Macrobiotic diet basics,
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Seven Essential Components (continued from Home Page)
Animal proteins have all of the essential amino acids. However, besides the very controversial issues of how commercial animals are fed antibiotics and steroids, mass-produced under questionable conditions and environmentally inefficient as a food source, excess animal protein can cause the body to become over-acidic and commercially-grown meat is often high in saturated fats. Over-acidity and saturated fats can contribute to health challenges. If you do choose to eat animal proteins, please balance the acidity with alkaline-producing foods and choose organic, grass-fed animals from a company that has a conscience about their farming methods.
Plant proteins have different combinations of amino acids which, when combined (i.e. grains and beans), complement each other and are considered 'complete' proteins. These complementary proteins do not necessarily have to be combined at the same meal because the body stores amino acids and then draws upon these reserves/pools to make the protein complete. In excess, plant proteins can make the body over-acidic so they also need to be eaten in balance with alkaline-producing foods.
Fats and Oils act as major structural components in the membranes which surround the body's trillions of cells. They are an important source of energy for the body and have important functions in the building and maintenance of healthy cells. Fats and Oils are separated into two main classifications:
Saturated fats are found mostly in animal products. These fats tend to stick together and deposit within the cells, organs, and arteries. If eaten in excess, this clumping of saturated fats can cause numerous health problems.
Unsaturated fats are found mostly in nuts and seeds and vegetables (i.e. corn, olives). These fats are fluid in the body. They allow the molecules within the cell membranes to make and break contact with one another as they fulfill their important chemical and transport functions. Excess intake of these unsaturated fats, however, can also cause health problems.
Minerals regulate the acid-alkaline balance, the hormonal activity, the enzymatic activity, the electrical movement in the nervous system, and the oxygen transport in the body. They are also necessary for developing and maintaining the bones, teeth, muscles, and all body parts. Minerals cannot be made by the body so they must be obtained from foods.
Vitamins are responsible for the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They are also responsible for building body tissues and for cellular energy exchanges. It's very important to eat a wide variety of foods to get adequate amounts of all vitamins.
Enzymes regulate the chemical activities in all living organisms. They do this by accelerating, stimulating or catalyzing some change in another substance. They are necessary for the breakdown, digestion and assimilation of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Enzymes are found in fresh foods and in pickled foods (raw foods that have been preserved with salt and not pasteurized). Microwaving, cooking and irradiating can destroy the enzymes in food.
Water is vital to all the body functions, including movement, digestion and temperature regulation. Eighty percent of our body weight is water! It is essential for metabolic functions, the transport and burning of fat and the elimination of toxins from the body. It's important to use the purest water available for drinking, cooking and bathing to prevent the absorption of pesticide residues, heavy metals (including lead from old plumbing) and chlorine and fluoride.
Next: Finding the essential seven components in the foods we eat?