cells. This is how every cell in the body is affected by our diet and why we can say that food is information. It can have a powerful effect on activating the immune system making it work better and in controlling the amount of inflammation in the body, preventing and even reversing many chronic diseases. And it can do it as well or even better than medicine can.[8]

 

Related: My story - part I: illness and My story - part II: epic fight for health

 

 

By selecting nutrient-dense foods that promote healing and avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms it is possible to manage autoimmune disease. This is the principle behind the Autoimmune Protocol: to shape your diet in a way that allows you to modulate the immune system to manage your disease and live symptom-free.

As the old saying goes, we are what we eat!

 

 

 

References:

 

[1] Hyman M., “Eat fat, get thin”, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2016

 

[2] Kang JX, “The coming age of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics”, J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics 2012;5:I–II. doi.org/10.1159/000339375

 

[3] Lekli I, Ray D. and Das D. K., “Longevity nutrients resveratrol, wines and grapes”, Genes & Nutrition 2010 Mar; 5(1): 55-60. doi:  10.1007/s12263-009-0145-2

 

[4] Yoneyama S, Miura K, et al, “Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese”, J Epidemiol. 2007 May;17(3):86-92.

 

[5] Menendez JA, Lupu R, “Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil's monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (18:1n-9)”, Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):495-502.

 

[6] Blum S., “The Immune System recovery plan”, Scribner, New York, April 2013

 

[7] Perlmutter D., “Grain Brain – The surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar: your brain silent killers”, Little, Brown and Company, New York

 

[8] Leucht S, Helfer B, Gartlehner G, Davis JM, “How effective are common medications: a perspective based on meta-analyses of major drugs”, BMC Medicine 2015 13:253. doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0494-1

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Hi, I’m Mariana Cardoso and I’m currently studying to be a Nutritional Therapy Consultant.​

Being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease at the age of 27 turned my life upside down until I started to follow the Autoimmune Protocol, with fantastic results. I am now free of pain and can control my disease only with diet and lifestyle changes. Yes, it is possible to set your autoimmune disease in remission and become healthy again. Let me show you how by telling you my personal experience on this journey back to health!

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