Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something More about Diet

As I may have mentioned, I'm deeply immersed in a project, and I just don't want to scatter my energies. There are a few things that I've wanted to discuss with you, but I don't feel any sense of urgency from you, so why I should put myself out. Still, one of us has to work at this relationship, if it's going to last, and who else, but me. Of course.

What, abortion? Yes, I had some good reasoning on the topic, but I've forgotten that conversation I had with myself. I could reassemble it, but you haven't memorized what I've said already, so, again, why bother.

How about diet? That just always needs reinforcing. So I've had a few conversations with my son recently about it. Protein. He's all about performance. The health aspect of being vegetarian is established. I suppose I could enter into the animal debate, but that's not going to happen right now. His point is that vegetarian athletes who switch to animal foods increase performance. I'd have to look at the details. My instant suggestion was that it's the hormones and metabolic byproducts -- uric acid, say, acting as a toxifying stimulant. And hormones, both artificial, from commercial and factory-fed beef, and also natural hormones, left in the flesh from the terror of being butchered. Yes, all that adrenaline would act as a performance enhancer. There certainly could be a performance boost -- stimulants will do that. At the expense perhaps of long term health, but if it's only about short term performance, well there you go.

Like coffee. Caffeine definitely increases the availability of fat to be used as an energy source for distance runners, and presumably other athletes. But we are reading more and more about adrenal fatigue -- the over-activity of stress hormones. It would be a counterpart to pre-diabetes, where the pancreas is forced to over-produce insulin, because of a dangerous lifestyle. It's imbalanced, it's damaging to long-term health, and it's unnatural. Stimulants, including meat, are performance enhancers? It that's okay, what's wrong with steroids? Extreme example. Draw the line back where you will.

It's just a theory, the stimulatory effect of meat, invented to answer the possibility, the anecdotal possibility that switching from vegetarian to meat-eating yields good results. As I say, I'd have to look at it.

The other idea is about protein itself. I've suggested before that animal proteins are dangerous simply by being like those proteins we ourselves make. If you introduce a similar but alien protein into your bloodstream, you body produces antibodies to destroy it. All well and good. But if those alien proteins are too similar, your body learns how to attack itself. Auto-immune disease, thank you very much. It's a theory. I don't know that it's been established yet. But it makes sense.

Another problem is in the composition of the meat people eat. First, you cannot use protein. Nobody ever used protein. It's useless. That why we digest it. We break it down into its constituent amino acids, and use them. Now here's the thing. If we eat meat, it's fair to suppose that the ratio of amino acids the meat yields is comparable to the meat, muscle, of our own bodies. So, yes, meat would go to make muscle. But there's a problem with the reasoning. Because the meat/amino acids that we might use does/do not go just to make muscle. Our bodies use amino acids for a host of other functions -- to build every hormone we have. They are used as peptides, as neurotransmitters, as the building blocks of bone and hair and fingernails and organs and, well, everything. Everything that gets done in your body is done by proteins. It's not just meat. Proteins are robots, that travel throughout the body and get things done. See? You are guaranteed to get exactly the WRONG ratio of amino acids, if you eat meat.

I don't know what the ideal proportion of essential amino acids might be. I don't think anyone knows. But I know it's not that of any meat. Milk, perhaps? Human milk? But you do not plan on doubling your weight in the next few months, do you? Because that's what milk is designed to do. So milk is the wrong ratio too, for adults. It must be, must be, it seems to me, some admixture of plant materials. What recipe? I don't know.

That's why I advocate eating as wide a variety of plant nutrients as is convenient. I don't know what I need, but my body needs it anyway. So give it a chance to choose. You don't need to have every nutrient at every meal. It's not about loading the stew up with absolutely everything. Indeed, that may be a bad idea. Digestion is a very very very complex thing. We know this because there are as many neurons in the gut as there are in the brain. From this we might conclude that digestion is as hard a thing to figure out as calculating the orbit of Neptune. No worries, our gut can do that. But let's not make it unnecessarily difficult.

So consider those dietary supplements, the powders that have every fruit every heard of, all in a single tablespoon. Sounds pretty good, right? Maybe. But that's like 112 different plant families that your body has to figure out how to digest and absorb, all in one sitting. Sure, it can be done. But it seems like a strain. Like stimulants would be a strain. Like adrenal fatigue would be a strain. Like pre-diabetes would be a strain. Stress is okay. Distress is bad. How about getting all those nutrients over a few meals, or a week, or something like that. Rather than glut yourself, for all that the portions are small.

Well. That's just something that I've been meaning to say. I'd be pleased to have a dialogue about it. Or you can just believe me and obey me like a servant or a child. Either is fine.


No comments: