There are a few terms to be aware of to better understand what we should be aiming for in regards an optimal diet (i.e. maximal nutrient density and minimal inflammation)
- The concentration of nutrients in a food is known as Nutrient Density. (Micronutrients and Amino Acids)
- The Antinutrients (natural and synthetic compounds) that hinder the absorption of nutrients found in a variety of foods. (Especially grains, beans, legumes, and nuts)
- The Bioavailability of food is the proportion nutrients available for digestion, absorption and metabolisation through normal digestive pathways.
With the terms settled, there are a number of conditions that are related with nutrient deficiencies in relation to the above:
● Poor immune system function (Immune Dysfunction)
● Premature aging
● Cardiovascular disease
● Cellular damage
● Metabolic syndrome
An ideal diet should contain the full spectrum of nutrients that humans require for optimal health — essentially consuming nutrient dense real foods. It is imperative to note that using supplements do not have the same effect on the body as the nutrients we obtain from food for proper absorption requires enzymes and other substances.
Using a nutrient scale can be helpful in the process of selecting foods, but many have shortcomings and typically lack bioavailability, anti-nutrients, and/or phytonutrients and polyphenols consideration. Generally, a diet high in nutrient-dense foods like organ meats, meat, fish and shellfish, and herbs and spices would be ideal and for most would be a great place to start in conjunction with eliminating foods that contribute most to inflammation. The three foods that we find to have the greatest of negative impact on one’s health are industrial seed oils, refined sugars and foods high in gluten, all of which induces inflammation and oxidative stress. It is important to remember that an individual may have health conditions that might preclude them from consuming even small amounts of these foods.
Industrial Seed Oils
Seed oils are almost completely absent of beneficial nutrients. Studies suggest that they disrupt the gut microbiome and may provoke inflammation and cause harm. Most are likely to be Oxidized or spoilt because the unstable fats they contain are easily damaged when used for cooking.
Sugars share the absence of beneficial nutrients which adds the problems of inflammation, insulin resistance, and when consumed in excess, brings oxidative stress. Consumption in small amounts with a nutrient dense diet however, has a significantly lower impact . These sugars can interfere with normal hormone signaling, which helps with controlling appetite and satiety, that may lead to overconsumption.
High Gluten Foods
Gluten is produced by plants and can cause both a variety of diseases and antibody production in humans. Not all people are intolerant of gluten but it is important to note the levels of intolerance as opposed to an absolute scale of toxicity, as it is not a universal toxin.
Here are 8 of the most common sources of gluten, (unless specifically noted):
- Bread: This includes all types of bread such as rolls, buns, bagels, biscuits, and flour tortillas.
- Baked Goods: Cake, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, pancakes, waffles and pies contain gluten.
- Pasta: All wheat pasta contains gluten.
- Cereal: Not all breakfast cereals contain wheat, but many do, so be sure to check the nutrition labels. Also, be aware that oats are often raised and processed with wheat.
- Crackers: Snack foods like crackers, pretzels, and some types of chips.
- Beer: is made from malted barley, which has gluten. Some liquors have added wheat.
- Gravy: Gravies and ready-meals containing gravy contain gluten. Powdered gravy mixes also typically contain gluten.
- Soup: Many canned and boxed soups use wheat flour as a thickening agent.
By taking an anti-inflammatory, whole food approach to your diet, you can rest assured that you are taking steps towards a more optimal diet that can be beneficial for your long term health and functional longevity.