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#396984 - 05/25/08 10:37 AM The Human Body: Combustion Engine vs. Rainforest
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
AS I have recently mentioned, been doing some research on nutrition, especially with stuff from Inst. of Optimal Nutrition.

One of their Nutritionists said that around the time that time nutrition, as a modern science, came to be was around the time of the Industrial Revolution.

He said that nutritionists of the day compared the body to other areas of science at the time. In the age of the combustion engine, the body was compared to a machine i.e. give it fuel and it runs properly.

This analogy still exists today. We have all at some point talked about "burning off calories" or "burning off fat". The nutritionist argued that this idea as being bad way of looking at the body, as though it is like a car that "burns fuel".

He said it is better to consider the body to be considered an ecosystem (e.g. a rainforest). If something goes wrong (e.g. drought) this can have a serious impact on the rainforest. Parts of the ecosystem can die. Once water is restored to the rainforest, the ecosystem can work at getting itself back in functioning order.

The nutritionist argued that the danger of looking upon the body as a machine is that the body is a machine that you can put anything you want to because the furnace will "burn it off".

Fair enough, you can "burn" certain parts of food off. But what if the food has effects that can't be remedied by jogging?

As a simple example: You take a carbonated soft drink. You may be able to burn of the calories by physical exercise, but the acidity in the drink may damage your teeth. Exercise won't help with that.

This is the point he was making.

I think in some ways it is a valid point. I know I have equated eating whatever I fancied because I would "burn it off later". I didn't really think if their were other impacts of what I ate beyond the calorie/fat intake!

Just thought I would share this as it made me think about what I eat a bit more and the physical effects it has on me beyond what I see i.e. if I look in good shape or not.
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"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#396985 - 05/25/08 11:02 AM Re: The Human Body: Combustion Engine vs. Rainforest [Re: Prizewriter]
MattJ Offline
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Good point PW. Sugar is my nemesis. Despite the rest of my diet being fairly clean, and getting plenty of exercise, I am constantly undoing it all by eating too much sweet stuff.

It is not just a matter of "burning it off".
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#396986 - 05/25/08 11:09 AM Re: The Human Body: Combustion Engine vs. Rainforest [Re: Prizewriter]
Kimo2007 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/31/07
Posts: 1057
I actually posted something similar on another thread. The combustion engine analogy is a bit flawed bacause the human body is a chemical reaction, you change the chemicals you change the reaction.

All food is not simply food, food is chemicals and that needs to be considered when you are looking for a particular result.

Case in point, it's impossible to gain fat, unless you consume carbs, the chemical reaction that causes the body to store fat cannot occur without the presense of carbs.

That said, there are many more factors involved in heath and well being, and it's not as simple as calories consumed, calories burned.

Bottom line is if you can eat things that grow and at one time walked or swam, you'll be fine. Once you stray into the world of processed foods, it's a whole new world out there.
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#396987 - 05/25/08 12:37 PM Re: The Human Body: Combustion Engine vs. Rainforest [Re: Prizewriter]
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 11399
Loc: Cambridge UK.
I see the point, but I still think the analogy of the machine is most accurate. Also, we talk of 'burning' calories because that is how calorific content is measured- through thermal energy release. Also, as the body uses the energy from food, it also has a thermal reaction.

On the point of qualities outside of mere energy, I simply expand the machine/engine analogy to encompass quality of fuel. You dont put low octane petrol in a sports car,as it will effect performance; and contaminated fuel will block up your carb and cause the engine to stop working. Sound like anything else?
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#396988 - 06/16/08 06:40 PM Re: The Human Body: Combustion Engine vs. Rainfore [Re: Cord]
Joe7987 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/05
Posts: 317
Loc: Orlando, FL
I think it's all just speculation and irrelevant. I'm not saying that your post is irrelevant, just this guys theory. Does it really matter whether our body is a rainforest or a combustion engine? Why don't we call it a computer program? We input food like we input data. If we put in correctly formatted data, we get proper output. If not, we get an error or worse, the blue screen of death.

Meh, doesn't matter.

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#396989 - 06/16/08 07:58 PM Re: The Human Body: Combustion Engine vs. Rainfore [Re: Joe7987]
Kimo2007 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/31/07
Posts: 1057
Analogies exist to help explain what would be otherwise difficult concepts to understand, so it's quiet relevent.

And a combustion engine is different then a rainforest, in important ways, that doesn't make an analogy wrong, they are "like" a concept not the concept itself so the will be inherent differences.
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