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Health Rincewind on 05 May 2010 11:15 am

The influence of food on your body

As a child and young adult it was perfectly clear to me: eating is necessary to stay alive, so you eat and go the bathroom, and the only thing you have to watch is not to overeat or else you’ll become overweight. If you’re not overweight and you eat enough, you’re doing a good job supporting your health.

With this mindset I never really thought about what I ate. As a child I ate what my parents cooked, and when I went on to live on my own I decided I could use some extra time and didn’t cook, but instead bought microwave meals in the supermarket. I knew pre-cooked microwave meals increase your chances of getting cancer, but since the meals in the local supermarket looked reasonably healthy and it was extremely easy to prepare them I continued eating them. I also drank a lot of icetea during this time.

This all went well for over a year, but then I started to get health problems. Trouble concentrating, a heavy feeling on my heart, fluid reflux (actually a watery fluid coming back in my mouth – yek!) when lying down, and inflammation of the throat. It took a while before I realised my eating and drinking habits were responsible for this. My concentration went back to normal with better food, and with not drinking any more icetea or other sour drinks my fluid reflux and heart problems vanished. I now only drink water, milk, and fruit juice, and have never had these problems again.

Then I got serious trouble swallowing – I could barely swallow things for over a year for complicated reasons, coughing up my food again straight after it went in. I was quickly losing weight, and the least bit of food counted. I started to get deficits, and for example noticed I could think faster when eating more food with magnesium in it (which temporarily lifted the deficit), and that I needed to eat more fatty food in order to cough less (the extra fat became part of a part of my throat which made swallowing easier), and that I needed more salt.

Because I ate so little, the effects on my body of almost everything I ate was very clear, effects I would never notice if I would eat enough. I started writing these effects down, and now I now know exactly what the effect is of each food type for me, and what my body needs. This made it easy to make a customized diet for myself. I have a list of meals; there are things I have to eat weekly and some things I have to eat each day, in order to stay as healthy as possible.

Something I noticed for example is that white bread gives me a lot more energy than brown bread, which makes it my bread type of choice despite the fact that brown bread holds more fibres. Fibres are important too, but I feel that I get enough of those in the rest of my food, and that energy is a lot more important. If I would have realised this while I was in high school, I might have been less tired eating white bread during breaks.

Some other things I noticed are that rye bread makes my skin look healthy, narrows my veines, and changes my eye glare. A certain type of brown bread thins my blood and makes me less intelligent in a way. Banana makes me more calm and gives me a fuller skin. Blue berries give me more energy and improve my sight. Granny Smith apples aid growth and healing, and provide more energy for the brain. White grapes aid growth, healing and hydrate my skin. Raisins improve blood flow and deplete fat in the brain. Spinach makes me think faster (probably due to the iron), and broccoli makes me smarter in a way.

I also keep a blacklist of food: things that have proven to be bad for my health. Multivit (a vitamin drink) makes my veines stiff and less elastic, which has helped cause a TIA for me. Chocolat causes blood clots, which can decrease or stop the bloodflow through veines. Cup-a-soup beef taste makes me tired, and bread with seeds in it make me misswallow.

These are just some of the things I noticed and I can recommend anyone to write down the effects of food on his or her own body. Maybe it’s an idea even to intentionally run low on food while doing this so the effect of food you do take in becomes extra clear. Good luck!

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