Are your dietary choices eliminating more than you think?
There are many reasons why people decide to avoid certain foods. For some, a food sensitivity can necessitate eliminating a certain food group—for example, gluten or dairy. For others, a vegetarian diet that eliminates meat or certain animal products may be a personal choice. Health issues, such as high cholesterol or diabetes may also require lowering the consumption of red meat, oils, eggs, or fruits. And weight loss diets go all the way from low carbohydrate plans, and eating nothing but protein, to fruit-and-vegetable-only options or consuming nothing but juices.
Nutrient deficiencies—excluding certain food groups could mean missing key nutrients!
Opinions may differ on what dietary choices are exactly right for any given person. But the one thing we know for sure is that when we eliminate certain foods and food groups, we also run the risk of falling short on important nutrients that are essential for our bodies.
For example, animal proteins are the only natural source of Vitamin B12. Even a mild deficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, and depression, while a long-term deficiency can affect your brain health and central nervous system. Lentils, beans, and grains such as wheat may contain carbohydrates, but they are also high in folate, which is critical to the development of healthy new cells. And ounce for ounce, dairy remains the richest source of calcium, which is often fortified with Vitamin D, a nutrient necessary for its absorption. Calcium is essential to the proper functioning of the cells in your body, and to decreasing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis later in life. Even excluding too much fat could compromise the absorption of key Vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—every food group brings an essential something to the table that provides not just calories, but the Vitamins and minerals needed to convert food calories into fuel that your body can actually use to live, grow, and function. In the absence of those foods, our bodies are at risk for "nutrient gaps" that can have a negative impact on both our form and function.
Give your dietary lifestyle an upgrade!
Image Credits: Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com
What all of us want is a nutritionally sound, balanced eating plan that we can stick with. But while that may take a little planning, there are small steps you can take to get the most from your food choices:
Choose foods that deliver nutritional value for every calorie consumed—if you’re eating a 100-calorie snack, an apple is a better nutritional choice than an energy bar
Consult your healthcare professional to understand the full importance of adopting a certain diet or eliminating a food or group of foods from your diet
Make sure that you take a multivitamin every day—no matter what your dietary choices may be, a daily multivitamin provides a variety of Vitamins and minerals to help close the gap on what you might be missing from your food. This is especially important for certain groups, such as women of childbearing age and people over the age of 50, who have very specific nutritional needs
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