RFNH = “Real Food Nutrition & Health” Study. My children and I will be working our way through Kristen Michaelis' book, Real Food Nutrition and Health, during the fall and winter months as part of our homeschooling curriculum. If you're following along, or falling behind, no worries! This series will be here for you whenever you're ready. And even if you're not quite caught up, feel free to jump in regardless.
Click here to read more about the study and get the proposed schedule, as well as current and past downloadable discussion questions/activities each week — which you can save for the future if you're not going to participate now.
We're on Chapter 5: Healthy Vegetables and Fruits. Click here for Chapter 5's discussion questions/activities (a free PDF download).
This was a good chapter (aren't they all?).
Simple v. Complex Carbohydrates
“The liver digests carbohydrates by breaking them down into simple sugars, or glucose, which stimulates the production of the hormone insulin in the pancreas. The insulin tells your body's cells that glucose is available in your blood, so your cells can start using the glucose as energy (like fuel). The two different types of carbohydrates affect the production of insulin differently — when digesting simple carbohydrates, insulin levels spike faster, and the carbs are used up more quickly for energy. This explains why many who turn to a candy bar for a quick supply of energy find that their energy levels crash when the “sugar high” comes to an end. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, resulting in longer lasting energy, and less of an insulin reaction in the body.”
This is a great explanation that will help me in choosing our carbohydrates more carefully. Our discussion of this helped the kids see why we don't drink juice anymore, for one thing. A whole apple, along with all its dietary fiber, is much better than apple juice (which is just simple sugars).
Check out this helpful explanation of our bodies' storage of excess carbohydrates (the carbohydrates we eat that aren't needed for our activity levels):
“If the body produces too much glucose, it will be stored in your liver and muscle cells as glycogen, to be used for when the body needs an extra burst of energy. Any leftover glycogen that isn't stored in liver and muscle cells is stored as fat. In other words, if you eat too many carbohydrates for the amount of energy you expend, it will be stored as extra fat! This is why your grandmother knew that sweets and other desserts made you fat. “One moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” was her motto when it came to sweet treats. Only when your body runs out of glucose in the blood and stored glycogen in your liver does it turn to its fat reserve to draw extra energy. Low-carbohydrate diets help people lose weight by forcing the body to use stored body fat as fuel.”
Well, that is my reminder of how to lose the last 15 pounds that are on my mind. I mean, waist. 🙂
You've got refined or simple carbohydrates (typically found in processed, refined foods) and complex carbohydrates (typically found in vegetables, whole grains, and legumes).
And for best nutrition, we should focus on making our carbohydrates poison-free and nutrient-dense. Our carbohydrates can be poison-free if they're grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer.
Nutrient-dense carbohydrates are higher in nutrients (vitamins and minerals, among other things), and you're more likely to find this quality in foods that are: picked and eaten seasonally; gathered locally; and grown in rich, living soil.
The term organic, when speaking of soil, should suggest living ecosystem of microorganisms, organic matter and more — living soil. But we have to be careful because “organic” doesn't always mean “living soil” in conventional agriculture. The organic label can simply mean a farmer abstains from using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Reading this chapter was a good review for topics that have come up many times in our house. For more on this topic, read Beyond Natural and Organic.
The best soil is not just free from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but soil that teams with microorganisms to make the nutrients in organic matter available to the plants.
That living soil topic is a biggie — and it is what we mean by including the “O — Organic” in GNOWFGLINS. The GNOWFGLINS Video is a great review for what carbohydrates (and other foods) are most likely nutrient-dense.
Nitrates In Produce
“Produce grown with high-nitrogen fertilizers tends to have more concentrated nitrogen in it.” These are called nitrates, and they enter our bodies when we eat the food. Our intestines convert them to nitrosamines. And nitrosamines are linked to cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Type 2 diabetes, according to a 2009 study. I told the kids, “Don't let anyone tell you that pesticides on your food is okay.” The kids need to hear that conventional growing methods are bad news for health, not just the environment.
Not that I'll encourage my children to be ungracious when served conventional food at someone's house or at a function. There's no need for legalism here.
The kids enjoyed this chapter. They laughed out loud at the phrase “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” Which, actually, is a much misused phrase. People say it about saturated fats, and that's not a correct application at all.
What did you and your children learn from this chapter? Are you enjoying the study? Perhaps you've fallen behind — that's okay. Kristen's online class is starting up soon; perhaps we'll see you there!
GNOWFGLINS will earn a commission on sales of the Real Food Nutrition and Health book through this blog. But honestly, we'd be doing this study whether or not we were associated. Thank you for supporting GNOWFGLINS with your purchase. You should also know I'm very thankful to be undertaking this study with Kristen's permission.
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