We are all familiar with proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but how much attention do you pay to your micronutrient intake?
Micronutrients are needed for hundreds of chemical reactions in your body everyday. They feature in the production of hormones which regulate our sleep, mood, sex drive, thyroid function, the list goes on. When we obtain these micronutrients via natural food sources, they are also cleverly packaged by nature to include phytonutrients and fibre, both of which have been shown to have benefits for our beneficial bacteria (the good guys!) in our gut. However, with increasingly busy lives, often convenience of food takes priority over quality. In fact, dietary assessment of 9 out of 10 clients seen in clinic have shown a sub-optimal intake of 3 or more of these important micronutrients.
For vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters, here's some quick easy additions to your regular meals to boost your daily intake:
1. Pumpkin seeds - small but mighty, not only do pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, vitamin K but also they are a great source of healthy fats and fibre. Sprinkled over soups, salads, curries, whatever takes your fancy.
2. Handful of baby spinach - Folic acid, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and again that fibre that beneficial bacteria love. A handful of spinach stirred into soup before warming or added as a side to eggs, offers a great source of micronutrients.
3. Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)- quite often people are scared of fats for fear of weight gain. Quite the opposite is shown with regular consumption of olive oil, healthy fats such as EVOO, contain high concentrations of antioxidants and has been shown in studies to have beneficial effects not only on our waistlines, but also on oxidative stress related disease such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
4. A sprinkle of nuts - Nuts are often avoided as they are high in fat. However, consuming nuts has been shown to have cardioprotective effects, reduce LDL cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and have a beneficial effect on weight managment. So get sprinkling and you will also be giving your body a dose of B-vitamins, carotinoids, tocopherols Omega 3's and Omega 6's.
Another micronutrient implicated in your thyroid hormone production, neurotransmitter and sleep hormone production, protection against oxidative damage among other things is Selenium. Just two brazil nuts per day should be enough to reach your reference nutrient intake for the day.
Aleksandrova, K., Romero-Mosquera, B. and Hernandez, V. (2017) ‘nutrients Diet, Gut Microbiome and Epigenetics: Emerging Links with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and Prospects for Management and Prevention’. doi: 10.3390/nu9090962.
Hayes, D. et al. (2016) ‘Walnuts ( Juglans regia ) Chemical Composition and Research in Human Health’, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 56(8), pp. 1231–1241. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2012.760516.
Kalgaonkar, S. et al. (2011) ‘Differential effects of walnuts vs almonds on improving metabolic and endocrine parameters in PCOS’, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nature Publishing Group, 65(3), pp. 386–393. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.266.
Mattmiller, S. A., Carlson, B. A. and Sordillo, L. M. (2018) ‘Regulation of inflammation by selenium and selenoproteins: impact on eicosanoid biosynthesis’, Journal of Nutritional Science, 2(28), pp. 1–13. doi: 10.1017/jns.2013.17.
Rus, A. et al. (2017) ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil Improves Oxidative Stress, Functional Capacity, and Health-Related Psychological Status in Patients With Fibromyalgia’, Biological Research For Nursing. SAGE PublicationsSage CA: Los Angeles, CA, 19(1), pp. 106–115. doi: 10.1177/1099800416659370.
Siddiqui, K., Bawazeer, N. and Joy, S. S. (2014) ‘Variation in macro and trace elements in progression of type 2 diabetes.’, TheScientificWorldJournal. Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, p. 461591. doi: 10.1155/2014/461591.