Efficient Food For Survival
September 19, 2011 by Dr. David Eifrig Jr.
Just like with a car, if you run your body on the fuel that it’s designed to burn, it will have more power, run more efficiently and have less waste.
Even more importantly from a preparedness perspective, if you eat foods that your body can burn and use efficiently, you donâ€™t need to eat as much. In the case of storing food for emergency situations, it also means you donâ€™t need to buy or store as much.
What makes food efficient? How do you absorb as much benefit as possible from the food you eat? There are a few factors, and they are different from person to person. This topic gets really complex in a hurry, but the following factors will address the majority of the issue:
- Complexity of the food.
- Glycemic index.
Complexity Of The Food
Foods that have more complex structures require more digestive energy to break down into usable components. From a pure calorie/energy perspective, some foods take more calories to digest than they provide. In general, protein requires more calories to digest than fats, which require more calories to digest than sugars. Protein has other benefits besides calories, so the fact that it is more complex doesnâ€™t mean that you should avoid it.
Glycemic Index And Insulin Response
The glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly carbohydrates break down into glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index break down rapidly, and foods with a low glycemic index break down more slowly.
This is important because if your blood glucose levels get too high or rise too quickly, your pancreas will release insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. The problem with this is that the pancreas usually overreacts, releases too much insulin and causes blood sugar levels to drop lower than they were to start with.
Most people understand this intuitively and know that when they eat high fructose corn sweetener or refined sugarcane they get quick energy that quickly drops off. But if they have fruits and whole wheat bread, their energy levels go up nice and slow and stay level for hours.
Enzymes are very complex and amazing structures that can cause chemical reactions to happen more or less quickly. In relation to food, enzymes break complex food particles down so that the intestines can extract as many nutrients as possible from them.
If you can figure out which foods your body is efficient at digesting, your eating becomes much more efficient. Also, many raw foods contain some of the natural enzymes required to digest them. When you cook them, you kill some or all of the enzymes and put more of the stress of digestion on your gut, causing you to get fewer net calories.
Enzymes are temperature sensitive and are killed off by cooking. Many people, to avoid this, have switched to a â€śrawâ€ť food diet. Personally, we cook a lot of our food, but we supplement with enzymes to take some of the strain of digestion off our bodies. This, in turn, causes the food to â€śburnâ€ť more efficiently, taking some of the load off of our livers.
I talk more about this in a presentation I recently recorded on how to get three to 10 TIMES more nutrients from your food. You can see it by clicking here.
If your body identifies a particular food as a threat, you wonâ€™t be able to digest it as efficiently as someone whose body doesnâ€™t identify it as a threat. In fact, the reaction could cause your body to rapidly expel the contents of your gut, cause general inflammation or even kill you.
Bacteria In The Gut
With the help of enzymes, bacteria in your gut break down the food that you eat into forms that your body can use for building, repair, energy and other chemical reactions. Your gut has both good bacteria and bad bacteria in it. Itâ€™s good to minimize bad bacteria and maximize good bacteria to get the most benefit from your food. A couple of things that will kill the bacteria in your gut are antibiotics and Sucralose (Splenda.) This lack of good bacteria will cause you to extract less from your food and have more waste.
In addition to avoiding things that kill good bacteria in our guts, we also take probiotics to keep our good bacteria levels high.
This has more to do with supplements than it does with food, but itâ€™s still important. One of the best explanations of this is in Dr. Michael Colganâ€™s book, Optimum Sports Nutrition. Colgan became relatively famous in the late 80s and early 90s by showing Olympic athletes how to achieve steroid-like performance gains without destroying their bodies. My copy is 16 years old and well worn. In the book, Colgan talks about the various forms of calcium, how much calcium is in each form and how well the body absorbs the calcium.
As an example, calcium carbonate is 40 percent calcium (60 percent carbon and oxygen) and only 39 percent of that calcium gets absorbed. Calcium citrate is 21 percent calcium and 30 percent is absorbed. Calcium lactate is 14 percent calcium and 27 percent gets absorbed. This issue of bioavailability is present with every vitamin and mineral you take.
What happens to the rest of the pill? Your body has to process it which puts stress on your liver, kidney and other organs — all of which takes energy.
This is why I tell people to buy food that they already eat for their food storage. And, if you want to buy packaged food for long-term storage, be darn sure the food is compatible with your digestive system before you buy hundreds of meals.
This would be a great time for any nutritionists, biologists or even chemists to chime in with either more technical explanations, expanded explanations of the factors mentioned or other factors that I didnâ€™t address by commenting below.