Visit your average grocery store and what do you see? Most likely it’s made up of rows of packaged food. Sure there are some sections around the perimeter that have whole foods, you know the stuff that looks like real food, but mostly it’s packaged goods. Most of this isn’t really human nutrition.
What Is Human Nutrition?
We are what we eat and we are what our food eats. Human nutrition is everything that builds a strong, healthy, resilient body. It’s more than just carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It goes beyond vitamins and minerals.
What the body needs is more than just a collection of nutrients. Every time we think we’ve found the last essential nutrient compound, someone discovers another one or several even!
Food has been a foundation for human culture since the beginning of our time. It is only recently that we have been able to divorce ourselves from the process of procuring and making our food. Food designed in a lab misses much of what is required for human nutrition. And industrially farmed food pales nutritionally to original food.
Why Is Human Nutrition A Concern?
Pull one of those boxes of food out of your pantry or off the grocery store shelf and read the ingredient list. How many things are on that label that you can’t identify. Is it only a few or is it most of the list. The more laboratory products that are in your food the more likely it is that that item is low nutrition.
Until relatively recently, humans were intimately connected with the production and procurement of their food. However, in the past several decades we’ve created a largely automated and industrial food production process.
This has dramatically altered our relationship with our food and also the food we choose to eat. Many of our foods are laden with artificial chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. And many of these compounds accumulate in our bodies over years. This accumulation can lead to major health problems later in life.
This industrial food system has also changed our selection criteria for produce varieties to farm. Produce varieties picked to plant now are based on their ability to survive transportation or to look a certain way rather than their nutritional content.
When I compare the produce that I’ve grown myself to the produce I buy at the grocery store, there is no comparison. Grocery store produce often tastes diseased or tasteless when put next to fresh produce.
The Environmental Cost
Even the USDA has started to admit that our soils are in trouble. They actually passed “in trouble” a long time ago. The only reason we can still produce food on our soils at the scale we do is because of large-scale fertilizer application. It has created massive ecological destruction.
But what does this have to do with human nutrition? We like to think that we have conquered nature with technology, but in reality, our bodies are created from the environment around us. Food is broken down into its constituent parts and then integrated into our bodies. We are literally built out of what we eat.
If we eat sick food that has been grown in dead soil, it’s not likely to build a very robust body, is it? Eating food of this quality is cumbersome to process. Many of the enzymes and beneficial bacteria have been destroyed by the farming and processing practices. This makes digestion more difficult and it also yields less nutrition. Healthy food is essential for healthy digestion.
Understand What Your Body Needs
You don’t have to grow all of your own food to be healthy. I don’t grow my own food. It’s not possible in my current situation. But the more you know, the more informed your decisions can be. And every little bit you can produce yourself or get from a good local source will greatly benefit you!
There are options for quality food near you where ever you are. There are simple recipes anyone can make that will nourish your body. Human nutrition is so much more than macronutrients. We are not just a list of macro nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Human nutrition is about feeding everything you need to be healthy!