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Does your body tell you what kind of fuel it needs?

 
 
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 09:50 am
On another thread someone said that they believe that your body tells you what kind of food it needs. (I'll let the sayer come forward should they choose to.) For this reason, the person didn't diet. I've been thinking about this comment a lot -- a restrictive diet could cause you to miss out on a nutrient your body really needs to function. It makes a lot of sense.

Right now I am in a unique postition to scientifically test this theroy. I had a medical test run the other day and it is interesting in relation to foods I've been craving and vitamins I've recently purchased -- all without suspecting that said test would be run, never thinking that the problem might be diet related.

Have you ever found yourself craving certain foods and then found out that there was a medical reason for it?

Do you believe your body will tell you what it needs?
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Type: Question • Score: 5 • Views: 4,453 • Replies: 14
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 09:52 am
Yes and no.

I do think that sometimes you crave what you need. But other times, I wonder why my body thinks it needs Cheese Curlz.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 09:59 am
@boomerang,
Sayer here!

Yeah, I agree with the Cheez Curlz bit. I tend to not have junk food cravings UNLESS I diet -- which is another part of why I avoid dieting. (I eat fine if not perfectly if I'm not thinking too much about what I eat, but if I put something on the verboten list, THEN I want it.)

I'm trying to remember specific examples. I wanted iron-rich foods when I was a teenager and turned out to be anemic. (I wanted the foods before I knew about the anemia.) I've had major tuna fish cravings after exercise -- just plain tuna fish. I've found out since that tuna is a really good post-exercise food (salt, protein, fish oils that do good stuff). Hmm, that's all I can think of now specifically, but I know I've had these lightbulb moments a lot. Oh, when I was pregnant, too -- not just cravings but aversions. They all made sense once I investigated them.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 10:04 am
@boomerang,
yes and no. If someone regularly exercises, already has a nutritious balanced diet, has eliminated white sugar and processed foods, the likelihood is greater that they might get a sense of what nutrition it needs. Otherwise, this theory is whistling in the dark.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 10:15 am
Good point ragman! That's kind of what Bella was refering too, I think. But maybe your body is telling you it needs salt or starch or sugar or something that is in the cheese curls so you grab the cheese curls trying to satisfy that need (but end up consuming a lot of crap along with it.)

I don't eat much sugar but it's really because I don't like sweets much. Also, I very rarely eat processed foods but that's because I like to cook and "scratch" foods always taste better.

Soz, your post reminded me of reading about pregnant women who eat non-food substance. Here's what wiki says:

Quote:
Geophagy is the practice of eating earthy or soil-like substances such as clay, and chalk, in order to obtain essential nutrients such as sulfur and phosphorus from the soil. It is closely related to pica, a classified eating disorder in the DSM-IV characterized by abnormal cravings for nonfood items[1].

The many possible health benefits of geophagy remain under study and are much debated. Many scientists believe that it is only harmful, while others argue that there may be adaptive benefits to the practice, since humans and animal alike have engaged in it for thousands of years.

Geophagy is most often seen in rural or preindustrial societies among children and pregnant women. However, it is practiced by members of all races, social classes, ages, and sexes. In other parts of the world the practice is less stigmatized, and geophagy is not studied as a pathology but rather as an "adaptive behavior" that supplements the diet with essential nutrients or treats a disorder such as diarrhea.[2]

In some parts of the world, geophagia is a culturally sanctioned practice. In many parts of the developing world, earth intended for consumption is available for purchase.

In parts of Africa, rural United States, and villages in India clay consumption may be correlated with pregnancy as women eat clay to eliminate nausea, possibly because the clay coats the gastrointestinal tract and absorbs dangerous toxins. The clay may also provide critical calcium for fetal development (Vemeer).

Bentonite clay is available worldwide as a digestive aid; kaolin is also widely used as a digestive aid and as the base for some medicines. Attapulgite, a substance found in clay in the Southern United States, is an active ingredient in many anti-diarrheal medicines.[3]

Geophagy was also practiced by Native Americans in California and Peru who would eat earth with acorns and potatoes to neutralize potentially harmful alkaloids. Clay was used in the production of acorn bread in California and Sardinia, Italy.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 12:02 pm
Processed foods make for cravings. I have read a few times that food companies design it to be like that. As has been said by others, and I agree, eating healthily does not create such cravings.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 01:40 pm
@Bella Dea,
Bella Dea wrote:
Yes and no.

I do think that sometimes you crave what you need. But other times, I wonder why my body thinks it needs Cheese Curlz.


Ding ding ding

We can sometimes hit it on the head. But I think a lot of times there's suggestibility at work.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 01:47 pm
I'm not really talking about food cravings -- especially junk food cravings but say..... like you suddenly found yourself eating tons of bananas and then found out you were really low on potassium.

Using myself as an example:

I found myself eating a lot of eggs even to the point of trying different brands of eggs and different ways of cooking eggs. I even started a thread about eggs.

Then, the other day I was at the pharmacy and picked up B vitamins.

Yesterday I went in for a long-time-weather-delayed doctor's visit and the first thing they suspect could be causing my problems is a B 12 deficiency.

Soz offered up on a different thread about how we crave the things our body needs.

Since it will be a few days before I get the results of my blood test back I thought we might test that hypothesis and also see if anyone had anecdotal or scientific evidence to add.
0 Replies
 
Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 01:53 pm
Oooo, do I see a bet here?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 02:27 pm
@Bella Dea,
Sure we can bet.

But I'm warning you that I'm hoping that there is truth to the idea because I don't really like the alternative.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Jan, 2009 04:45 am
@boomerang,
http://able2know.org/topic/123803-1
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 04:12 pm
Myth busted. Bella wins.

It's off to the neurologist for me next week.

Oh boy!
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 04:23 pm
@boomerang,
Hope that goes well!

I think there's middle ground on the cravings thing -- of course we don't need all of what we crave (ehBeth made an interesting distinction between "like" and "crave" on that thread by the way, I get what she means and agree) but I think there is no doubt that there is a relationship between what we DO need (or what we need to avoid) and what cravings/ aversions we have. (Pregnant women are an obvious example.)
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 05:21 pm
I have to agree with Sozobe on this. I have long believed that I have no need to follow a specific diet because my body knows pretty well what it should have. There's a good reason why, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I'll probably eat a banana before going back to bed. Or why one evening, suddenly, there's a craving for seafood when I've been living on red meat for a couple of days. This goes back to humankind's early days when nobody knew anything about nutrition and hardly anyone was ever obese.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 05:41 pm
@Merry Andrew,
That's actually a good way to focus it. Reminds me of Atul Gawande's phrase; "We are a species that has evolved to survive starvation, not to resist abundance."

We have a generalized craving for salt/ fat/sugar etc. because humans DO need it and it was usually something that was hard to get, so it was important that the craving drive us to go to great lengths to get it. Now there are virtually no lengths left.

But the biological basis is still there.

I think others are less hard-wired and more prone to actual fluctuations, like the bananas thing.
0 Replies
 
 

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