Nutrients are essential for life.
The right combination of nutrients is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a magic pill.
Every aspect of your health depends upon nutrients, and the best way to get these nutrients is from the food that you eat. Each and every day, you have the power of choice. By providing your body with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, you take control of your own physical and mental health, and seize control of your long-term health destiny.
If you eat what most people are eating, you’ll face health challenges sooner or later.
The right amount and combination of nutrients is incredibly powerful, keeping your body strong from day to day and year to year. This increases your resistance to infections and diseases, while also increasing your ability to recover more easily from illness and injury.
And you’ll look, feel, and function better when consuming foods loaded with nutrients!
Each and every function of your body requires a whole host of nutrients to run properly. When these nutrients are lacking or missing, your bodily functions will be less than optimal and sometimes completely dysfunctional.
Nutrients are often broken down into 2 main categories, macro and micro. The macro nutrients are:
The micro nutrients are:
There are also phytochemicals, co-enzymes and a whole host of other co-factors that work with nutrients to maximize delivery, absorption and utilization of nutrients within your body.
It’s highly likely that there are nutrients and categories of essential components in food that we haven’t even come to discover or understand yet, as we only began to identify nutrients in the early 1900’s.
You need greater quantities of the macro nutrients (fats, carbohydrates & proteins) than micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.), but each category is imperative.
Even a small deficiency in vitamins and minerals can compromise the optimal performance of a whole host of functions in your body.
We tend to think that nutritional deficiencies only exist when food is scarce. But much of the food in our current system is lacking or devoid of the nutrients that were once found in those items. So you can have plenty to eat and still be nutrient deficient. There are many complex reasons why this is true.
You must first understand where nutrients come from. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats come from the different foods you eat. Many foods provide a combination of two or more of these macro nutrients.
• Meats, eggs, nuts and dairy products provide both protein and fats
• Vegetables and fruits are mainly carbohydrates, but some have proteins and fats in various amounts
• Grains and seeds may contain all three macro nutrients, especially if they are whole and unprocessed
The micro nutrient category of vitamins and minerals is more complex. These nutrients come from the soil. Plants grown in healthy soil take up a variety of nutrients from the soil and transform them into forms of nutrients that your body can easily absorb and utilize. Animals that eat plants grown on healthy, nutrient-dense soil create the same thing: nutrient-dense foods perfectly suited for human needs.
If you tried to eat the soil, the nutrients would not be in a form that your body can use.
Our modern commercial, large-scale farming techniques do not cultivate soil health and nutrient diversity. Some of the offenders are:
• Growing the same crops on the same plots of land year after year
• Applying synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides on those crops
• Failing to replenish the soil with nutrients via crop rotation, cover crops and other organic matter
Fewer nutrients in the soil means less nutrients for the plants grown and the animals raised there. And that translates into fewer nutrients in our food supply.
Processing or shipping further depletes nutrients. Many nutrients are destroyed during processing. And the amount of nutrients declines over time, so that by the time most food becomes available to the average consumer, it is often severely lacking in overall nutritional value. Studies show that our current food supply has significantly less nutrients than the same crops grown years ago.
Commercial agricultural feed operations, or CAFO’s, are another significant contributor to the decrease of nutrients in our food supply. Cows, chickens and pigs are fed things they shouldn’t eat, which translates to inferior nutrition in the animal products we consume. On the flip side, animals that are raised properly provide nutrient-dense options highly suitable for human consumption.
To further complicate matters, the nutritional needs of our bodies have increased over the years. Pollutants in our environment and chronic stressors increase our need for nutrients, while fewer nutrients are available to us now, even when we are choosing healthy foods.
What can you do? Choosing as much organic food as possible is a good place to start. Studies show that organically grown and raised foods contain greater quantities of nutrients than the same conventionally grown options. And there are many risky ingredients that are not allowed in certified organic products. So, you get less of what you don’t need and more of what you do need.