Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to high school biology class (or was it middle school?), where we learned that cells are the fundamental unit of life and the foundation for all organisms that inhabit Earth. The growth and development of these cells, achieved through the cell cycle, is essential for our survival (remember seeing that video of one cell dividing and becoming two?). Without getting too “science-y”, we humans, and all of the other living creatures (other animals, as well as plants and various organisms), are made up of millions upon millions of cells.
Cells make us who we are. They determine our hair color, eye color, height and our general body shape. They also help to determine our basic personality traits and how we act and feel on a daily basis. The cells within our bodies are constantly interacting with each other, communicating on a molecular level. At the same time, they also communicate with the outside world. One of the main ways our cells interact and are impacted by the outside world is through what we eat. They transport the nutrients we get from our food to the various parts of our body that need them to function.
Hence the old adage, “You are what you eat.”
Food energetics is the concept that all foods have a specific molecular personality and character, which influence the cells in our body in a specific way when they are absorbed and transported throughout our body during digestion. In essence, we take on the energetic nature of a particular food when we eat it. This may seem a little “woo-woo” for you, but it makes sense to me if you remember the science that I described above.
Why wouldn’t our food impact our bodies on a molecular level? I personally think it does. This thought is the foundation of my belief of the power of using food as medicine. There are properties within certain foods that make us sick and cause disease (such as artificial sugar, trans fat, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, etc.), and there are certain foods and herbs that can help to heal us (such as those containing disease-fighting antioxidants). Ever wonder why your mom’s chicken soup always helped to make you feel better when you had the flu or a bad cold? At its core, food energetics is using foods to prevent and treat disease.
The theory of food energetics includes the concept of eating foods to impose different effects on the body based on the four basic temperaments of food – hot, cold, cool and warm. In the summertime or when we visit a hot climate, we are drawn to foods that cool our bodies such as fruit, smoothies and raw veggies. In the winter we are drawn to warming foods that help to heat us up and sustain us through the rough weather such as soups, stews, porridge and whiskey (I had to throw that one in there 😉 ).
Food energetics states that cooking foods in a specific way can also influence our cells. When we cook food, the molecular structure of the food is permanently changed. Some harmful cells may die off (such as salmonella or other harmful bacteria in uncooked chicken) and some cells may be broken down so our bodies can more easily assimilate them (as is the case with grain being transformed into bread). For example, a vegetable fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (i.e. french fries at many fast food chains) has a dramatically different impact on our bodies than a potato roasted in olive oil in your oven.
The chart below outlines various energetic qualities foods that are assimilated into our bodies when we eat a particular food.
Do any of these seem to make logical sense to you? For me personally, sugar definitely makes me tense. Consuming large quantities of it causes me to become negative, short-tempered and anxious. I also feel much more positive and healthy when I focus on eating natural foods and balance food temperaments (i.e., when I’m cold I eat something that is warming and vice versa). It also explains why I love raw salads in the summer and my favorite beef chili in the winter.
Perhaps the concept of food energetics is a bit too out there for you. That’s okay. It took me a while to get where I am. But even just understanding how and why certain foods impact you the way they do is an important step towards finding the right foods for you. Which leads to Harmony, Happiness and Health.
Peace, Love and Energy,