Do only calories really count?

Written by Marina Lommel
3 minutes reading time
19. April 2023

This is an excerpt from one of the knowledge articles that foodpunks receive daily when participating in a challenge.

Hello Foodpunk!

Do only calories really count? I hope I was able to debunk this myth somewhat in the Day 11 newsletter (not published here).

There is a lot to the phrase “You are what you eat.” We are all made of bones, muscles, tendons, connective tissue, soft tissues… Our mood, our assertiveness, our cycle are controlled by hormones. Neurotransmitters transmit thoughts and movements. All this is made of something. That doesn’t fall from the sky. As we grow, we are always absorbing something, from our environment. These are not stones, but food. We burn a part to have enough energy for growth and movements. Another part we install. Nutrients become a part of us and serve as building blocks for all the important components. Of course, the body cannot build a tendon from fatty acids. The main building blocks are proteins. But also not just any, but the right amino acid in the right place. Other structures, in turn, require other building materials. Enzymes require certain vitamins and minerals as cofactors to function fully.

Everything we are made of cannot come from anywhere but food. Some particles stay in our body for a lifetime, some are replaced again and again. The cells of the intestinal mucosa, for example, are renewed every few days. Stem cells in bone marrow, on the other hand, remain in place for decades.

This thought is so incredibly fascinating to me that I also wrote it down in my application letter for my degree program. The application from back then was many years ago. The idea has still not lost its appeal, but has become even more interesting due to the biochemical knowledge gained from my studies.

Conversely, what does it mean if the body is not getting all that it needs? If cells cannot be built from high quality building materials, if our hormones cannot be formed decently. Can food control our moods? About serotonin? About cortisol?

Or is it possible to achieve certain things with targeted nutrition, such as starving cancer cells? In the meantime, this idea is no longer an esoteric reverie. Studies show that a ketogenic diet, for example, can support chemotherapy extremely well.

Yesterday I met with Christiane Wader. At the age of 27, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After the successful treatment and surgery, everything seemed fine. 9 months later, liver metastases were found. Tennis ball size.

Feel free to take a look at Christiane’s site and her talk on her experience with the ketogenic diet. Today she is 3.5 years tumor-free.

I don’t mean to tell you: ketogenic diet cures cancer. Or: Ketogenic diet can replace medicine. No not at all. I am much too scientifically oriented for that.

I’d rather say that healthy eating is about much more than losing weight. Proper nutrition has such an effect on us that I think it’s a shame how often the influence of nutrition is left out of disease treatments. How often do patients with all kinds of problems hear, “You can continue to eat the way you do. Here, take this pill in the morning, these three at noon and this one again in the evening.”.

If the diet contributed only 1% to the freedom from complaints in Christiane’s case. Then that’s already a win, isn’t it?

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Photo: / Josep Suria

This article was written by

Marina Lommel

Marina gründete Foodpunk nach ihrem Abschluss in Ernährungswissenschaften und ist aktuell CEO des Unternehmens. Während ihres Studiums arbeitete sie in verschiedenen Bereichen, darunter in der Wissenschaftsredaktion beim Radio, Redaktion beim TV und Uni-Wissensmagazin sowie im Labor am DZNE in der Parkinsonforschung. Marina ist außerdem Autorin von 5 ernährungswissenschaftlichen Sachbüchern.

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