By Cliff Harvey PhD
It’s fair to say that most of you reading this article won’t be starving...
Well you may be starving right now if you are reading this during the dreaded 3pm slump, but my guess is that it’s only a few short steps to the fridge or the local store where calories abound!
In a sense though many people nowadays are starving, but they are starving on a full stomach.
While we have plenty of food, and plenty of ‘calories’ (fuel) we are often deficient in all the little players of nutrition—the vitamins, minerals and other secondary nutrients that provide the keys to our body’s proper function.
There are several reasons for this:
1. Increased stress demands
2. Soil degradation
3. A longer ‘food chain’
4. Lack of variety in food choices
In the modern world we are beset with stressors, and unlike when we were roaming the savannah 1000s of years ago we are not always able to simply respond to the stress and then relax. In other words we are surrounded nowadays by paper tigers that we can’t run away from!
This results in higher levels of residual stress and this drives a ‘fight or flight’ response within the body that can be very exhausting. We require increased levels of nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium and zinc to effectively recover from these stressors.
Through intensive farming and the use of simple NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) fertilisers that may not fully replenish the micronutrients in soil, our foods are considered to be much lower in nutrients than even several decades ago. As a result we need to ensure a higher nutrient intake.
Longer ‘Food Chain’:
Many vitamins and minerals will begin to break down when exposed to heat, light and air. This effect increases over time, and with farms now further away from markets there is a greater degradation of food nutrient content.
Lack of variety:
Many of us don’t eat all that much variety – especially with respect to vegetables, herbs and berries. Often we routinely eat only 3 or 4 types of vegetables, many of which have very similar nutrient profiles. Decades ago it was much more common to eat a greater variety of foods due to: seasonality, home and local gardening, and by necessity.
I remember that my grandparents would include foods like nasturtiums, coltsfoot, hawksbill and dandelion from out of the garden. Basically if it was edible, we’d eat it! These foods were not only readily available, but are extremely nutritious. Packed with b vitamins, potassium and other nutrients as well as being gently medicinal and cleansing, we now miss out on the benefits of many of these traditional foods.
There are several ways that we can increase our nutrient status.
How to increase nutrient status:
1. Eat at least 6 servings of vegetables per day
With our depleted soils it is imperative that the first thing we do is to simply eat more vegetables!
2. Eat 2-3 serves of berries per day
Berries are like natures multi-vitamins. Packed with the highly antioxidant compounds that help us reduce free radical damage associated with the visible signs of aging and the effects of inflammation associated with disorders like cancer, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
3. Consider using a quality ‘Greens’ product
Quality greens products are a great way to pack more nutrition into our daily diet.
4. Eat organic where possible
Organic foods provide higher levels of the secondary antioxidant nutrients that support health and vitality.
5. Use super-smoothies!
Smoothies are a great way to increase nutrient content. Start with a quality protein and then add any number of berries, vegetables, greens powders and/or berry powders along with healthy fats like macadamia oil or coconut cream for improved brain health and energy.