“The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system.” ~Robert C. Peale
I noticed a woman at Costco the other day reading the label on a package of rice cakes with a very confused look on her face. I wondered what could be on that label that caused so much dismay. Was it the calorie content, carbohydrates, fat, ingredients or lack of nutrition? After nonchalantly glancing into her cart, I supposed her whole shopping experience must have been exhausting. Her cart was full of manufactured food-like substances, a conglomeration of chemicals bonded together to satisfy hunger for a period of time; “foods” that promised everything from lowering cholesterol, all natural, free-range, gluten free to organic. Her quest for healthy eating was in ernest, but unfortunately, fruitless. Our bodies need nourishment to thrive. That’s a no-brainer, a pretty basic statement. But it’s more than just what fills our tummies. It’s about what fuels our cells.
The cell (from Latin cella, meaning “small room”) is the basic structural, functional and biological unit of all known living organisms. Cells are the smallest unit of life that can replicate independently and are often called the “building blocks of life.” – (Wikipedia) From this definition they sound pretty important; what we should want to take care of and not take for granted. Our lives depend on them.
Just like the engine in a car, cells need a particular type of fuel. We all know that a car’s fuel tank must be filled with pure gasoline and have regular oil changes. If water somehow contaminates the fuel system, reduced mileage and engine stalls will result. In some cases if the water amount is large enough, the engine will fail to start. It would be ludicrous to mix water with gasoline just to fill the tank. It would be cheaper on the front end but the long term effects would be disastrous.
To determine what we should fuel our cells with then, we must look at the “engine” of a cell, the mitochondria. Depending on that cell’s function, more mitochondria may be required. Brain, muscle and liver cells have more mitochondria than red blood cells, which contain none. Mitochondria produce energy in the form of ATP. Glucose or fatty acids, oxygen, vitamins and minerals are required for optimal energy/ATP production. Mitochondria are also responsible for cell death. Timely cell death is crucial for health. Cells that do not die when they should continue to grow at the expense of other cells and become cancerous tumors.
Mitochondria have an important job keeping us healthy. It is imperative, then, that we focus on their health. Mitochondria can function with glucose for energy but do they thrive? Like cars using gasoline that’s been watered down, they’ll go but not far. What is essential to the health of our cells? Of all the books I’ve read on the subject, I like how Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet, both PH.Ds., summarized it in their book Perfect Health Diet, “The natural way of eating is to obtain macronutrients in similar proportions to the composition of our own tissues. The natural way to eat is to “eat what you are.”1
Wahls, Terry L., and Eve Adamson. “The Science of Life, Disease, and You.” The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine. New York, New York: Penquin Group, 2014. 21-31. Print.
1Jaminet, Paul, and Shou-Ching Jaminet. “The “Cannibal Diet” of Fasting.” Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat. New York: Scribner, 2012. 23. Print.
“Cell (biology).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2014.