NUTRITION IS THE FOUNDATION OF HEALTH- CONNECTING DISEASE PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT WITH MICRONUTRIENTS
WHY IS NUTRITION SO IMPORTANT?
Nutrition is the foundation of who we are. As it is commonly said, ‘WE ARE WHAT WE EAT’. The choices each individual makes, every day, consciously or unconsciously…. All play a role in our health.
Nutrition is composed of macronutrients and micronutrients, and both are important for health, wellbeing, and life. In this blog, I am going to define what macronutrients and micronutrients are.
Macronutrients and micronutrient deficiencies have been shown to play a critical role in immune system problems, and be the cause of inflammation. Inflammation is some cases the root of medical problems that culminate in devastating illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Other chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease are well known to have a deep connection to inflammation and immune system disorders.
WHAT IS A MACRONUTRIENT? WHAT ARE THE MACRONUTRIENTS IN OUR DIET?
Macronutrients are chemical compounds humans consume in the largest quantities and which provide bulk energy. There are three primary macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
PROTEIN IN OUR DIET:
Proteins are the building blocks of life and every cell in the human body contains protein. The body needs protein to reproduce, repair and maintain itself, and protein is the major component of the skin, muscles, organs, and glands. Proteins are necessary for growth and development during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. Proteins are found in all body fluids, except bile and urine. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids.
The digestion of protein yields amino acids. The human body needs essential amino acids, and they need to be consumed in large enough amounts for optimal health. Amino acids are found in animal sources such as meats, milk, fish, and eggs, as well as in plant sources such as beans, legumes, nut butters, soy and some grains (such as wheat germ). You do not need to eat animal products to get all the protein you need in your diet. It is important to know that most of my patients find it challenging to find sources of protein, but I would like to emphasize plant derived proteins are usually healthier than animal sourced protein as it is usually present with animal fat as well, which may not be the healthiest choice.
Amino acids, the building blocks for protein, are classified into three groups:
•Essential amino acids: They cannot be made by the body, thus the word ‘ESSENTIAL’. They need to be ingested in the food, otherwise deficiencies can cause illness. The nine essential amino acids are: Histidine, Isoleucine and Leucine (branched chain amino acids), Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.
•Nonessential amino acids: These are made by the body from essential amino acids or in the normal breakdown of proteins. They include: Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid.
•Conditional amino acids: They are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress. They include: Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine and glutamic acid (glutamate), Glycine, Ornithine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine.
FATS IN OUR DIET:
Fat is invariably present in the human diet, but there is good fat and there is bad fat. Most foods contain different kinds of fat, and some are better for your health than others, in fact, some fats actually help promote good health and are essential for cell metabolism and neuronal function.
The two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat are saturated fat, and trans-fat.
Saturated fat comes mainly from animal sources of food. It is known to raise total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
•Saturated fats: Butyric acid (C4), Caproic acid (C6), Caprylic acid (C8), Capric acid (C10), Lauric acid (C12), Myristic acid (C14), Pentadecanoic acid (C15), Palmitic acid (C16), Margaric acid (C17), Stearic acid (C18), Arachidic acid (C20), Behenic acid (C22), Lignoceric acid (C24), Cerotic acid (C26)
Trans-fats are also called industrial or synthetic trans-fats. They may occur naturally in some foods, especially foods sourced from animals, but most trans-fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. These trans-fats are easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than are naturally occurring oils, therefore the ‘stars’ in the processed food world. Most tans-fats have a high percentage of saturated fat, and are usually solid at room temperature. Because of this, they're typically referred to as solid fats.
The two types of “good’ fats are mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. The healthier fats are known to be potentially helpful and necessary for cell function and other biological processes.
Mono-unsaturated fat can be found in a variety of foods and oils. These foods with mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and examples of such are olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil.
Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
Polyunsaturated fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
One of the most popular types of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.
•Mono-unsaturated fats: Myristol, Pentadecenoic, Palmitoyl, Heptadecenoic, Oleic acid, Eicosen, Erucic acid, Nervonic acid
•Polyunsaturated fats: Linoleic acid (LA)- an essential fatty acid, α-Linolenic acid (ALA) - an essential fatty acid, Stearidonic acid (SDA), Arachidonic acid (ETA), Timnodonic acid (EPA), Clupanodonic acid (DPA), Cervonic acid (DHA)
•Essential fatty acids: These 2 essential fatty acids are the starting point for other important omega-acids (e.g. DHA, EPA): α-Linolenic acid ALA (18:3) Omega-3 fatty acid, Linoleic acid LA (18:2) Omega-6 fatty acid
CARBOHYDRATES IN THE DIET:
Carbohydrates are chemical compounds that provide the human body with glucose which is in turn used for energy. It’s thought that at least half the energy in your diet should come from carbohydrates. They are made up of individual ‘building blocks’ or sugar molecules, therefore a simple carbohydrate is just a couple of ‘building blocks’ and a complex carbohydrate has a lot of these ‘building blocks’.
Carbohydrates are found in many forms, the most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibers, and starches. They are found in almost every type of food you eat – albeit in different forms and amounts. Foods high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet because they provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity.
When considering carbohydrates in a meal plan, the healthiest source of carbohydrates are unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. Unhealthier sources of carbohydrates include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.
WHAT IS A MICRONUTRIENT?
Micronutrients are what are commonly referred to as "vitamins and minerals”. As the word implies, micronutrients are necessary only in very tiny amounts, yet without them the body will suffer and serious health problems can result. They are different from macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Micronutrients are essential for optimal health, and micronutrient deficiencies can cause serious health problems. Micronutrients are necessary for the healthy functioning of all your body's systems, from bone growth to brain function. They are vital to the proper functioning of all of your body's systems.
When there is a deficiency of micronutrients, serious health problems can ensue. Industrialized farming, and over-use of pesticides and herbicides, as well as the health of the cattle, chicken, and other farm animals have had an impact on micronutrient content in the average diet. It is thought that micronutrient deficiency presents a huge threat to the health of the world's population. This is supported by the World Health Organization. The most common micronutrient deficiencies are iodine deficiency, vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency. In northern areas like New England, Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic.
Iodine deficiency is the world's foremost cause of brain damage. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, miscarriage and irreversible mental retardation. Fortunately, it's easily prevented by the use of iodized salt.
Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in children; in women, especially if pregnant, it can cause night blindness and increases maternal mortality rates. Vitamin A deficiency also is associated with severe fatigue and symptoms that mimic thyroid disease.
Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world, and the only one that is most prevalent in developed countries. Over 30% of the world's population suffers from iron deficiency anemia.
Because each person is metabolically and biochemically UNIQUE, the nutritional and micronutrient requirements for one person, may indeed be quite different from another person. Although a person may have a ‘balanced diet’, he or she may have different gut environments and may have differences and challenges absorbing the nutrients properly, causing deficiencies. The way in which the nutrients are then metabolized and excreted are also unique to each individual, and thus there may be different toxicities that accumulate in individuals causing unnecessary fatigue and chronic illness.
But why wait until you have these kind of problems, why not address them sooner?
Humans have different requirements and demands of their diet and especially as we age. The nutritional and micronutrient requirements at age 30 are very different from the requirements at age 40, 50 and beyond. Excessive and lack of physical activity, prescription drugs, smoking, alcohol, and sedentary habits all impact each individual nutritional demand. It is not uncommon to find that 50% of people taking multivitamins are still nutritional deficient. A single micronutrient deficiency can set off a cascade of events that disturb metabolism and cell function.
At Advanced Health and Wellbeing, PC we offer micronutrient testing. We use several tests that will address micronutrient deficiencies, and the one we like the most is from SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. (www.SpectraCell.com) SpectraCell lab developed an exclusive, patented test that measures the function of 33 selected micronutrients within the white blood cell and evaluates how well a person’s body absorbs and utilizes each nutrient. It also gives you an antioxidant score and an immune profile score which gives insight into the person’s immune status.
The test uses active peripheral lymphocytes and measures the end point of DNA synthesis to reflect the nutrient status of the individual over the past 4-8 months. The test measures how micronutrient and antioxidants are actually functioning within the white blood cells and reflects the total metabolic function rather than isolated biochemical pathways.
THE MICRONUTRIENTS MEASURED BY SPECTRACELL LABORATORIES, INC:
•Vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Biotin, Folate and Panthothenate
•Minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Copper
•Aminoacids: Asparginine, Glutamine, Serine
•Antioxidants: Alpha Lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10, Cysteine, Glutathione, Selenium, Vitamin E
•Carbohydrate Metabolism: Chromium, Fructose sensitivity, Glucose-insulin metabolism
•Fatty acids: Oleic Acids
•Metabolites: Choline, Inositol, Carnitine
This analysis can reveal a person’s functional nutrient status over the lifespan of the white cell, and not plain serum in which the cells are swimming, therefore a meaningful measurement of nutritional status. The result will provide you with your unique and individualized suggested repletion plan based on the micronutrients the body needs to reduce your risk of chronic diseases and live a healthy life, promote wellness and anti-aging. This can also be done in association with a dietary consult with our In-House registered and licensed dietician Heather Taylor, RD, LD, from Eat Well and Beyond, LLP (www.EatWellandBeyond.com). This can further maximize your micronutrient foundation using diet as well as supplements and nutraceuticals for health.
If you are interested, contact our office at www.AdvancedHealthNH.com. Thank you for reading,
Dr. Margarita Ochoa-Maya, MD