January 22, 2023

Appeal to ancestors

There’s a good chance that you will run into a post today espousing a return to our roots or the need to eat as our ancestors did and avoid foods containing chemicals or preservatives. 

The lack of nuance here is problematic. Humanity has done things to process what they farm or raise to make the nutrients more readily available for absorption by the body since forever. That is in the essence what processing does: make food and nutrients more readily available for your body to absorb. This is in addition to minimise food wastage by improving the shelf life of perishable foods. Processing can reduce or increase the calories in a serving. It can introduce chemicals that can improve the shelf life. It can also remove chemicals that makes the food less available to the body. It can make a food much more enjoyable to a degree that makes it easy to overeat. But when you are measured, it can give you potent doses of nutrients that can be hard to find naturally. Fortification can include vitamins and minerals that can ensure you get the daily dose you need sans fuss. 

Fermentation is a simple example of processing. It makes a food easier to digest. Fermentation, prebiotics, probiotics are added to foods to make various parts of the food easier to digest and improve gut health. For example, milk contains lactose. Lactose is a sugar that is hard to digest for some as their body might not produce enough lactase. Fermenting milk into curd (among other fermented products) can make the food easier to digest. Addition of lactase to milk can make it easier to digest for those who can’t drink milk. 

Processing of dairy also produces ghee and butter. Both contain more calories per tablespoon than any naturally occurring food. A 15 ml spoon of ghee can contain as many calories as 240 ml of skim milk. Skim milk is what you get when you remove all the fat from milk. A scoop of whey can contain 1/3rd the calories and as much protein as 500 ml of milk. The key takeaway is you can make processed foods work for you.

About Adarsh

- I run a strength and conditioning facility in Chennai, India
- I work with my clients to make training and eating for better body composition a part of everyday life
- I coach online and in-person
- I design and manufacture strength training equipment for use in our strength training facility