In the past, nutrition science focused on diseases of overt nutrient deficiencies. During this time the science focused on single nutrients that could cure or reverse the effects of malnutrition on diseases, such as scurvy or rickets, now largely eradicated in developed countries. Today, public health challenges have shifted away from communicable diseases and explicit nutrient deficiency toward challenging health conditions brought about by an excess of empty calories, sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress. Unhealthy lifestyle choices and nutrient-poor diets have essentially resulted in an overfed, undernourished population, driving the obesity epidemic and diet-related causes of chronic diseases. The seemingly opposing challenges of dietary requirements and obesity are largely a result of diets that are calorie-rich but lacking in essential nutrients, as well as an individual’s ability to absorb and utilize available dietary nutrients.
Nutrients do not function in isolation but work synergistically to benefit and support interrelated fundamental life processes, including metabolism, movement, growth, digestion, reproduction and more. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 has taken the traditional position that nutritional needs should be met primarily though nutrient-dense whole foods. While that is good dietary advice, it has not kept pace with the basic economics of food choices, as the nutritive value of foods is often related to their cost per calorie. It can be argued that food prices are linked to obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. Highly processed, energy dense foods that contain refined grains, added sugars and unhealthy fats are tasty, convenient and perhaps most tellingly, affordable.
High energy density means that there are a lot of calories in a small amount of food. Low energy density means that there are fewer calories in a larger volume of food. Typically phytonutrient-rich whole foods provide more nutrients than calories. Growing research suggests that meal plans that focus on vegetables, whole grains, protein and healthy fats is the healthiest diet for the brain and the body. Supporting evidence shows diets that are low in processed foods support both long and short term health by positively supporting healthy aging, better mobility, weight maintenance, reduced risk of chronic diseases and improved cognitive functioning. A healthy diet helps one to thrive by providing the nutrients that allow the body to function at its best.
The primary goal of healthy nutrition is to maintain optimal health and function and prevent disorders and disability. Changing to a healthier diet requires a change in thought processes as to how we think about food and nutrition. Everything we consume supports either health or disease. Optimal health is a valuable commodity. It is clear that diet is a major determinant of physical and mental health. Although it may seem that healthy food is unaffordable, the impact of chronic disease on long term health is assuredly much more expensive. A balanced and conscious approach to overall nutrition with an emphasis on protein for muscle health, fiber for digestive health and a wide variety of plant foods that provide a family of beneficial phytonutrients makes it easier to make healthier choices.
Eating healthier on a budget:
- Think in terms of nutrients rather than food groups. Focus on getting foods such as proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and water to improve your diet, as well as your state of health.
- A balanced meal that contains high fiber whole grains and vegetables supports digestive and immune health and steadier blood sugar, helping to prevent cravings and overeating.
- Eat the highest quality of food that your budget will allow. When possible, invest in your long-term health by increasing the amount spent on better quality food.
- Eat a wide variety of real foods sourced from nature. Take advantage of the lowest prices and ensure that you change up your diet every few months by eating seasonal foods.
- Water is an often overlooked healthy drink. Skip sodas and sugary drinks and consume enough water to stay well hydrated.
- Eating low calorie, low density foods helps to maintain a healthy body composition. Gaining unwanted pounds is often the result of overconsumption of high density food, as well as inactivity.
- The recommended daily intake (RDI) is based solely on nutrient sufficiency, not optimal nutrition. As such, dietary guidelines suggest that fortified foods and supplements could be useful in providing selected dietary nutrients not consumed in adequate or optimal amounts.
Professional Supplement Center offers high quality supplements in support of optimal nutrition:
Pro Multi Daily by PSC: This high quality, hypoallergenic multivitamin and mineral formula offers activated vitamins and patented chelated minerals for optimal absorption and utilization. Pro Multi Daily provides foundational nutrition, antioxidant protection, stress relief and detoxification support. Free of wheat, gluten, yeast, soy, dairy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation. Also available Pro Multi Daily without Copper & Iron.
Twice Daily Multi™ by Designs for Health®: This science-based daily nutritional formula provides optimal amounts of highly bioavailable vitamins and amino acid chelated minerals in support of overall healthy function. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Vitamin C 1000 mg by Douglas Laboratories®: Each serving provides 1,000 mg of high potency buffered vitamin C as ascorbic acid in support of immune, joint and connective tissue health, collagen synthesis, iron absorption and wound healing. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Vitamin D3 5000 IU by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula provides 5,000 IU of highly absorbable vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol in support of calcium balance, cardiovascular and neurocognitive health, immune function, musculoskeletal strength and the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
There’s even more evidence that one type of diet is the best for your body and brain. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-diet-body-brain-healthiest-2017-7
Optimal nutrition and the ever-changing dietary landscape: a conference report. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442251/
Nutritional Science. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/nutritional-science
Scientifically, What Would Be Considered The Perfect Diet? https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/02/27/scientifically-what-would-be-considered-the-perfect-diet/#5e168e75640e
How Can I Eat More Nutrient-Dense Foods? https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-can-i-eat-more-nutrient-dense-foods