Excerpted from “The NEW Sports Nutrition Guide”
– Dr. Michael Colgan
One System of Chemistry
Athletes tend to be independent, self-reliant individuals. But these desirable traits also predispose them to think they are separate from the world, in complete control of their bodies, each cozy and secure in a little skin bag.
If you believe that, I have a guaranteed method to leap tall buildings that might interest you too.
To gain the athletic edge, you need to realize that you are no more than a localized bit of the mass of solids, liquids, gases, and vibrations that flow around you and through you every living day. The world, including you, is all one single system of chemistry. Changes in that chemistry, whether they occur inside your skin or outside in the environment, completely determine what you think, what you feel, and how well you are able to perform. Even your most secret beliefs, are little more than a reflection of the ongoing chemistry inside you and out in your surroundings.
You are constructed from a mix of natural chemicals that have formed part of the Earth since life began. Science can track the beneficial chemicals that construct your body, and the detrimental chemicals that damage it, through the soil, through the air, through the plants and animals we use for food, through you, and back to the soil again.
The science of sports nutrition consists of designing your individual nutrition, training, and lifestyle, so that your body can retain and use sufficient amounts of the beneficial chemicals, and avoid or expel the detrimental. The first step is to realize that you and your environment are one single interacting system of chemistry.
You Are Recycled
You should also know where you are coming from. In the Archean era, 400 million years ago, a miraculous combination of gases produced a few simple bacteria. Physicists, including my late mentor, Nobel Laureate Dick Feynman of MIT, consider that it could not have been a random event. A hand of intelligence reached into the chaos, and the evolution of life began.
At that time the atmosphere was mainly carbon dioxide with a little methane and nitrogen, but almost no oxygen. Over countless millennia the Archean bacteria multiplied across the face of the Earth.
They absorbed the carbon dioxide and excreted oxygen as a waste product. Gradually the atmosphere changed so that plants could survive. Vast forests grew up and consumed the carbon dioxide and excreted oxygen at a prodigious rate. Carbon dioxide declined to its present 0.09% of the atmosphere, and oxygen increased to its present 21%, making possible the evolution of human life.
The next step in understanding the body and its needs is to ask: what is human life made of? The body is 99.9% gaseous and mineral elements. Your 65% of oxygen comes from the air as a waste product of plants. Most of the rest of your oxygen, plus your 10% of hydrogen, comes from the water you drink. And the carbon, calcium and other minerals come from the plants you eat, either directly or through the animals we use as food. All the other minerals, all the vitamins, and all other nutrients make up less than 0.1% of your flesh.
The usual emphasis on vitamins as primary nutrients is entirely wrong. The primary nutrients are the gaseous and mineral elements. You and I are almost entirely recycled products made from a mix of ancient elements that have been used over and over again for countless millennia. Unless we get these main chunks of our flesh right first, taking mineral and vitamin pills is a waste of time, because there is no way they can correct, or compensate for, basic faults in the bulk of the mix. Step by tiny step, over four million years the human body evolved, by learning to convert a precise mixture of these recycled natural chemicals of the Earth, into muscles, bones, glands, organs and brain. These chemicals we now call “nutrients.” The interactions of these nutrients determine your structure, your intelligence, your emotions, your athletic ability, all the stuff that you call “I.”
For its construction during evolution, the human body could use only the chemicals that were available at the time. For each of these chemicals it grew incredibly precise mechanisms to use it in myriad ways. These ancient chemicals of the Earth are the only substances your body has had sufficient evolutionary time to learn to use correctly. They are the only chemicals that it can use today to produce optimum function.
For optimum function, therefore, you should put inside your body only those ancient nutrients, which have been present on Earth for millions of years, those unique substances upon which the bodies of our ancestors evolved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Renowned scientist, lecturer and best-selling author, Dr. Michael Colgan‘s professional memberships include the American College of Sports Medicine, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the British Society of Nutritional Medicine. He is also on the Council of International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists.
More books in print by Dr Michael Colgan available HERE.