Our bodies are built from cells – trillions of them, in fact. And every one of those cells requires certain nutrients to do their job efficiently. Fats and proteins are the most important, along with long chain carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. In short, better cellular health relies on better cellular nutrition. That’s a challenge for people in the west, though, where food cravings and overindulgence are common. Getting these cravings under control is essential to boosting your cells’ nutritional levels and overall efficiency.
Why is Cellular Nutrition so Important?
Cells are the fundamental unit of life. While they’re specialized for different functions and incorporated into larger organ systems, cells can perform every function needed to sustain life.
At the most basic level, cells take in materials and either burn them for energy or use them to make other biological structures. For example, cells can take in amino acids and synthesize proteins out of them. Cells also take in carbohydrates and use them to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is like energy currency for cells.
All of this activity requires raw materials in the form of nutrients. All of this activity also leaves waste products that must be efficiently removed from the cell. Proper cellular nutrition is required for both processes and ensures the following:
- More efficient oxidation – Just like a vehicle burns gasoline for fuel, our cells burn energy that’s locked inside nutrients. And they literally burn it via oxidation, through a process called cellular respiration. During cellular respiration, glucose is converted into ATP, which is energy stored in chemical form.
Better cellular nutrition allows cells to run this process more efficiently, so it can generate more ATP with fewer resources. Higher quality nutrients give cells additional material to make ATP from.
- Fewer waste products – More efficient cellular respiration means there are fewer waste products left over. In this instance, good nutrition is like the difference between burning high-octane and low-octane fuel. The premium grade results in fewer leftover products, which helps keep the vehicle’s fuel system a bit cleaner.
- Faster intracellular transport – Why is it important to minimize cellular waste products? The cell has to spend energy to pass those waste products through its membrane, and the more energy that has to be spent doing that, the less is available for other processes. Also, if waste builds up inside cells, it can interfere with their ability to move things inside the cytoplast. That can also slow cellular function.
As you can see, good cellular nutrition ensures each of your cells operates like a streamlined factory. The challenge is providing your cells with these essential nutrients.
We All Have Food Cravings, but Unregulated Consumption Can Lead to Disease
Good cellular nutrition is based on a balanced diet, with a proportional mix of macronutrients like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The optimal mix varies from person to person, but it looks something like this for most:
- 45-65 percent of calories from carbohydrates
- 20-35 percent of calories from fats
- 10-35 percent of calories from proteins
Those numbers are from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. They’re also intended for the typical person. If you have dietary restrictions or exercise heavily, your optimal macronutrient mix may be significantly different.
Of course, there are big differences between high quality and low-quality macronutrients. Not every fat or sugar molecule is the same, in other words.
Poor Nutrition Affects Us at the Cellular Level, and This Can Cause Symptoms
Not every macronutrient molecule is created equal. High quality fats – like Omega-3 and Omega-6 for example – are useful in building neurological structures and facilitate better brain function. Low quality fats create arterial plaques that can lead to heart disease.
High quality carbohydrates, like those found in whole-grain pastas, fruits and vegetables, provide clean energy that burns with few waste products. Low quality carbohydrates, like those found in sweets and refined wheat, can throw our insulin levels out of balance and increase the chances of developing diabetes.
Overconsumption of low-quality macronutrients is usually tied to food cravings, and this can lead to acute symptoms like:
- Poor energy levels and fatigue
- Poor quality sleep
- Mood swings
- Brain fog and concentration issues
- GI symptoms like constipation, diarrhea or bloating
Many people assume these symptoms are just part of aging, but better cellular nutrition can reduce their severity or reverse them outright.
Digestive Problems Can Exacerbate Nutritional Deficits, but Digestive Enzymes Can Help
Taking in proper nutrition is only the first step, however. Those foods must be thoroughly digested to unlock the nutrients inside. Efficient digestion is simple when we’re younger, but as we age, our body is less effective at producing the enzymes necessary for complete digestion. Some GI disorders can also impact the presence of digestive enzymes in the gut.
An example of this is lactose intolerance, which becomes more likely with age. Lactose intolerance results from a lack of lactase – the digestive enzyme responsible for processing milk sugars. Poor lactose digestion is what causes the bloating and abdominal discomfort associated with the condition.
The most effective way to restore this digestive enzyme balance is to supplement with the enzymes themselves. Enzyme supplementation may include:
- Protease (for digesting proteins)
- Lipase (for digesting fats)
- Amylase (for digesting carbohydrates)
- Lactase (for digesting diary)
- Phytase (for breaking down phytic acid)
- Cellulase (for digesting tough plant material)
- Alpha-galactosidase (for digesting polysaccharides)
- Glucoamylase (also for digesting polysaccharides)
- Pectinase (also for digesting tough plant material)
These enzymes can support your gut in completely digesting a balanced diet. That means support for cellular health, cellular function and, therefore, better whole-body health.