Nutrition 101 – Part 2
Spring! It’s only a few days away and with it comes the birth of a new growing season for Nature. This growth of nature offers us the vital nutrients we need for survival. In last month’s RealResults Nutrition 101 – Part 1(click here to read) we discussed the macro-nutrients, water, carbohydrates (carbs), proteins and fats and the role they play in our health. We discussed why it is also important to consume natural, healthy unrefined ‘foods’ to acquire these macro-nutrients properly. Let’s now turn our attention to the micro-nutrients; Vitamins and Minerals. As macro-nutrients are essential to us in larger amounts the micro-nutrients are essential in small amounts.
Needed in small amounts, vitamins must be consumed to reap their benefits. Preferably obtained through the plant and/or animal foods we eat. The exception would be of some B vitamins that can be manufactured by the ‘good’ types of intestinal bacteria you should posses. (Do you posses ‘good’ intestinal bacteria? FYI: Antibiotics kill beneficial intestinal bacteria. A refined diet encourages the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria and with that comes a host of uncomfortable symptoms.) The Macro-nutrients provide energy to our body system thus they contain calories. Micro-nutrients provide no energy thus contain no calories. Vitamins role is as that of needed ‘helpers’ to the macro-nutrients or rather assistants, ‘co-enzymes’, to metabolism in the body functions of growth, vitality, health, digestion, elimination and disease prevention. So macro-nutrients are of no use unless we have the necessary micro-nutrients available to assist in the macro-nutrient use.
This is critical in understanding why a refined diet is not healthy! Refining takes out the micro-nutrients (and fiber, a macro-nutrient). If you are eating just sugar what is going to help utilize the energy in sugar? The sugar will most probably get stored as your desire to eat more is peaked. Our bodies are smart. The body knows eating will deliver nutrients and will compel you to eat until the desired nutrients are delivered. This cycle, in it’s extreme, sounds to me like obesity.
Vitamins can be either fat soluble or water soluble, able to be stored or not. Water soluble vitamins like B and C must be continually supplied through diet as they are not stored in the body. When these vitamins are adequately available to the body thought diet anything not needed is flushed out in urine. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K are found in the lipid (fat) part of the food source. When excess fat-soluble vitamins are consumed they are stored in the liver to be used when needed. It’s important to not over load on your intake of the fat soluble vitamins since toxicity can occur.
Here again it is important to eat a large variety of whole foods to get the necessary vitamins. Deficiencies can cause serious health problems. Have you heard of rickets, bierbier, pellagra, spinal bifida, scurvy? All are vitamin deficiency diseases the medical community recognizes. Scurvy is a Vit C deficiency ‘disease’ that was described by Hippocrates (c. 460 BC–c. 380 BC) and known in many native cultures since prehistory as a dietary issue. Although many notables presented ideas of dietary deficiency and offered solutions to cure, these ideas and treatments weren’t adopted until 1938 when the isolation of vitamin C and direct evidence of its link was presented and accepted by the medical community. Could there be other ‘diseases’ that are really just nutritional deficiencies that today’s population is suffering from? I think so! Why wait for a study? Choose to eat a diet loaded with fresh produce. Remember, veggies and fruit make us cute!
Supplements are available but getting most of your vitamins from food sources is best. Rely on food. Real food has element science hasn’t yet discovered. Why would you limit yourself to only the vitamins that manufactures know about? (Crazy but I just saw a commercial for a child’s gummy vitamin that advertises having 4 vitamins. Do you think 4 is enough?) Think of quality supplements as your daily backup. When choosing a vitamin supplements be cautious as many can be made out of synthetic elements. I always think the real thing is better. Don’t you?
Minerals are also a micro-nutrient, necessary in small quantities. Again, we obtained minerals from the food we eat via soil. Minerals are made from the earth. Minerals are the earth. They enter the soil via rain water running over rocks. Different areas have different minerals in the soil based on the makeup of the area’s rocks. The minerals are then absorbed and used by plants growing in the soil. If a mineral is not present in the soil it will not be in the plant and not available to us. Our bodies do not manufacture minerals and so must be consumed through food or supplements. Deficiencies of minerals are more common than from vitamins. Crazy but true, we owe our health to dirt!
Dirt is important and you do need to be concerned with farming practices. You can see why it’s important to have rich well nourished soil vs dead soil from overuse, unbalanced chemical fertilization and pesticide application. Organic farmers recognize and respect the importance of healthy soil. They use practices that manage and nourish the soil and they are diligent in crop rotation which provides the best tasting and most wholesome crops. For that reason, I would suggest purchasing organic fruits, veggies and whole grains whenever possible. Yes, organic can be pricier but it’s worth the health benefits! To keep cost lower consider purchasing in season produce. You might even enjoy joining an organic CSA. A CSA, community supported agriculture, is a great way to enjoy in season freshly picked fruits and veggies from a local farm. Joining a CSA is sharing a stake in the farmer’s crops. It’s a great way to know your farmer! Produce is always delivered freshly harvested usually on a weekly basis. More and more CSA’s are popping up around the country. There are quite a few in the Chicago area. My family has enjoyed the Angelic Organics (Caledonia, IL) CSA program for almost 20 years. (www.angelicorganics.com)
As you see from the macro and micro nutrients Nature has laid everything out nicely for us. Our factory farming, refining and manufacturing processes have thrown a bit of a wrench into our food choices as has the idea that science is smarter than nature. Our sedentary lives haven’t discouraged our love of eating either so we tend to eat more calories than we need and unfortunately those calories are usually void of nutrients! Look around. Notice what you see. As I look around noticing people that eat mostly manufactured food, little fruit and vegetables and food that cause allergies/sensitivities (read my RealResults “Healthy Diet” blog here). I see illness, disease and obesity. Deficiency diseases and allergies and food sensitivities! I say, “I want food the way Nature has created it. I want the food that does good for MY body.” Science only knows what it knows of nutrition, food and healthy. There is more to learn. So what are you going to do?
Be Healthy…….Be Natural……..Be Tempted by good stuff!
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Recommended resource: The Doctor’s Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, Mary Dan Eades, M.D., Dell Publishing.
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