Sometimes it seems like the same topics just keep coming up. And one that remains a constant source of debate among the masses is whether or not we can get everything we need from our food. Not just to survive, but to thrive. As with most things involving our health, there is never really one hard and fast rule for everyone. That being said, there are truths and common-sense strategies beneficial and even necessary to achieve and maintain optimal health.
Some say we can get everything our bodies need to stay healthy from food. Period. And while I'm inclined to believe that our amazingly abundant world does provide a plethora of nutrient dense foods, it's questionable as to whether we are taking full advantage of this goodness 100 percent of the time. Suffice it to say nobody is perfect. And for those who do make an above-average effort to stick to their guns and manage to satisfy their daily macro (protein, fat, carbohydrates), micro (vitamins, minerals) and phytonutrients (antioxidants), there's still the quality of the food, eating out, going on vacation, and other meals beyond our control to consider. So can we get all we need from our food? For the most part, yes. Are we? No. This becomes even more challenging when food sensitivities, allergies and/or dietary restrictions come into play.
For some, restrictions are a choice such as becoming vegetarian or vegan. For others, it becomes a necessity. As food, or rather “food-like” substances continue to multiply at rates much more quickly than our bodies can adapt and metabolize properly, food sensitivities develop, allergies take hold and restrictions must then be put into place. What is sometimes missed in this process, especially when these restrictions involve the elimination of an entire food group, is that when we take something out of our diet that was providing some nutritional value, we need to find a way to replace it to avoid creating a deficiency.
This topic of deficiencies hits very close to home as my eldest daughter chooses to eat pescatarian, a vegetarian who will eat fish and seafood, while my youngest daughter has chosen the vegan lifestyle. As both have had some incidents of low iron in the past, it's crucial when neither is eating meat to ensure they are getting enough to ensure iron stores remain at healthy levels. B vitamins, specifically B12, is something not often thought about but very necessary to consider as it is found naturally only in animal proteins. As vitamin B12 is key in the production of red blood cells, affects mood, memory, energy levels, heart, skin, hair, digestion, plays role in adrenal fatigue, hormone balance and depression, supplementing when animal products are eliminated is a must to maintain good health.
We live in a busy world where food is often not thought a lot about, until it somehow becomes a necessity. Those who need to lose weight start thinking about how they can make healthier choices. When allergies all of a sudden come to the forefront, we start being more discerning in quality and begin reading labels. When a different eating style is chosen, we make sure to avoid the forbidden foods. I invite everyone to begin thinking about food proactively rather than reactively. If you've gotten into a rut of ordering out dinner and not having those fresh veggies and salad with your meal every night, you're consuming fewer micro and phytonutrients. Going on fad diets which restrict calories and/or eliminate carbohydrates and/or fat creates imbalance in blood sugar as well as hormones as daily macro nutrients are not being met.
The bottom line for anyone wanting to achieve, maintain or even increase their level of health, is that all nutrient levels must be met. You wouldn't expect your car to continue to run optimally without ever checking the oil, right? Running your car low on oil is damaging to the internal engine parts, just like running your body low on nutrients is damaging to our internal parts. Unlike our vehicles, we only have one body with no options for part replacements or trade ins. Take a few extra minutes and think about how you're fuelling your body. Are you putting in what your body needs everyday? Or are you running on fumes, trying to get maximum performance from minimum maintenance? The absence of symptoms does not guarantee the absence of disease. So be proactive, give your body what it needs before it becomes an issue and you'll be enjoying the health you've created rather than suffering with it.
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.