The Importance of Minerals in Your Diet…

Discover the Importance of Minerals in Your Diet and the benefits to your overall health.

Dairy or fortified dairy alternatives

We’ve already discussed how dairy provides calcium for a healthy diet. If you cannot have dairy products, try dairy alternatives that have been fortified with calcium. They may also have some additional mineral fortification.

Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens are one of the most powerful superfoods that you can add to your daily diet. This includes kale, spinach, and collards. Add them to smoothies, enjoy salads, and you can also sauté and even bake some greens. They’re packed with minerals and vitamins.

Importance of Minerals in Your Diet
Importance of Minerals in Your Diet

 

Bone broth

Bone broth has become all the rage and if it hasn’t hit your community yet, just wait. Bone broth is made from boiling bones for long periods of time, up to 12 hours. It releases the minerals and an abundance of flavor. You can make soup from it or drink it as is. It’s super healthy and a great source of minerals.

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Finally, don’t forget that sea salt, kelp and fortified cereals can also provide an abundance of minerals. While you don’t need a large amount of minerals on a daily basis, it is important to make sure that you’re eating foods that give you the mineral nutrition that your body needs.

We’ve talked about minerals and a few vitamins specifically. Now let’s take a look at a broader category, antioxidants, and talk about what they are, why they’re important, and how to make sure you’re getting them into your diet.

Food High in Antioxidants

You’ve probably heard the term, “antioxidants.” And you may know that they’re good for you and that you can find them in food. You can also find them in beauty products, vitamins, and nutritional products. What you may not know is exactly what they are, and what they do for you and your body.

What Are Antioxidants?

In technical terms, an antioxidant is a substance that inhibits or stops the oxidation of other molecules. Okay, great – right? What’s oxidation and why does that matter? Well, when something is oxidized it loses electrons. It’s now called a free radical which means that it can, and wants to, bind with something. There’s room. And it can wreak havoc and cause damage to your tissues.

These radicals can start chain reactions. These oxidized elements actually steal electrons from other molecules, which damages them.

Now your body can handle some free radicals. It’s used to it and it’s generally prepared to deal with it. However, our lifestyle has changed enough that we now tend to have many more of these little buggers running around in our bodies. They’re caused by environmental problems like pollution, pesticides, and even exposure to cigarette smoke.

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Antioxidants Neutralize Free Radicals

Antioxidants, as mentioned, negate the damage of free radicals. They protect your cells and help ensure you don’t suffer the damage from free radicals. So what damage can free radicals cause?

Some of the problems include (but aren’t limited to)

  • Arthritis
  • Neural degeneration, which can lead to Alzheimers
  • Premature ageing
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Some cancers

Antioxidants are found in some specific foods. There are three major antioxidants that you want to include in your diet every day. They are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You can find antioxidants in abundance in colorful veggies and fruits. Look for purple, red, blue, and orange produce.

You can also find them in interesting sources like coffee and tea, chocolate, and onions and garlic. The good news is that essentially if you eat a diet that is generally prepared from whole foods rather than processed foods, you’re probably getting an abundance of antioxidants with every meal.

Importance of Minerals in Your Diet!
Importance of Minerals in Your Diet!

Focus on making sure that you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables and you’ll be well on your way to preventing excess damage caused by free radicals.

We’ve talked a lot about the nutrients that people generally consider to be healthy – vitamins and minerals. However, your body cannot even metabolize many vitamins and minerals without two other important nutrient categories. We’re talking about protein and fat.

What about Protein and Fat?

Your body is protein. It’s in every cell and tissue. Enzymes are made from protein, as are your hormones and components of your blood. Your hair, nails and of course your muscles all are made from protein.

Protein isn’t stored in your body. You have to consume it and this is where many people get into trouble. Vegetarians often don’t get enough protein, though many other people don’t either. There’s a misconception that Americans often get too much protein. The recommendations are:

Adults need to get a minimum of 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d want to get at least 60 grams each day. Athletes and active individuals may need more protein.

The challenge when you’re talking about complete health is to find sources of protein that come from foods that also provide other nutrients. For example, salmon is a protein that comes with omega-3 fatty acids, lentils are packed with protein and an abundance of vitamins and minerals, and eggs come with minerals too.

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When it comes to fat, it is true that your body need fat. However, what it needs are fats from plants rather than fats from fatty cuts of meat. Sure, you can have the occasional hamburger but you may not want that to be the norm. Studies have shown that food that’s high in saturated fat does cause heart disease and cardiovascular problems.

Strive to get your fats from plants. For example, avocados, nuts and seeds are all high in fat, but it’s fat that is good for you. When you’re looking at your plate of food, the majority of it should be vegetables and plants. However, you do want to have some room devoted to both fats (a small amount) and protein. A balanced diet is the best way to get complete nutrition.

Simple Signs That Your Diet Is Missing Something

It can be difficult to know if you’re getting the nutrients that you need. This is one of the biggest reasons why people say that they take a multivitamin. However, we know that supplements don’t really work and they rarely offer a benefit. A better approach is to pay attention to your body. Here are some signs that your diet is missing something.

1. Low Energy

One of the surest signs that your diet is deficient in something is that you’re low in energy. If you feel fatigued, it can be something as simple as not enough minerals or vitamin B in your diet.

2. Losing Your Hair/Cracking Nails

Dry and brittle nails and hair are often a sign of a nutrient deficiency. It could be that you’re low in protein or you could be low in biotin.

3. Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are often a sign of mineral deficiencies. You may also be dehydrated.

4. Skin Changes

If you notice rashes, acne, or small red bumps on your arms and legs, then it can be a sign of nutrient deficiency.

5. Chronic Illness

If you find that you’re getting sick more often or generally feeling unwell, look to your diet. Take some time to evaluate if you’re getting complete nutrition or if you might be lacking.

Finally, your digestion can be a big clue about your nutritional well-being. Talk to your doctor if you have digestive and/or elimination issues. It’s a direct reflection of your health and well-being and can be a significant clue about what is missing in your diet.

Importance of Minerals in Your Diet~
Importance of Minerals in Your Diet~

 

Next Steps: Getting Complete Nutrition through Your Diet

Awareness is the first step to improving your nutrition and leveraging food instead of pills. Become aware of what you’re putting into your body and how it makes you feel. What foods make you feel healthy and strong? What foods improve your digestion? What improves your sleep and what foods make you feel lethargic or cause cravings?

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You can begin by keeping a food journal. Start learning about the nutrients in your food choices. What types of fat are you getting and are you eating enough protein? You might consider making a list of the daily recommended values for the major nutrients. From there you could start placing check marks next to the nutrients you are getting from each meal.

Whether you measure and calculate and total your daily nutrients, or you simply keep an eye on whether you’re getting what you need, is up to you. What’s most important is that you’re aware of what you should be getting and that if necessary, you’re taking steps to improve your nutrition by making smart food choices.

This brings us to the final step and that is to set nutrition goals and to change your eating habits. For example, do you normally skip breakfast altogether, or just have a piece of toast? You’re missing an opportunity for nutrients. Change this habit and drink a smoothie or eat a piece of whole grain toast with an avocado on it. Take advantage of every snack and meal because they can be both delicious and nutritious.

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