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Nutrients Needed to Turn Food into Energy

nutrient rich dietWe eat for two reasons basically, either to satisfy our taste buds or our hunger, and preferably our meals would do both. We get hungry because the body needs fuel for energy, so we seek food to replenish our energy. If life were this simple no one would have weight problems.

The fact is, there are many things that have compromised the simple process of eating tasty meals to replenish energy stores. No doubt you’ve heard of the problems associated with the modern diet and lifestyle: poor soil quality, GMO’s, harvesting before ripe, mass production, overly processed foods, emotional eating, less exercise, hereditary issues and the list goes on. The question is; how to reverse the resultant state of disease we find ourselves struggling with because of these food problems?

Getting Back to Basics

Putting emotional issues and taste preferences aside, let’s consider what the body needs to survive and thrive. The body needs protein, carbohydrates and fats to grow and maintain health, and for both mental and physical energy. These are the big three, known as macronutrients, but we also need lots of vitamins and minerals which are often called micronutrients. Not getting the right, or enough, micronutrients is one of the leading causes of modern diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, skin diseases, thyroid dysfunction and a whole host of other issues.

Then we get into a vicious cycle with the diseases, and medicines we take to fix them, causing even greater impairment to our ability to be nourished by the food we eat. To remedy this modern problem of nutrient deficiency leading to disease, the internet is flooded with all sorts of dietary and lifestyle options promising to lead you back to optimal health. The choices are overwhelming; and where to start?

The right nutrients put it all in perspective

The most important vitamins for energy metabolism are the B vitamins, and it’s interesting to note that these are also extremely important to healthy brain function. Other amino acids and minerals (see chart below) contribute significantly to using the food we eat for energy and health maintenance. The interesting thing is that these nutrients come from food but they are also used in the body’s chemical process of turning the food we eat into energy. This is the reason a nutrient rich diet is the most important factor contributing to healthy long term weight loss and disease reversal.

B-complex vitamins Breaks down carbs & fatty acids; transports energy between cells; creates enzymes that metabolize fats.
Iron Carries oxygen to muscles enabling them to burn fat; works with B-vitamins to produce L-carnitine.
L-Carnitine Amino acid that promotes fat burning; helps transport fatty acids into cells for energy.
CoQ10 (Ubiquinone) Increases strength and efficiency of muscles; improves exercise endurance.
Creatine Stores energy in muscles but is rapidly depleted.
Zinc Supports thyroid function.
Selenium Supports thyroid function.
Catechin Protects natural stimulants in the body.

Other nutrients are important as well. As mentioned before, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to obesity and diabetes.

Finding and eating nutrient rich food vs supplements

Don’t run out to your local drugstore and buy all these supplements. The best place to get nutrients is from organically grown fruits and vegetables and grass fed animal products, and eating raw or minimally cooked as much as possible. This might require some lifestyle and budget changes but you could save on health care costs down the road.

However, considering that you might have limitations in accessing the most nutrient rich food, you may want to supplement your diet; but talk to a nutritionist first. With an analysis of your current diet and lifestyle, and possibly even some blood tests, you will be better equipped to know which supplements you might need. A nutritionist can also help you learn the best ways to use supplements and how to get the most out of the food you eat.