Food: Quick and Convenient Energy
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|As a society, we are inundated with
an abundance of nutrient deficient foods. Eaten primarily for
convenience, processed and refined foods have resulted in an overall
decline in health and elevated medical costs. Processed foods are
usually high in refined carbohydrates and calories yet we have to
consume so much more of them to fill up due to their absence of usable
Due to our insatiable desire for quick, convenient energy on the go, our streets are crammed with coffee, donut, and fast food establishments. This solves the convenience problem and does provide a short term energy solution through stimulation. However, it offers nothing to curb the payment that the body will inevitably endure if this route is regularly taken. Consumption of stimulating, nutrient deficient food can only occur for so long before the body becomes either exhausted or sick and where the body goes, the mind is sure to follow.
Raw Food for Optimal Absorption
Without efficient absorption and assimilation, even healthy whole foods will have limited nutritional value. Fortunately, the way to ensure you are getting maximum return on your eating (ie. most energy value out of your food) is actually simpler than you might think. As a general rule, the less that has been done to your food the better its return will be. Here is where raw, plant-based whole foods really shine.
The cooking and processing of food can destroy enzymes needed for efficient digestion. Before the body can make use of processed food it must produce enzymes, which creates more work and therefore more stress. Enzymes in food that are destroyed during processing have to be generated by the body to compensate for the unnatural food’s shortcomings in order for it to be digested.
There is evidence to suggest that consuming cooked, processed foods for many years may actually exhaust the body’s enzyme-producing glands, resulting in poor digestion and assimilation of food later in life. This is one possibility for rapid signs of aging and disease; food is no longer nourishing the body the way it once did simply because it’s not being digested properly anymore.
For long-term health and vitality it is important to understand the difference between energy obtained from stimulation versus energy derived from proper nourishment. As a general rule, the more processed a food is, the more of a stimulating effect it will have on the nervous system. In contrast, the more natural and whole a food is (raw and sprouted being the ultimate) the less stimulating and more nourishing it will be.
Cost-Free Energy Producing Foods are:
Whole unprocessed and unrefined
(ie. nothing added, nothing taken away)
Raw and rich in naturally occurring enzymes
Alkaline or alkaline-forming
High in natural vitamins and minerals
Best in sprouted form
Whole, raw foods provide cost-free energy—in other words, sustainable energy that doesn’t have to be stoked regularly with processed carbohydrates, refined sugars or caffeine in order to last. Ironically, many so-called energy foods are the biggest energy draining culprits. While convenient, many energy bars on the market offer little more nutritionally than candy bars. As with shopping with a credit card, stimulating the adrenal glands may provide you with more energy in the short term, but you will likely pay for it (with interest) in the future. Conversely, enzymatically alive, whole raw foods provide cost-free sustainable energy and vitality, not quick bouts of stimulation.
Sprouted Food For Maximum Net Energy Gain
I believe sprouted foods offer unparalleled net energy yield over all other foods. Enzymatically alive and nutrient packed, sprouts are one of the most complete and nutritional of all foods tested. Rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, phytonutrients and enzymes, their nutritional value was discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago. Numerous scientific studies are now confirming the benefits of sprouts in a healthy diet. Sprouted mung beans, wheat grass, and sprouted flax seeds are among my personal favorite sprouted foods.
Because sprouts are essentially a pre-digested food, they have a higher biological efficiency value than whole seeds. Less food is required, yet more nutrients reach the blood and cells. The process of sprouting substantially increases vitamins, minerals, and protein while decreasing calories and carbohydrate content. This increase in protein availability is key as it indicates the enhanced nutritional value of a food when sprouted. The protein from sprouted foods is the most easily digestible of all proteins available in foods.
The sprouting process does much of the energy conversion for the body; one less step in the digestive process therefore results in a greater net gain. Contrast this to consuming cooked, processed, isolated proteins that the body must break down before it can be recognized and utilized, resulting in a significant loss in efficacy.
As described in my book Thrive, the net gain of food is a term given to the energy we are left with from food once digestion and assimilation have taken place. As a rule, cooked, refined, and processed foods yield the lowest net gain. Unprocessed, whole food sources offer a superior return. When raw, it is even better. Taken one step further, whole, raw, sprouted foods provide the absolute greatest net energy gain possiblethrough nourishment, not stimulation.
Brendan Brazier is one of only a few professional athletes in the world who is vegan. The 30-year-old from Vancouver, BC is the 2006 Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion and author of Thrive: A Guide to Optimal Health and Performance Through Plant-Based Whole Foods. Learn more at www.brendanbrazier.com
Brendon is also the creator of an award-winning meal replacement and energy bar formula called VEGA. For more information visit www.sequelnaturals.com
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