Let’s make it clear that we are going to consider energy flow of a normal person eating normally, without thinking about achievements of yogis, saints and other phenomena. However, many things can be explained using the traditional approach. Here we can observe the following chain of events: food consumption – its digestion – use of produced energy.
The food consumption stage is clear. Then, we start digesting what we ate. The digestion stage is already more complex. Our efficiency varies quite a lot. It strongly depends on our health state, functioning of different organs, current metabolism intensity, as well as on whether we are used to the consumed food or not and whether our organism is ready for food digestion, among many other factors.
For example, a hungry person and a satisfied one receive very different amount of energy from eating the same food, because they digest it in different ways. One thing is when a person eats with appetite and eats moderately – everything he consumed will be digested perfectly well. The situation is very different when people eat for the sake of eating, eagerly stuffing themselves with food somebody put on their plates. If the organism is not ready for eating, it means there are no enzymes necessary for digestion. Then they are, of course, urgently synthesized, but when a person eats without any appetite, i.e. when the organism is not ready for food digestion, the synthesis of enzymes and secretion of gastric juices happen in a very slow way. Synthesis of enzymes takes a lot of energy. It is now known that a great part of our energy is spent for digestion, mainly for this kind of synthesis. This is a scientific fact.
Just think about it: most calories received from eating are spent to digest the next portion of food! By decreasing the energy spent for this purpose in different ways (controlling quality and quantity of food, time of eating, inflow of oxygen, chewing thoroughly etc.) you can decrease the volume of food you consume up to two times, which will undoubtedly benefit your health.
The quality of food depends both on the original product and on the way it was processed. It is clear that some tasty rice cooked in water will digest very well, while mutton, which is already hard for digestion, after being fried will become of little use for eating. Therefore, different products can have an equal caloric content, but differ a lot considering the energy they transfer to the organism.
The energy spent for digestion depends a lot on the type of food as well. Light products rich in carbohydrates require a minimum of energy, while some proteins that are hard for digestion require a lot of it. Also, the same type of food can behave differently depending on its quantity. One plate of oatmeal is good, but four plates of it will overload all the digestive organs and will not be digested normally.
Age, gender, ethnicity, temperament and habits are other factors that can influence digestion. Let’s take mutton as an example. Representatives of nationalities that eat it traditionally since childhood digest it much better than people of other nations. Every person has a unique set of digestive enzymes. It is partially defined by the genes, but mostly by the food a person is used to. Diseases also influence a lot. (It is clear that people with gastric secretion disorders or weak liver digest food much worse than healthy people).
As you can see, there are many factors and we have not considered all of them yet. Nevertheless, let’s answer the following question.
Text: from the book A.Eddar “Treatise of nutrition”. Interpreter: Liza Dukhova