The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
As diet plans shout louder and louder to convince us that going vegan or paleo or low-carb is the only way everyone should eat, something gets lost in the message: Your food choices should be based on more than just an include the good/exclude the bad prescription. Your diet should pay attention to key details—the micronutrients, according to Jayson Calton, PhD, and Mira Calton, certified nutritionist, authors of the upcoming book, The Micronutrient Miracle.
"It doesn't matter what kind of diet you follow," said Jayson at the High Performance Health Summit. "The most important thing in a good diet is becoming sufficient in the essential micronutrients. But if you're not sufficient, it doesn't matter what diet you do—you'll never be able to achieve optimal health, in our opinion."
Micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals in our food, seem to have these amazing, transformative health benefits, perhaps mostly because many of us are doing it wrong when it comes to paying attention to our food and lifestyle choices.
Here is the Caltons' three-step plan for using micronutrients to reach your optimal health, in order of importance.
1. "Switch to rich."
"You need to find the most micronutrient-rich foods, regardless off what your dietary profile is," says Mira. "If you're paleo, you're not interested in dairy, but that means you still have to find the highest-quality and nutrient-rich options for your vegetables and your proteins. And that you can find regardless of your dietary profile."
Here, they make the point that rich food is not always the same as real food, giving the example of an apple. An apple is real food, but, compared to an organic apple, a conventionally grown apple won't do the same things for your body. Mira explains that the average regular apple is exposed to 42 pesticides, and your body needs to spend micronutrients and antioxidants to respond to that high toxic load.
"Your benefit per dollar is much greater when you go organic," she says, and it's a shame that people don't use the same return-on-investment strategies in the supermarket as they use in the boardroom. "They say 'That costs a couple dollars more, and I'll buy the cheaper one,' but you're not getting anything out of it," she says. The point is, whatever you pay for rich food, you'll likely save way more in healthcare costs later.
2. Drive down depletion.
"There are a lot of things in your lifestyle and things that you do right now that you don't realize is depleting you of nutrients," says Jayson. For instance, he points out that, though exercise is good, you're not just burning calories; you're also burning calcium, zinc and potassium.
Other examples of lifestyle choices that deplete your micronutrients are living in a polluted city or smoking, taking over-the-counter or prescription meds, and drinking coffee. Jayson points out that there are a lot of benefits to coffee, but it's important to know the cost of those benefits.
"We're not saying you need to cut anything out, but be aware," he says. "Do a little tallying: If you have more coming out than you have coming in, over time, you're going to have a big problem."
3. Be smart about supplementation.
After you've maxed the nutrients you get from food and minimized your micronutrient deficiencies, you can consider supplements to fill in any gaps using the Caltons' ABC's to eliminate the flaws in multivitamins.
Mira explains that it's much harder for the body to absorb nutrients from pills than it is to absorb them from liquids, so consider finding a multivitamin powder that you can dissolve in water.
B—Beneficial Quantities and Forms
The typical multi doesn't have the right levels or the right forms of the essential nutrients, Jayson explains, because they're too bulky and expensive. For instance, if there's a megadose of a particular nutrient, it's a good indication that it's not in the right form for your body to absorb, so those nutrients will be wasted.
C—Competition of Micronutrients
"This is the game-changer," says Jayson. "The medical research has shown that there are certain vitamins and minerals that are antagonists—so they compete with each other for absorption in the GI tract, but no one has mapped this out." So the Caltons spent about two years going through peer-reviewed articles and found about 45 micronutrient competitions in a typical multivitamin that reduce absorption or utilization. For instance, vitamin D competes with vitamin A for absorption.
S—Synergy of Micronutrients
"Once you get rid of the competitions, the other thing we found in those peer-reviewed studies was that there are specific nutrients that help with the absorption of others," says Jayson. The most commonly known one is that vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, but it also helps with the absorption of zinc.
Knowing the competitions and synergies will help you pair your food and supplements intelligently.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›