What are nutrients?
There are two types of nutrients. Macronutrients include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals found in dietary sources that fuel proper body functioning, such as vitamins A, C, B12, D, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Why is it most of us don’t get enough nutrients?
We eat empty calories (foods that contain little nutritional value), such as: Heavily Processed Foods, Baked Goods, Soda, Candy, and Desserts.
Most people don’t know that many aspects of daily living can increase the level of nutrients your body needs, accelerate nutrient losses, or impair proper nutrient absorption. These include:
Certain antacids might block the absorption of nutrients such as calcium or iron. Longterm antacid use in some cases has been associated with nutritional deficiencies.
The tannins in coffee and tea can interfere with absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. Because caffeine has a diuretic action, it also might deplete nutrients such as vitamin B6. Caffeine can also increase emotional stress (see Emotional Stress below), increase cravings for unhealthy foods, and cause heartburn (see Antacids above).
Recovery from surgery (like any illness or injury) requires additional nutrients, such as protein and antioxidants. Some surgical procedures (gastric bypass, intestinal resection) can also permanently affect dietary absorption of important nutrients such as vitamin B12.
Mothers need additional nutrients such as folic acid in pregnancy. Nutritional deficiencies may force the mother and fetus to compete for nutrients and might lead to complications for either or both. Nutrient depletion also sets the stage for post-partum ailments such as depression.
Influenza (the Flu)
A body depleted of nutrients not only makes a better host for infectious diseases like the flu but also increases the body’s need for antioxidants (E, C, beta carotene) found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. A healthy balance of intestinal bacteria also positively influences the body’s immune system and can be fostered by a healthy diet and probiotics.
In addition to physical stress, the body might encounter increased nutritional needs (like vitamin C) due to emotional stress—which can also cause unhealthy eating. And a poor diet—lacking in protein, Essential Fatty Acids, and key vitamins—on its own can be the cause of emotional stress. Stress also restricts the body’s flow of blood (which carries nutrients) by tightening muscles.
Corticosteroids can inhibit calcium absorption, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can deplete B vitamins, statin medications can deplete essential CoQ10, and certain weight loss drugs or “fat blockers” can reduce the absorption of other nutrients—just to name a few. Plus, some foods and nutritional supplements should be taken separately from certain medications.