How can we get enough nutrients to keep us healthy
Nutrition is a huge part of health and wellbeing, because getting enough proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients helps to fight off illness and keep your body strong. But, in today’s modern world, this kind of nutrition is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
A 2012 study by Popkin et al shows that our diets have changed significantly over the last few decades. With modern diets too often dominated by processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugar, we’ve seen sharp global spikes in statistics relating to lifestyle illnesses like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Terrifyingly, even if your diet does contain fresh vegetables, they’re probably not providing the same nutritional clout as 50 years ago.
According to Scheer and Moss of Scientific American, the soil depletion that is caused by intensive agricultural methods means that the nutritional value of our fresh fruits and vegetables is decreasing too.
Ray, of the New York Times ‘Science Q&A’ column, says that this nutritional decline is caused by more than just soil depletion. It can also be attributed to changes in farming methods, processing, preparation, pesticides, chemical fertilisers, and the preference for high-yielding crops – which is associated with lower nutritional density.
How can we get enough nutrients to keep us healthy? Ray explains that the best approach is to eat “more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and beans, and less refined sugars, separated fats and oils and white flour and rice, which… have all suffered losses much greater than the potential losses for garden crops.”
Additionally, you can take nutritional supplements like vitamins and minerals. While they’ll never replace a healthy diet, many experts believe that supplements can help to bridge the gap between the nutrients you get from your food and what your body needs.
These are some of the common supplements:
According to MedilinePlus, there are 13 essential vitamins that we need for healthy cell function and development, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, multiple B vitamins, and folate (folic acid). According to Whitaker, a daily multivitamin can support your health in many ways, including helping you to:
Manage your stress
Improve your skin
Boost your mood
Detoxify the body
Boost energy levels
Support healthy ageing
Maintain muscle strength
Correct nutritional deficiencies
Omega fish oils
WebMD explains that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are especially important for preventing and managing heart disease. Studies have also found that omega-3 helps to:
Lower blood pressure
Reduce abnormal heart rhythms
Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
Reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease
According to Brown (2016), dietician and writer for Healthline.com, probiotics are the bacterial micro-organisms that live in your gut. When this stomach flora is out of balance, supplementing with a probiotic can help to:
Lose weight and belly fat
Alleviate digestive issues
Boost your immune system
Improve several mental health issues
Reduce the severity of some allergies
Mohr, a nutrition consultant and author, says that less than 6% of men and 9% of women between the ages of five and 34 consume the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Leafy greens form an especially potent part of that fruit and vegetable count when it comes to nutrition. According to Alam, they may even prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. If you don’t get enough leafy greens in your diet (like in salads or smoothies), taking a powdered or capsuled supplement can help.
EnCognitive.com author Nancy Kalish says there are many powerful herbal and natural supplements available too, like:
Turmeric, for inflammation
St John’s Wort, for depression
Cinnamon, for blood sugar control and cholesterol
Garlic, for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention