Minerals for Health’s Sake!

Did you know 1/3 of women in the US will be diagnosed with osteoporosis?

Did you know current trends indicate that 100% of Americans will have joint degeneration by age 40?

Minerals compose only 4% of our body, but they are essential for our physical and mental health. As we saw in Micronutrients for Health’s Sake!, micronutrient deficiency is becoming a major underlying driver of chronic disease.

We need minerals to:

  • Regulate tissue growth
  • Contracting and relaxing muscles
  • Facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes
  • Maintain proper nerve conduction
  • Maintain the pH balance in the body
  • Provide structural and functional support
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Elson M Haas, MD” source_title=”Staying Healthy with Nutrition” full_quote=”The proper way to take in minerals is through mineral-rich water; through nutrient-dense foods and beverages, unrefined sea salt and mineral-rich bone broths in which all of the macrominerals are available in ready-to-sue form as a true electrolyte solution” short_quote=”The proper way to take in minerals is through mineral-rich water; through nutrient-dense foods and beverages”]

The body is an amazing orchestra, because so very many players and processes occur for the absorption and use of these essential minerals. Let’s take calcium as an example; it is the most abundant mineral in the body. Most calcium is stored in our bones and teeth. Did you know calcium is also vital to heart and muscle function nerve conductivity and to initiate the clotting process?

For our body to be able to absorb and use calcium properly, we need adequate:

  • hydration (water and electrolytes)
  • hormonal function
  • vitamins
  • fatty acids
  • proper digestion
  • balance with other macrominerals  and  trace minerals like zinc and copper
  • pH blood balance – our blood cannot be too acidic (this pulls calcium from our tissues) nor too alkaline (calcium will separate and deposit in inappropriate tissues)

Food sources of calcium include:

  • Leafy greens: collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, dandelion greens
  • Yeast
  • Lamb
  • Sardines
  • Rhubarb
  • Oatmeal

Let’s take another example. Why do we need zinc? It is:

  • Essential for the production of stomach acid vital to digestion
  • Critical for cell growth
  • Essential for skin and bone integrity
  • Required for optimal function of the immune system

Zinc is depleted by :

  • Stress
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Coffee and caffeinated beverages
  • Alcohol

Food sources for zinc

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Swiss chard
  • Lima beans
  • Potato
  • Oats

So what minerals are essential for health? (Macrominerals = needed in larger amounts; Microminerals = required only in minute amounts)

Macrominerals Microminerals
Phosphorous Iron                               Silicon
Potassium Boron                            Vanadium
Magnesium Chromium                     Zinc
Sulfur Iodine                            Lithium
Sodium Manganese                   Germanium
Chloride Molybdenum                Rubidium

What to Do?

  • #EatRealFood – Minerals are ingested in the foods we eat.
  • Eat a variety of foods with lots of organic, local produce and grains to obtain the full spectrum of essential minerals
  • Nourish the soil to get these basic elements (minerals) into and then back from the earth. Vegetables and fruits grown in rich, well-nourished soils have more essential minerals
  • Avoid refined and processed foods that have poor mineral content
  • Avoid high-sugar foods, caffeine and alcohol which can flush or deplete body minerals

MICROnutrients for Health Sake!

Every cell, tissue, organ and system in the body needs specific amounts of specific nutrients to function efficiently and effectively –not just the energy supplied by macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs).  Micronutrients are necessary not only to form the components of our bodies, but also in the millions of chemical reactions that occur in our bodies at every moment. They provide the raw materials our bodies need for healing, detoxifying, and rebuilding itself.

Micronutrients are:

  1. Vitamins (from Latin vita meaning “essence of life” ): essential organic molecules needed in small amounts for normal function, growth and maintenance of body tissues. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K and E) dissolve in fats and oils. Water-soluble (B vitamins and C) dissolve in water. This affects the way in which vitamins are absorbed and used in the body.
  2. Phytochemicals: naturally occurring chemical compounds in plants. These are vital for optimal health and disease prevention. There are thousands of phytochemicals. The more we get in our diet, the lower our risk of chronic disease.
  3. Minerals: chemical elements such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron that play vital roles including:
  • Regulate tissue growth
  • Facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes
  • Maintain proper nerve conduction
  • Provide structural (such as calcium for bones) and functional support
  • Maintain the pH balance in the body
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Sarah Ballantyne, PhD” source_title=”Paleo Principles” full_quote=”Micronutrient deficiency is increasingly showing up as a major underlying driver of chronic disease. The Standard American Diet is energy-rich, but it is also nutrient poor: the types of foods that many people eat each day are high in added sugars, refined grains, and industrially processed foods but devoid of the vitamins and minerals (and other health-promoting compounds) found in whole foods. The result is a high prevalence of nutrient deficiency.” short_quote=”Micronutrient deficiency is increasingly showing up as a major underlying driver of chronic disease.”]

Micronutrient deficiencies are linked to a spectrum of problems such as:

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Greater susceptibility to infection (zinc deficiency leads to impaired immune function)
  • Thyroid disorders ( iodine deficiency)
  • Muscle weakness, bone loss (vitamin D deficiency)
  • Vision problems (vitamin A deficiency leads to poor retina health)

What To Do?

  • Eat real food
  • Replace grains with vegetables (sweet potatoes, broccoli etc.). They contain up to 10x more vitamins and minerals than grains, and have high amounts of health-promoting phytochemicals. Every time vegetables take the place of grains in your diet you win.
  • Add a handful of nuts per day: in granola, oatmeal, salad, grains, in pesto, nut butters on apple or veggie crudites
  • Add herbs. Cilantro. Parsley. Mint. Rosemary. Basil…and more. The exceptional flavors, textures and shapes can make the simplest salad or sandwich a gourmet delight. They are rich in micronutrients.  The flavor compounds in herbs are also powerful antioxidants. Even when used as a garnish, herbs can make an irreplaceable contribution to a dish: a whole sprig or chopped leaves arranged on an entrée or as an accent on a plate can enhance our appetite and create a harmonious mood
  • Add spices. They are concentrated sources of micronutrients; the list of phytochemicals in spices in virtually endless
  • Eat the rainbow in vegetables and fruits. The pigments that give plants their colors are phytochemicals. Eating many different colored vegetables and fruits is an easy way to get the full complement of nutrients plant foods provide. Eating two or three servings daily from each group = a superior micronutrient intake. Think of different color families of vegetables and fruits as their own individual food groups. Aim for 2 – 3 or each color family every meal, for a minimum of 8 – 10 servings daily. An easy way to do this is to have 2 servings at breakfast and 3 servings each at lunch and dinner.
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Elson M Haas, MD” source_title=”Staying Healthy with Nutrition” full_quote=”Studies show that fruit and vegetables intake correlates much more strongly with bone health than dairy intake – yes, to prevent osteoporosis and look after your bones, eat your veggies! Not only do they contain substantial  amounts of calcium, but there is scientific evidence that we actually absorb more calcium from cruciferous vegetables (like kale) than we do from dairy.” short_quote=”Studies show that fruit and vegetables intake correlates much more strongly with bone health than dairy “]

Simply incorporating a different vegetable into a meal can be a great start to upping your nutrient game.

The goal is progress, not perfection. The imperfect plan you stick to is better than the perfect plan you quit. 😁

Back to Basics: The First Human Diet

New year resolutions are underway, including a renewed commitment to healthy eating. How to cut through all the contradictory diets, fake news, pseudo facts and know what to eat?

By going back basics. Back to the first foods humans relied on for tens of thousands of years. Food from the earth. This encompassed an enormous variety of plants and animals. Living in diverse communities and climates across the world, humans saw a wide range of roots, leaves, seeds, fruit, animals and obtained what they could from the earth around them.
There was no single diet. Some populations ate a lot of fat (think Inuit) and little carbohydrates; others ate the exact opposite. Yet across different diets (based on what was available from the environment) – there were common traits:
• Balanced macronutrients: protein, fat and carbs
• Micronutrient density. Miconutrients include vitamins, minerals, phytochemicasl (natural chemical compounds in plants).
• Diverse omnivorism; some did rely primarily on plant foods, but no early human diets were completely vegan

The first human diet was nutrient-dense. Nutrient-density is the concentration of nutrients (vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, essential fatty acids and essential amino acids) per calorie of food. Nutrient-dense foods supply a wide range of micronutrients relative to the calories they contain.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Sarah Ballantyne, PhD” source_title=”Paleo Principles” full_quote=”Nutrients are the molecular building blocks of our bodies. Not only are we made up of these raw materials, but our cells also use nutrients when they perform their various functions. This is why we continually need to consume enough nutrients for our cells to stay healthy and keep doing their jobs efficiently. ” short_quote=”Nutrients are the molecular building blocks of our bodies.”]

Today our genes remain pretty much the same, and we have the same nutritional needs as our early ancestors – preceding the Agricultural Revolution in the 17th century. Why does this matter? Because in terms of our biological history, the reliance on farmed food crops and domesticated animals is recent. Humans started consuming increasing amounts of grain (mostly wheat) only a couple hundred years ago. Our bodies are not designed to consume refined wheat.

And in the last one-hundred years or so, refined sugar, processed foods and chemical additives came in rapid succession, completely altering the composition of food that humans consume. In parallel, we (humans) have gotten more and more disconnected from our food and where it comes from. We have also disconnected from our body’s innate wisdom that guides us towards optimal health. Increasingly micronutrient deficiency is showing up as a major underlying driver of chronic diseases.

These disconnects have led to food choices that contribute to the development of chronic diseases: cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, even Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.

Most of the US population consumes primarily processed foods which:
•  are designed to be hyper-palatable triggering pleasure points in our brain and causing us to crave more
•  interfere with normal hormonal cues due to added chemical components
•  bypass our natural hunger regulations system;
•  lack nutrients, so we continue to eat in search of more nutrients
•  lead to overconsumption of calories but under-consumption of nutrients

The Standard American Diet is energy-rich (lots of calories) but nutrient-poor: foods high in added sugars, refined grains and industrially processed oils, but devoid of the vitamins, minerals (and other health-promoting compounds) found in whole foods. The more processed or refined a food is, the more nutrients are stripped out. The result is nutrient deficiency.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Sarah Ballantyne, PhD” source_title=”Paleo Principles” full_quote=”Large percentage of Americans are falling short on thirteen essential vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient deficiencies are so common that some researchers speculate that nearly all of us are deficient in at least one vital nutrient. ” short_quote=”Large percentage of Americans are falling short on thirteen essential vitamins and minerals.”]

What to Do?
Eat foods that come from nature the way nature intended. Retrain our palates to enjoy simple, natural foods to reconnect to our body’s innate wisdom
•  Eliminate, or at least minimize, processed food  even those labeled “natural” and “organic”. Even if made with organic ingredients, (think breakfast cereals) processed foods are still processed
•  Eat a wide variety of plants and sustainably-raised animals (think of meat as condiment rather than the “star” of the plate).
•  Celebrate nature with local vegetables and fruits of the season
•  Align with personal genetic adaptations from the part of the world we individually are descended from -incorporating traditional foods from our cultural backgrounds
•  Make family meals a regular occurrence and a sacred time, turning off devices and connecting with those around the table
•  Center holiday feasts and gatherings with family and friends around real food rather than sugary treats and flour

For more empowerment:
January is for Detoxifying

Eat Local Foods

9 Steps to Perfect Health – Eat Real Food: Chris Kresser