Real Food: More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Every time I learn more about the complex interactions between the human body and different nutrients, bacteria, and dozens of other factors, I am blown away! Not sure what I mean? As an example, this was mentioned in my latest post. A seed has enough intelligence to protect itself from being digested, but then is able to release those protections when the conditions are right to grow! All while it’s still a seed! And that complicated process relates only to the seed. We haven’t even begun to explore the combining of that seed with some other food, or in a different form, or after the seed grows up. Not to mention the effect stomach acid levels, digestive enzyme activity, and different gut flora have on that seed. And the list goes on and on. Therefore we see that our bodies, and the processes that happen inside them, are incredibly intricate. And it begs the question:


Eating real food is more than eating food-shaped packages of vitamins, proteins, and fibers. Real food is dynamic, and what you get from a particular food is conditional, and depends on several factors.

Growing Conditions: The actual nutritional value of that particular piece of food depends on the conditions it was grown in, including sun exposure, water quality, and the amount of vitamins, minerals and healthy bacteria in the soil or food the animal was eating.

Preparation Methods: After it is grown, different ways of preparing food will make it more or less digestible; helpful, stressful, or even harmful to the human body.

Individual Body Status: Even if it’s prepared properly, each individual body’s environment has a role in determining the amount of benefit or harm that food will have.

In fact, a food’s helpfulness to an individual body is dependent on the season, metabolic needs, current hormone state, and a myriad of other factors that are going on in the body at that moment. So what’s helpful to your body in the summer may be harmful in winter. Or what’s beneficial to eat at noon may weigh your body down at dinnertime. Every minute your metabolic needs may be different.

This is why “eating healthy” cannot be reduced to fortifying processed foods with vitamins, or taking the “perfect” supplement mix. It is so, so much more! Now that you know all this, eating healthy may sound like an unattainable goal. And in some ways it is. Even if we are extremely in tune with our bodies, it is unlikely that we will think “I need 5.78 mcg of calcium and 4.24 mg of vitamin D at 2:57pm”… and so on. And this is my first point.


Even if the advertised effects are real, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you! Your body may need something else entirely. If anyone tells you that they have the one product that will fix all your ills, run the other way! On the other hand, the innateintelligence inside our bodies does know what it needs, and how to get it. We can work on listening to what our bodies are telling us. I call this becoming an expert detective (for more, see chapter 7 of Notes From A GAPS Practitioner).

As we renew the partnership with our body, we will begin to understand its signals about what foods will best support our bodies at that moment. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride talks about this in a wonderful article, One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison. In it she shares how important it is to listen to your body telling you what food to eat at the moment, and how much of it to eat. Becoming an expert detective does not happen overnight. It is a commitment to observe, experiment, create theories, and modify them as needed. It will get easier with time and experience, and every time you learn something, your health will benefit. And you will have taken one more step in your journey toward better health.


Disclosure: Contains an affiliate link, which helps support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.

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