Nature has ensured that when something is required for life, our bodies send messages to our brains without us having to employ conscious thought. Clever eh?
We only think about breathing occasionally – just as well we don’t have to breathe consciously or we would do nothing else! When our bodies become overheated, our superficial blood vessels dilate and blood will radiate heat and therefore cool us. We might also consciously, remove clothing or open a window. Conversely, if we are cold, our blood vessels constrict, we get goose pimples which will make the fine hairs covering our bodies stand up and the end result is that we conserve heat. Again this message might spur us to wilfully put on a jumper or close a door. As you can see from these examples, there is a two-way process going on – the body senses something and it acts accordingly by ensuring measures are taken that are both controlled and uncontrolled by us.
So what of hunger? What does it mean to you? Eat something quickly to stop the hunger pangs? This is a message – it’s the body’s way of informing us that it is running low on essential nutrients and it is demanding a conscious action from us – just as goose-pimples will make us close the door.
To keep our bodies doing what they do and when they need to do it, we have to supply around fifty nutrients (ones that we currently know anyway) on a regular basis – and they must be supplied or problems develop.
The time when our bodies need the most nutrients, is during the morning. Overnight, many processes are at work – cell destruction, cell renewal, detoxification, growing (in the case of children), manufacture of body fluids, hormones and so on. Due to the detoxification process, many people will not be hungry upon waking. This is a fairly natural phenomenon, but what is important is what you eat when you do get hungry.
Here’s a test: Try a bowl of breakfast cereal with or without toast to follow, when you break your fast. Loosely, the science of what happens to it, is this. The digestive process will break the starch and sugar down to glucose for absorption. Fuel levels rise and you feel satisfied. Insulin is released from the pancreas to metabolise the glucose which is then sent to the muscle and or fat cells – and then – your blood glucose drops! Your stomach rumbles two – three hours after you ate and you are definitely going to have biscuits with your coffee – and the scenario repeats itself! Think about this – if you have some subcutaneous fat (fuel) stores, why do you ever feel hungry? It’s because your body is needing nutrients, not just energy!
The reason that you are hungry (and remember what this means) again so soon is that the cereal and toast did not supply what your body requires, it has only supplied a source of energy. Cells, hormones and other bodily substances are not made from glucose they are made from water, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The science is almost irrelevant except that it is interesting to correlate the cause and effect. We need to understand what our bodies tell us because we have brains. A squirrel or rabbit doesn’t need to know because they just act on instinct – which guides them to exactly the right food for them.
The rest of the test: Try a fry-up – eggs, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, kidneys, tomatoes, sausages (doesn’t have to be everything!). Or a cheese omelette cooked in butter, a kipper served with butter, smoked salmon and cream cheese roll-ups. Now see how long before your stomach rumbles again!
These are the foods that supply protein, fat with the fat soluble vitamins and all the other good stuff a human body needs. And it tastes good! Don’t skimp when it comes to breaking your fast – your body won’t thank you for it.