In a country where obesity is epidemic, it might seem contradictory that most of us are starving for nutrients. The truth is, most of us are overfed… and undernourished.
The results are flabby physiques, lowered immunity and increased risk of chronic disease.
Today, you’ll discover the six key causes of nutrient deficiency and the easy ways to infuse your body with health-promoting nutrients.
#1 – Inadequate Nutrient Intake
It’s no surprise that the most common cause of nutrient depletion is poor food choices. According to a CDC press release, not one state population is consuming enough fruits and vegetables to get the phytonutrients our bodies desperately need.1
“No U.S. state is meeting national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to the first report to provide state–by–state data about fruit and vegetable consumption and policies that may help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables.”
#2 - Poor Nutrient Absorption
In addition to poor food choices, millions of people live with gastrointestinal disorders that make it difficult to absorb and utilize what little nutrients we do take in.
• Celiac Disease: When a person with celiac eats gluten, the tiny, hair-like projections that line the small intestine (called villi) become inflamed and flattened. Once the villi become damaged, they are no longer able to properly absorb vital nutrients.
• Crohn’s Disease: An inflammatory bowel disorder that causes obstructions or blockages in the intestinal tract. A combination of inflammation and excessive diarrhea can cause chronic malnutrition.
• Ulcerative Colitis: Causes chronic inflammation of the large intestine, which can result in micro-tears of the colon and also leads to poor nutrient absorption.2
• Dysbiosis: Your inner ecosystem is essential to assimilate (and even synthesize) nutrients. The use of antibiotics, NSAID pain relievers, antacids and other drugs can lead to a state of gut dysbiosis where “bad” bacterial strains outnumber the good. This can cause serious and long-term malnutrition.
• Low Stomach Acid: As we age, stomach acid is reduced… and so does our ability to properly break down food and assimilate nutrients.
#3 - Nutrient-Depleted Meat and Produce
Conventional farming practices, administration of growth hormones and antibiotics and grain-based feed significantly reduces the nutritional value of meat, seafood, milk and eggs.
Excessive use of pesticides, planting of genetically modified organisms, inadequate crop rotation and poor soil management has significantly depleted the nutrients in our soil. The result is crops with a fraction of the nutrients of yesteryear.
Long distance shipping of produce can also lead to significant nutrient loss.
#4 - Elevated Nutrient Requirement
Millions of us live with one or more autoimmune conditions. When we have a chronic illness, our nutritional needs are elevated for healing and recovery. When the immune system is in a constant state of battle, nutrient requirements stay high. Ironically, it is often inflammation caused by the illness itself that prevents the proper absorption of these vital nutrients.
#5 - Changes in Metabolism
Metabolic changes triggered by environmental pollution, excessive alcohol consumption, drugs and certain diseases are also a common cause of malnutrition.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, genetic variation has been shown to affect both food tolerances and dietary requirements.3 In other words, your own unique biochemistry may cause higher needs for specific nutrients.
#6 - Low Food Diversity – Eating the Same Foods Over and Over
We like what we eat… and we eat what we like, right?
When something is affordable, quick and in our dietary comfort zone, we are often eat the same dishes day in and day out, week after week, month after month. And among all causes nutrient depletion, this may be the most overlooked.
Despite what our minds want, our bodies crave diversity. Our Paleolithic ancestors consumed a diet including more than 200 species of plants. And when it came to hunting, organ meats were the most prized. This is a stark contrast to the modern American diet.
The Nutrient Depletion Solution
The solution to nutrient depletion is quite simple. First, ensure you properly absorbing nutrients from your food. A functional medicine practitioner can help determine any imbalances or inadequacies you may have and work with you to correct those.
Next, choose the foods with the most “nutritional bang per bite” including:
• Organic produce, ideally picked at its peak and enjoyed shortly thereafter. Aim for 7-9 servings of above-ground, non-starchy veggies per day
• Bone marrow and nutrient-dense bone broth (enjoy daily as a delicious, drinkable “supplement”)
• Organ meats – especially liver (chicken, beef and bison liver, braunschweiger, liverwurst) and heart (beef and chicken hearts) and beef and lamb sweetbreads. Enjoy organ meats a few times per week to supercharge your diet with powerful nutrients and correct nutritional deficiencies.
Ed Note: Kelley Herring is the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, makers of grain-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic baking mixes for cakes, cookies, breads, pizza and much more.
- Majority of Americans Not Meeting Recommendations for Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
CDC. September 29th, 2009
- Mijac DD, Janković GL, Jorga J, Krstić MN. Nutritional status in patients with active inflammatory bowel disease: prevalence of malnutrition and methods for routine nutritional assessment. Eur J Intern Med. 2010;21(4):315-9.
- Stover PJ. Influence of human genetic variation on nutritional requirements. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(2):436S-442S.