Calculating Nutritional Needs for Food Independence
Today, there are many guides for losing weight, as well as diets dedicated to muscle building and health management. While each of these diets has their place and purpose, it can be difficult to figure out how best to achieve food independence and not suffer from malnutrition in the process. Aside from knowing what to grow and how much to consume, it is always best to know how to modify your diet and food acquisition plans to meet changing activities and health oriented needs. Here are the basic food elements and some ideas on how to modify them to suit your life now as well as if you find yourself in a situation where your lifestyle and activity levels changed drastically.
Glucose, a simple sugar carbohydrate provides fuel for daily activities as well as power all the cells in your body. Other forms of carbohydrate include starch and fiber. Since starch must be broken down into glucose, your body must do more work to make use of it. Nevertheless, starch is still an important part of a balanced diet that will enable you to live and function well.
Today, most resources will tell you that you must eat a certain number of grams of glucose per day in order to consider your diet nutritionally complete. If you are diabetic, you will be unable to process this amount of glucose without your blood sugar rising to unacceptable levels, or it will stay too high for too long. What most people fail to realize is that modern foods are packed with starch that converts to glucose as well as other complex sugars that break down into even more glucose molecules. Therefore, it is very easy to overload your body, especially if you aren’t getting enough exercise to utilize all of those carbs. Here are some things to consider about finding out what your specific carbohydrate needs are so that you can always tailor your diet accordingly:
- understand how your weight contributes to insulin resistance, which leads to inefficient use of carbohydrates.
- Understand how “food” ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and other additives can impact carbohydrate digestion and use. Since your body adapts to these poisons to some extent, it may not be easy to simply go from processed foods to ones that you produce on your own. If you are serious about food independence, change your food sources a little at a time so that you have an easier time adjusting.
- make sure you understand the difference between low glycemic index foods and high glycemic index foods.
- Know how to use different kinds of carbohydrates to match activity levels. For example, “carb loading” has been used by athletes for training and competition. You can also use it when you know you will need to carry out survival tasks that may take more physical activity than your usual routines.
When you don’t get enough protein, your body may build up water, and will also be unable to heal or build new tissue and cells. Unlike carbohydrate, there are thousands of proteins that you body needs on a daily basis. Even though all of them can be made by your body from breaking protein back down into amino acids, 9 amino acids cannot be made by the body and must come through food. This is extremely important to consider, especially if you encounter a situation where you must live on micro sprouts or consume a mostly vegan diet.
Contrary to popular belief, you will actually get more than enough digestible protein from these sources, however you must know how to choose them. In this case, there are a handful of plant based foods that contain “total proteins” (this means the food contains 9 essential amino acids in their correct proportion). These foods are:
- soy beans
- mixes of different beans.
Regardless of where you get your proteins from, it is very important to take in enough to meet your weight and activity levels. In this case, you can use general nutritional calculators to arrive at an estimated daily need. Or, you can use a calculator dedicated to body building/activity levels and other tasks where you might need to adjust protein amounts for optimal performance.
It is fair to say that the human body is incredibly efficient in the sense that it works very hard to avoid wasting anything that you eat. For example, if you consume too much carbohydrate, or too much of some other nutrient, your body may store it away in fat molecules. Later on, if you do not eat enough of a particular nutrient, or do not have enough glucose, your body will break down the fat and use it for meeting your nutritional needs. Insofar as meeting daily needs and food independence, it is best to keep the following in mind:
- right now you may be consuming dangerously high amounts of “trans-fats”. Many processed foods utilize liquid oils that are processed to make them more solid – hence the name “trans fat”. Once you switch to only consuming foods that you can produce on your own, it will only come in from dairy and meat products. Try to limit this form of fat as much as possible.
- It is not possible to have a healthy diet without having some fat in it. If you do not get your calories from fat, then they will have to come from either carbohydrates or proteins. Consuming too much carbohydrate can be as bad as consuming too much trans fats. By the same token, consuming too much protein can also be dangerous to your health. Since fat is an essential nutrient, it is best to choose natural, unprocessed fats from nuts, seeds, and olives. While many sources also recommend fish, make sure that you only take fish from safe water supplies. Sadly, the level of water pollution in both fresh and marine waters makes that much harder than you might expect. If you are going to consume fish and embrace food independence, hydroponics may be an ideal combination of fish farming and plant farming for your needs.
While your body can break starches and other complex carbohydrates down into glucose, it cannot do the same with fiber (which is also a carbohydrate). Even though fiber cannot be digested, it is still very important for good health and a balanced diet. Knowing which fibers to consume is also very important because you need to eat foods from different categories in order to maximize the most common kinds of fiber for digestive health.
- Soluble Fiber – while this form of fiber cannot be digested, it still forms a kind of gelatin like substance when mixed with water. This form of fiber slows down digestion so that your intestines have more time to retrieve nutrients from food. Some of the best forms of soluble fiber include apples (remember the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?, berries, and oats.
- Insoluble Fiber – this form of fiber will accelerate digestion. It is also the form of fiber that contributes most to stool bulking. If you are constipated, try consuming more green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and whole wheat.
- Fermentable Fiber – while your intestines cannot break this form of fiber down, the bacteria living in them can. As a result, you may feel bloated or gassy from consuming beans, garlic, onions, and other foods rich in this form of fiber. At the current time, there is no research available on whether fermentable fiber foods can be of use when it comes to promoting good bacteria, or as a helper when taking probiotics.
Vitamins and Trace Elements
Did you know that almost half the people in the United States do not consume enough magnesium? To add insult to injury, many people are also lacking in other important vitamins such as D and E. While multi-vitamins are supposed to help with this problem, less than 10% of the vitamin is actually absorbed into the body when it is taken in pill form. In fact, if you are serious about using multi-vitamins, you would need to use liquid vitamins,or better yet, sublinguals.
Many people interested in food independence think they can use vitamins as a “short cut”, and wind up seriously malnourished because a lack of vitamins and trace elements can truly spell disaster. Since there are dozens to hundreds of vitamins and trace elements to consider, good quality food independence requires having access to a broad range of foods. You may also want to look into power foods such as berries, spirulina, parsley (and other herbs), and some Asian fruits that can be grown at the consumer level.
Food independence is about more than filling your stomach three times a day without having to rely on a supermarket or other form of commercial foods. No matter whether you are interested in preparing for emergencies or want to your health and some money, great care must be taken with planning your diet and understanding your body’s needs. Once you know more about what needs to be in your food, it will be much easier to determine how you will go about securing appropriate sources and making sure that you can produce them in sufficient quantity at the consumer level.
*A Scott Hughes Original For Freedom Prepper!
**Feature Picture by Medical News Today.