March 12th, 2012 by Digestive Detective
In honor of March being National Nutrition Month, I'm issuing a challenge: The 30-Day Nutrient Exchange.
Far too often when I speak with individuals regarding their nutrition or coach clients, they're more concerned with food quantity and how many calories they're eating while not paying attention to the quality of the foods they put in their mouth. Let me make myself perfectly clear on this point:
A CALORIE IS NOT A CALORIE IS NOT A CALORIE.
Quality matters. Most people overlook the concept of nutrient density when considering what to eat on a daily basis. Nutrient dense foods are those rich in nutrient content with micronutrients such as a variety of vitamins, minerals and health-promoting compounds. These "functional foods" are not simply caloric energy, but play a vital role in the metabolic, hormonal and disease-protective processes of the body.
At the same time, there are a variety of "anti-nutrients" found in commonly eaten foods that can serve to undermine your goal of optimizing your overall health. These anti-nutrients are somewhat more insidious, being wrapped within the context of foods promoted by mainstream media and "experts" as being healthy. Now obviously the first place to start when making a change to your diet is to eliminate/reduce the glaring offenders such as sugar, salt and industrial seed oils (vegetable, soybean, safflower, canola, etc.) and generally any junk/processed foods. When you've successfully removed or reduced these, then you can begin to look at the anti-nutrients or non-nutritious food compounds.
Okay, so here's your challenge for the month of March: Exchange and eliminate one anti-nutrient food item while adding a new nutrient-dense "superfood". Here is the list to choose from along with the specifics regarding their nutritional content:
All the rage nowadays in marketing on food packages and new diet/recipe books, gluten has become the poster-child for nasty nutrition. Unfortunately this buzz around the grain-based protein has diminished its true nature and made many see it as another fad food to avoid. The truth is all the buzz is truly worthy - gluten is a highly irritating molecule in the gut and can result in an autoimmune response for many. Here are some of the reasons gluten made our list:
- Part of prolamine family
- Very difficult to digest due to lack of enzyme to cleave peptide bond
- Peptides can impair various gut receptors
- Globulins (prolamines) very allergenic
Gluten-containing foods: wheat, barley, rye, oats (potential cross-reactivity with rice, corn)
Lectins - Found in beans and legumes (including peanuts), lectins can block the absorption of key minerals such as calcium. In addition to causing these nutrient deficiencies, lectins can cause severe intestinal damage and disrupt digestion.
Lectin-containing foods: beans (kidney, pinto, black, navy, red, chickpeas, etc.) and peanuts
Pasteurized Milk - Pasteurization was designed to kill potentially harmful bacteria that may be present in raw milk - the only problem is that the process also kills off all the beneficial bacteria healthy for our digestive tracts, and denatures the proteins and fats found in the milk due to the rapid heating process used. Enzymes such as phosphatase and lactase can also become inactive making the milk harder to digest and break down. Skim Milk is perhaps the biggest offender because when the fat is taken out, so are the fat-soluble vitamins, leaving you instead with a watered-down version high in sugars (lactose).
Pasteurized-milk containing foods: milk, cheese, yogurts
Take note of how you feel and how your body responds as you eliminate these anti-nutrients and then when (if) you add them back in - note any potential changes in energy, digestion, elimination and overall sense of well-being. Remember, your body provides you with signals to inform you of how the food you put in your mouth may be affecting your body from the inside out.
At the end of the 30-Day Challenge, you may decide to continue leaving one or more of these items out of your diet - and your body may very well thank you.
- Liver or other organ meats (packed with vitamins A, K2 & D)
- Bone Broth/Stock (full of glycine, collagen and other joint and gut enhancing compounds)
- Fermented veggies (such as sauerkraut, cultured beets, kimchee, daikon – great for digestive health & beneficial bacteria)
- Grass-fed beef (contains CLA & omega-3s)
Check back on TheFitRx.com all month for articles and recipes that include these power-packed, nutrient dense foods and discover ways to easily include them in your favorite dishes! Here's one to get you started: Healthy Powerburgers
Accept the challenge and GO FOR IT! Interact with us all month on Facebook to share your experiences and get support during your own 30-Day Challenge!