Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things I Don’t Know

I don’t know the difference between animal saturated fats and plant saturated fats. I don’t think there is one. The palmitic acid in coconut oil and in beef is chemically identical. It’s just the ratios that are different. So, uh, I guess I do know the difference. There isn’t one.

I don’t know the role of enzymes in digestion. I know the words, and how they’re used, but I don’t know anything about how they're produced or excreted, and what happens to them afterwards. I know an enzyme is a catalyst, and catalysts cause a reaction without being changed by it, so I’d figure enzymes are taken up again and reused. But I don’t know how that would work. I know that various digestive processes occur at different parts of the small intestine, but I don’t know what happens where.

On an impulse -- that’s how I make most of my purchases -- I went online and bought a textbook on biochemistry. It just seems so interesting to me.

So that’s everything I don’t know.

We think of diet and nutrients in terms of broad categories. Fats and proteins and carbs. It’s really not useful. Take protein. As I’ve noted, we can’t use it. We need dietary amino acids. But we only need eight or so -- the essential ones; all the others we can make ourselves. Why so vague about how many essentials? Some can be converted into others. Messes up the calculations. But current estimates are that you need only about 16 grams of the essentials, if you weigh 200 pounds, not obese. A bit more than half an ounce. That's like totally hardly anything. But I digress.

There is a qualitative difference between plant and animal protein. No difference between the amino acids, but in the digestion process, huge. Putrefactive bacteria don’t feed on plants. Don’t you just love that word, putrefactive? I use it on purpose. Putrid. Mmm. Then, if undigested proteins leak into the bloodstream, there may be autoimmune problems. As I’ve noted. Point is, protein is not just protein.

Same with fats. Saturated fats are just there to supply energy. On the other hand, your skin can get softer when you eat coconut oil. It’s one of my beauty secrets. And we’ve been through all that with omega 3 and 6. I wonder if these are ever just metabolized for energy, or if they are used only structurally. I’ll have to add that to the list of things I don’t know. Then there are the hydrogenated and transfats. Poision.

Or carbs. Fibrous carbs -- good. Unprocessed carbs, good. Sugars and refined carbs? Slow but very real poisons. Or cholesterol. The term seems to be useless, when the distinction is not made about which particular cholesterol, HDL or LDL, or even subcatagories of LDL.

So if there’s confusion about what to eat, well, common sense has to play a pretty big role. Because you probably haven’t been told about nutrients at any level smaller than protein or fat or carbs. And these studies that are done, measuring the effect of dietary carbs, but that don’t make a distinction between fibrous and refined … useless? Or that talk about high or low cholesterol, but nothing about the ratios. Or that measure protein in the diet without any understanding about the intestinal microzoa that cohabit with you as your constant dinner guests?

It’s a sort of information that is worse than useless. It’s information that is actually ignorance. Like nutrients that don’t nourish. Empty carbs. Dead proteins. Poisonous fats. Really. Couldn’t you just sit down and give the matter some serious thought, and come up with a sensible diet on your own, without the government spending billions of dollars building its pyramids that end up ruining the economy of your health? My, that was an overly complex metaphor. Honestly though, does a cake really seem like food to you? And how is bread much different than cake? Does eating meat three times a day seem like a natural thing to you? From either an Evolutionary or an Edenic perspective? Does drinking bovine milk seem like a sensible thing for an adult human to do on a regular basis?

If you sat down and just puzzled it out, what do you suppose you’d come up with, as a sensible human diet? It’s not a trick question. Get back to me with your answer. It’s one of the things I don’t know.


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