When you think about it, you’ll realize we inherited our digestive tracts from a very long line of ancestors. For almost the entire history of human existence, one generation after another grew up in the same place. The body had plenty of time to adapt to the food sources in each region and optimize its absorption capabilities for those foods. If there was enough good food available, barring other issues, folks lived a healthy life. Digestive abilities were actually imprinted as digestive enzymes, and these enzymes were passed from generation to generation.
The modern age has brought the world to our tables. The possibility of refrigerated shipping in planes and trucks allows us to eat food that we never would have had the opportunity to eat in the past. It is often exotic and delicious. The grand question is: Can we digest these foods and benefit from the nutrition they have to offer?
Surprisingly, one of the exotic food groups that many people forget to acknowledge is food produced in an industrial manner. Our lives are fast-paced, and cooking, not to mention shopping and storing, often seems to be an almost impossible task. Mass-produced food steps in to answer a practical need but at a price to our health. From production time to the kitchen table, food takes much longer to make its way home, so preservatives need to be added. Often food coloring and other substances are put in as well to make the food look more like it would if it came from our kitchens. Our digestive tracts have never known these substances, and they can easily become confused!
New foods, which include all substances your ancestors never had an opportunity to ingest, can be misinterpreted by the body as foreign substances. This is dangerous. In fact, this is exactly how food intolerances and allergies start. It takes 10,000 years to create a new digestive enzyme. That is many generations!
So, how do we know what foods we can safely eat and from which we can derive healthy benefits?
The first step is to take your heritage into consideration. Think about where your great-great-grandparents lived and the things they would have eaten. Put a lot of those foods in your diet and see how you feel. Next, take out the things your great-great-grandparents would have looked at and said, “What is that?” (Power bars, protein shakes, frozen dinners, chips…you get the drift!) Then pick three or four exotic foods you feel like you are being deprived of. Have a look at the contents and see how many unfamiliar or modern substances are contained in these products. Then, reintroduce your favorite exotic food and see how you feel. If you notice that you are tired or bloated after eating it, you may need to take a break from that food for a while, or eliminate it all together and find a new favorite.
Repeat introducing new foods on your list, one at a time. When you know what works and what doesn’t, consume these foods in rotation. Rotate between “old fashioned” foods and new foods, making sure to pay attention to how you feel. By mixing things up, you reduce your chances of developing intolerances. Plus, you’ll have more variety in your diet as well.
Call me to set up an appointment to optimize your diet. You’ll be happy you did! After all, food is medicine!