Nutrition and food have always been interlinked: one cannot exist without the other. Our experts continually remind us to get enough of the nutrients that we need from the right food sources, and many of our dietary programs and wellness models are founded on this principle. However, we don’t always get enough nutrition from just food.
According to an article published last May 2015 on Harvard Health Publishing, epidemiologist Dr. Howard Sesso explained that even when we eat a well-balanced diet, we may still not get all the nutrients that we need. He attributed it to aging, saying that as we age, the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food wanes; similarly, changes in energy needs precipitate a decrease in food intake, which affects nutrient levels.
Separate surveys by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES over the past decade have also exposed shortfalls in micronutrient absorption from food. From 2003 to 2006, collected data from 16,000 individuals published in the 2011 Journal of Nutrition found that nearly everybody fell short of getting the average requirements for vitamins D and E, and more than one-third of those surveyed didn't get enough magnesium, vitamin A, and calcium. These studies analyzed:
- the amount of each nutrient consumed from food that has not been enriched or fortified
- the amount of each nutrient consumed from food that has undergone enrichment and fortification; and
- the amount of each nutrient consumed from all food sources, as well as dietary supplements
- In addition, from 2013 to 2016, the NHANES survey found that the American population did not get the recommended amounts of under-consumed or shortfall nutrients. Almost half didn't meet adequate requirements for calcium, while more than half did not consume enough vitamin D.
Decreasing Nutrition in Food and Why It's Happening
There are many factors that point to the declining nutritional value of food, and as early as 2012, numerous studies have underpinned various reasons for this. Some of the most important nuggets of knowledge gained from these studies are as follows:
- Wheat grown 100 years ago contained twice the amount of protein as modern varieties of wheat
- Conducting an analysis of USDA nutrient data, biochemist Donald Davis of the University of Texas found that there have been significant declines in the amount of protein, phosphorus, vitamin C, calcium, and riboflavin found in traditionally-grown fruits and vegetables over the last 50 years or so, and similar trends have also been noted in other places, such as the United Kingdom; and
- The amount of protein and other nutrients has declined in modern varieties of corn
A 2004 study that evaluated data from the Department of Agriculture for 43 garden crops from 1950 to 1999 also found valid declines in nutrient value for six main nutrients: potassium protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins B2 and C.
There are a couple of reasons that explain this, and foremost of them are:
- Environmental changes. Water scarcity and temperature increases have been associated with depleted nutrient value in crops. Additionally, higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has ramped up photosynthesis for crops, which causes the production of simple carbohydrates such as glucose at the expense of other nutrients, such as zinc, protein, and iron.
- Soil depletion. Agricultural practices developed to spotlight the growth rate, size, and pest resistance of crops have invariably compromised nutrient development in plants. As nutrients in the soil are stripped by these modern practices, we also get food that is less nutritious than their earlier counterparts. Other studies cited by the Organic Consumers Association support the same findings:
- Analysis of nutrient data of 12 fresh plants from 1975 to 1997 by the Kushi Institute found a drop of 27% in the average calcium levels, 37% in average iron levels, 21% in average vitamin A levels, and 30% in average vitamin C levels
- Another study published in the British Food Journal found that in the nutrient data of 20 vegetables from 1930 to 1980 studied, average calcium content declined by 20%, average iron content by 22%, and average potassium content by 14%; and
- We need to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A from one fruit as earlier generations
- Genetic dilution. As growers transition to prioritizing higher yield more than any other component, developed plant or crop varieties contain a lesser amount of nutrients. For instance, widely grown varieties of broccoli in the 1950s contained 13 mg/g of calcium, but modern varieties now only have about 4 mg/g.
- Environmental dilution. specific conditions in the way that crops are grown also contribute to the decline in their nutritional value. Fertilizer and irrigation practices, in particular, sometimes compromise the resulting nutrient density of our food. Using too much nitrogen, for example, triggers the absorption of more water by the crop, which gets in the way of producing more nutritious yield.
Outside of agriculture, food processing, cooking, and preparation practices such as freezing, drying, and reheating also affect the total nutrient value of the food.
Why It's Important to Get Your Daily Nutrients: Bruce Ames' Theory of Aging
When we don't get enough of the nutrients that we need to function properly, our bodies make do. And the way that we do this may lead to adverse consequences, later in life. Nutrition scientist Dr. Bruce Ames explains the importance of getting the right amount of nutrients every day with his Theory of Aging, which posits that any insufficiency in the necessary nutrients needed by the body triggers a response mechanism that favors short-term survival over long-term wellness.
Put simply, when we don't get enough of a vitamin or a mineral, our body channels what little we have of that vitamin or mineral into specific areas that immediately need it. If, say, you don't have enough iron, your body may invariably get its iron from any organ in the body that has it, and use it for the short-term function that merits it.
What does this do to the body, in the long run? Dr. Ames says that constant shortages in micronutrients will impair long-term functions that are necessary for longevity and health, promote potential DNA damage, and increase the risk for aging-related diseases.
Vitamins and minerals through whole food supplementation can help bridge the gap between micronutrient shortages and optimal health.
The Difference Between Synthetic Vitamins and Whole Food Sources
Now, the key phrase there is: whole food. Supplementation brings a lot of potential benefits, but there are differences between synthetic vitamins and whole food sources.
Synthetic vitamins are formulated from artificial sources through an industrial process that is designed to mimic the absorption of nutrients by the body. However, numerous studies have suggested that they are not as bioavailable as whole food vitamins, and not recognizable to the body. Additionally, they exist in some forms that may not be as readily absorbable or usable, and there are synthetic supplements that contain nutrients not found in natural food and, thus, not necessary to human health. Some synthetic vitamins can also be harmful to the body when taken in unnaturally high doses, such as vitamins A, C, and D. And the safety of these synthetic supplements cannot be guaranteed: some have been known to contain toxic ingredients that do not belong in the body.
Whole food vitamins, on the other hand, are derived from natural foods. They typically condense and concentrate fruits and vegetables to create natural vitamins with increased food synergy. This makes them more beneficial to our well-being, as they are more recognizable and bioavailable to the body. Whole foods also contain more trace minerals than synthetic vitamins, as well as all the other important building blocks of proper nutrition.
The Most Important Building Blocks of Nutrition
Speaking of nutrition’s building blocks, here are some of the most important things that we should be getting from the food that we consume.
- Macronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in large amounts, as they are essential to nearly every function. They are classified into three major components: carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
- Micronutrients. Also called vitamins and minerals, micronutrients are only required in small amounts, but they are integral to disease prevention, healthy development, and general well-being. Examples include the B-vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, and sodium.
- Fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that passes through the body undigested, which helps the body regulate its use of sugar, control blood pressure, and aid in digestive health. Everyone needs 20 to 30 grams of fiber every day.
- Phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts that may be beneficial for our health. There are over 5,000 known phytochemicals at present, and they are associated with a host of health advantages. For instance, the carotenoids in tomatoes, squash, and carrots are associated with potentially inhibiting cancer growth and cardiovascular diseases. Anthocyanins found in berries may lower blood pressure, and flavonoids in onions, apples, and coffee can help prevent inflammation and the growth of tumors.
- Antioxidants. Antioxidants are believed to help fight free radicals in the body, which may be beneficial for preventing cancer, heart disease, and other medical issues. They can be naturally occuring, such as vitamins C and E, as well as flavonoids, phenols, and tannins. They come from plant-based food sources, such as nuts, vegetables, herbs, fruits, seeds, and whole grains.
The LYFE Fuel Essentials Shake
Knowing what we now know about nutrition, it only makes sense that we make sure that we give our bodies the food that we deserve. The LYFE Fuel Essentials Shake offers all the goodness of 25 whole food sources, with the convenience of a complete meal replacement that you can take any time, any day, at your convenience.
The LYFE Fuel shake harnesses the best of science to give you a formulation that handpicked 25 superfood ingredients at the right nutrient density to bring you:
- Complete plant proteins
- Organic alkalizing greens
- Antioxidant-rich superfoods
- Energizing healthy fats; and
- A full spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals
With these nutritional powerhouse, the LYFE Fuel Essentials shake is perfect for filling common nutritional gaps. According to the 2020 Global Nutrition Report by the World Health Organization, 1 in 9 people is undernourished or hungry, while 1 in 3 is overweight or obese. In the United States, we are "well-fed but undernourished", as exemplified by these unfortunate statistics from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES):
- Almost 31 percent of the American population runs the risk of at least one type of vitamin deficiency
- 95 percent of American adults and 98 percent of American tees don't get enough vitamin D
- 61 percent of American adults and 90 percent of American tees don't get enough magnesium
- 32 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin B12
- Four percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin E; and
- One percent of American adults don't get enough vitamin A
Additionally, this complete meal replacement can help us along our weight loss journey. The US is considered to have the highest obesity rate in the world, and 48 percent of Americans attribute this to poor diet and lack of exercise. And according to a 2018 survey, nearly 80 percent of Americans adults aged 36 and below feel that they "could be healthier". With only 110 calories per serving, the LYFE Fuel Essentials shake allows you to stay in fat-burning mode.
Even better: it helps you boost your metabolism! With its low-carb formulation, you can look forward to metabolic advantages. A 2012 study confirmed this, asserting that a low-carb diet increased energy expenditure during a weight maintenance period more, compared to a low fat diet.
Finally, it is perfectly plant-based. It uses the world's most bioavailable and complete plant protein as its foundation, and it offers high quality taste and effectiveness sans the synthetic ingredients, artificial flavors, or highly processed sweeteners. You don't just get the natural nutrients that Nature has intended for you, you also give back knowing that you support a product that is sustainably sourced.
Choose your flavor today! The LYFE Fuel Essentials Shake comes in vanilla and chocolate. To know more, visit the product page: Click Here
Written by LYFE Fuel for Lyfe Fuel.