When it comes to nutrition for ideal health, it is more than just eating fruits and vegetables and putting as many colors of the rainbow as possible into our diet. When we say a person eats healthy, it’s more than just maintaining a nutritious diet.
There is more to nutrition than just eating fruits and vegetables. Eat a nutritious diet and have the foods enhance our health. It helps to understand that nutrition goes through a multi-stage process.
For us to be able to benefit from the food we eat entirely means that the nutritional building blocks that make up our diet should be distributed throughout our system, then absorbed by the cells for optimal functioning, and ultimately eliminated from the body in the form of waste after it has been metabolized.
Therefore, nutrition is more than just maintaining a healthy diet. What we eat is only the first stage in a six-stage process.
The 6 Phases of Nutrition
Our diet comprises all the food, drinks, and nutritional supplements we take daily and consume regularly. The intention of becoming healthier begins at the dietary level, even though it is only the first stage of nutrition.
To get the nutrition you need from your diet, you must begin by eating food and drinking liquids that are highly nutritious, and you need a variety of healthy foods. Unfortunately, many of our foods contain or are exposed to elements that are adverse to our health, such as toxins, pesticides and other chemicals, food additives, and preservatives.
Out of the six stages, this dietary stage is the one that we have the most control over. This is why we must make good choices at this level. Our diet is the foundation for healthy nutrition and, for better or worse, impacts all the other five stages.
Digestion starts in the mouth when we bite, chew, and swallow food. These actions are voluntary and something we can still control. However, once the food is consumed, the whole digestion process becomes involuntary and ultimately controlled by the nerves.
During digestion, our food gets broken down and converted to simpler substances for energy for our cells, organs, and tissues. Protein is broken down as amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugar like fructose or glucose (blood sugar).
From the food we eat, we derive macronutrients in the form of protein, fats, or carbohydrates. These highly complex substances are broken down into more superficial elements during digestion. In the absorption phase, the by-products of digestion (amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose/fructose) pass through the intestinal lining and travel toward the circulatory system.
Most nutrients get absorbed into the bloodstream, whereas lipids and lipid-soluble nutrients are absorbed through the lymphatic system.
The primary role of the circulatory system is to transport the nutrients the body has absorbed from the broken-down substances derived from the food we eat to the cells. They do this constantly to power up the cells with nourishment and to enable cells to convert nutrients into energy. This makes carrying out our bodily functions possible.
Think of the circulatory system as the body’s primary transit system that allows traffic to flow smoothly. We wouldn’t want it to ever go on a mass strike preventing the primary goal of nutrition and converting food into nutrients and energy.
We consider our cells to be the building blocks of life, providing the structural framework for our body to perform its proper functions. However, cells aren’t immune to wear and tear. They also must grow and repair themselves.
For cellular repair to happen, proper assimilation of nutrients from our diet is critical, and the cell membranes must be healthy. During the assimilation process, nutrients from the bloodstream pass through the cell membranes, where the cell assimilates vitamins, minerals, and other chemical substances delivered from our digestion within the GI tract.
Cellular renewal and repair happen when nutrients are assimilated correctly in the membranes. A few symptoms of malabsorption include fatigue, irritability, depression, lethargy or energy loss, muscle weakness, and weight loss.
This sixth and final stage of nutrition involves efficiently eliminating toxic wastes from the body. Whatever goes into the body creates some waste product that needs to come out in one form or another.
We primarily experience the process of elimination or excretion through bowel movement, the urinary process, sweating, and breathing. However, elimination is more than that.
It begins at the cellular level and gets completed through metabolically active zones in the body: the lungs, colon, skin, and kidneys.
The last stage of nutrition is the elimination, and wastes must be eliminated regularly from the body; otherwise, they can create autointoxication and easily cause illness. We all can relate to what it is like to be unable to eliminate toxins efficiently. It makes you feel very unwell!