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Nutritional Therapy and The 5 foundations of Nutrition

What exactly is a Nutritional Therapist, you ask?

It is a new paraprofessional certified to make nutritional recommendations to help balance body chemistry and achieve optimal wellness through diet. Nutritional therapy understands there is more to optimal health then simply having a "perfect diet". Nutritional therapy works with individuals to help them understand that a properly prepared, nutrient-dense diet of whole foods provides the ultimate foundation leading to optimal health. However, it is essential to address the 5 pillars of nutrition which include: digestion, blood sugar balance, mineral balance, fatty acid balance and hydration.

DIET is the ULTIMATE foundation, or the "base", and the 5 pillars are crucial to stabilize the foundation. Weaknesses in the foundation and pillars lead to the degenerative health problems that are all around us. (It is also important to know there are other factors outside of nutritional therapy- electromagnetic, energetic, emotional and structural that should be addressed as well.)

In this article I will touch briefly on each pillar. In next month's newsletter I will go into more detail about digestion since it is such an important piece of our health. Actually, all of the pillars will be discussed in more detail in future newsletters! When we are eating a diet of nutrient-dense foods we require less food; by making sure the foods we do consume are properly prepared (i.e. soaking raw nuts in sea salt and water then dehydrating them), our bodies can more readily use the nutrients provided. An important thing to understand is there is no perfect diet for everyone, and a good diet will vary from person to person. I will address this with each client and discuss all the ways to make food more nutrient-dense.

Now for the pillars.

PILLAR #1: Digestion
A person could be eating a fabulous whole food diet, but if they are not digesting properly they are not utilizing the nutrients in this great diet. Digestion problems are out of control in our country. Most people experience bloating, reflux, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, etc. almost everyday, especially as they get older. Problems with digestion is a sign that something is not right in the body. Digestion is a north to south process, starting with the brain. The sight and smell of food triggers the salivary glands to begin producing saliva. Saliva moistens the food to help with swallowing. Chewing helps break down the food into smaller parts. This makes less work for the stomach. SO SLOW DOWN, SMELL YOUR FOOD AND CHEW YOUR FOOD and allow yourself time to rest after eating. Digestion has to occur in a relaxed state. If we are eating while walking, eating, driving, etc., we are not in a relaxed state so proper digestion cannot occur. Taking the time to smell food, think about food and chew really well is critical to proper digestion. Digestion takes a lot of energy and the body needs time to make it happen. Many people find huge relief once they stop eating on the go, eat slower and smell their food.

Pillar #2: Blood sugar regulation
We are designed to use a balance of unrefined carbohydrates along with GOOD proteins and fats as our primary fuel. When our bodies have to constantly work to regulate blood sugar balance they have no time for other important "house cleaning" processes. Too much or too little glucose in the bloodstream triggers the release of hormones to return the glucose levels to "normal". In order to reach optimal health, our bodies cannot constantly be working to balance blood sugar. Getting the proper balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins will help with this balance. YES, good fats are critical in this process. Our fat-phobic country has caused people to consume way too many carbohydrates and sugar! There has never been such an emergency need to lower blood sugar.

Pillar #3: Fatty Acid Balance
The human body needs a mixture of healthy fatty acids in the diet to maintain optimal health. Healthy fatty acid deficiency is epidemic. Historically, fatty acid deficiency was not an issue, because the range of foods was much broader, and wild things in their natural form are high in Omega-3ʼs. Bad fats (hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils and fried fats) are toxic and interfere with the essential roles fatty acids play within a healthy body.

Pillar #4: Mineral Balance
Minerals compose about 4% of our body. We do not produce minerals, therefore we must get them through our food. Out of the 103 known minerals, at least 18 are necessary for good health. Minerals help maintain PH balance in the body and so much more. Almost everyone gets enough calcium in their diet, however, they are missing the cofactors that allow the body to absorb/ use it. For example, we must have good digestion to properly absorb the calcium, we have to be hydrated as well.

Pillar #5: Hydration
Water is the most important nutrient in the body. Water makes up 55-60% of our body mass. Water is the most common nutritional deficiency in the American population. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water each day. HOWEVER, for any diuretic beverage consumed (alcohol, juice, caffeine, soda) more water must be consumed. For every 8 oz of these liquids, 12 more ounces of water needs to be consumed! WOW.

Thank you for reading this article. Now go drink your water and remember to relax while you eat your meals.

Wishing you health,
Annie Adams, NTP