Her story was typical. She ate plenty of food, plenty of calories. Yet she felt tired all the time. Her husband resented her non-existent sex drive. She’d frequently get chilled when others around her felt warm, and she was always hungry. She wasn’t overweight. She wasn’t skinny.
But she was starving — for nutrients.
Believe it or not, it’s perfectly possible to eat lots of food and still starve your body of the nutrients it requires for real health and well-being.
Sadly, the Standard American Diet lacks many vital nutrients. You can thank industrialized food production for that. The nature of the food we eat has fundamentally changed over the course of the last 50 to 100 years. Sure, it looks the same sitting on our supermarket shelves, but it isn’t.
Are You Nutrient Starved?
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you’ve been getting all the nutrients you need:
- Do you get headaches?
- Do you experience indigestion or bloating?
- Are you hungry between meals?
- Do you crave sweets?
- Do you wake up feeling tired?
- Is your skin dry, blemished, rough, or scaly?
- Do you feel cold when you shouldn’t?
- Do you experience mood swings?
- Do you ever have trouble concentrating?
- Is your sex drive low?
- Do you regularly feel aches or joint pain?
- Have you ever had cavities?
- Are your teeth and gums sensitive to temperature changes?
- Do you struggle with depression?
If you answered any of these questions yes, then your body is nutrient deprived.
What Can You Do About It?
Begin by evaluating how much of your diet is still industrialized. Do you eat refined sugar or grains? What about artificial sweeteners like Splenda? Do you eat packaged or processed foods — even the organic kind? Do you eat canned vegetables & fruits? Do you cook with yellow seed based cooking oils like vegetable oil or canola oil? Do you eat conventionally raised meats? Do you drink conventional milk? Do you eat store-bought eggs? Do you eat grains like wheat or corn without sprouting or soaking them first?
Any one of these food choices can lead to nutritional deficiencies. In particular, the industrialized diet almost completely lacks Vitamins A & D as well as Omega-3 fatty acids.
Switch to More Nutrient Dense Foods. If you’re a total newcomer to the idea of eating traditional, Real Foods, start working your way through my Newbie Tips. Otherwise, work to replace the industrialized foods in your life with their more traditional, nutrient-dense counterparts. For online sources of Real Food retailers, be sure to check out my Real Food Resources page. There, you’ll find listings grouped by product categories. The page will be constantly updated with specials, promotional offers, and new companies and products as I find them and as we add new advertisers, so be sure to check back in often.
Eat More Superfoods. These are the foods which are rich in nutrients that the typical industrialized diet lacks. For an in depth look at the superfoods I eat, check out this What Are Superfoods post. There are other important superfoods which I don’t eat, not because they’re not good for me, but because I don’t suffer from the risk factors that those superfoods help balance out.
The following is a list of superfoods (summarized from pages 99-103 of Eat Fat, Lose Fat — a Food Renegade Must Read) and the symptoms which (according to Mary Enig and Sally Fallon) they’ll help you balance.
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil — An excellent source of Vitamins A & D, plus Omega-3 fats. Fallon and Enig recommend taking this if you need to support your thyroid functioning (you feel sluggish, foggy headed, have a low libido, struggle with weight gain, etc.). Also take it if you know you’re not getting enough Vitamin D through sun exposure (you struggle with depression, seasonal depression in the winter, have a low libido, spend most of your time indoors, have weak bones, get cavities, etc.). (where to find fermented cod liver oil)
- Acerola Powder or Amla Tablets — Rich sources of Vitamin C and many complimentary nutrients like bioflavonoids and rutin which help your body absorb and properly use Vitamin C. They recommend taking this if you suffer from allergies, hay fever, asthma, or if you’re under a lot of stress. (where to find acerola powder)
- High Vitamin Butter Oil — Also rich in Vitamins A & D, this superfood also packs in the valuable Vitamin K2, a necessary activator that helps your body utlize many important vitamins and minerals. Fallon & Enig recommend taking this if you’re not eating or drinking a lot of raw dairy. According to their research, it helps aid digestive problems, heal tooth decay, protect against heart disease, and ease mood swings & foggy thinking. (where to find high vitamin butter oil)
- Freeze-dried Glandular And Organ Extracts — If you eat about 10% of your meats in the form of organ meats from grass-fed/pastured/or wild animals, pass this by. Otherwise, consider this a decent alternative to help support your own organ health. Want to help protect your own liver? Eat more liver. Need to recover from adrenal fatigue? Eat adrenals. You get the idea. (where to find freeze-dried organ extracts)
- Bitters — According to Fallon & Enig’s research, herbal extracts of bitters are rich in minerals and help stimulate digestion. If you have trouble digesting fats, get constipated, or need to detox from caffeine or alcohol, they recommend you take bitters.
- Wheat Germ Oil — A valuable source of natural Vitamin E. This nutrient protects your cell membranes like no other. Fallon and Enig recommend you take it if more than 4% of the fats in your diet come from poly-unsaturated yellow seed based oils, or if you’re at risk for heart disease. Be sure to get expeller-pressed Wheat Germ Oil.
- Nutritional Yeast — A natural source of B complex vitamins (except B-12). They recommend taking this if you experience chronic fatigue. Look for yeast processed at low temperatures. High temperature processing causes the naturally occuring glutamic acid in the yeast to break down into MSG. And if you struggle with candida yeast overgrowth, you have nothing to fear from nutritional yeast. Candida feeds off sugar, not yeast. (where to find nutritional yeast)
Again, if you want to find online sources for these superfoods, check out the listings on my Real Food Resources page.
Be Kind To Your Digestive System. If your digestive system is at all imbalanced, it can dramatically affect your ability to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from your food. So much in our modern lifestyles works against our digestive systems, killing off the good bacteria in our intestinal tract and exacerbating our intestinal lining. Avoid alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, and try to eat a diet rich in bone broths and naturally-fermented foods like traditional sauerkraut. If you’re worried you’re not getting enough living foods into your diet, consider taking a quality pro-biotic. For online listings of probiotic supplements, click here.
Consider Getting Nutritional Counseling. If you’re at all nervous about making any of these changes, why not get real answers from someone in the know? I offer nutrition & wellness coaching services, and I’d love to help.
This post is my own contribution to Fight Back Fridays — a weekly blog carnival full of inspiring ideas, recipes, news stories, and anecdotes all related to eating Real Food!
(photo by smellyknee)