4 Common Nutritional Gaps and How They Are Making You Sick
FOOD & NUTRITION
It's too easy to fall back on familiar favorites especially when you eat out often. This limits you to only a few nutrients, causing nutritional gaps that other foods could otherwise fill with other nutrients:
What are phytochemicals? As the term suggests, they are nutrients found in the fruits and vegetables we eat every day. We need to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain a good range of phytochemicals, which is needed for optimal health. Unfortunately, many of us limit ourselves to only a few types of fruits and vegetables per day.
Phytochemicals include but are not limited to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They significantly lower your risk of many diseasesi. Limited intake of phytochemicals limits your ability to fight all threats, from minor illnesses like the flu to chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. For example, a lack of zinc, found in nuts and beans, impairs the immune systemii.
In fact, without some of these phytochemicals, you might also lose your eyesight to aging. Lutein, a phytochemical found in many vegetables, helps in protecting against age related macular degenerationiii, which causes vision loss.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your body needs a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 intake. Too little omega-3s lead to a chronic state of inflammation that contributes to higher risk of many diseases including heart disease.iv
If you eat out often, you're bound to eat way more omega-6 fatty acids than you should. Foods that contain a lot of omega-6s include:
- Fast food
- Highly-refined food
- Common cooking oil
- Peanut butter
In children, a shortage of omega-3s hinders their brain development and growth. Start your kids early in balancing their diet with foods rich in Omega-3.
3. Iron and Vitamin B12
These two nutrients are commonly lacking in vegetarians who don't plan their diet well. Vegetarians who aren't careful to seek out iron-rich foods are at risk of anaemia, because the body needs iron to make blood.v
Ladies are also more prone to anaemia caused by lack of iron, because of blood loss during monthly periods.vi
Vitamin B12 is not significantly present in plant foods. A vegan diet by itself can cause you to deplete your stores of vitamin B12, leading to immune system disorders.
For ladies, vegetarians, and vegans, choose products that offer not just iron and vitamin B12 but also a wide variety of other much-needed nutrients in convenient forms to meet the demands of a busy lifestyle.
Fibre, found in fruits and vegetables, is important for regular bowel movements. A lack of fibre causes digestive problems such as constipationvii and stomach gas. You could also be missing out on lowering your risk of heart diseaseviii and type 2 diabetesix.
Low fibre intake has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Take Fast, Effective Action Now
Fill your nutrition gaps as soon as possible with a more balanced diet and quality supplements. Look for an established multivitamin brand with a complete range of vitamins and minerals. Don't wait till uncomfortable symptoms and diseases surface before addressing shortfalls in your diet. It could be too late when you fall sick!
iiRink L, Gabriel P; Zinc and the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc; 2000;59:541-52
iiiKeith Barton, James Chodosh, Jost Jonas; Changes following supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin in retinal function in eyes with early age-related macular degeneration: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial; Br J Ophthalmol; 2015; 99:371-375
vHawk, S. , Englehardt, K. and Small, C. (2012) Risks of iron deficiency among vegetarian college women. Health, 4, 113-119. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.43018.
viiMarlett JA, McBurney MI, Slavin JL. Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102:993–1000.
viiiRimm EB, Ascherio A, Giovannucci E, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Vegetable, fruit, and cereal fiber intake and risk of coronary heart disease among men, JAMA, 1996;275:447-51
ixFung TT, Hu FB, Pereira MA, et al; Whole-grain intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective study in men; Am J Clin Nutr; 2002;76:535-40