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Vitamin D – The Seasonal Supplement

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, we all need a certain amount each day to meet our requirements. Sometimes this amount changes-for example as we age, change our level of physical activity or when women fall pregnant. But for Vitamin D, the amount we need actually changes with the seasons. If this is all sounding a bit astrological then bear with us! Read on to find out exactly why you need more Vitamin D during the winter months and what you can do to get enough.

What is Vitamin D and why do I need it? Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are used in the body to regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus. These are minerals which are super important for teeth, bone and muscle health. So, it makes sense that Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to muscle weakness, as well as skeletal problems such as Osteomalacia and Rickets. Low levels of Vit D have also been linked with depression and Alzheimer's Disease.

Vitamin D in the Diet Good food sources of Vitamin D are relatively few. Things such as oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks all provide a good dose. However, if you follow a plant-based diet or don't have meat, fish or eggs with every meal, it's likely you're not meeting requirements with diet alone. Some foods are fortified to contain more Vitamin D, but again these are usually animal-based products such as meat and cheese. The Sunshine Vitamin The good news is that by the wonder of Mother Nature we can actually get all the Vitamin D we need from sunlight! UVB rays from the sun provide the cholesterol in our skin cells with the energy it needs to synthesize Vitamin D3. This is the active form which can be utilized in the body. For this reaction to happen UVB rays have to be of a certain strength and must fall on the skin which is directly exposed to sunlight, so it doesn’t work if your skin is covered by clothes. From around April to September most of us should be able to meet our Vit D requirements with sunlight alone. But from October to March, when the dark nights are cutting in and we begin to hibernate from the cold, our exposure to sunlight falls drastically. Vitamin D During the Winter Months It’s autumn - the days are short and the nights are long. If you do venture out you’re covered from head to toe in scarves, hats and gloves. Sunbathing is a distant memory and if you want a tan you’ll have to get it out of a bottle! The Great British summer is officially over – and so are your chances of getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight. But it’s vital that you continue to meet your requirements – studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency affects almost 20% of adults in the UK in the winter. Aside from sunlight, there are two other ways to make sure you get enough Vitamin D – dietary intake or supplements. Natural Nutrients Vegan Vitamin D3 As mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to meet Vitamin D requirements through diet alone. Taking a daily supplement is often the most convenient and reliable way to make sure you’re getting enough. Our Vitamin D3 supplement offers 1000IU or 25mcg in each capsule, which is 250% RDA for Vitamin D. We use a plant sourced Cholecalciferol making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians and providing you with Vitamin D in the active form – ready to be absorbed and do its magic in the body. We recommend taking 3 capsules per day with food to support bone and muscle maintenance, boost immune function and ward off the winter blues. As Vitamin D is fat-soluble, taking with a source of fat can help to better absorb your supplement. Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. One more thing… Remember, you need Vitamin D year-round. Whilst UVB rays will help meet requirements in the summer, getting too much sun puts you at risk of sunburn, aging of the skin, eye damage and even skin cancer. What’s more, factors such as time of day, skin color, location and keeping skin covered can all inhibit synthesis of Vitamin D from sunlight. References Thanks for reading, Steph Natural Nutrients Nutritionist

Micronutrients, Maximum Effect: Organic Wholefood Multi-Vitamin

It is hard to ensure that we are getting all of the nutrients we need through diet alone. In the modern world there’s barely enough time in the day to fit our meals in, let alone ensure they’re nutritionally complete. Throw in the temptation of convenience food, a diet that varies from day-to-day and individual taste preferences – and you’ve got a challenge on your hands to meet your requirements! The good news is that supplements are there to do just as they suggest, supplement the diet and provide a convenient safety net for a whole spectrum of nutrients. Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement supports overall health and wellbeing, by providing the micronutrients your body needs to function and thrive. Read on to find out how taking a daily multivitamin can improve energy levels, protect against disease and provide a wide range of health benefits.  What are Vitamins and Minerals? Vitamins and minerals are naturally occurring substances found in food which are essential for our bodies to function. They are micronutrients (needed in small amounts), rather than macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) which are needed in large amounts. Vitamins are needed for growth, development, repairing damage and for processing the macronutrients from the food we eat – there are 13 essential vitamins (A, C, E, D, K and 8 B vitamins). Minerals are needed in tiny quantities and are responsible for hundreds of chemical reactions occurring constantly in the body. They play a huge role in metabolism and also in the making and breaking down of body tissue. The minerals we need most of are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and sodium. Do I need a Supplement? In an ideal world we’d get all of the nutrients and micronutrients we need from a normal diet. In reality, this is simply not possible for most of us. Because of our busy lifestyles, our diet varies daily and it is hard to consistently meet nutritional requirements. There are numerous factors which affect our intake of micronutrients. For example, vitamins are damaged by heat and light – which means that the cooking process can deplete fresh foods of their vitamin content. Processing foods also removes mineral content – refining grains strips them of their potassium, iron and chromium, and processing rock salt into table salt removes every mineral but sodium. The irony is that minerals are often separated from foods to be sold on to the supplement industry! In short, whilst you will survive without them, taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement will help to optimise your nutritional status and support overall health. Vitamin and mineral deficiency is rare these days, thanks to availability and fortification of foods. But optimising nutritional status is about preventing disease, promoting health and slowing down the ageing process. Natural Nutrients Organic Wholefood Multi We’re thrilled to introduce a new and improved addition to the Natural Nutrients range – Our Organic Wholefood Multi. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to create a multivitamin and mineral supplement that is rivalled by no other – and we think we’ve nailed it! Natural Nutrients Wholefood Multi is certified organic and made from 100% natural ingredients, helping you to meet your daily requirements in the best way possible. Because these ingredients are plant-based, they’re full of antioxidants and phytochemicals that protect against disease. Let’s take a closer look at our wholefood organic ingredients…
  • Amla Fruit – also known as the Indian Goosberry, amla fruit is extremely high in vitamin C and is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also contains potassium, phosphorus, iron, sodium and beta-carotene. Studies have linked alma fruit consumption to reducing blood sugar levels and improving heart health.
  • Guava – rich in vitamins, carotenoids, polyphenols and antioxidant pigments. This subtropical fruit is a source of vitamins A, C and many B vitamins, as well as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, sodium and calcium. Guava has been shown to help lower and blood pressure, as well as neutralise free radicals which can protect against cancer.
  • Holy Basil Leaves – this is a sacred plant for Hindus and is often planted around shrines – which is where the ‘Holy’ name comes in. The nutrients in holy basil have been shown to alleviate inflammation and joint pain, as well as help to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. It is a rich source of Vitamins A and C, as well as the minerals calcium, zinc and iron.
  • Curry Leaves – contain Vitamins A, B, C and E as well as masses of minerals. We’ve extracted organic iron from curry leaves to enrich our Organic Multivitamin for Women, providing an extra dose of iron to support menstrual cycle losses and prevent deficiency. Iron helps us to absorb energy from food and so is important for preventing tiredness.
  • Lemon Extract – rich in vitamins including folic acid, vitamins A and C. Lemon peel is rich in phytonutrients – chemical compounds found in plants that protect them from cellular damage. As with all citrus fruits, lemons are extremely high in Vitamin C – which boosts the immune system and helps fight infection.
We’ve extracted all of our vitamins and minerals from fruits, vegetables and botanicals – using only water to do so. This means that they’re free from the additives, solvents and excipients frequently found in synthetic multivitamin products. Our new multi capsules have been polished and perfected to provide optimum doses of nutrients for him and for her. Whilst we all have near enough the same macronutrient requirements, it has been shown that micronutrient needs vary between men and women. So we’ve scientifically formulated two different blends to better meet these needs. The health-conscious of us will always endeavour to eat a diet that is varied and rich in nutrients. But in reality our daily intake of micronutrients fluctuates greatly, so we can never guarantee that a whole spectrum of requirements is being met. As with all of our products, we’ve utilised what nature has given us and extracted this in the best possible way, to give you a convenient and reliable source of nutrients. Our vegan capsules contain the organic co-factors and co-nutrients of their plant source, which helps to stabilise the vitamins. This helps them to be absorbed into the bloodstream with minimal to no stomach irritation. Take 2 Organic Wholefood Multi capsules with food to support overall health and wellbeing each day.
  • Vegan
  • Organic
  • Natural
  • Non-synthetic
  • Non-GMO
  • Wholefood Source
Find out more about each multi-vitamin using the links below: Male - https://naturalnutrients.co.uk/our-range/organic-natural-male-multivitamin Female - naturalnutrients.co.uk/organic-natural-female-multivitamin Thanks for reading, Steph Natural Nutrients Nutritionist

Rest, Recover, Repair, Repeat! A Post-Workout Plan for Maximum Results.

If you want to get the most out of your workout, then you need to be thinking about post-exercise recovery and how best to achieve this. Thousands of studies have proven that certain supplements can not only help repair muscles after exercise but also enhance performance during your workout. Read on to discover two of our best supplements to aid recovery.   Natural Whey Protein Isolate Our natural whey protein isolate powder is low in fat and high in protein, and can be used to increase lean muscle mass, enhance exercise performance and assist with weight management.
  • Replenish – Using whey isolate post-workout helps to return the body from a catabolic (muscle-wasting) to and anabolic (muscle-building) state. It promotes the regeneration of muscles cells and synthesis of amino acids into protein molecules, which eventually make up muscle fibres. Supplementing your diet with whey protein isolate is a convenient and reliable way to ensure your body has the building blocks it needs to replenish muscle cells following an intense workout.
  • Repair– Our whey isolate is a rich source of BCAAs – or ‘Branched Chain Amino Acids’ – These are essential amino acids which have been shown to increase lean muscle mass whilst preventing catabolic muscle degradation – for a doubly beneficial recovery effect. Use of BCAAs can reduce the effects of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) – the experience of sore muscles 1-2 days following intense exercise. Such soreness can leave you with discomfort and pain, preventing you from further exercise until it has subsided. Using whey isolate following exercise can dramatically reduce the impact of DOMS.
ZMA® ZMA® is a unique combination of Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 designed to increase post-exercise recovery by inducing sleep and improving sleep quality. This holy trinity of nutrients can be taken around one hour before sleep to encourage the body’s natural repair process. Research has shown that these nutrients not only have their own attributes but also work in sync to produce an overall benefit. Here’s all you need to know about this terrific trio!
  • Zinc – When you exercise your muscles, microscopic tears occur on a cellular level. It is when the body repairs these tears that the new muscle is formed and the muscles become bigger and stronger than before. Zinc is important for growth and the production of new cells, including muscle fibres, and so taking it post-exercise encourages muscle repair and synthesis.
  • Magnesium – probably the most researched nutrient when it comes to post-exercise recovery. This is because it is absolutely essential in protein metabolism. It is also a muscle relaxant that helps to induce sleep by suppressing the nervous system. Taking magnesium before bed is a good idea because it allows your body to accelerate important repair processes, which in turn will leave you feeling more energised upon waking.
  • Vitamin B6 – not just one nutrient but a group of water-soluble compounds. Because they are water-soluble, they are readily lost in urine and so a regular and adequate intake is essential. This vitamin is involved in the synthesis of genetic material, amino acids and proteins – helping to repair muscle cells post-exercise. The role of B6 within ZMA® is to support the absorption and utilisation of both Zinc and Magnesium.
ZMA® is a unique formulation containing each of the above. Zinc and magnesium work together to prepare the body for sleep and enter a recovery zone, and Vitamin B6 ensures optimal absorption of each. This combination has been shown to promote REM sleep, a deeper sleep that leaves you feeling more rested upon waking. This in turn encourages the body to accelerate the repair process it enters when sleeping, helping muscles to synthesise and recover.   Supplementing your diet with both ZMA® and Natural Whey Protein Isolate will encourage your body’s natural repair processes, ensuring not only a speedy recovery but also an increased performance ability for future workouts. Follow the directions of use below to provide your body with a reliable source of all it needs to rest and recover post-exercise…
  • ZMA® - Take 3 capsules for men, and 2 capsules for women daily, 30-60 minutes before bedtime. For best results avoid taking ZMA® with calcium-rich foods (as zinc and calcium compete for the absorption sites within the body.)
  • Natural Whey Protein Isolate - Add 1 level scoop of protein powder to 200ml of water, or any liquid of your choosing - shake well, drink and enjoy! Repeat 1-3 times daily or as required.
  Find out more… ZMA® > https://naturalnutrients.co.uk/our-range/ZMA®-capsules Whey protein powder > https://naturalnutrients.co.uk/product-category/whey-protein-powder/   Thanks for reading, Steph Natural Nutrients Nutritionist References
  • West, D., Abou Sawan, S., Mazzulla, M., Williamson, E. and Moore, D. (2017). Whey Protein Supplementation Enhances Whole Body Protein Metabolism and Performance Recovery after Resistance Exercise: A Double-Blind Crossover Study. Nutrients, 9(7), p.735.
  • ERDMAN, K., FUNG, T. and REIMER, R. (2006). Influence of Performance Level on Dietary Supplementation in Elite Canadian Athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38(2), pp.349-356.
  • Magnesium Therapy for Periodic Leg Movements-related Insomnia and Restless Legs Syndrome: An Open Pilot Study. Magdolna Hornyak Ulrich Voderholzer  Fritz Hohagen  Mathias Berger Dieter Riemann. Sleep, Volume 21, Issue 5, 1 August 1998, Pages 501–505.
  • Effects of magnesium and zinc deficiencies on growth and protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and the heart. Volume 66, Issue 3 November 1991, pp. 493-504.
  • Function of the vitamin B6 group: pyridoxal phosphate (codecarboxylase) in transamination. LICHSTEIN, H. C.; GUNSALUS, I. C.; UMERETT, W. W. Lab. Bacteriol., Coll. Agric., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y. Journal of Biological Chemistry 1945 Vol.161 pp.311-320.

Presents, Partying and Pretox: The Ultimate Guide to Feeling your Best for the Festive Period!

November – that mysterious time between Halloween and Christmas when there’s festive adverts on the TV and left-over trick-or-treat sweets in the cupboard. It’s also a month that seems to fly by and before you know it you're in December and it's all systems go on the party scene. But all is not lost yet and there's still plenty of time to get a head-start on the inevitable New Year health-kick and in this article I'm going to try persuade you that you needn’t resign yourself to the Christmas films, floods of alcohol and copious calories just yet. Instead you can use this time between now and Christmas to prepare your body for what’s to come, ensuring a quick recovery and a healthy start to 2018. Read on to find out how you can look and feel your best for the upcoming celebrations! Pretox! A "pretox" is a bit like a detox but more about preparation and prevention and the perfect damage limitation tactic to use over Christmas. Why enter the season for hangovers, bloating and guilt without good prep when you can be proactive and make sure you’re in ship-shape for the party season and make sure you’re looking your best and feeling awesome for the onslaught of festive events. A good pretox consists of cleansing the liver and providing your body with the nutrients you need to recover from stresses you're about to put on it. By stress we don’t just mean binge drinking, although it is a big one at this time of year, but all stresses including depriving your body of sleep, nutritious food and fluids which can all take it's toll and leave you looking and feeling your worst. In contrast, giving your body a ready supply of nutrients, hydration and rest will help you to work hard and play hard with minimal damage! Our detox bundle is a combination of products which work in synergy to energise and revitalise the body. Here are our favourite supplements to help with your Pretox!  
  1. Supreme Greens – Green for get up and go! Our supreme greens powder is a blend of 35 organic ingredients, mostly superfoods, each functioning in it’s own way to increase energy levels, cleanse the liver and improve gut health. One scoop provides a potent mix of nutrients, fibre and active enzymes – working in the body to detoxify and alkalise. At 54 calories per scoop, a greens drink a day is absolutely efficient and massively convenient. Use in food, smoothies or just mix with water for a daily dose of vitality.
 
  1. Milk Thistle – Our milk thistle supplement is a plant-based, entirely natural extract renowned for its repairing and replenishing functions in the body. It is grown naturally and contains a powerful antioxidant called Silymarin which is the active part of the plant offering all its benefits. These include encouraging the regeneration of new cells and reducing symptoms of toxic overload – including gas, diarrhoea and even weight gain. Studies have shown that milk thistle supplementation directly targets the liver to reduce and even reverse damage from factors such as alcohol, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and processed foods. Whilst in an ideal world we’d all stick to within the safe limits for alcohol and eat fresh, home-cooked food, the reality is that we don’t – especially towards the end of the year. And we shouldn’t, this is a time to unwind and treat yourself. Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health. Using supplements such as milk thistle can accelerate your body’s own natural repair process and encourage quicker recovery.
 
  1. Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C, is arguably the most studied and best understood supplement of all time. It was the third vitamin to be discovered and a major scientific achievement at the time – when scientists realised that a deficiency of vitamin C was responsible for a swarm of scurvy amongst sailors. This was quickly rectified with, not pharmaceuticals, but citrus fruit! This goes to show the power of food and its nutrients. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to reduce stress hormones, increase immunity and promote the production of new cells. We have formulated our capsules to contain a 50mg boost of flavonoids – plant metabolites working in synergy with Vitamin C for maximum antioxidant effect.
  Supplements are a great way to provide your body with the nutrients it needs in the dose it needs them in, reliably and conveniently. It is important to tailor your supplement use to your own requirements and lifestyle. So if you’ve made plans with family and friends to celebrate the festive season, make sure your body is prepared. That way you can enjoy yourself guilt-free, knowing you’re doing what you can to recover and get back on track! And as an early Christmas present, here’s two detoxifying drinks recipes for you to try before the binge begins. Try them before your hangover kicks in to halt the headache and surpass the sickness! Virgin Mary Mocktail
  • 200ml Organic Tomato Juice
  • 2tbsps Lemon Juice
  • ½ Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ Tsp Tabasco sauce
  • Celery and lots of ice to garnish
Our Virgin Mary is a healthy-take on the classic Bloody Mary cocktail. Tomato juice contains fructose, sugar found naturally in fruit. This sugar helps to metabolise the alcohol that’s still in your system quicker. As the tomato is a fruit, it is also high in vitamins and minerals – which fight inflammation caused by stress hormones and work to rehydrate the body and brain. Binge-Blasting Banana Smoothie
  • 1 x Fresh banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 200ml Milk (cow’s, almond or coconut)
  • 1 x 30g Scoop Unflavoured Whey Protein
  • Blend with ice for a smooth, cold drink
Bananas are a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte which is depleted when alcohol is consumed in excess. When you are dehydrated, it is important to consume electrolytes as well as good old water in order to rehydrate. That’s why sports drinks exist, because they contain potassium and other electrolytes. Bananas are a good food source of these compounds, and together with ice they create the most hydrating drink. Honey works as the fructose acts in the Virgin Mary – giving a spike of sugar to increase energy and metabolise alcohol. Finally, our whey protein powder provides your body with a source of essential amino acids to repair and resynthesise muscles, aiding general recovery and rest. Thanks for reading, Steph Natural Nutrients Nutritionist

Why Do We Need Vitamin C?

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are potent organic micronutrients which are essential for optimum health. They work in tandem with other nutrients in order to promote growth and maintain healthy bodily balance, whilst assisting in the regulation of normal metabolic functions and supporting processes that help obtain energy from foods. Vitamin C is one of these fundamental micronutrients and has a variety of crucial functions.

What is Vitamin C used for?

Vitamin C is best known for offering support to our immune system, and playing an important role in protecting the body from infections such as colds and flu, but vitamin C has many other functions and benefits that you may not be aware of, some of which we've discussed below. Acting as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect cellular damage from harmful free radicals, which assists in prevention of many degenerative diseases including Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) - a disease worsened by oxidative stress. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that causes you to lose central vision, usually in both eyes and may lead to difficulty reading, colours appearing less vibrant and a difficulty in recognising people's faces. Vitamin C plays an important role in delaying progression of this eye disease and vision loss and Vitamin C is an essential element in the formation of collagen, which acts as an intercellular ‘binding’ material, important in the structure of muscles, bones, skin, tendons and ligaments. Without vitamin C collagen cannot bind together forming strong fibres, therefore the healing of wounds for example may be slower in people deficient in Vitamin C. There are not many of us who can avoid stress in our lives, but did you know Vitamin C also plays a role in the way the body reacts to stress as it is involved in stress hormone metabolism? The adrenal glands (rich in vitamin C) secrete hormones called Cortisol and Noradrenaline in response to physical, emotional or psychological stress, which also causes the release of vitamin C, therefore maintaining adequate daily supply is important in managing stress and anxiety levels. As you can see, vitamin C is an essential micronutrient necessary to maintain a healthy body by boosting the immune and nervous system, supporting bone, blood, and skin health and regulating stress levels. It is a water soluble vitamin, which means it is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, however as the body is unable to produce it, and storage is limited, an adequate daily supply is needed in the diet.

Where do I get Vitamin C from?

We always recommend that you source nutrients from food first, and the foods rich in vitamin C include:
  • Citrus fruits i.e. orange, lemons, limes, grapefruits
  • Blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, kiwis, vegetables (green leafy), peppers and potatoes.
Incorporating vitamin C rich foods daily as part of a wholesome diet is very important in achieving optimum health, but for those deficient or who are have high stress or exercise levels, our high dose Vitamin C supplement supplies a substantial 1000mg per capsule to help improve general good health, offer protection against disease and provide additional support during exercise. Get 10% off all Vitamin C purchases using the code vitaminc10. Thanks for reading and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about Vitamin C.
Katherine Lenderyou
Nutritionist BSc Hons; ANutr

What are Micronutrients?

There are hundreds of active compounds which are found naturally in whole unadulterated foods from vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and enzymes.  The key take away is that nutrients do not work in isolation, but work synergistically together.  When you pick up a vegetable, you are in effect choosing a range of biochemically active compounds to support your health.  View your food as protection and support to keep you strong, healthy and active.  Food is much more than energy, it is a powerhouse of chemicals designed to keep you metabolically in balance. There is no comparison between a ready meal and a mix of wholesome foods, as you’re about to discover. When you begin to understand the complexity and interaction of active chemicals in your body, you begin to comprehend the advantages of wholesome natural foods.  These foods contain a myriad of compounds that intricately dance with your metabolism, to provide protection against disease and support health. Many of the chronic diseases we see today, are largely preventable through diet and lifestyle changes.  Poor health is often associated with the low intake of essential micronutrients, with the cells of your immune and nervous systems being particularly susceptible.  The body’s ability to maintain normal healthy functioning of your cells depends on homeostasis, its self-healing capacity.  An important element of this is the supply of nutrients and each cell requires more than 40 of these, as well as protective substances called phytonutrients from plants. Micronutrients include minerals as selenium, manganese, iodine, copper and zinc. They also include vitamins such as vitamin A, C, D, E and K, as well as the B-complex vitamins. Minerals are present in the body in small amounts, about 4% of your body weight. These inorganic substances are essential for a range of vital processes, from basic bone formation to the functioning of the heart and digestive system. Of more than 60 different minerals in the body, only 22 are considered essential (meaning they must come from the diet and are not manufactured by the body).  Of these, seven are macro-minerals (not micronutrients), which include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for regulating both the metabolic functions within your body’s cells, but also the processes that release energy from food.  Certain vitamins are antioxidants and protect cells from damage, which helps to prevent a number of degenerative diseases.  There are 13 known vitamins which can be categorised as either fat soluble (A, D, E and K) or water soluble (eight B vitamins and C). The distinction between these two categories is that fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body for relatively long periods of time, while water soluble vitamins (except B12) remain in the body for short periods of time and need to be replenished through diet more frequently.  With the exceptions of vitamins D & K, the body does not have the capacity to manufacture vitamins, so to maintain optimum health you must eat a wide variety of wholesome natural foods. Another contributor to balance, is your ability to eliminate the toxic end products of cell metabolism.  This requires a healthy circulation and good liver and kidney function, all of which rely on adequate intakes of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.  Inadequate nutrition, or inadequate elimination results in cells becoming stressed, so they begin to function abnormally.  If left unchecked homeostatic control is lost and eventually disease can take hold. If you become micro-nutrient deficient, enzyme deficiency soon follows.  Your enzymes digest and breakdown large food particles into smaller units.  Zinc for example is required to make both stomach acid and protein splitting enzymes. If you are zinc deficient, you soon lose the ability to breakdown protein effectively, leading to large food molecules ending up in the small intestine, where they shouldn’t be.  If your digestive system is not robust (also a common defect in zinc deficiency), undigested food particles can get through the intestinal wall and travel in the blood, where they are seen as invaders and are attacked. This is the basis of most food allergies. Every time you eat a natural wholesome food, such as broccoli or an orange, you are receiving a vast cocktail of active compounds that go beyond just vitamins and minerals.  These substances play an important part in your overall health, known as phytochemicals, they have a major impact on your body’s systems, helping to promote health and prevent disease.  Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds in food; they are not classified as nutrients, as our lives do not depend on them, as they do vitamins and minerals.  However they play a vital role in our biochemistry, in ways that affect our health as significantly as vitamins and minerals. In this sense they are often thought of as semi-nutrients. There are over one hundred identified phytochemicals, some of which act as antioxidants, immune system boosters and hormone stabilizers. Some of the more familiar phytochemicals are allium compounds (garlic, onions, leeks, chives), the active ingredients are sulphur compounds, which are able to block the conversion of nitrites and nitrates into cancer-causing nitrosamines.  By acting as an antioxidant, these compounds help to prevent both cancer and heart disease. Phenols are potent antioxidants particularly rich in green tea.  With strong cancer protective properties, their effects are been found to be more powerful than vitamins C and E. Anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, which are particularly rich in berries and grapes are types of bioflavonoids, which are effective against gout and certain types of arthritis.  Bioflavonoids in general have a number of beneficial roles; they act as potent antioxidants binding to toxic metals, some have an antibiotic effect, as well as anti-carcinogenic properties.  They can be used to deal with capillary fragility, bleeding gums and thrombosis.  Bioflavonoids also include rutin and hesperidin found in citrus fruits. Another familiar food phytochemical is phytoestrogens, which play a protective role in binding excess oestrogens in the body or accumulated oestrogen from pesticides or plastics, reducing the amount available to sensitive tissues.  These include foods such as soya (tofu and miso), citrus fruits, liquorice, alfalfa, fennel and celery.  A good intake of these active compounds is associated with a low risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, fibroids and other hormone related conditions. Carotenoids such as betacarotene, which is rich in carrots and other foods such as sweet potato, watercress and peas, act as important anti-aging antioxidants.  Other active compounds that help protect our health include curcumin, indoles, quercetin, capsaicin, lycopene and zeanxanthin. The variety of our diets and the avoidance of adulterated food becomes more evident, when you consider the role of these micronutrients, in everything from normal cell functioning to cell protection. It is also important to consider the wholeness of your food, which nature has packaged together.  Eggs are not designed by nature to be separated into their whites and yolks, as this effects the range of available nutrients.  In the same way that juicing oranges, doesn’t include the nutrients and compounds available in the flesh of the fruit.  Don’t tamper with your food, or eat food that has been designed in a laboratory, rather than in nature. Your body and health will thank you. Beth Etherington, Nutritional Therapist (BSc N. Med, mFNTP, CNHC) creator of The Sugar Hunter Program.

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