You’re Not Sick, You’re Malnourished
It’s no secret how much I adore animal protein. I’m convinced that malnourishment lies at the root of so many of the issues women deal with. The lack of calories and protein that women subject themselves to on a routine basis has worn down our collective constitution. It’s been said that most disease is, in fact, simply malnutrition.
Listen to these quotes by two pretty brainy men:
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but will rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” –Thomas Edison
“You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” –Linus Pauling
While I’m unable to guarantee with complete certainly that these men spoke or wrote these words verbatim, there is plenty of published research to back up their claims, however seemingly hyperbolic.
Check this out:
“…Milder forms of deficiency, often of multiple micronutrients, are much more common and more difficult to recognise. As a person develops progressively more severe depletion of one or more micronutrients, they will pass through a series of stages with biochemical or physiological consequences. The metabolic or physiological penalty of such a suboptimal status is usually not clear but the assumption remains that this impaired metabolism is likely to have detrimental effects. Similarly, specific and localised tissue deficiencies can occur and lead to pathological changes. Such situations can be defined as “subclinical deficiency”. The time course for development of a subclinical deficiency varies for each micronutrient, and depends upon the nature and amount of body stores.” (source).
This just means that most of us have mineral and vitamin deficiencies, and it’s making us sick. Do you have energy issues? Mood issues? Metabolism issues? Addiction issues? It would be wise to first look to your nutrient consumption from whole foods before exploring the pharmaceutical route.
Problems Arising From Nutrient Deficiencies
Folate, or Vitamin B9, converts homocysteine to methionine. What the heck does that mean? Homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the number 1 killer of both men and women in western countries. It’s easy to measure on a standard blood work panel. Methionine is an essential amino acid that helps the liver do its job of detoxifying. It also creates protein structures for use by the body. It is an antioxidant. It contains sulfur, which allows to to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails.
But in the absence of folate, your body keeps that dangerous homocysteine present in high amounts in the bloodstream. Not only do you lose the benefits of converting homocysteine to methionine, you also feel very, very tired as methionine is an energy acceptor of other amino acids like tyrosine and tryptophan.
Note: folic acid is not the same as methylfolate, the compound found in whole foods. Do not take folic acid! It’s synthetic and cannot be used in the same way as whole food methylfolate.
You can get folate from whole foods like avocado, asparagus, seaweed, oranges, broccoli, beans, and lentils.
The best way to get folate? Beef liver. Beef liver is one of the most concentrated sources of folate there is. Three oz of liver has 212 mcg of folate, over 50% of your recommended daily allowance. Meat to the rescue again!
I’m assuming you don’t want to eat liver, but you can certainly take a pill. Get Liver Pills here. Take 3 each morning with breakfast for a boost of energy.
If you are planning on conceiving soon, or if you are a woman with a period, or if you struggle with infertility, you need more folate. I highly recommend taking 3-6 Liver Pills every morning to shore up on your own levels of folate.
Chromium is a trace mineral that regulates blood sugar. It’s hard to test in the blood, but it’s super easy to test on a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.
Chromium actually increases the sensitivity of the body toward insulin. As it is hypothesized that 85% of us are insulin resistant, this points to a gross cumulative deficiency in chromium.
“There is growing evidence for the value of added chromium in maintaining glucose tolerance, reducing body fat, and increasing lean tissue mass” (source).
Low chromium levels are also linked to diabetes (also one of the top causes of death of westerners).
And PS- sugar depletes the body of chromium. Talk about a one-two punch!
If you’re struggling with extra body weight and insulin resistance, consider getting more chromium in your diet. Studies show that while 100 mcg is not clinically effective against insulin resistance, doses up to 1000 mcg improve glucose tolerance. Don’t just take that dose- it is very high. The RDA is a scant 25 mcg a day for women. Test your chromium levels first.
I prefer whole foods anyway.
Broccoli will give you lots of chromium, as will beef and turkey. Load up on foods you can hunt and gather (theoretically) in order to sensitize your body toward insulin.
Zinc is an important nutrient for menstrual health, gut integrity, and brain function. Very few of us women get plenty of zinc, especially because hormonal birth control depletes the body of zinc by pulling it into the liver and leaving very little of it available for the blood and therefore the body.
Zinc is also used by the body to create new proteins out of amino acids, and also to allow the body to use insulin and glucose properly. If you are zinc deficient, it’s likely you’ll have trouble maintaining a healthy weight.
I love OptiZinc, though it’s better to get zinc through whole foods.
Oysters are high in zinc, and believe me when I tell you that they actually do help libido. You can also get zinc from red meat and poultry. Meat is really the best source. This isn’t because I’m meat biased, either. I promise.
Zinc deficiency in children can be an issue, too. Does your child struggle with chronic diarrhea? First things first, take her off of all gluten and dairy. If food sensitivities are not at the root cause of the chronic diarrhea, it’s possible your child has a zinc deficiency.
“Zinc deficiency is prevalent in children in developing countries where diarrhoea is also an important problem. In six of nine trials, zinc supplementation significantly reduced the incidence of diarrhoea, and in five of these there was a lower incidence of pneumonia.60 Moreover, in acute diarrhoea trials, zinc supplemented children had a 15% lower probability of continuing diarrhoea on a given day, and in persistent diarrhoea trials, there was a 24% lower probability of continuing diarrhoea.” (source).
Supplement with the foods listed above, or ½ a tablet of OptiZinc per night. Make sure not to take the OptiZinc on an empty stomach as it might cause nausea.
These minerals just scratch the surface of what imbalances might occur if one is mineral or vitamin deficient.
You can see for yourself what your vitamin and mineral intake looks like by downloading the app Cronometer and entering in your food intake for a few weeks. Don’t worry about your calories or macronutrients. You’re looking for your micronutrient intake.
Look at what you’re getting plenty of, and decide where you need more help dietarily. Google “foods high in B6” or the like, and add more of those to your diet if you’re deficient in certain nutrients.
It’s usually better to use whole foods to round out your dietary deficiencies and not supplements, though in a pinch supplements can work.
What do you think? Will you track your micronutrient status with Cronometer? Add more oysters to your diet? Let me know 🙂