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Nutrition:  Digestion, Protein and Carbohydrates

--- excerpts from an interview with food industry expert

The body processes foods via three different methods: digestion, absorption and transport. Can you explain digestion?
First you have to consume the food to get it into digestion and then at that point the digestive process starts and the proteins that are composed of peptides and the acids go into action and start to break the protein down.

The protein would be broken down into itís simplest form and when the complex protein gets broke down it is then ready for absorption by your body and then once it is absorbed into your body it has to be transported to those sites in your body that would use the broken down units.

In the case of protein that would be the amino acids. The amino acids would be transported to wherever they were needed, muscle tissue or organ tissue. Then the transport method would actually be the blood stream. It is true for any of the big building clocks like the carbohydrates would be broken down and transported and the fats as well.

We see many advertisements about digestion and heart burn and apparently what it does is block the acid production in your stomach, which probably isnít good for you. Donít you need those acids?
If you have an overproduction of acids in your stomach, you can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Obviously you want to reduce the acidity in your stomach and I think in most cases there is enough acid in your stomach for most digestive processes to take place.

It is not just acids that digest the food in your stomach. When we were talking about lactose intolerant and sugars getting digested, the lactaid acts on the sugars lactose and breaks down the sugar lactose into two simpler sugars by the enzyme lactaid. Itís not just the acidity in your stomach it is much more like the muscle action of the stomach.

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Protein: Meat, Eggs, Vegetables

Protein:   Is red meat really bad for you?
Fatty meats or red meats are typically higher in fat and the fat is generally a higher saturated fat than say, poultry. It would be the saturation of fat in the meat.

To make a blanket statement that red meat is bad for you would be overkill. It certainly wouldnít be healthy to base your diet on red meat alone and consume unlimited amounts of saturated fat, but then again we talked about the bioavailability of the protein qualities and meat proteins in particular even though they may contain higher levels of saturated fat have an extremely high biological value.

That means that the protein in the meat is going to be absorbed in the body much better than some other sources of protein. An example would be the protein found in wheat flour or cake flour or our bodies canít always use bread that contains protein very well, but the meat protein contains all the essential amino acids and can be utilized by the body.

It comes down to an understanding of not throwing out the baby with the bath water, if you eat a cut of good beef just be aware of the amount of fat and balance it out the next day.

What are some of the other sources of protein?
Eggs are a tremendous source of protein. The egg white has an abundance of all the right amino acids and is easily digested and absorbed into the body. Egg whites may have the bioavailability of 100% because it is a reference protein. Meat protein is very close to the egg protein as compared to some of the grain proteins. The yolk contains quite a lot of fat but is also a good source of protein. There are concerns regarding cholesterol. I have read studies that in clinical trials some individuals have consumed a dozen eggs every day his cholesterol level was fine or below normal and then there are other people who seem to be predisposed to that kind of fat. Some people donít have any negative forms of fat as compared to others.

How about an all vegan diet, is it healthy?
Actually it is. There was a pretty significant study done that was widely published. They tried to study the influence of consuming alcohol and smoking and make a fair comparison. What I remember from the study is that they concluded that if you were a vegetarian you would live an average of seven years longer. There is something to be said for it but it comes down to knowledge and balancing. You have to be cautious when going to a vegetarian diet and knowledgeable about it.

Like itís harder to get the adequate amount of B vitamins on a vegetarian diet and you have to know which foods to eat to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. So you have to be knowledgeable when going into it.

Carbohydrates and Lipids

For years we have heard about good LDL and bad LDL. Is it true that there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates?
Everybody is trying to answer that question and again you can draw a correlation between what people are eating and who is doing the study.

One thing that is obvious is that diabetes is on the rise and it probably has something to do with digesting simple sugars. I think the jury is out on what is causing the rise in diabetes. We keep coming back to practicality and just balance.

What are phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are chemicals that occur in growing plants. Itís just another catchy term. It is more about food antioxidants and the role they play in metabolism and cholesterol and heart disease.

Basically, phytochemicals are those chemicals that usually act as an antioxidant in metabolism. There is so much talk about free radicals and oxidation of fat and metabolism you know when fat gets metabolized. Those chemicals act to reduce free radicals. Therefore they are supposed to be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease.

I think it all keeps coming back to balance.

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