If you think eating a balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients that your body requires then you need to consider the following.
What is the key to avoiding nutrient deficiencies?
Very few of us are consistently eating a balanced diet containing enough properly constituted, whole foods. The typical modern diet contains many highly processed, packaged foods with minimal nutritional value (and in many cases anti-nutritional value).
Most of our fruits and vegetables are lacking the essential minerals required for human health due to soil depletion (as discussed below), extensive storage time, and the process of gassing fruit and vegetables to artificially induce the ripening process.
Anytime you cook food you are reducing the vitamin content. Even exposure to sunlight and air reduces vitamin content. How much of the food that you consume on a daily basis is raw?
Another reason why you may not be getting the nutrients you require is the occurrence of malabsorbtion states. Malabsorbtion states result from our body’s inability to absorb and utilise vitamins and minerals contained in our food.
Malabsorbtion states can result from a number of things including the
- Helicobacter infection in the stomach, (the bacterial infection that causes stomach ulcers).
- Candida (Yeast infection), as a result of a bacterial imbalance in the gut due to the a lack of probiotic bacteria.
- Parasites acquired through the consumption of contaminated food and drink.
- The inadequate production of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) due to age degeneration, zinc deficiency, or the consumption of drugs such as Zantac and PPI e.g. Losec.
- Allergies to gluten, and lactose can result in a leaky gut wall, where food particles pass into the blood stream without being properly digested and ultilised.
- The consumption of certain food additives causes the body to excrete vitamins and minerals. 1
Tartrazine or E102, one of the more common food colouring agents, is a case in point. It has long been known to cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity in sensitive children, and Dr Neil Ward and his team from the University of Surrey wanted to know why. They gave two groups of children identical-looking and tasting drinks, except that one contained tartrazine. They measure the children’s mineral levels before and after they consumed the drink. Those who had the drink containing tartrazine became hyperactive and exhibited a decrease in their blood levels of zinc and an increase in the amount of zinc excreted in the urine. What the researchers had found was that tartrazine robbed the children of zinc, a deficiency of which is associated with increased risk of behavioral and immune system problems..2
Exposure to certain toxins requires higher intakes of vitamins and minerals (these are considered the building blocks and tools of the body for cellular repair and maintenance) so that the the body can effectively expel the toxins.
Take vitamin C, for example. How much does a smoker need to consume every day to have the same blood level of vitamin C as a non smoker, assuming they both start with the same dietary intake equivalent to the RDA level? The answer is in excess of 200mg, roughly quadruple the RDA, according to research by Schectman and colleagues the Medical College of Wisconsin. The same is true if you compare heavy drinkers with teetotalers. A heavy drinker needs to take in at least 500mg a day, six time the RDA to have the same vitamin C blood level as a non-drinker. 3
Exposure to heavy metals requires a higher intake of certain nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to enable the body to excrete the toxic metals from the system. For example all of us are commonly exposed to varying levels of Mercury from the following sources:
Certain “body talc’s and powders, contaminated seafood, cosmetics, dental amalgam (filings), fabric softeners, pesticides, fungicides, suppository preparations, photo engraving, and wood preservatives.” 4
Nutrients that assist the body in the removal of mercury include “vitamin C, B5, alginate, cysteine, gluthathione, lipoic acid, methionine, N-acetyle cysteine, pectin, selenium.”5 Supplements are an effective means of obtaining these nutrients.
The higher your level of exposure to toxins the more nutrients your body requires to cope with and effectively process them. For example a painter whose work regularly involves sanding, is likely to be exposed to high levels of lead contained in old paint. To reduce lead levels the worker could be advised to commence oral chelation therapy, (nutritional’s that contain a certain combination of vitamins that assist the body to remove lead).
Adequate levels of good bacteria in the gut are important to maintain a healthy immune system.
In ‘Organic and Natural Living’ newspaper (Issue One. Australia. 2003), the In Liven Your Health, article states that there are many things that kill Probiotic (Good) bacteria in the body. These include:
- Birth control pills
- Steroidal/hormonal drugs
- Carbonated drinks
- Man-made vitamins
- Synthetic ascorbic acid
A probiotic supplement can help improve and balance good bacteria in the gut.Click here to view a comparison chart of different probiotic supplements that you can take.
Australia has some of the world’s oldest soils. They lack organic matter and are often highly acidic. Excessive use of the land to grow crops and prolonged use of inorganic fertilisers can further acidify soils and degrade the land.
Mining, excessive farming and industrial activities often create soils that are barren, physically and chemically degraded and unable to support plant growth. Soil erosion,nutrient depletion, acidity and salinity can be the
Centuries ago when we didn’t have fertilizers, crops had to be frequently rotated to ensure that they would grow properly. When a patch of soil became deficient in nutrients the plants would not grow so the farmer would have to plant elsewhere. Today, through modern conventional farming techniques which require minimal crop rotation, plants can be made to yield large amounts using the bare essential nutrients for plants but lacking all the minerals required for human health. For example plants only require nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, to grow and bear fruit, consequently that’s typically what farmers fertilize with.
Australian Nutritionist Rob McIntyre recommends that we all take a mineral supplement that is organic, plant derived, ionically charged from photosynthesis and colloidal to compensate for our depleted soils.
Minerals that are absent from the soil cannot be synthesized by the plants this means they are missing from the food chain. Two examples are selenium and zinc.7
Extensive use of pesticide degrades a plant’s ability to take nutrients from the soil. For example copper, mercury, and cadmium in super phosphates compete with zinc and selenium uptake.8
Fruits and vegetables are picked early to prevent over ripening and spoilage. Unfortunately fruit and vegetables not left to ripen on the vine lack many phytochemicals. Produce is artificially ripened through the use of certain gases to allow control over the ripening time line.
Available research from over 200 studies of human populations from around the world has identified fresh (vine ripened) fruit and vegetables as the most beneficial sources of phytochemicals. Scientists have identified eight sugars found on human cell surface glycoforms that are involved in cellular recognition processes and are essential for healthy functioning. These are glucose, galactose, mannose, fructose, xylose, N-Acetylglucosamine, N-Acetyl- galactosamine, N-Acetyneuraminic acid (sialic acid).
Changes in food processing, modern agricultural, transportation, and storage practices have resulted in the absence of many of these essential sugars in our fruit and vegetables.
Oxidisation creates free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing an electron. They run rampant through the body looking for another electron. Sometimes they steal an electron from another molecule. This causes a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.
Sometimes free radicals are caused as a natural result of metabolism. Sometimes the body purposely creates them to neutralise bacteria and viruses.
Free radicals only become a problem if the body doesn’t have enough antioxidants. Antioxidants are stable molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without becoming unstable and thereby becoming a free radical themselves. The chain reaction is then stopped. Free radicals cause the body to age, free radical damage accumulates with age. So Antioxidants act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that can lead to cellular degeneration and disease.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidant supplements are also an effective means of ensuring we get adequate levels.
Australian Dietitian Carly Elias comments that “the use of an antioxidant supplement is well substantiated considering the growing number of chemicals humans are exposed to, the average Australian lifestyle and the possible reduction of antioxidants in our food supply due to green harvesting and gas ripening”.10
Evidence of this requirement has been highlighted by Dr Tania Ash.
Free radical production has been on the increase in the past 50 yrs due to our increasing environmental toxic load including Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMRs), pollution, pesticide exposure, chemicals in personal care products. The increase in free radical damage can be attributed to many things including the following:
- EMR increasing in our environments e.g. overhead power lines, household electrical appliances and PCs
- Infra-red radiation in remote controls, wireless technology
- Microwaves in microwave ovens and mobile phones
- Radio waves in cordless phones
- X Rays
- UV radiation on the increase with ozone layer depletion
- Heavy metals damage tissues directly by oxidation or indirectly by conversion to free radicals
- Cadmium in pesticides, batteries, cigarettes and added to peanuts
- Lead in petrol fumes/pollution and water supplies from petrol leakage from petrol stations and old lead pipes
- Mercury in some vaccinations, dental amalgam fillings, seafood and major source of out gassing of the earth’s crust (subtle symptoms of mercury load include fatigue, headaches, irritability, depression, immunosuppression, recurrent mouth ulcers, dental pulp sensitivity)
- Aluminium in some vaccinations, deodorants, aluminium cooking pots,
- Copper excess-contaminated tap water from copper piping, in anti
fungal sprays and increased absorption from false estrogens
- Arsenic- treated pine in playgrounds, herbicides, water
1 Ash, Tania, “Nutritional Medicine” Presentation, Aslan Team
Function, Melbourne, 13/12/2003.
2 Holford, Patrick, The
Optimum Nutrition Bible, London, Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd, 2002, p.
4 Osiecki, Henry, The
Nutrient Bible, Australia, Bio Concepts Publishing, 2002, p.185.
6 http://www.natsoc.org.au/html/papers/eckersley.pdf. “2F: Phytochemicals,
Glyconutrients and Health – Links between nutrition and health”, Eckersley,
7 Tash, Tania, “Nutritional Medicine” Presentation, Aslan Team
Function, Melbourne, 13/12/2003.
10 Elias, Carly, Healthy
Eating Presentation, Aslan Team Function, Melbourne, 28/03/2004.
11 Tash, Tania, “Nutritional Medicine” Presentation, Aslan Team
Function, Melbourne, 13/12/2003.