by Grace Bryce
The average American diet does not meet the (RDA) recommended daily allowance of nutrients according to studies by the USDA. There are several reasons Americans are missing the nutrients essential to growth and development and good health. Here are a few tips to help get the most out of your food.
1. Buy organically grown food or grow your own. Organically grown produce contains more nutrients than produce grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Our soils are depleted of minerals and nutrients, so our food is not as nutritious as it was several years ago. Check out the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen guides for shopping and learn which fruits and vegetables to buy organic. Read more here. The PLU number for organic produce starts with a “9” not a “4”. Read more here.
2. Physically, we can improve nutrient assimilation by chewing our food until it is mostly liquid. The movement of chewing helps to release enzymes in the saliva in the mouth. These enzymes help to break down the food into particles that are small enough to be absorbed. Swallowing large chunks of food, makes more work for the stomach and there is a possibility that they may not be broken down adequately before they continue through the digestion process. This leads to indigestion and gas, and other problems that can surface over time, such as food allergies.
3. As we get older, our bodies produce fewer digestive enzymes, so supplementing with good digestive enzymes will assist the break down of the food we eat. Taking digestive enzymes with meals, helps take the stress off of the digestive system. Different enzymes break down different nutrients. People who have had their gallbladders removed will need extra help to break down fats they consume.
4. After age 30, the production of stomach acid can decrease. Stomach acid is useful to assist with protein digestion and also kills bacteria that might be on food we ingest. To help increase our stomach acid, we can take 1-2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water about 20 minutes before meals. A vinegar based salad dressing on salad at the beginning of the meal is another alternative. Beet root or agarita tea can also help. There is a supplement called Betaine HCl that may also contain pepsin, available commercially. Inadequate supply of salt in the diet can also hinder the production of stomach acid. If our sweat isn’t salty, we aren’t getting enough salt in our diet. Some people who have stomach pain may think it is from too much stomach acid, but it could be from too little.
5. Refined sugar, processed foods and fast food all put added stress on digestion and the body, not to mention the lack of nutrients contained in them. Garbage in, garbage out. If there aren’t any nutrients in the food to begin with, you won’t be absorbing any.
6. Water is essential to life and every bodily function. It is important to drink an adequate amount of pure clean water daily (not tap and not distilled). Take your weight and divide by 2. This is the number of ounces of water you should drink daily. Other beverages don’t count. More water needs to be consumed, if coffee and tea are consumed. Remember to replace electrolytes, if you are sweating. Hydration is more efficient, if water is consumed in quantities of 4-6 ounces at a time. It is better for digestion not to consume a lot of water or liquids during a meal. This dilutes stomach acid. Drinking ice water with meals can also slow down the digestive process.
Synergy of Vitamins
7. Vitamins and minerals need each other for absorption. For example, the B vitamins work better together (with the other B vitamins) and with Vitamin C. A good multi-vitamin from whole food sources will help round out what is needed for better assimilation. People who have digestive problems may benefit from taking a liquid multi-vitamin. Holding the liquid in the mouth before swallowing can help by sublingual absorption. Some nutrients will pass directly into the blood stream. Add more nutritive herbs to your diet, many are naturally balanced with what is needed for absorption. Herbal supplement formulas are also naturally balanced.
8. Sugar can deplete vitamins and minerals. Coffee, tea, alcohol, and soft drinks can deplete vitamins and minerals. Diuretics will deplete. Some medications may deplete, so more supplementation may be necessary. Be sure to check with your pharmacist and get to know your medications and which supplements would be safe and helpful to use.
Balance & Moderation
9. Eating a well balanced diet is also important. Most of a healthy diet should consist of fruits and vegetables and fewer grains. Dr. Fuhrman has a food pyramid that makes sense. Read more here. Don’t eat the same thing every day. Over exposure to the same food every day can create food sensitivities. Rotate your menus. When you crave certain foods, it is your body’s cry for certain nutrients or it could be a warning that you have Candida overgrowth.
10. Maintaining healthy gut flora not only helps with digestion and absorption, it is necessary for immune function. Jarrow has a great line of probiotics, based on research of each strain of bacteria. They are also shelf stable.