In the traditional view of nutrition, only a few major nutrients are focused on, missing out many other very important nutrients.
To magnify the problem, modern industrially farmed and processed foods are grown and manufactured to provide very little ‘actual nutrition’ and this needs to be addressed.
I am about to give you a brief look at how this oversight may be affecting your health.
Nutritionists speak in terms of two main groups:
1) Major (Macro) Nutrients:
Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat, Fiber (4)
2) Minor (Micro) Nutrients:
Vitamins: A, B (group), C, D, E and K
Minerals: Calcium, Fluoride, Iodine, Iron, Selenium, Sodium, Zinc, Sulfur
You will notice on food labeling this is all they mention at most, and even then, some are often missing! The reason for this is, it’s simply too difficult to test for all the other overlooked complex nutrients and they are not regarded as important.
The frightening truth about our foods is that many of the missing micronutrients and phytochemicals I am going to talk about here are also potentially vital to the health of our body, and therefore this deficiency may be underlying many of our most common health problems.
Let’s talk about where and how we can get more of these essentials in our diet.
Vitamin P (Antioxidants)
We’ve all heard the news about red wine, supposedly improving cardiovascular health, due to its antioxidant flavonoids. Yes, there is very little importance placed on the antioxidant value of food in the marketplace. Organic produce, for example, can have up to 10 times the antioxidant value of commercially grown produce.
I believe antioxidants are the largest category of overlooked nutrients. Antioxidants are wide and varied including polyphenols, anthocyanidins, hesperidin, catechins, carotenoids to mention just a few. They help protect the cells and tissue from oxidation-related damage and inflammation.
Endogenous antioxidants (produced by the body) can be either non-enzymes, such as glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q, ferritin, uric acid, bilirubin, metallothionein, l-carnitine, melatonin, albumin, or enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidases, thioredoxins, and peroxiredoxins. (3)
Apart from the endogenous, enzyme, and non-enzyme antioxidants previously discussed, there are also exogenous (from outside the body), diet-sourced antioxidants, represented by carotenoids, tocopherols, vitamin D, phenolic acids, flavonoids, or ascorbic acid, as well as high-molecular-weight metabolites such as tannins. For this second category, the source is represented by foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, and food supplements. (3)
Analysis has demonstrated that there are several thousand-fold differences in antioxidant content of foods. Berries, plus red, orange and yellow colored plant foods are particularly high in these nutrients. Spices, herbs, and supplements include the most antioxidant-rich products with plant-based food following close behind.
Once again herbs and spices come out on top!
See a comprehensive list of antioxidant food values here.
There can be up to 10 times the trace mineral levels in organic fruit and vegetable produce.
- Essential Trace Elements. An element is called a trace element when their requirement per day is below 100mg. Deficiency leads to disorders and may prove fatal. The elements that belong to this group are Copper, Iron, Zinc, Chromium, Cobalt, Iodine, Molybdenum, and Selenium. Of these, Iodine is a nonmetal, while others are metals.
- Additional Trace Elements. Their role is not clear and they may be essential. The elements belonging to this group are Cadmium, Nickel, Silica, Tin, Vanadium, and Aluminum. The fact is “They may be essential”. (1)
Spinach and Orange are classic examples of foods which contain plant steroids, boosting energy and tissue growth. Spinach contains Phyto-Ecdysteroids while orange skin contains Synephrine. Many plants contain hormone boosting compounds.
Pineapple and Kiwifruit among many other fruits actually contain enzymes which we need to obtain from food in order to keep our digestive enzymes at optimum healthy levels.
Although plant foods provide a range of essential dietary components, they are particularly important as a source of dietary carbohydrates, providing almost all of the carbohydrate and therefore much of the energy in the adult diet.
Polysaccharides are a large group of complex carbohydrate derivatives and include the following; Galactomannans, Arabinoxylans, Xyloglucans, Glucomannans, Pectic polysaccharides, Oligosaccharides plus their many family members.
Polysaccharides are found in many plants/herbs and perform many wide and varied functions, mainly to do with cellular communication. It has become clear that polysaccharides play a positive role in reducing risk factors for chronic diseases including Cardiovascular disease, Metabolic disease and certain types of Cancer. (2)
We have moved ahead from thinking that only a relatively small number of dietary factors possess biological activity to recognize that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of such factors. It will be many years before our understanding of phytochemicals approaches our knowledge of vitamins and minerals however it is worth noting that our knowledge of vitamins and minerals is still incomplete. It does appear that the phytochemicals help explain why plant-based diets, in general, are associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases. And in fact, this may be the most important outcome from the use of phytochemicals. The nutrition community now has more reasons for encouraging consumers to eat plant-based diets. (6)
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we literally don’t have space here to cover all the overlooked nutrients.
When it comes to nutrition you will find dozens of super nutritious plant and vegetable foods, herbs and spices that can easily be incorporated into your diet.
See some of these listed here along with their many health benefits.
There are many dozens of other nutrients found in plants and herbs. The key piece of information to take away would be this. Eat a wide and varied whole-food plant based diet if you want to get all the beneficial nutrients provided by nature.
Many nutrients are stripped in industrial processing, heating, and chemical treatment, so eat as close to the garden as possible if you want to receive good nutrition.
One of the possible reasons why people report so many health conditions improve when completing the Ultimate Herbal Detox program could be the large increase in micronutrients, especially the antioxidants.
In good health,
Brett Elliott ®