We eat to survive. However, what we eat determines much about our personality, our physical, emotional and mental health, and our potential. So let’s eat for peak performance!
It starts before conception. A tree planted in nutrient-rich soil produces quality fruit. One in nutrient-deficient soil produces poor quality fruit or no fruit at all. It is the same with humans. Our soils have been farmed to exhaustion and are now mostly dependent on artificial fertilisers. Processed and refined foods dominate our supermarkets.
Our hospitals are full. Pharmaceutical companies prevail. Cancer is a plague. Childhood cancer is now the second most common cause of death in 1-14-year-olds. Those who aspire to produce healthy children and achieve a long and healthy life at peak performace must maximise nutrition and minimise exposure to toxins. This should be our very first science.
There are three nutrient categories, ie Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates. The most important are protein. The word, ‘protein’ is a plural word, referring to twenty-two different amino acids – all individual nutrients. Complete proteins are found in animal products such as eggs, chicken, red meats, fish and dairy foods. Proteins are responsible for growth, repair, maintenance and most physical and mental functions. In 1992 the Bordeaux University determined the minimum proteins required daily should be calculated by subtracting 100 from the person’s height in centimetres. This will give the number of grams required for optimal health. A physically active person would need more.
Dr Jan Kwasniewski of Poland advises that a sedentary person should eat one gram of protein per kilogram of his ideal body weight per day. Both calculations generally produce the same number. Kwasniewski advises physically active persons to increase protein consumption in proportion to their activity levels.
Most meats comprise 25% protein. An egg has seven grams while most dairy products range from 12% to 20%. Eggs provide the most efficient form of complete protein of all foods. Adequate protein can be helpful in the relief of depression, as the amino acid, L-Tryptophan, enhances the production of serotonin, the mood regulator. Inadequate dietary protein can adversely affect cognitive function, healing, hormonal balance, sleep, and growth in children. It is also related to fatigue, immune dysfunction, frequent infections and muscle wastage.
Fats are also important for optimal health. The fat family has been black-listed as public enemy number one since the mid-1900’s. However, there are fats that heal and fats that kill!
The good fats include coconut, olive and other quality oils, butter, cheeses, eggs and, to the surprise of many, the fat on our meats. Even chicken skin has great nutritional value. The Bordeaux University studies in 1992 concluded that daily fat consumption should be 2½ times the intake of protein, of which 80% should be saturated fats. Sounds high, but France has the lowest death rate from heart attack, cardiovascular disease and stroke in the world.
Symptoms related to fat deficiency include aching joints, attention deficit, anxiety, cognitive problems, constipation, course hair, cracked heels, eczema, hypertension, irritability and immune dysfunction.
The brain has a mechanism to warn us when we have eaten enough protein and fat. We feel satisfied. However, carbohydrates can make a full person feel hungry again. This food group requires self-control. A diet low in fat leaves a person feeling dissatisfied. Hence one gravitates to carbohydrates. Not ideal if we want peak performance.
Carbohydrate foods include grains, sugars, legumes, fruits and vegetables. The French studies recommend that carbohydrate consumption should be kept to 80% of protein intake. It is best to dispense with sugar based foods and refined grains altogether. Also, it is far more efficient to derive one’s prime energy from proteins and fats rather than carbohydrates.
Food should be nutrient-dense, prepared in such a way as to smell, look and taste wonderful. A diet that is high in good fats, moderate in protein with controlled levels of carbohydrate encourages healing while promoting wellness and longevity. Give your body the right fuel and it will give you peak performance, maximum potential and optimal longevity.
You might also be interested in Gary’s article on Meal Planning for Maximum Nutrition.