Today's post is one that I need to keep in mind in my own life - nutrient variety.
I'm a person of habit - it's so easy for me to eat the same foods day in and day out without giving it much thought. No, I don't get bored of that! But, that's my personality - it's who I am.
However, there is great value in switching up the foods that we are eating on a regular basis. When we only eat certain sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, we are consistently falling short on certain nutrients and might be overdoing it a bit on other nutrients.
A prime example that I see time and time again is with our protein choices. We avoid red meat because we think it will clog our arteries and give us heart disease (lies), so we eat a ton of chicken. Chicken chicken chicken. However, today's conventional chicken is extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids, which in turn skews the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 levels in the body creating inflammation. By not eating the red meat on a regular basis, we are also missing out on bioavailable iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
We also see a lack of nutrient variety in the vegetables we choose. Most of us tend to gravitate towards the same few vegetables over and over, because - let's face it - most people don't like vegetables (or they THINK they don't... they just haven't had them prepared correctly). Switching up what vegetables you are eating on a regular basis or buy difference varieties of those favorite vegetables is a simple way to add in more color and variety to your diet. Or, try a new cooking method with some of the vegetables you think you don't like - roasting, grilling, or sauteing vegetables will bring out their flavor so much more than steaming or eating them raw.
Nature itself recognizes the importance of nutrient variety. Why do you think certain foods are in season at different times of the year? It's the perfect way to make sure that you don't get in a food or nutrient rut. Simply eat the foods that are in season, and try all the different varieties of those foods as well. For instance, this time of the year, winter squashes are in season, and there are a myriad of varieties to try beyond the basic butternut squash.
This doesn't mean, however, that simply taking a multivitamin will cover your bases when it comes to nutrient variety. Not even close. Most nutrients in a multi are made in a lab and are not recognized by our bodies in the same way. Our bodies are so smart! They know real vitamins and minerals. Plus, the quality of most multivitamins on the shelf are poor. You're probably better off without one and would be better off simply focusing on real, whole food!
Our bodies need a variety of nutrients to function properly and thrive. By not giving them the full spectrum of nutrition, we are depriving our bodies of the fuel they need. Think about that as you go to plan your meals for the rest of this week and next week. What foods haven't you had in a while that could be reintroduced back into your diet?