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The Foundations of Nutrition

Sunday March 21, 2021
The Foundations of Nutrition

Our bodies function best with a well-rounded healthy diet. For some people, a good combination of vitamins, essential fatty acids and friendly gut bacteria (sometimes referred to as probiotics) can help fill nutritional gaps created by modern lifestyles, busy schedules and other factors such as following a style of eating. Read our guide on how to achieve health and wellness through the Foundations of Nutrition.

Nutrition can be confusing, especially given the terminology that is used and how it is interpreted.   For example, the public health message surrounding nutrition is to eat a balanced diet, but what does that really mean?

At Viridian Nutrition, we aim to make nutrition a little clearer.  We promote following a whole foods-based diet, which means consuming foods that are as close as possible to their original form and in a wide variety.  This style of eating naturally minimises processed food consumption.  However, ensuring the correct intake of micronutrients can still be tricky.


Modern lifestyles are changing our micronutrient intake

If we get back to basic, micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, however some of which are denatured (loses its nutritional value) by heat, chopping, and light.

The typical Western Diet is characterised by foods high in calories with added refined oils, sugar and salt. They are highly processed and subsequently low in micronutrients. This style of eating has led to a phenomenon of overweight-malnourished and is likely linked to the increased onset of health conditions in western countries.

While this phenomenon may be considered extreme, it is commonplace where busy lifestyles reduce the time available for food preparation, combined with the heightened availability of ready meals or quick meal solutions.  Therefore, there may be a greater need for additional micronutrients in the form of a food supplement to fill the nutritional gaps.


All fats are not equal

Another misunderstanding is surrounding fats. Researchers have investigated types of fats and their relationship with human health.  It was reported that a diet dominant in omega 6 essential fatty acids and low in omega 3 essential fatty acids was related to the increased risk of the onset of disease. And that by reversing the ratio, it can lead to better health outcomes.

Omega 3s are found in oily fish, algae, flax, walnuts, and almonds, while omega 6 rich foods are vegetable oils, processed meats, shed reared meats and dairy as opposed to grass-fed, organic.


Creating a healthy microbiome

The final point is the microbiome, this is a diverse array of bacteria and yeasts that are resident in the gut.  Their diversity and colony sizes are highly influenced by diet, lifestyle and environment.

It is considered that a disrupted microbiome not only affects digestion but also has repercussions throughout the body.  Fermented foods are a great source of beneficial bacteria, which include yogurt, kefir, kombucha and kimchi. However, care should be taken to check the labels as pasteurisation will kill the bacteria and often, these products may contain added sugar.


Therefore, let us discuss how food supplements may support these areas of nutrition.


Multivitamin

A multivitamin and mineral formula will provide all the vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are considered essential for human health.  Regular multivitamin use has been reported as beneficial in populations that are at risk of having a lowered micronutrient status.

In terms of health conditions, regular multivitamin use has been shown useful in reducing the quantity of oxidative markers, reduction in cardiovascular health markers especially an aggressive molecule called homocysteine, lowered blood pressure in those with a serious health condition, and markers of macular degeneration in high-risk people.

Modern advances have led to the development of sophisticated multivitamin formulas that are specific to health goals, for example, adding additional nutrients and botanicals to support health goals such as brain health, cardiovascular health or fertility.

Adding a multivitamin formula to your daily diet when you are unable to make meals from scratch or are experiencing a dip in health can be useful to improve your nutritional intake.


Essential fatty acids

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are found in oily fish, flax seed, algae, and walnuts, however whether through food choices or lack of availability, these nutrients aren’t always easily incorporated into the diet.    There are also several types of omega 3 with subtle differences in their activity worth knowing.

Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) are forms of omega 3 shown to exert an anti-inflammatory benefit. EPA and DHA are naturally found in oily fish. Most seeds and nuts will provide omega 3s as alpha linolenic acid which the body must transform via a slow enzymatic pathway into EPA and DHA.

Research has investigated the effect of omega 3 essential fatty acids on human health. In terms of blood lipids, increased omega 3s were found to lower LDL cholesterol, which is considered to be directly associated with cardiovascular health. Furthermore, omega 3s were shown to reduce circulating blood lipids called triglycerides.

An increased dietary omega 3 to omega 6 ratio showed reduced inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients, improved asthma outcomes and a trend towards improved mood in depressed individuals. Furthermore, an interplay between omega 3 intake and the gut microbiome has been established to show improved diversity of colonies, which is considered to exert beneficial effects on human health.

For individuals following a plant-based diet, vegan EPA and DHA nutritional oils derived from marine algae are good options.


Beneficial bacteria

Although the human microbiome is home to 100 trillion bacteria, only a few species can be isolated and raised outside of the body. Of these, Lactobacillus Acidophilus DDS-1 and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG are the two most researched strains of beneficial bacteria that are certified for use in food supplements.

Published results include a reduction in eczema in preschool children, the reduced duration of a respiratory infection in children, symptomatic relief of lactose intolerance in adults and elderly, and improved abdominal pain severity in irritable bowel syndrome patients.

It is commonplace for beneficial bacteria formulations to undergo heat and acid testing to ensure the bacteria’s survival through the gastrointestinal tract.


Conclusion:

Ultimately, following a varied whole food diet that includes all food types will be a nutritious basis to form a nutritional regimen. However, to account for stress, careers, busy lifestyles, and health conditions a greater quantity of nutrients may be necessary. In this case it can be useful to visit your local health food store to discuss your requirements to see if a specialised multivitamin, omega 3 formula, and beneficial bacteria would be appropriate.

To find your local Health Food Store, visit www.findahealthstore.com.



Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health.



References


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The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

 

TAGS: NewsFoundations of Nutrition, Multivitamins, EFA, Microbiome

 

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