Many people are subject to the common misconception that calories are made equal, but what they do and the benefit that they provide to the body is not the same.
Our bodies need a vast mix of vitamins, minerals and fibre to function, and some foods offer us a higher nutrient density than others.
For example, strawberries are a great source of vitamins C and K, fibre, folic acid, manganese, potassium and phytonutrients (which are what makes them bright red). You can therefore say a strawberry is nutrient dense.
Bread on the other hand, as a processed product, is not; roughly 21 of the original nutrients from the grain are removed during processing and only 4 are replaced.
Giving yourself the best possible intake of nutrients allows your body to be as healthy as possible and to work as well as it can! Having optimum nutrition promotes mental and emotional performance as well as optimal physical performance.
Fueling your body with the correct nutrition is also associated with lower incidence of ill-health and longer healthy lifespan. Therefore, excluding certain food groups will lead to adverse effects on the body.
Nutrient Dense Diet
- Strong hair and nails: Vitamins A, B, E, C, Folic acid, iron and zinc.
- Stable blood pressure: Vitamins C & D, Calcium, Potassium & Magnesium.
- Healthy Lungs: Vitamins D, C, E & A.
- Healthy Liver: Vitamins B12 & A
- Healthy bladder and kidney function:Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium.
- Strong Bones: Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus.
- Increased Energy: Vitamin B complex and Iron.
- Sharp hearing: Vitamins A, C, E, B12, Folic acid, and Biotin.
- Clear, healthy skin: Vitamins A, C, E, D & Biotin.
- Healthy muscle tissue: Vitamins B12, E, A & Iron.
- Supple Joints: Calcium, Vitamin C, D & Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Strong Immune System: Vitamins A, C, E & Zinc
- Healthy digestion: Fibre, Vitamins B12, C and Niacin.
- Healthy blood sugar: Vitamins C, D & B complex.
Nutrient Deficient Diet
- Calcium deficiency: osteoporosis, leg cramps, white bands across fingernails.
- Iron deficiency: anaemia, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, hair loss, cracked lips, difficulty concentrating.
- Magnesium deficiency: migraine, headache, brittle nails, fatigue, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome, muscle cramps, low potassium blood levels, high blood pressure, carbohydrate cravings.
- Omega 3 deficiency: dry skin, brittle hair and nails, poor concentration, anxiety, joint pain, lack of physical endurance.
- Vitamin A deficiency: dry eyes, dry/rough skin, frequent viral infections.
- Vitamin C deficiency: anaemia, easy bruising, chronic fatigue, poor wound healing, stress/ infections more likely to occur.
- Vitamin D deficiency: osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, inflammatory disease.
- Vitamin E deficiency: anaemia, numbness of the hands/ feet, decrease in effective muscle coordination, muscle weakness, weakened immune function.
- Vitamin K deficiency: osteoporosis, easy bruising and bleeding.
- Zinc deficiency: skin conditions (acne/rashes), poor wound healing, hair loss, diarrhoea, irritability, anxiety, loss of appetite, impaired immune function, growth failure in children, chronic fatigue, hypothyroidism.
- Protein deficiency: thin/ brittle hair, ridges in nails, weakness, fatigue, muscle soreness and cramps, slow healing (white cell count reduces in low protein state which causes lowered immune system), GI disease (less efficient transportation of nutrients around the body).
- Carbohydrate deficiency: use of fat + protein stores for energy, tiredness, lower performance in exercise (body has to use muscle stores to produce glucose/ energy), hunger.
- Fat deficiency: deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins, lower immune system, essential fatty acid deficiency (has negative effects on vision), dry skin.