Chances are, your body needs more critical nutrients.
There’s a lot in the news about fancy eating plans like the keto diet, the paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, the gluten-free diet, and more that seem to crop up every year. You hear a lot about fasting, detoxification, and calorie counting.
These days, it can be hard to tell what’s FACT and what’s FAD.
- Diets like keto and paleo focus on reducing or eliminating carbohydrates from your eating plan while increasing healthy fat and protein consumption.
- Gluten-free means removing any food that contains the elastic compound gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats.
- The Mediterranean diet focuses on lowering portions of red meats, sweets, and dairy while increasing seafood, produce, and grain consumption.
The problem is that no one is really talking about critical nutrients. No one. When you do research on these diets, the primary problem they address (yes, there are others) is weight loss.
While maintaining a healthy weight is absolutely critical to living a longer, stronger life – it needs to be a side effect of a healthy lifestyle.Healthy weight is absolutely critical to living a longer, stronger life but so are the things you consume. #criticalClick To Tweet
Breaking Down Food Consumption
If you’re like two-thirds of the population of the United States, chances are high that you need to cut your grain consumption. We are systematically eating too much but starving our bodies of critical nutrients we need to live.
Now this can be confusing if you grew up with the U.S. Food Pyramid that suggested as much as 11 servings of grains and almost zero fats daily. No matter how many times it’s changed or updated – the biggest part of the pyramid is always grains (bread, pasta, rice).
Since the 1980s, we’ve consumed massively higher quantities of grains as well as simple sugars – and little to no beneficial fats. The unstable influx of glucose and fructose (without any beneficial fats) has caused a devastating imbalance in basic bodily functions.
That’s not to say you need to go extreme carb-free (keto, paleo, or gluten-free) but you truly need to take a look at what you eat and determine how many carbs and sugars (really) you’re consuming in a day.
Going against the grain (pun intended) goes against everything nutritionists, food manufacturers, and the medical community have espoused for decades.
Forty years later, how’s our overall health landscape looking?
- Epidemic levels of heart disease that consumers were assured were caused by fat and would disappear once we removed the “bad guy” from our lives.
- Epidemic levels of diabetes and metabolic syndrome as we eat far too many carbohydrates that our bodies convert to sugar.
- Epidemic levels of obesity with more than two-thirds of American adults considered overweight or obese (approximately 15% of kids as well).
- Epidemic levels of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s that researchers refer to as type 3 diabetes – because human brains are 25% fat and we’re starving them.
- Epidemic levels of auto-immune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more as our immune systems fight our own bodies in confusion.
- Epidemic levels of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) because of the high levels of non-fruit fructose in our diets being converted to fat and stored in the liver.
This isn’t conjecture. This is what we’re dealing with in our modern world and experts believe that the statistics will continue to worsen.
Start with Critical Nutrients and Go from There…
The most important thing for any person to know is what fuel their body needs.
What many get wrong in “dieting” trends is that the foods that are right for your body might not be right for your friends, significant other, children, neighbors, and so on.
Every human body is unique but there are certain food fuels you must provide your cells or you’ll get sick. Cutting out entire food groups or drastically increasing one food group are basically the same problem on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Your body needs lots of nutrients to keep you going…those nutrients (unless you plan to down a whole handful of supplements daily) are found in a wide variety of foods.
There are specific nutrients you literally cannot live without (and your body doesn’t make them or doesn’t make nearly enough to sustain function).
That means you need to get them from food sources or supplements.Your body doesn't manufacture some of the nutrients needed, so you need to get them from food sources or supplements.Click To Tweet
Critical Nutrients Your Body Can’t Manufacture
- Amino acids (building blocks of protein)
- B-Complex vitamins
- Fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
The problem with the Standard American Diet (SAD) is that we’re getting far too many of one thing on this list (carbohydrates) and not nearly enough of most of the others (beneficial fats are a big one). Humans can (and will) eat just about anything.
In a pinch, your body will convert most things to usable fuel.
The food calories available to the general population of developed countries are abundant and inexpensive. The critical nutrients found in those food calories is another matter entirely.
As shown by our steadily increasing rate of disease, a lot of people are choosing “convenient” foods that are over-processed, high in refined sugars, and packed with unhealthy fats. They’re stripped of the nutrients critical to your survival.
Fun fact: Your liver can manufacture all the glucose it needs from the protein you eat.Fun fact: Your liver can manufacture all the glucose it needs from the protein you eat. #criticalnutrientsClick To Tweet
Carbs are easier for the body to process for quick bursts of energy but when you lower your carb intake, it burns fat for the same purpose. When you eat food that’s abundant in beneficial fat, your body converts them to fatty acids. These provide more than half the fuel that you need.
The takeaway is this: most people in developed countries are getting too many simple carbs and sugars and not enough of the beneficial fats, vitamins, and minerals we need to keep us healthy.
You don’t need a diet fad for a few weeks, a few months, or a year to lose weight. You need an EATING REVOLUTION that changes how you look at food, prepare it, and consume it that you can carry with you into oldest age.
A way of eating that fuels your cells with critical nutrients and probably comes with the happy side effect of weight loss because your body runs more efficiently.
In the next few weeks, we’ll discuss each critical nutrient group in detail and arm you with the basic facts you need to make informed, rational decisions about how you eat that are right for you (not your co-worker Becky).
Association, A. (2017). How the Body Uses Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. Diabetes Forecast.
Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, t. (2017). A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners – Diet Doctor. Diet Doctor.
Fan, S. (2017). The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous?. Scientific American Blog Network.
Gluten in Grains | Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. (2017). Glnc.org.au.
Healthy Eating Plate & Healthy Eating Pyramid. (2017). The Nutrition Source.
Kris Gunnars, B. (2017). Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan and Beginner’s Guide. Authority Nutrition.
Kris Gunnars, B. (2017). 10 Reasons Why Sugar is Bad For You. Authority Nutrition.
Nutrients That Cannot Be Manufactured by the Human Body. (2017). Healthyeating.sfgate.com.
The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet | Nerd Fitness. (2017). Nerd Fitness.
USDA Food Pyramid History. (2017). Healthy-eating-politics.com.
What is Gluten? – Celiac Disease Foundation. (2017). Celiac Disease Foundation.