Journal of Medical Sciences

Food, Energy and Exercise


Over the past 50,000 years, man has learned to survive not by continuing to modify his body but by using his greatest asset of all – his large and complex brain – to alter his environment.

Society is rapidly changing but the most fundamental needs of the body have not changed and in particular the process of evolution did not intend our bodies to be overnourished, mentally stressed or physically underworked.

Most people are not aware of a new kind of malnutrition – eating to excess. Calorie counting has become an obsession with many, yet few people could say exactly what it is they are counting.

Although the rate at which we burn fuel can vary enormously – we do not stop burning it up. Even when resting in a warm room we spend about a calorie a minute. This basic metabolic rate accounts for about two-thirds of the energy we spend each day. Activity – work, play, leisure – accounts for the remainder.

Therefore it is practically impossible to use up large amounts of stored food just by exercising more. You cannot lose weight quickly and safely. The chances are that you became overweight quite slowly – perhaps over the course of years. The increase on a daily basis may have been minute, but even 50 grams a week will add up.

This can be lost again quite painlessly on a long-term basis by a small alteration in the balance between your intake and energy expenditure.

Chemical energy is produced by chemical changes. Released slowly through food – it powers the human body. Being physically fit can make you feel better emotionally and help cope with the stress of modern life.

Emotional energy is where high spirits start. The impulse that makes a man vault a gate when he could have climbed over it – or opened it – is the mind’s response to a fit body. Without a fit body you won’t feel like jumping anything.

What foods should we eat? Choose wisely from the basic 5 food groups – a guide is available at www.health.gov.au.

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