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All living things need macronutrients and micronutrients.
For humans, the macronutrients we need are oxygen, water, carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids. We need many grams of each of these. We need oxygen every few minutes. All of the rest of the macronutrients, we need some every few days. There is a long list of micronutrients that we need. However we only need a few milligrams, or micrograms, of each of the micronutrients. Some of these we need every day. The rest can be stored for days, weeks, even months.
Oxygen gets to our cells via our lungs. In the mouth or nose, into the lungs, then out again.
All the other macronutreints, and all the micronutrients, get to our cells via our gastro-intestinal system. In the mouth, out the anus. It starts at our teeth. Our teeth start making big pieces of solid matter into smaller pieces.
Our teeth are at the interface between us, and not us.
They start the process of turning not-us, into us, and of turning not-us, into energy — energy we can use to make construct us, and also to do all sorts of things that we do. After being mixed with saliva, the masticated not-us matter goes down the esophagus into the stomach, then into the duodenum and the small intestine, then the colon, then the rectum, then out. Takes a few days to complete the trip. There is a sphincter, a muscular valve, between each section. One between the esophagus and the stomach (cardiac sphincter, so-called because it is near the heart), one between the stomach and the duodenum, and the last one is between the rectum and the outside world (the anus). Physical and chemical action on the material in the g-i system, causes nutrients in the material to flow into our blood streams.
While oxygen is generally all around us, in air that we are immersed in, everything else, we have to labor to find.
Of carbohydrates, the two main kinds that we generally seek are starches and sugars. Among the amino acids that we seek, which we generally find in chains of amino acids called proteins, there are 11 or so "essential" amino acids that we cannot construct by deconstructing other amino acids and recombining bits and pieces of the other amino acids. Outside of these 11, we can generally construct one amino acid from bits and pieces of others. Similarly, among fats, there are 2 classes of "essential" fatty acids, both of which we need, omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Again, our cells cannot deconstruct an omega 6 and and reform it into an omega 3, or vice versa.
We can convert excess protein into carbohydrates. We can convert carbohydrates into fats, and vice-versa. Fats can also be converted into water, but water cannot be converted into fat, and neither fats nor carbohydrates can be converted into proteins.
There is a long list of micronutrients we need. Generally, we do not seek these specifically. What happens instead is that in the process of seeking carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, it turns out that tiny amounts of the micronutrients we need happen to be mixed in. In fact, in large amounts they may taste awful. But in tiny amounts, they may contribute to complexity of taste and aroma. For example say we know there are chewy, juicy, sweet stalks growing in an area. For example, sugar cane. We may seek them out, delighted by their sweetness, and tending to seek more and more. Our taste buds sense the sweetness, ourand we seek it out. We need the simple carbohydrate that tastes sweet. It is a source of energy. We need lots of it. We also need tiny amounts of iron. But we don't taste, or seek out, the iron. What happens is that if we seek and acquire the sugar, we also get the iron. Our instincts benefit us. Unless someone altered the sugar so as to make it devoid of iron, and we are not aware of this. Then the same instinct that benefits us, can harm us.
That is why knowledge of what various commercial materials truly are, is so important.We need to know everything about the Earthly Origin of commercial Materials — everything that people do between finding materials in the earth, and getting commercial materials into the market place.
The micronutrients are divided into two classes, minerals, and vitamins, with vitamins being organic compounds which a person as an individual, or our species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, or kingdom, has "forgotten" how to make, and therefore must depend upon those plants or microorganisms, who still "remember" how to make them, to make them for us. Generally, vitamins are "enzyme cofactors," parts of enzymes that our genes cannot make, and that we need to obtain pre-fabricated, in order to properly construct the enzyme.
There are 2 main reasons we need nutrients, (1) for contruction material, for constructing and reconstructing ourselves, and (2) for energy, the energy needed to construct us, and the energy needed for all the other things we do, besides construct ourselves.
There seem to be 2 basic theories about how people should go about eating: (1) find what we enjoy eating and enjoying eating them as much as we can, and (2) finding what we need for material and energy, and consuming the amount we need to do that, and not a lot more. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive activities.
And my personal theory is that it is best to combine these 2 activities together: (1) learn what we need to eat to supply material and energy and (2) find food that does this, that we can also enjoy eating. The underlying asumption behind this "combined-consumption technique," is that there will exist foods that we might enjoy, but that either don't supply these needs, or are harmful in some way, if eaten in too large a quantity, or sometimes even if eaten in rather small quantities. But personally, I don't have a lot of conflict regarding food. If I know something is best avoided, I avoid it; I don't have "uncontrolled" thoughts saying "eat that, eat that." I generally am able to find food that I enjoy eating, that supplies the needs that I have determined I have, without having to resort to bizarre measures such as , for example, putting food I don't like the taste of into capsules that I can swallow without tasting the food inside.
Calories. Strictly speaking, food does not have calories. It does not contain calories. Humans obtain calories from food by the way we interact with the food, by metabolizing constituents of the food. The caloric value attributed to a food item is a measure of potential energy. Caloric value is not a constituent of food, or an ingredient of food. Saying that food contains calories is like saying that gasoline contains miles. A motor vehicle obtains miles of motion from gasoline, by burning it. Similarly, a human (or any living thing) obtains calories from food, by respiring it. But strictly speaking the food does not "contain" calories any more than the gasoline contains miles. How many miles the vehicle goes, on a gallon of any fuel, depends not only on the nature of the fuel, but on the way the fuel is being burned by the engine. Similarly, how many calories a human obtains from any food, depends not only on the nature of the food, but on the way the person metabolizes it. That said, human metabolism tends to be more similar, from person to person, than burning of gasoline is, or alcohol, or propane is, from vehicle to vehicle. That said, just like sometimes fuel does not burn completely in a combustion chamber, sometimes food is not absorbed completely, in a gastrointestinal system, or its potential energy is not utilized completely, in a cellular metabolism system
I am going to try and give you some recipes for dishes that (1) provide needed nutrients, both for energy and for building tissue, and (2) that most people find enjoyable to eat. In addition, the ingredients used are not far removed from the farm, or garden, without using commercial products that already consist of a number of ingredients themselves. Thus you will not see products such as soy sauce here, or ketchup, or prepared mustard. If I want a mustard flavor, I will use mustard seed.
As soon as I can, I will get photographs, or videos, linked to all the items in the list below.