We all know the adage, “You are what you eat.”
As a Functional Nutrition Coach, I’ve seen plenty of people just stop there with a calories in vs calories out approach.
I actually take it a little further than that, with “You are what your food eats.” We take in all of the nutrients (and anti-nutrients in some cases like hormones, bad bacteria, and antibiotics) from the foods we eat, which is why it is so important to understand where the quality of our food fits into our priorities.
If you look at the current state of health in the US, you see the prevalence of obesity, heart disease, and other metabolic diseases like diabetes, and their continual rise year over year. The prevalence of these metabolic dysfunctions is due in large part to the nutrients (or lack of) in the foods we eat. We all hear often that we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid meat in order to promote a healthy heart and body. While, yes, eating fresh fruits and veggies is a big part of a healthy diet, avoiding meat shouldn’t be. There is, however, one big caveat to this statement; Quality matters.
In the conventional food system, animals are raised in confined spaces, usually on a predominantly grain-based diet, without much fresh air or space to roam. Without even looking at the poor treatment of these animals, this scenario sets us up for sick and inflamed animals, loaded with antibiotics and hormones. Toxins are stored in fat cells, it is how our body breaks them down and eliminates them from our system (as long as the fat isn’t stored). Animals have the same mechanism, and when they are fed grain instead of grass and are given hormones and antibiotics to stave off illness from tight quarters, this is a breeding ground for inflammation and toxin storage. By eating meat from the conventional meat system, we expose ourselves to a litany of dis-ease, which is where the recommendations for avoiding meat have come from.
Enough of the doom and gloom- I know if you’re here, you’re more interested in the good stuff. This is where quality comes in. Cows raised on pasture, with their most natural diet (different types of grasses), fresh air, and plenty of space to move around, are healthy animals with minimal inflammation. The same goes for pigs (the conventional system for pigs is probably the worst out of all meat animals), chickens, and even farmed fish. By supporting regeneratively raised animals, you are not only supporting a healthy planet, but a more nutrient-dense food for your own body. A healthy planet produces healthy soil, which is significantly more nutrient dense, and when plants grow in this more nutrient-dense soil, they become more nutrient-dense plants. When animals eat more nutrient-dense plants as their feed (including when we eat more nutrient-dense produce), we are healthier. When we are healthier, we can think clearer, move better, and enjoy more of our lives.
So you aren’t just what you eat. You are what your food eats, and if you start to put as much thought into that idea, you might notice how the quality of your food shifts to the top of the priority list.
AUTHOR: Arielle Bloom is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Regenerative Rancher in Central Texas. After spending years struggling with autoimmune and gut health issues, she turned to her food to finally make real and lasting change. Now, Arielle educates others on why their food quality matters- not just to look good, but to feel good, and do good for our planet. You can follow Arielle on instagram @arielle_bloom, and learn more about her via her website www.ariellebloom.com