According to the WHO (World Health Organization), a healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It protects against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Our eating habits are often hard-wired reflex mechanisms that stem from many different origins including, personal and religious beliefs, food preferences, lifestyle, socioeconomic status and genetic factors.
General nutritional principles are important but it's not the end-all to finding the right diet for your individual body.
I have spoken much about personalized diets and will touch on it again in part 3, but for now, let's explore some general principles of nutrition.
𝗠𝗮𝗰𝗿𝗼 𝘃𝘀 𝗠𝗶𝗰𝗿𝗼-𝗡𝘂𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀
Generally speaking most diets are composed of three dietary components that provide calories known as 𝙢𝙖𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙪𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨.
Macronutrients are broken down into (𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙗𝙨, 𝙛𝙖𝙩𝙨, 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙩𝙚𝙞𝙣).
𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐬: Provides energy, supports digestive health & immune function. Fiber is considered a carb.
𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, grains, honey, and dairy products (e.g., milk, yogurt), and foods containing added sugar.
𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐬: Give the body energy, protects organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps the body absorb vital nutrients
𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬: meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐢𝐧: Are made up of amino acids and considered the building block of the body.
𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬: found in animal-based foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as well as many plant-based foods, such as beans, legumes, soy products (e.g., tofu, tempeh), nuts, and seeds.
𝗠𝗶𝗰𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀, are consumed in relatively small amounts and include (𝙫𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙨, 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙡𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙥𝙝𝙮𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙪𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨).
Theses essential vitamins and minerals work together with macronutrients to perform hundreds of roles in your body that are necessary to sustain life.
𝗩𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘀: There are 13 essential vitamins. They are broken down into 𝙬𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙛𝙖𝙩 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙗𝙡𝙚.
Not stored in the body. The nine water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and all the B vitamins.
For the most part any excess amounts of these leave the body through the urine.
They have to be consumed on a regular basis to prevent shortages or deficiencies in the body.
The exception to this is vitamin B12, which can be stored in the liver for many years.
Stored in the body's liver, fatty tissue, and muscles. There are four (A, D, E, and K).
These vitamins are absorbed more easily by the body in the presence of dietary fat.
Can accumulate in the body, so caution of dosage is advised.
𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹𝘀: Minerals are inorganic micronutrients - there are 15. Minerals can be classified as 𝙢𝙖𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙡𝙨 𝙤𝙧 𝙢𝙞𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙡𝙨.
Required in amounts greater than 100 mg per day and include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride.
Sodium, potassium, and chloride are also electrolytes.
Nutrients required in amounts less than 100 mg per day and include iron, copper, zinc, selenium, and iodine.
𝐏𝐡𝐲𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬: Natural compounds found in plants.
Contain antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals.
Each vibrant plant color is related to a range of benefits. Think eat the rainbow.
I know by working with clients that it's easy to get lost in the terminology related to nutrition and a healthy diet.
The key is recognizing we need a variety of foods in order to achieve the vital nutrients our body needs to thrive.
Most modern diets are typically calorie-dense but lack adequate micronutrients (𝙫𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙨, 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙡𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙥𝙝𝙮𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙪𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨).
One way I support my clients overall food intake is teaching them about nutrient density.
𝐍𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 is the amount of micronutrients relative to calories in a food or specific diet. (𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘣𝘪𝘰)
Start by replacing “𝙚𝙢𝙥𝙩𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨” found in highly processed foods with nutrient-dense whole foods.
Whole foods are central components of healthy diets and include 𝘧𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘴, 𝘷𝘦𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴, 𝘯𝘶𝘵𝘴, 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴, 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘴, 𝘭𝘦𝘨𝘶𝘮𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘪𝘯.
This approach will cover most all your nutritional needs (outside of specific genetic variations that may require more of one substrate than another.)
I would be doing this topic an injustice if I did not circle back to personalized therapeutic diets.
These are often temporary diet approaches in which the main goal is to support the body during transitional healing.
They can be extremely beneficial, but these diets often leave out portions of major food groups and should be structured along side a healthcare practitioner who is helping guide the process.
Some common examples are 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘪𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘦 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘰𝘤𝘰𝘭 (𝘈𝘐𝘗), 𝘒𝘦𝘵𝘰, 𝘎𝘭𝘶𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘍𝘳𝘦𝘦, 𝘍𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘦𝘤𝘵…
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝘁𝘁𝗼𝗺 𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲
Prioritizing nutrient-dense whole foods over highly processed foods, minimizing sugar, eating enough fiber, and preparing the majority of your meals at home are all effective strategies to improve your diet.
𝗩𝗶𝘀𝗶𝘁 𝗕𝗶𝗼 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘀
Nutrient Density Cheat Sheet
Eat the Rainbow Challenge Cheat Sheet
Test: Food Sensitivity ReBoot Program