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Nutrition & Energy

Did you know that digestion takes 80% of your energy?

Do you sometimes feel down after a meal? Well, it certainly tasted great yet leaves you with a bitter-sweet aftermath, which is called “energy drop”. Why and how does this phenomenon occur? And how can you prevent it going forward? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

Your energy balance sheet

Everything in the universe consists of energy. It’s ever expanding since the big-bang. At square one, there was infinite density and temperature. Now, our climate on planet earth is decent and matter is well spread.

All energy is still there. Neither new one can be created nor can it be destroyed. It can only be transformed. Food is energy provided by plants or – worst case – animals. Hence, eating fuels your body with energy. Energy, it needs to function – physically and mentally. There’s one caveat though. The cheer act of digestion requires energy. Your jaws need to chew and produces saliva. Your stomach generates gastric acid. Your intestines host microbes, who dehydrate food and soak out the nutrients.

In order to maximize the plus side of your energy balance sheet, you want to minimize the energy investment in digestion whilst maximizing the nutritional value of the food you consume. This way, you’ve a net surplus of energy through eating and tackle your day effectively.

Be food-smart

I used to eat a lot of carbs, dairy products and processed sugar. Afterwards, I felt into the valley of low energy. It took me many years to find my ideal diet and way of consuming food. Whilst there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all, there’re universal dietary rules you want to bear in mind:

  1. Focus on quality. When it comes to food, you want to buy local and seasonal plant based food. Especially leafy greens combined with fruit are high in energy. Don’t confuse energy with calories though. High energy food can be easily converted by your body without friction or loss. High caloric food is dense in terms of its nutritional value, yet isn’t necessarily easy to digest – think red meat. Strive to become a good processor of food rather than eating tons of stuff. It will only slag your digestive track and thus weaken your digestive power.
  2. Follow the sun. As human beings, we’re aligned to the natural rhythms of our planet. So is your digestive power. It is strongest when the sun in in zenith, i.e. at noon. Hence, you want to have a mid-size meal in the morning, a rather large one at noon and at most a snack in the evening.
  3. Purify your food. Next to what you’re eating in which amounts at which time of the day, the way you consume food is paramount. A year ago, I discovered the advantages of a good blender. If you purify your food with it, your whole digestive track needs to invest significantly less energy to convert the food and extract the nutrients. So, get a good blender and make tasty and healthy green smoothies every day!

How long can you survive without drinking?

I hope you never have to ask yourself this question. My point is this though: The more frequent you need to engage in an activity, the more important it is. You can hold your breath for some minutes before you pass out. Consequently, breathing is key to keeping our body alive.

Unlike breathing, drinking is a conscious act

You don’t need to think about breathing. You just do it. Drinking is different though. You’ve to deliberately take care of regular fluid intake. If you don’t, you’ll feel thirsty, dizzy and get a headache. I don’t want to go into details around what will happen thereafter. Dying out of thirst must be terrible. Usually, death sets in after only a few of days.

So, how do you not only avoid dehydration but fuel your body most effectively? First off, bear in mind that your body consists approximately 70% water. During activities, such as sports, sauna visits and hot climate – even sleep – you loose precious fluid, which you want to refill. Best case have always enough in store and thus avoid uncomfortable side-effects. The rule of thumb is keep your urine white. Yellow urine tells you that you need to drink more. Your detoxification organs (such as your liver and kidneys) as well as digestive tracks (especially your stomach) requires fluid to work properly. Eating is important, yet drinking is paramount. You can survive many weeks without eating (people even heal chronic conditions by fasting), but you’ll die after some days of no water intake.

What you need to drink in which amount

As for all things in life, quality and quantity are important. You want to cultivate healthy routines, and responsibly make exceptions for social reasons or quality of life. In terms of quality, I usually drink still water. Yet every now and then I have a glass of wine or another semi-healthy beverage. When it comes to quantity, I normally take three liters a day. Sometimes I drink less though because I simply forget it during busy days. So, how do you put your drinking stakes in the ground?

  1. Analyze the current state. Reflect upon yesterday. What did you drink? How much did you drink? Was that a typical day? If yes, write down the beverages and amounts. This approach might sound over-systemic, yet please follow me here. Awareness is the first step towards change.
  2. Define your target state. You want to shoot for at least two liters of healthy beverages. Again, quantity depends on your body weight, the climate zone you^re living in, your life-style (mind working out regularly) and other factors. What are “healthy beverages”? Those which hydrate your body plus provide nutrients. I’m generally recommending high-quality still water as your basic beverage. You want to complement with green tea and coconut water for instance.
  3. Switch into active gear. Assuming you’ve captured your current state on the left and your target state on the right side of the paper. Next, you want to write down the actions in the middle. They represent the bridge between where you’re and where you want to be. After you’ve done this, start changing your drinking habits immediately. Have a full glass of water always near to you. Bear the 100 days rule in mind: It takes only three months to cultivate healthy routines. Your body will be grateful.

Did you know that chewing can extend your life-span?

We all heard it: “Eat slower.” or “Chew thoroughly.” Did our parents just echoed a phrase they picked up somewhere or is there a deeper truth in transforming your food intake into a contemplation exercise? Let’s investigate it the ExperienceZone way.

Chewing is more than training your jawbone

I’m guilty as charged: My eating pace is incredible fast and thus unhealthy. That’s what they say at least. So why is that? The faster you eat, the less you chew. What’s the purpose of chewing? In first place, it divides the food bites, which helps the subsequent digestion organs to further convert it. The smaller the food bits, the less work your stomach and intestines have. Also, moving your jaw produces saliva. Latter already converts food in your mouth. Ergo: The fewer chews, the less saliva is available for pre-digestion. Your stomach and intestines have no teeth. Hence, food bits will cause digestion problems eventually.

Two good reasons to spend more time over a meal and thus chew every bite more often. There’re two additional ones, which are not directly related to the physical act of digestion.

First, Your brain impacts your feeling of hunger. Proper chewing supports proper alignment with the rest of your body. Your brain can make a good judgement call when it’s time to stop eating. If you gorge food, your brain might not be able to keep up and receive and send the message “I’m full. Stop eating.” too late. The result is that you ate to much and end up with stomach pains.

Second, spending more time over a meal – especially in company – improves your life quality. Why’s that? Well, it gives you time to enjoy the meal with all senses. You taste food with your tongue – or more precisely your palate. You smell it with your nose. Your eyes get the visual benefits of a well prepared salad. In turn, you significantly decrease the awareness factor of a meal if you eat hasty and being distracted by social media or your telly in worst case.

How do you ensure proper pre-digestion?

Yep, this is definitely one of my larger learning opportunities in nutrition & energy. I’m just eating to fast, due to my hectic nature. There’re some tiny habits I’m about to dig deeper into. Surely, you’ll find value in them too. Here they’re:

  1. Eat consciously: Awareness is the first step towards any change in your life. Eating with all senses requires you to eat when you’re eating. No distractions. No smartphone, tablet or telly. Just you and your meal. Practice enjoyment. Try to be grateful for it. Most people on this planet would love to have a meal like you’re gorging every day once in their lifetime! The problem in our “developed world” is not that we don’t have enough food but that we eat too much (and the wrong stuff).
  2. Eat less: Strive towards an efficient digestion. If your digestive track is clean – from your tongue to your anus – you need only little food intake. I used to too fast and thus too often and too much. Not a surprise that my bowel had a serious conversation with me afterwards. The slower you eat, the less you need. Reason being, your body is able to metabolize food better. Hara hachi bu: Stop once you’re 50% full. That’s what the Japanese do and you need to try as well. Join me on the way to control our palates.
  3. Get a good blender: Usually, there’re no shortcuts in life. Yet, when it comes to eating, there’s a great way to be time efficient and eat healthy – especially if you combine it with a raw vegan diet. Get a good blender! It purifies and thus pre-digests your food. You just need to drink the green-brown soup. Bon appetit!

Are many small or a few large meals healthier?

I used to eat by the clock. Five small meals every three hours. I willingly sacrificed flexibility on the altar of high energy. Yet, is it really true that several small portions are best for you? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

How your digestion works

Our physical bodies have been designed and nurtured by nature since the beginning of humanity. Hence, we work according to circiadian rhythms, which steers our body temperature, serotonin production and digestive functions. Such a rhythm makes one day full circle. Or in terms of nature: The time earth needs to turn around itself. From our perspective, sun goes up and down and thereafter the moon.

In the morning, our body is waking up. With that your intestines need to be carefully prepared for the first food intake. As sun reaches its zenith, our digestive power is peaking. Our gut is able to convert more food into nutrition. In the evening, your body wants to prepare for the night. This might conflict with large dinner parties.

You are a symbiont

Biochemically, we’re actually not talking organs but microorganisms here, such as the bacteria, fungus and virus living inside us. These guys are most busy at noon (similar to yourself as being their host). Essentially, you’re an symbiont, who consists of ten times more microbes than body cells. They help you to convert food, impact your mood and your health. Hence you want to live in symbiosis with them.

How much do you need to eat when?

In terms of mealtimes and food quantity, this means the following.

  1. In the morning a decent breakfast. Prepare your digestive track properly by drinking a water with a shot of apple vinegar, lemon and cayenne pepper beforehand. This stimulates your stomach to produce acid. I recommend you to drink anyway up to a liter after waking up since your body sweat during the night and thus lost fluid, which you want to refill. Eat earliest one hour after getting up your breakfast. This gives your stomach and intestines enough time to get ready for the first meal.
  2. At noon a rather large lunch. This is peak time on earth and therewith for your microbes. They thus can peak perform and wait for a large food intake to convert to nutrition. Latter your body needs to function during the day’s high season as well as to regenerate in the upcoming night. Eat only as much until you’re full though and not more. I used to engage in gluttony and ate 3-4 plates. Learn from my experiences and eat one plate full of raw vegan food in best case. Alternatively – and even more healthy – one green smoothie bottle.
  3. In the evening a small snack. Every now and then you want to practice dinner cancelling. This enables your body to invest its energy on regeneration, i.e. your microbes to repair cells, rather than to digest food at night. In case you experience a hunger attack, rather drink liter of water or non-caffeine tea. This fills your stomach and counteracts hunger. Strive to go to bed with a slight feeling of hunger instead of feeling full. Your sleep quality will tremendously improve and you’ll wake up fully energized the next morning instead of tired and looking back on nightmares.

Are fruit or vegetables healthier?

One of the most important questions for nutritionists. Let’s put the bottom line upfront: Both contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. Yet there’re subtle differences, which justify a deep dive the ExperienceZone way.

Fruit have one downside

Children usually prefer fruit over veggies. Why’s that? Speaking constitution types, children have a lot of Kapha (that’s one of the three Ayuverda Dosha’s, which stands for people who tend to eat high-caloric food and thus run the risk so become overweighted if they neither grow more work out). With this trick, nature takes care that our offspring passes its rites of passage physically. Are fruit really high-calorie food? It depends. A banana contain 100 calories, whilst fruit high in fluid, such as watermelon, are usually low in calories. Hence, food density plays a role. Also, the type of calories. Extra virgin olive oil contains 800 calories per 100 gram, yet doesn’t make you fat as it gets directly metabolized by your body. In contrast, saturated animal based fat, such as butter, in combination with carbs,  such as wheat, refuels your fat cells.

Before you head spins and eventually explodes, let me come full circle here. Fruit contain sugar – next to antioxidants, fiber and phytochemical. The two sugar types are called glucose and fructose. These sweeteners make children crave for fruit and leave the veggies on their plates. Although they give your body energy straightaway, too much fructose can harm your digestive functions. Glucose is your little helper. It supports to metabolize fructose. Most fruit contain both forms of sugar. Look for those, which contain at least a 1:1 relation between glucose and fructose, such as dried figs and dates. By the way: Drying food preserves it, yet also increases its sugar proportion. Also, bananas contain a healthy ratio between glucose and fructose. That’s the reason why many claim them to be the primal human food next to coconuts.

Find the right mix!

Both groups are healthy. They belong to the foundation of our food pyramid and thus need to make up the largest part of our daily intake. In which ratio, at which times and in which quantities?

  1. Eat more veggies: You can smartly mix fruit with vegetables – in a salad or a blender. Latter is particularly recommendable as it purifies your food, so that your body doesn’t need to invest any energy in digestion but can metabolize the nutritions straightaway. Since veggies are by nature less sweet than fruit, you can mix them with sweet fruit in a 3:2 relation. In general, you want to eat bitter, sour and hot food rather than sweet one. Too much sweet stuff creates a fertile soil for parasites of all kinds.
  2. Eat them raw: Once you heat your food over 43 degree Celsius or 118 degree Fahrenheit, vitamins, minerals as well as the precious enzymes, which you need to digest the food, disappear. Therefore, eat fruit and vegetables raw. The closer our diet to nature, the healthier we’re, the better we look and the longer we live.
  3. Eat fruit first: Different types of food take different time to get digested. Fruit pass your intestines very fast. They’re speed racers. If you eat your fruit salad after a heavy meal, than they feel insulted and pay you back. How? They rotten and cause bowel gases and other digestive problems.

Why you need a good blender

Nowadays everyone is running around stressed, trying to keep up and find a place in this faster spinning world. During our daily hustle and bustle, we often don’t take time to eat. In a nutrition-nerd-like mood, I recently stopped the time of a random meal (um, I recollect an Avocado salad for lunch). Yay, a record: 7.35 minutes for a large bowl! I was just about to pat myself on the back, when a truth came to my mind: Mealtime correlates with health. The more time you take for a meal, i.e. the more often you chew, the healthier you are, the better you look and the longer you live. What a great outlook, if I could only slow down anything! I need to tackle this the ExperienceZone way.

The problem: Every chew you don’t make shortens your life

Digestion starts in your mouth. Your teeth are supposed to mash dense food. At the same time, you produce saliva, which already decomposes the porridge. If you do it properly, your subsequent digestion organs, such as the stomach, the small and large intestines have a walk in the park. If you don’t though, they’ll face challenges as undigested food bits cannot be broken up by them (they don’t have teeth). These food bits can cause a lot of issues, such as food intolerances and allergies.

The solution: Make a blender predigest your food

Proper oral predigestion requires you to chew every bite 30-50 times. In case of my super-size salad bowl, that would add up to 30-60 minutes. Almost impossible to carve out so much time for a single meal! Of course it is doable, yet I’m simply not willing to take the time. Reason being, I’m busy. I got stuff to do. I’m not a cow, which has nothing else to do than chewing.

So I needed some external support. A blender. It allows me to throw in my healthy fruit & vegetables, push a button and atomize it. A fast and healthy way to prepare and consume meals! My teeth just cannot compete with my Vitamix. This thing purifies food in lightning speed. It breaks up the plant cells and thus gives my intestines immediate access to the enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

Your way to a healthy digestion

I learned it the hard way. For many years, I felt down after a meal. Reasons being, I ate processed food too fast. Meantime, I worked on both bad habits and switched to a plant-based raw diet, which I purify whenever I can. Digestion takes up to 80% of your energy. Hence, you want to optimize your energy balance sheet by a) maximizing the energy value of the food you eat (and I don’t mean the amount of calories here but the quality of food) and b) minimize the effort your body needs to make to digest that food. So, what do you need to do?

  1. Eat high-energy food. First start with the “what”. I found that a raw plant-based diet gives me most energy. I mix vegetables (especially green leaves or wild plants) in a relation of 3:2 with fruit to a) give my body everything it needs and b) accommodate my spoiled palate.
  2. Get a good blender. Now its time for the “how”. Do some research on good blenders. Don’t be pennywise and pound-foolish. Instead of buying an all-in-one kitchen device (“all-in-one” is unavoidably always about compromises), purchase a device, which atomizes your food. The higher the degree of decomposition, the less your intestines have to do. If you don’t want to do it for your health, do it for the vanity. Predigesting your food will enable your body to invest the energy saved, in regeneration and thus rejuvenation.
  3. Blend your food as often as possible. Once you posses a blender a whole new universe of creative recipes unfolds. Become creative. A food artist. Don’t judge a smoothie by its look. Each and everyone will taste different, as this depends on the ratios and composition of food alike. Drink it. Your palate will discover new dimensions of taste, which have been covered during years of processed civilization food intake.

Got nuts?

Yeah, the post title might be misleading. Since I take you on a journey over Nutrition & Energy (mind the cute little yellow icons), I really mean nuts. This question is thus directed to men and women alike. I know we’re not squirrels and don’t need to gather the little fruit to have something to eat for the winter.

Fruit? Yes indeed: Nuts are fruit.

The more important question for you is: Are they healthy? My admittedly blur answer is: It depends. Of course, they’re better for your physical well-being than your ordinary 1 pound Angus steak. Run a field test. Anyway, how healthy are they compared to other plant based food? They come after fresh fruit & vegetables as well as seeds. Why’s that?

First the good news: Nuts contain a lot of proteins & carbs.

They’ve vitamins and minerals en mass. Just ask Google about your favorite sort, its nutritional value and impact on your health. Also, nuts are rich in easily digestible proteins, fiber and carbs. In fact, they’re a very dense food.

And that is the problem: Too much high-caloric food can cause issues

Apes eat high-fluid or low-caloric food like fresh fruit & vegetables. High octane water in fresh fruit & vegetables contains energy and thus supports life. If a chimp doesn’t find greens or bananas, it eats seeds as a dietary fallback. Seeds contain premature life. They’re dense too yet healthier than nuts. Learn from our closest relatives in the animal kingdom: Eat nuts in moderation. If you consider them as the foundation of you food pyramid plus drink too less, you might face digestion problems eventually. Note to myself: I need to manage my secret sin of peanut-banana-shakes more tightly…

Bottom line, get nuts and enjoy them. They’re great travel snacks. Yet always treat them as such. Keep your balance in an ExperienceZone fashion.

Do vegans really live healthier?

There is barely a social trend as huge as Nutrition & Energy.

Many people nowadays want to find the silver bullet to well-being. The higher the demand, the more divers supply alternatives become. One of the rather traditional approaches is vegan. Vegan means avoiding animal based food. Some take vegan as a lifestyle. They reject anything made of animals. Kudos to them for preventing additional animal suffering and for managing their karma accounts tightly.

Anyway, is vegan healthier than other diets?

One thing is for sure: The lifestyle of a citizen in the “developed world” doesn’t require any meat consumption. There’s an abundance of plant-based alternatives in the supermarket next door. We don’t need to run 10 miles per day to hunt Mammuts (yet some of us do for various other reasons). Also, our houses are warm and cosy, so that we can leave the high-caloric fatty fish to Eskimos. In addition, animal-based fats and proteins as well as milk are subordinate to many plant-based alternatives when it comes to their nutritional values and/or your ability to digest them. Besides: Some studies show that animal products can harm our bodies in the long run (see “China Study”).

Ok, vegan can be more healthy. Yet do vegans really live more healthy?

Many vegans I know have been “forced” into veganism by serious diseases. Although they drop animal products from their diet plans, they still eat a lot of processed food, wheat and sugar. As mentioned, there’re alternatives available and people are inventive. Tofu sausages can taste like meat. Yay! You still “spoil” your palate and have a good consciousness – towards your body and the animal kingdom. Wrong headed: Processed food with artificial ingredients can make you sick in the long run!

Many vegans live unhealthier than people on a “civilized diet”. So what do you need to consider?

The foundation of your food pyramid needs to consist of fruit & vegetables. This is what our closed relatives, apes, eat. They don’t age as we do when eating meat and they usually don’t get sick in nature. So there must be something right about their diet. Since these guys have a lot of time to chew and you don’t want to spend 1 hour over a meal, get yourself a good blender. Put the green leaves and fruits as per a 2:1 ratio in and blend. Voila: Your cheap, fast and super-healthy smoothie. Drink this predigested source of youth and heath 1-2 times a day. For all other meals, try to stick as close to nature as possible. It is already perfect. The more we add, change or take away, the unhealthier it becomes. In terms of mealtime, eat in the morning and at noon. In the evening, you want to practice dinner canceling every now and then. Food quality is generally more important than food quantity. Buy organic regional stuff or go into your backyard for healthy wild flowers. Know which ones are eatable though. Discover the tastes of nature, which are as rich as the ones of life.

What is your experience zone?

Most of us spend 99% of our time in our comfort zones. Eat, work, sleep, and repeat. Days, weeks, months and years pass by. What a waste of time! We only have a few decades on this planet. Let’s use them! So, what do you need to do? Awareness is the first step towards change. Recognize your comfort zone. The functional area, in which you don’t take much risk yet don’t learn a lot too.

Do you want to stop existing and start living? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Tap into your experience zone to learn, grow, and become truly happy. Experiences turn into memories in hindsight. What do most people think about on their deathbeds? Definitely not about the money they earned, the houses they lived in or the cars they drove. Rather the people they met, the placed they traveled, and the experiences they made.

Take deliberate steps into your ExperienceZone. Watch out: It is thin and you might overrun into your danger zone; uncharted territory, in which every step could be your last one. Do every day or at least every week something new. Start with small things like using the other hand to brush your teeth or taking another way to work without switching on your GPS. Write a bucket list of things you’d like to do before you die. Or best case create an aims in life folder. Make sure that those cover all areas of life: Nutrition & Energy, Family & Friends, Community & Environment, Sports & Relaxation, Recreation & Fun, Career & Financials, and Self Development. Also, ensure that it addresses all dimensions of being, doing, having, and giving.

Finally, go out and just do it. Jump fear straight in its face. Irrational fears are a great pointer towards the things which you need to do to learn, grow and become happy.

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