Okay, here’s the deal: our bodies, like cars, need fuel not only to “work out,” but also to feel awesome. Our bodies need high quality fuel, the equivalent of diesel for cars, to help us attain and maintain healthy lifestyles. Our bodies need real food: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, protein, and most of all, water.
Certain food groups (i.e. certain legumes, grains, and dairy) can negatively affect your energy levels during workouts, as well as your patterns of sleep, your health, and your life—and you may not even realize it. If you eat these foods in moderation, or even remove them from your diet, your body will “re-heal,” free of bacteria-containing food groups that cause digestive inflammation, body aches, injuries, skin troubles, and much more.
“What is a legume? Isn’t it a bean of some sort?” Legumes are a wide variety of plants that include beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, soybeans, peanuts, etc., the seeds of which we consume. And why is eating these seeds not completely healthy? Although legumes have protein, this protein is dense and contains almost double the amount of carbohydrates compared to other protein sources (protein found in meats, seafood, nuts, and seeds).
Many legumes also contain phytates. Phytates are anti-nutrients that bind to minerals in legumes, which make legumes inaccessible to our bodies. Some legumes also contain sugars that our bodies cannot properly digest. These sugars become food for bacteria in our stomachs, which can often cause fermentation (or, as we know it, gas, bloating, constipation, etc.).
Peanut butter is similarly unhealthy. This is because peanuts contain lectin, which functions as a disruptive protein in our bodies. Even if you make your own peanut butter, the lectin within cannot be destroyed by heat (melting/baking), and is resistant to digestion, which promotes systemic inflammation.
Certain low quality grains are chemically altered and are economically beneficial for the government, but not for our bodies. Most cheap grains take almost triple the amount of time to expire and are some of the most inexpensive items to produce. However, low quality grains increase your levels of insulin, the hormone that allows your body to use sugar from carbohydrates. When insulin levels get too high (i.e. after you consume too much sugar), your body begins to store excess sugar as fat. As fat levels increase, inflammation in your body increases, and your cells eventually become resistant to insulin. When your body becomes completely resistant to insulin, diabetes occurs.
Gluten is another ingredient of grain products that is damaging to your health. When we ingest gluten, it secretes an antibody, antigiadin, which is supposed to recognize foreign bacteria or substances in our blood. Yet our bodies label antigiadin as an intruder, which can cause chronic inflammation and many other diseases (i.e. celiac disease).
As children, drinking milk is important for growth and development. Up until you turn two, your pancreas produces lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose. After that, however, it stops producing lactase, which is why most teens and adults do not tolerate lactose well in large amounts.
Dairy is also extremely high in fats and promotes high levels of insulin, which can cause our bodies to store high amounts of fat. Moreover, when we consume dairy, we are taking in whatever the cows previously ate: nutrient-poor diets of corn, soy, grains, hormones, and antibiotics. Good alternatives to dairy include coconut milk, almond milk, and cashew milk.
In summary, be creative with your diet! Provide delicious and diverse fuel for your workouts and for your life, and discover what makes you feel great.