Few of us get all the right nutrients we need to live healthily. Processed foods prioritize taste over nutrition, packing in fats and sugars and leaving little room for much else. The key to getting all the right stuff in our diets is eating more organically. This means more fruit and vegetables and more fresh meat and fish. Basically, the less tampering it’s had before reaching the supermarket shelves (or after that your mouth) the more nutrients it’s likely to contain.
Here are some of the major nutrients that most of us are missing from our diets and where to find them in order to start living healthily again.
Omega 3 is a type of healthy fatty acid. It’s most commonly found in fish, avocado, walnuts and soy beans. You can also buy supplements of it in most shops.
This super-nutrient has been found to reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure whilst still providing the energy of regular fat. Omega 3 can reduce risks of heart disease, joint diseases (such as arthritis) and diabetes. It’s also known to help the symptoms of many people suffering from these conditions, as well as reducing perceptibility to asthma. On top of all this, Omega 3 is thought to relieve symptoms of many mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and mental degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Many vegetables are high in iron, most notably sprouts, broccoli and spinach. Cereal, bread, fish and soy beans also contain iron.
This nutrient is essential for keeping our blood healthy. Iron helps to produce haemoglobin, which is essential for carrying oxygen around our body. It can also help with muscle function and brain function. Those with low iron levels can experience fatigue of the mind and body as well as hypersensitivity to the cold. On top of being able to find it in several food, you can also buy iron supplements.
A lot of us know the health benefits of calcium – it’s essential for keeping our bones strong and healthy. A healthy calcium intake has also been found to lower the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
Calcium is most commonly found in milk and all milk products including cheese and yogurt. For those that are lactose intolerant, calcium can be harder to come by. Soy, nuts and tofu are some good alternatives. Fish can also be a good calcium source.
We each need a small amount of zinc in our regular diet. Zinc is found in roast beef, baked beans, crab, dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds, as well as some cereals. You can also buy zinc supplements at a chemist.
This mineral help with our immune system and is a known over-the-counter remedy for fighting colds. Zinc has also been linked to boosting fertility, helping muscle growth and helping with digesting. Those with low levels of zinc can often experience digestive problems, weight gain, hormonal problems, infertility and low immunity. Zinc is also thought to be very important at aiding our sense of taste and smell, and those suffering with a deficiency may experience a lack of taste and smell which can cause greater food craving and dissatisfaction with meals.
80% of the population are thought to not eat enough magnesium. Spinach, black beans, cashew nuts and potatoes are some of the foods that it appears most often in. You can also buy magnesium pills over the counter.
A deficiency in magnesium can cause anxiety, trouble sleeping and muscle aches. Magnesium helps us to produce energy keeping us feeling more awake during the day. It also has dual effect of lowering levels of cortisol, which makes it easier to sleep at night. This reduction in cortisol – the main stress hormone – also helps to calm our nerves and reduce anxiety. Those that suffer from high stress and insomnia can greatly benefit from upping their magnesium. Other symptoms of these conditions such as headaches and high blood pressure can also be aided with magnesium.
Sulfur is most naturally found in rainwater and seawater. It helps with insulin production and detoxifying our body. It’s also known as a ‘beauty mineral’ and can help heal skin and keep acne at bay, as well as helping with health of our hair and fingernails.
Very few of us get the right amount of sulfur in our diets any more due to changing methods in how we eat food. Sulfur is most commonly found in the rainwater that falls on fruit and vegetables and the soil that these plants grow from. In times gone by, traces of this sulfur remained when we ate these fruit and vegetables. Most food today is so thoroughly sterilized and processed that this trace of sulfur is lost by the time it reaches the supermarket shelves. Fortunately, there are places you can buy organic sulfur as a raw supplement. Going fully organic and growing some of your own fruit and veg may also help you to get this nutrient back into your diet.
A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is most commonly found in wheat germ. Sunflower seeds, almonds, red chilies, green olives, papaya and spinach are also rich sources of this vitamin.
Vitamin E can ward off all kinds of conditions and is especially effective against air pollution. It can also help fight neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s. By far the most important benefit of this vitamin is its effect on our eyes and vision. Vitamin E deficiency has been linked to a high risk of cataracts and other diseases that can cause blindness. You can buy vitamin E eye cream that help reduce symptoms of tiredness in eyes including black circles and lines. Vitamin E is also effective against wrinkles in the skin and can help slow down the natural aging process.
Vitamin D helps to keep bones, teeth and muscles happy. Those with a deficiency can be more prone to diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. This mineral is also very important for our mental state and is thought to be linked to the production of serotonin which is our natural happy drug.
The most common source of vitamin D is sunlight. Those that live in areas of the world with darker winters and less sunlight hours can often suffer from a deficiency of this precious mineral. Aside from its negative physical effects, this can also cause depression and is a leading cause of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Going on holiday abroad may be one option for tackling this deficiency, but there are also ways that we can get this vitamin through our diet. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and fresh tuna all contain Vitamin D. Red meat and egg yolks can also be a good source of this mineral. Unfortunately few vegan foods have this mineral other than the occasional trace in some breakfast cereals – vitamin D supplements are a better option in this scenario.
Much research is still being made into this vitamin, but results have shown that it can be very effective at warding off the risks of cancers, bone disease and heart disease. Bruising and bleeding easily can be signs that you may have a deficiency.
Egg yolks, fish eggs, curd cheeses and organ meats are some of the prime sources of this mineral.