The miraculous factory: You

As a hobby, Eric Holubow seeks out abandoned architectural spaces — like old factories, churches, theatres, and prisons. The spaces are usually in some state of decay, and Eric photographs them as an art project, but with a journalistic feel.

Here is one example, from the original article:

Designed in an inspiring Neo-classical style… the massive Richmond Power Station in northeastern Philadelphia was built in 1925…. The plant’s Turbine Hall, one of the biggest open rooms ever designed, once housed the world’s largest Westinghouse turbo-generators, which provided power to the city’s bustling industrial and residential sectors. Closed since 1985, the plant has been used as a set in a number of Hollywood feature films. Ironically, crews that use the structure have to provide their own power generators, as the dormant plant is… no longer connected to the region’s electrical grid.

factory/power plant - photo by eric holubow

I share his fascination for things crumbling, rusty, and history-laden — but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about you.

I started with that image because I think it’s incredibly helpful to realize that your body is like a factory, constantly at work 24/7 — but instead of building product or creating power for the surrounding city, it’s constantly rebuilding itself, and providing power for you.

With the possible exception of some parts of the brain, all of the cells and biochemicals in your body are constantly being torn down and replaced. And you can think of this very much like a physical building: if the floors and doors and machinery and light switches and so on are constantly in use, they’re going to get worn out and need replacing. Likewise, your body is constantly in the process of breaking down old parts and building up new ones. Consider these facts, from a 2005 article in The New York Times:

Each kind of tissue has its own turnover time, depending in part on the workload endured by its cells. The cells lining the stomach… last only five days. The red blood cells, bruised and battered after traveling nearly 1,000 miles through… the body’s circulatory system, last only 120 days or so….

…An adult human liver probably has a turnover time of 300 to 500 days, says Markus Grompe, an expert on the liver’s stem cells at the Oregon Health & Science University.

…The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so in adults, as twin construction crews of bone-dissolving and bone-rebuilding cells combine to remodel it.

So what are the building materials used to make new cells? They all come from one place: the food you eat. (Oh, and sunlight, for Vitamin D.)

Here are just a few basics about how food becomes you. Food that has been broken down into its basic building blocks in your digestive system is then:

  • Used to create new or repair damaged bones, hair, hormones, muscle, cartilage, neurotransmitters, and other chemicals and tissues.
  • Used for roles in blood coagulation, brain development, inflammation response, fat burning, the immune system, the absorption of vitamins, and more
  • Used for immediate energy, or stored for future energy needs.

Back to our factory analogy… It’s like the new parts which are needed to rebuild the worn-out machines and structures and so forth are brought into the factory mailroom in boxes containing various parts. Then the workers have to unpack the boxes and send the parts to the places where they’re needed.

The food you eat is the new parts, the mailroom is your mouth, and your digestive system is the crew that breaks things down and get them where they need to be.

I’m sure you’ve heard “you are what you eat.” I don’t know about you, but I for a long time, I thought this meant that what you eat strongly affects your health. But it is literally true: you ARE what you eat; what you eat becomes you — becomes your body.

Your body, with all its organs and systems and processes, is an incredibly complex and amazing thing — so complex that after hundreds of years of intense study, man is still learning new things every day.

Here’s a crucial thing I want you to understand — it’s really the basis for everything I believe about diet and nutrition: your body and the food that occurs naturally on this planet were designed to work together for your best health. (I personally believe they were designed by a loving, creative God, but if you want to believe it was evolution or the Universe, feel free. Evangelism is not the point of this post.)

But the second half of what forms the basis of my beliefs about nutrition is this: When man starts messing around with nature — especially on a molecular level — he often messes things up.

Need examples? Think above-ground nuclear testing. Think DDT, and trans fats, and hormone replacement therapy.

I’m not saying that everything man-made is bad. (And I’m definitely NOT saying that all medications are bad!) I’m just saying that if you put all foods on a spectrum from completely made by God/nature to completely made by man, the items on the God/nature end of the spectrum are generally going to be safe, but the chance of something harmful happening increases the further away from that your food gets.

Now I want to pull this together with the earlier points that our body is like a self-building factory, and food is the building material.

If the factory is getting in cheap plastic parts to replace the old parts that were made of steel, can you see how things might start to fall apart?

If you’re not supplying your “factory” with the right materials, what might that be doing to your health?

cheeto belly

What does that look like in real life? It might look like constant fatigue — no energy! (Do you feel like the abandoned power plant?) It might look like headaches, or body aches, or insomnia. It might look like arthritis, or edema, or catching every bug that goes around.


What if, just by changing the types of food you eat

— still delicious, satisfying foods —

you could make significant changes in

your energy, your aches, your focus?



Is that enough motivation for you to make some changes?

I know, I know… If you’re used to relying on fast food, convenience food, and pre-prepared food, it can be incredibly daunting to think about making the switch to nature-made food. But you don’t have to change everything overnight. Pick two or three things that sound doable to you, and start there.

Here are a few things you could choose from for an easy start:

Replace margarine with butter.

Replace corn, canola, and soybean oil with olive oil and coconut oil. (The former use chemicals and trans-fat-forming heat to extract the oils; olive and coconut oil are simply pressed.)

Set aside time to cook. It doesn’t have to be a two-hour ordeal on the weekend! If you work outside of home, try setting aside 30 to 45 minutes after you’ve eaten that night’s dinner, and relaxed for a bit, to do as much food prep for tomorrow as you can. A leisurely half-hour in the kitchen on Monday night makes a 15-minute dinner on Tuesday night totally doable!

Commit to avoiding artificial sweeteners (at least on an every-day basis) and corn syrup in any form, high-fructose or not. Replace them when possible with things like honey, maple syrup, and dates. (You can still enjoy sweets! Check out my cookbook: Guilt-Free Treats: Refined-sugar-free, grain-free, gluten-free, TASTY desserts!)

Replace some of your bread and pasta with vegetables. Use butter lettuce or romaine leaves for bread or wraps, use crepes for tortillas, and zoodles for pasta. Zoodles are noodles made by spiral-cutting zucchini. I like this tool.*

Want to learn more? Here are some helpful links and ideas:

What’s your biggest switching-to-real-food challenge? What have you tried and liked?

*Note: this page contains links to my Amazon store. If you buy there, I get a smidgen of the price, without affecting your total at all!


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