Three reasons why getting adequate nutrition is hard
I’m guessing that you’re here reading this article because you want to be healthy. You’re like most of us – struggling to understand what’s important about nutrition for ourselves and our families, trying to do the right thing, and feeling like whatever you do, someone has a reason why it’s the absolute worst choice (and of course, you don’t discover that reason until after you’ve spent $50 on a magical supplement).
Soil depletion and lack of diversity
If you’re concerned about nutrition, I know that you choose your foods wisely. You eat whole foods as much as possible, and you avoid ‘junk’ food. However, that’s not enough. In industrial agriculture, farmers have selected foods that package well, last longer, and are more resistant to pests and disease. This makes it easy on the farmer, but doesn’t always have the highest levels of nutrients. These foods are grown in soil that’s been depleted of key minerals and plant nutrients with decades of single-crop farming. They use chemical fertilizers to replace macronutrients of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, but don’t spend too much time worried about the micronutrients and soil microbes. This results in plants that grow quickly, have abundant showy fruits, but lack key nutrition. Here’s some research on this topic you might enjoy reading.
So even if you’re doing it all right, your food is working against you.
Nutrient decline during packaging and shipping
We live in an amazing time. We have an enormous variety of foods available at our nearby grocery store. We have seasonal foods available year round. We have global foods available locally, and we have pre-made foods that are ready to heat and serve. While this is wonderful, and has introduced us to ways of eating previously unknown, it has a downside. Nutrient content declines with handling, storage, and processing. The nutrient levels in fresh food start to decline the moment it’s harvested. The longer it takes for food to get to you, the less nutritious it is. This is a key reason why supporting local farmers is a great way to get more nutrients from your food. Also, small, local farms are more concerned with good soil health to be able to continue to grow abundant, healthy crops. In this way, you get compounded nutrient benefit.
You can’t always absorb what you eat
Another reason we don’t get enough nutrients is because of the way our bodies digest food. Modern food has a lot of additives, pesticides, and other toxins that our body has to dispose of while it’s trying to get as many nutrients as it can. This distraction means that fewer nutrients are actually processed into a usable form. Grains, beans, and dairy can create inflammation in the gut, which further limits the amount of nutrient absorption. Eating more carbohydrates requires high levels of B-vitamins, which depletes our reserves and restricts our ability to produce energy. Then, there’s the gut microbes. These little guys are essential for our nutrient production. They take indigestible fiber and convert it into essential fatty acids and other nutrients that our body doesn’t make on its own. If your gut microbes are out of balance, you’re probably missing out on some key nutrients and feeling bloated and gassy to boot.
There’s many more reasons why you’re not getting all the nutrients that you think you are with your healthy diet and your supplements. Not to mention that it’s a moving target to know what your body needs. You can take blood tests and find out your nutrient status for many key nutrients, but some nutrients just don’t have reliable tests. If you’d like to learn more about nutrients – and knowing if you’re getting enough, join me for my January class on Nutrients. You’ll find out some strategies for knowing if you’re getting adequate nutrition, get a few pointers on improving your nutrient intake, and even a few things to look for to check and see how you’re doing.
Make sure you watch the replay of my free class on Nutrients - how to know if you’re getting enough. This is a pitch-free class to learn ways of assessing your nutrient status so you can make better choices about your food. You can find the replay in my Free Resources section