Fiber provides the bulk we need to keep food moving through our large intestine. It binds or absorbs the harmful things in your food to make sure they are eliminated from your body. Fiber also helps you absorb nutrients, helps keep you regular, encourages growth of good bacteria, and helps fight obesity.
There are 2 types of fiber (and you need both):
1. Soluble: Acts like a sponge, picking up toxins and other substances.
2. Insoluble: Acts like a broom, sweeping things through your intestines.
Our fiber intake has been drastically reduced. This is because a lot of the fiber content of grains is removed during processing. It is also because of the food choices we make. Today our diets provide only 1/3 of our required amount of daily fiber. This leads to more digestive tract challenges. Eating a wide variety of whole, natural foods (fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains) provides dietary fiber.
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential micro-nutrients, meaning only very small amounts are needed. These micro-nutrients have many important roles: they build/feed all cells, make all cells work, help with enzyme activities, help with biochemical processes, regulate metabolism and more.
There are 2 classes of vitamins:
1. Fat-soluble: Vitamins A, D, E, K, and Beta-carotene. These are stored in body tissues and need fatty acids to be absorbed. Fat-free diets interfere with vitamin absorption.
2. Water-soluble: Vitamin C and B-complex. These are not stored in the body and are quickly depleted. They must be replenished regularly through your diet. They should be taken throughout the day. We have to get vitamin C from our diet because our body can’t make it.
There are 2 classes of minerals:
1. Macro or bulk minerals (needed in larger amounts), which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus. These are also called electrolytes.
2. Micro or trace minerals (only trace amounts needed), which include iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, boron, sulphur, chromium, copper, cobalt, molybdenum, silicon, manganese, vanadium, and many others.
Nutrient Debt Theory
Nutrients work together and are most effective when with their specific co-factor (like a co-worker or partner).
When eating a food, or taking a supplement, you need all the right co-factors for that food or supplement to be broken down and absorbed. Mother Nature makes sure these co-factors are found in foods. But, if one of these co-factors is removed during processing or cooking, it needs to be gotten from somewhere else in the body so you can use the food correctly. If your body can’t find these nutrients in other foods you eat, it will steal them from storage areas in your body.
For example, if your diet doesn’t have enough calcium your body will take what it needs from your bones or teeth (calcium storage areas). Your body’s natural survival instincts will sacrifice bone health to provide calcium for more critical organs (heart, blood). Your body might say, “I can live with osteoporosis, but I can’t live without a heart”. Survival mechanisms always try to get the best level of health possible, it’s up to us to give our bodies plenty of nutrients to help.
Tomorrow we will start talking about fats.
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