Incorporating Holistic Nutrition for Variety & Balance
17 min read
Eating food that promotes holistic health is an incredibly personal affair since every person has varying needs based on underlying health conditions and specific lifestyle goals. However, despite the drastically changing individual nutritional needs, one observation remains common: the need for a varying and balanced diet. Following a diet that ensures you are getting all the right nutrients is crucial for maintaining optimal health.
So, are you consuming foods that provide all the essential nutrients, or is there something lacking?
Read our explainer as we delve deep into the whys and the hows of incorporating varying food groups in your diet for a holistic approach to nutrition.
What Exactly is Holistic Nutrition?
For those still scratching your heads, let's address the elephant in the room: what exactly is holistic nutrition, and why should you care?
To best understand holistic nutrition, let's break the term into two. The word holistic, on its own, is the interconnection of something that forms one whole. On the other hand, nutrition refers to being nourished by taking in nutrients that allow growth, maintenance, and reproduction.
When you combine the two words now, the basic holistic nutrition principles are not difficult to understand.
Holistic nutrition is an individual approach to diet that focuses on the person as a whole, considering their physical and mental health. This view on overall health takes a unique look at each individual, curating a lifestyle plan that considers various factors like allergies and deficiencies.
In simple words, holistic nutrition is a lifestyle choice that benefits the individuals from the inside out, keeping in mind that what may be suitable for one person might not work for the other.
And if done right, holistic nutrition meal plans can help with disease prevention, boost the immune system, improve sleep quality, aid weight management, and regulate blood pressure. In addition, holistic nutrition professionals believe the body can cure itself if provided with the right kind of diet, where it uses food as fuel rather than a filler.
6 Foods to Incorporate in a Holistic Diet
The centrality of unprocessed whole foods is the primary choice for holistic nutrition for every individual. Rich in nutrients, these unrefined foods are the drivers of optimal health.
Choosing the correct diet plays a vital role in collective health since your stomach, which absorbs nutrients and expels toxins, affects every other body function. However, even with whole foods, you need to have meal variety and create a nutrition balance that ensures you get enough nutrients. We need macronutrients and micronutrients for energy, muscle growth, immunity, bone integrity, and all other body functions.
So, what sort of healthy food choices make up a nutrient-rich holistic diet? Here's everything you need to know
1. Sprouted Whole Grains
Soaking and sprouting helps eliminate lectins (protective antinutrient properties found in plants) and make grains more nutritious. Ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet, brown rice, barley, kamut, sorghum, farro and other minimally processed sources should be chosen over refined and fortified grains. Nutrient-rich grains like these are a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, and antioxidants.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
Holistic nutrition revolves around eating food in its natural state, and nothing beats fruits and vegetables when consuming unprocessed raw foods. Moreover, they supplement the diet with various vitamins and minerals. But, in today’s modern food system, not all fruits and vegetables are the same. Opt for locally grown produce from a source you can trust that doesn’t use pesticides are commercial fertilizers. Better yet…start a garden and grow your own!
This topic is a bit more tricky and it really comes down to the source. Meat from humanely raised animals that are fed a natural diet is among one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, which is why it has always been a staple part of the human diet.
Unfortunately, the industrialization of our food system has deteriorated the quality of this food source at the expense of both human nutrition and animal welfare. Therefore, if you don’t have access to the best quality meat (or can’t afford it) you’d be better off opting for a more plant-centric diet.
For vegans and exclusively plant-based eaters, non-animal alternative protein sources such as legumes, chickpeas, lentils, and tofu are an excellent addition to holistic nutrition and have become staples for how they get their protein, even if they lack essential amino acids.
They are also often lower in calories than animal-based protein. Recently, pea protein powders have taken the supplements industry by storm for their iron-rich characteristics and easy digestibility.
Avoid plant-based meat alternatives because they are usually ultra processed and less healthy than the real thing…assuming you're getting it from a quality source as previously mentioned.
Excessive consumption of certain fatty acids is a potential risk factor for heart disease, as indicated in various research studies. However, not all fats are bad for you. It’s triglycerides that are the most problematic, which is what is found in most of the junk food filling our plates and lining supermarket shelves these days.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can actually be good for you. Include olive, canola, and seed oils into your diets. Avocados and coconut are also terrific healthy fat sources.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are great choices to add variety and ensure meeting your daily micronutrient quota. In addition, they are fiber-rich, have good fats, and help regulate body weight, all of which aid healthy living.
6. Animal Products
As we alluded to previously, consuming animal-based products in holistic nutrition can pose a bit of a challenge. Since holistic principles dictate that you know and trust where your food was sourced from, finding such information about dairy, poultry, meat, and seafood can be challenging.
If you were to add animal products to your diet (and you very well may have to based on your individual body's needs), make sure you know how the food is grown and how the animals were fed and slaughtered.
The more information you have, the more empowered you’ll be to make responsible choices that align with your health goals while respecting the planet and our precious natural resources.
For example, you can use dairy alternatives to avoid inflammation caused by conventional milk and dairy products and opt for beef, pork, and poultry from pasture-raised animals.
Plant-Based Diets and Holistic Nutrition
You can adopt a plant-based diet to meet your nutritional needs. Contrary to popular belief, a plant-based diet is different from a vegan diet because it allows minimal use of animal products if preferred. As such, a better term to use might actually be “plant-centric diet” meaning eating mostly plants, but not exclusively plant-based.
The basic idea is to plan your meal around plant-based whole foods, adding animal-derived products minimally while being mindful of how they are sourced. This makes plant-based meals much easier to follow and makes it easier to achieve your holistic nutrition goals than going vegan and restricting entire food groups altogether.
It's all about leveling up your nutritional education and approaching your health as a complex interplay of various life aspects, including physical, mental, and biochemical health. A holistic nutritionist works to find the root cause of your health problems and address it with nutrition and supplements from a whole-person perspective.
Since the majority of medical schools don’t require in-depth nutritional education, most conventional medicine doctors are uneducated in the role nutrition plays in achieving optimal health, or they simply don’t have time for it in daily practice.
It’s therefore prudent for anyone looking to improve performance, energy, and overall wellness to take nutrition seriously by getting educated on the subject or seek the guidance of a holistic medical practitioner who is.
Healthy Eating is About Getting The Right Nutrients
Certified nutritional practitioners look at every patient individually, relying on their innate wisdom and diagnostic testing to assess health status and overall wellness. This is a concept known as bio-individuality - a core principle that is well understood in the integrative nutrition world. This is an important concept because it cuts through the dietary dogma that gets pushed by the mainstream media to instead focus on what is right for the individual.
When we talk about eating a healthy diet, eating a balanced diet from real whole foods is key. When it comes to getting the nutrition we need from food, avoiding ultra-processed foods and being mindful of what you eat is the best place to start. Nourishing the body primarily using real whole foods helps with disease control and is helps lay the foundation for optimal wellness and longevity...a goal that is only possible when you get the proper nutrients to support optimal bodily functions.
The real question is: are unprocessed whole foods alone enough to provide all the required nutrients to your body? Unfortunately, unless you're growing and raising all your own food, it's really difficult to get everything your body needs from food alone.
Even as we munch on healthy food all day long and suck down greens juices, many of us are failing to reach optimal levels of all the essential nutrients through diet alone.
While it is a tough pill to swallow, the truth is that food nowadays is just not as healthy as it was a few decades ago. Several studies confirm that large chunks of the American population cannot get desired amounts of several essential micronutrients from food alone.
So, what can be done to get sufficient essential nutrients with holistic nutrition? Let's find out!
Many people believe that eating food that is considered conventionally healthy is a one-size-fits-all solution. Yet, even after following strict diet regimens, they are often left frustrated when they do not see the same results as others, whether in physical appearance or varying energy levels. This is because while others may be able to meet their daily target of essential nutrients, most people still need a bit of help. This lack of nutrition hinders day-to-day performance and overall health and wellness.
You can find out what nutrients you lack by drawing up blood, but even those results are often misleading as these tests assess a severe lack of vitamins and minerals that may cause diseases. Thus, the "normal range" is often not the optimal range.
To make matters worse, even organic fruits and vegetables, often the backbone of holistic nutrition meal plans, have suffered in quality from a lack of strict regulations and may contribute to harmful consumption of chemicals used in pesticides.
So, what gives?
Whether you are opting for organic food or switching to a holistic diet, one thing was clear: food alone, no matter how it was sourced, is not enough to provide essential nutrients and could result in various nutrient deficiencies.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies and How They Impact Your Body
Generalizing nutritional deficiencies and limiting optimal nutrient intake is not simple.
Because holistic nutrition is all about dumping the one right "diet plan." Instead, it focuses on what plan is best for you, what meal variety suits your nutritional needs, and what vitamins and minerals you need more than others. As a result, everything in holistic nutrition is highly personalized.
Our genetics and response to food and environment play a vital role in how a holistic nutritionist devises our meal plan. However, here we will discuss some of the most common nutritional deficiencies and their impact, keeping in mind that they vary depending on the person.
1. Vitamin D Deficiency: hinders growth, bone formation, immunity, anti-inflammation, and calcium metabolism
2. Vitamin K2 Deficiency: decreased prevention against cardiovascular disease and decline in bone health
3. Magnesium Deficiency: lack of prevention against toxins and heavy metals, interruption in metabolic processes, and energy production
4. Vitamin A Deficiency: difficulty maintaining healthy bones, vision, teeth, and skin, and poor immunity
5. Vitamin B12 Deficiency: causes brain fog, mood swings, fatigue, and severe brain disorders if not treated
Now we know how important it is to get the proper nutrients, but what can you do when food, even organic, apparently unprocessed, unfiltered, and raw, does not provide it in totality? Food and supplements are our two essential nutrient providers. So, you turn to another source: supplements.
We by no means deny the importance of whole foods in holistic nutrition. However, it is just as essential to complement what is missing in food naturally with targeted supplements that make up for what is lacking.
Holistic Nutrition Professionals On Targeted Supplementation
While a holistic nutritionist will construct a meal plan based on individual needs, it's not limited to just positive changes in dietary choices.
In fact, after gathering enough data through lab testing to get an accurate picture of their patient's health, they often recommend vitamins and supplements that target deficiencies that food alone cannot eliminate. All this would work towards balancing the body to perform at its full potential rather than treating a singular aspect.
A Practical Approach To Holistic Nutrition
It is often easy to get overwhelmed when beginning a new healthcare regimen. Simply Google the term holistic nutrition and you're sure to get lost in a dizzying circuit of holistic nutrition blogs online that can vary widely from fact-based science to whacky and esoteric.
Without getting too far into the weeds on the topic, here's an easy way to incorporate a holistic approach into your lifestyle, which allows you to go at your own pace while making smart diet choices.
(Always get medical advice from a health professional before starting any new diet or regimens.)
Know What Food You're Eating
Skip ultra-processed foods, and opt for nutrient-rich, organic whole foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Ultra-processed foods are often linked with overeating and obesity. Whole foods make you feel full for longer, curbing cravings.
Watch Your Water, Sugar, and Sodium Intake
Cut down on your sugar and sodium intake, often found in processed foods. Overconsumption of both is rampant and linked to various health issues.
Ensure drinking the daily recommended amount of water (typically eight glasses) to aid smooth bodily functions, including temperature regulation and sound sleep.
Add Some Healthy Fats Into The Mix
Vegetable oils (olive, coconut, avocado), seeds, fish, and nuts are all sources of healthy fats. These fats are beneficial for your health and promote heart disease prevention and good blood sugar levels. However, be mindful not to overdo it!
Portion Sizes Are Crucial
Regardless of what you're eating, even if on a healthy diet, too much of a good thing can inhibit your success, especially if losing stubborn belly fat and lowering body fat percentage is a priority. Thus, make sure you exercise portion control. Failure to do so can result in sleep deprivation, inflammation, and poor digestive health.
Holistic Nutritionist Vs. A Traditional Nutritionist: What Is the Difference?
In many ways, a holistic nutritionist does the same work as its traditional counterpart. However, holistic nutrition professionals do not just focus on diet but also on overall lifestyle and its impact on optimizing health.
Thus, when you go to a holistic nutritionist, discard the overused weighing scales and food pyramid images from your mind. While a conventional nutrition professional or registered dietitian fixates more on calorie counting, meal planning, and consumption of macronutrients, a holistic health coach keeps in mind how proper nutrition will affect your entire body and puts more of an emphasis on nutrient-density and food quality.
Moreover, holistic nutritionists impart knowledge and give their patients tools to help their body, mind, and overall health by explaining what food they are eating, how it's sourced, and how the environment affects our lifestyle.
Are Holistic Nutrition Professionals Certified?
Despite the increase in certified nutritional therapy practitioner job openings (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), there are no state-regulated minimum education requirements for holistic nutritionists, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they aren’t qualified.
In fact, a holistic nutritionist with a certification from a vetted institution will generally be more qualified and educated on the subject of nutrition than your general practitioner. You’ll also get a lot more one-on-one time, a rarity in today’s modern medical establishment.
Many holistic nutritionists enroll in nutrition programs like the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and get certified by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board to stay up to date with current professional nutrition practices and gain trust of patients via the credentials earned for continuing education. Specific certifications, like the Certified Nutrition Professional, by the NANP also require supervised practice hours.
The Bottom Line
Holistic nutrition is much more than a diet - it is a lifestyle that focuses on nutrient-rich whole foods to provide essential nutrients that not only fuel the body but also heal it! In addition, holistic nutritionists look deep into their patient's medical history, including deficiencies and allergies, to curate a tailor-made plan for them.
However, with food quality consistently going down, even organic whole foods often cannot provide all the essential nutrients you need daily to be at your best. But, you can meet these requirements by complementing your whole foods rich diet with whole food nutritional supplements that tackle this issue head-on.
For example, LyfeFuel nutrition shakes make it easy to stick to holistic nutrition while ensuring you get all the essential nutrients to get the most out of your body.
Check out our shakes for a quick and easy nutrient boost to keep your body performing its best.
Disclaimer: The LYFE Fuel blog is for informational purposes only. The information does not serve as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. We kindly ask you not to ignore professional medical advice because of any information you’ve read on https://lyfefuel.com/. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult a physician or appropriate health care expert.