Before there were reality shows on every channel of every night of

Before there were reality shows on every channel of every night of the week, Mark Burnett, the force behind the hit show Survivor, produced something called Eco-Challenge. Although the show went to exotic and dangerous locations like other reality programs, teamwork was critical. Therefore, the team could only “win” by serving a need. Serving a significant need is what the digestive system does for us. As we learned, our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. “Each of the body’s cells is a self-contained, living entity, but at the same time, it depends on the rest of the body’s cells to supply its needs. They especially need the nutrients they cannot make for themselves-the essential nutrients-which must be supplied from food” (Sizer & Whitney, 2019).
Working together, delicious, and nutritious food supplies each cell with the proper energy, oxygen, and nutrients that fuel our cells and allows us to remain healthy. Up through this course, I was slowing my cells down by eating many processed foods that, unfortunately, included far too many additives that do not work together to fuel my body. “These additives and chemically altered substances may be giving our bodies the wrong signals, instead of the information they need to function properly” (Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, 2016). Therefore, I have tried to pick up the pace and work with my team of cells to eat more nutrient-filled meals. One of the ways I have been doing this is slowing down the pace at which I consume my meal and switching to grilled products over fried while I am at work. Natural snacks throughout the day include vegetables dipped in peanut butter over a processed granola bar and fruit. Adding some much-needed protein helps and turns mealtime and snack time into a seven, giving me a “sense of wellbeing” (Mindful Eating Strategies to End Eating and Weight Struggles, 2017).
Racing towards the finish line of another day, I often have dinner at work at a fast-food establishment. Over the last two weeks, I have opted for more nutritious-filled break time meals than ever before. The grilled chicken nuggets option over the fried allows me to save 180 calories, 12.5 grams of overall fat and adds over 14 grams of protein. We read that the mechanical digestion of both meals (fried and grilled) may be broken down the same. “The truth is that all foods, regardless of identity, are broken down by enzymes into the basic molecules that make them up” (Sizer & Whitney, 2019). However, the nutritional components of the meals absorb into my body significantly different, which gauge whether I feel properly fueled or not. “Once the digestive system has broken down food to its nutrient components, the rest of the body awaits their delivery” (Sizer & Whitney, 2019). This is where the teamwork aspects come into play and assist my cells to work together with the digestion of nutritious foods over sweet, salty ones and loaded with additives and chemicals.
Working together in this race to the digestive system, the difference lies within the chemical part of digestion, which can occur early in the mouth. Fried, starch-filled foods contain more carbohydrates than protein-rich foods. Natural nutrients are also stripped, which adds to the chemical breakdown throughout digestion. Following along with the race shows that my body continues to break down the grilled chicken. Peristalsis occurs, “wavelike muscular squeezing of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine” (Sizer & Whitney, 2019). This helps push natural food along, allowing the much-needed nutrients to separate and fuel my body. Racing towards the finish line, chyme kicks in and adds mixing elements to the liquified food. Natural food tends to pass far more quickly throughout this process than fried foods based on fiber content.
This adds to a more prolonged feeling of fullness and a better sense of wellbeing. While eating naturally requires more preparation, like the eco-challenge, you, and your body work together to serve your physical and emotional needs. Diets consisting of nothing but chemically processed foods, sugar-filled, salty, and fried foods may try to outwit our body’s nutritional needs but outplay all of us by adding to the torch of heartburn, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart attacks. While I still crave fried chicken with French fries at work, a grilled sandwich with another side fills and fuels me up longer. Yes, mechanically, both meals may be digested the same, however serving a particularly important need, they vary greatly nutritionally. Realizing that is the true reality behind every bite.
References
Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. (2016). How Does Food Impact Health? Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-food-impact-health
Mindful Eating Strategies to End Eating and Weight Struggles. (2017, September 8). Green Mountain at Fox Run. https://www.fitwoman.com/blog/weight-management-mindful-eating/
Sizer, F., & Whitney, E. (2019a). Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (15th ed.). Cengage Learning.