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Food and Nutrition

Here we look at the basics of nutrition and provide some background on some of the more extraordinary aspects of nutrition.

A balanced diet should provide enough water, protein, carbohydrate, roughage, fat (yes fat!), vitamins and minerals, but not too much. The body does not need it all at once, but should get some of everything every day or two.

What is enough? What is too much?

People come in many different shapes and sizes and our bodies run at different speeds. A general guide to volumes is offered here and each of us should adjust it to suit age and lifestyle.

The body is composed of water (over 70%!) plus a few other molecules. A balanced diet should reflect this.

Coke or Water?

Food Group

Importance

Sources

Water

Critical to life. A human can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water! It accounts for over 70% of your body mass. It is vital for life support systems including breathing, digestion, circulation.

Rain, stream, tap, bottle ... but beware! Clean water is less readily available than may be expected. Foul water can cause illness. It is especially susceptible to bacteria if it is stagnant or warm.

Carbohydrate

Principal source of energy for daily life. Quickly metabolised by the body and used immediately to fuel the body or, if not needed, converted to fats for storage for later use.

Sugar.

Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes.

Available in most foods.

Protein

Formed from 22 amino acids of which a few are essential because they can not be created by the body.

Critical to muscle development and growth.

Food

Relative Protein Yield Per Acre

Soy beans

356

Rice

260

Corn

211

Wheat

138

Meat

45

Beef

20

The Meatrix - a dramatic cartoon about industrial livestock farming.

Fat

Long term storage of energy. Can be converted to sugars. Also used in nervous system and lubrication of joints.

Oils (100% fat), butter, lard etc. Meats and meat derived foods like cheese.

Roughage

Largely undigestible plant materials. Keeps the digestive system active and functioning properly. Massages all parts of the tract from teeth and gums to duodenum.

Green vegetables and cereals.

For a comprehensive review of vitamins and minerals go to Vitamins and Minerals.

Herbs and plants for medicinal use.

 

Physiological Comparisons

Carnivore

Herbivore

Human?

Has claws

No Claws

No claws

Non-porous skin, perspires through tongue

Porous skin, perspires through skin.

Porous skin, perspires through skin.

Sharp incisors and molars for tearing and slicing meat.

Flat molars for grinding

Flat molars for grinding

Intestine short (3x body length) for quick expulsion of decaying meat.

Intestine 10-12x body length.

Intestine 10-12x body length.

Hydrochloric acid in stomach to digest meat.

Stomach acid only 5% strength of carnivore's.

Stomach acid only 5% strength of carnivore's.

Winning Vegetarians.

 

 

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