What are you up to this weekend?
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We're excited to host March's Spaghetti Saturday
A dinner party always calls for fresh flowers, so this morning Little Z and I set off on a road trip to Trader Joe's. Oh my goodness, if you want to brighten your day, a bouquet of Gerber daisies and a few herbs for your kitchen's windowsill will do the trick
This month we extended a few new invitations, and everyone said, “Yes!” So we're really looking forward to some new faces, personalities, and stories to add to the mix. In fact, our meatball recipe was inspired by one of the new people coming; I wonder if he'll recognize it
Also on Saturday, I'm going to spend part of the day at a conference for Iowa Bloggers. It'll be fun to listen to the speakers, pick up pointers, and hopefully meet some of the really cool people whose blogs I like to follow
I hope the weekend is good to you. Don't forget; you can always make a few energy bites just in case it's a little rough (a preemptive strike never hurt anyone)
Today Part IV and the conclusion in a short series about micronutrients. A quick recap
Part I: What micronutrients are, a brief history of their discovery, and how minerals are categorized
Part II: How do they interact? Why we should aim for levels higher than the RDAs, and the beauty of Biochemical Individuality (we're all so different)
Part III: What depletors should we be mindful of? Does the way our food is grown really make a difference?
What are the functions of Minerals in our Bodies?
Minerals primarily serve a structural function. In other words, they help form anything that has a structure to it, ex: our bones and teeth. (Our bones also serve as a reservoir for storage of excess minerals)
Minerals act as co-factors. They help enzymes metabolize our macronutrients and reduce them into energy.
They're essential when it comes to the functions of our cells, tissues, and organs.
They also help to maintain the pH status of our blood. (The acid/alkaline balance in our cells, our tissue, and our fluids)
Which foods are rich in minerals?
Minerals are found in one of two places: in the ocean and the earth's soil.
From the ocean: fish and sea vegetables. From the earth: all the rest of our foods like fruits, veggies, and herbs. Therefore, the quality and the health of the soil and oceans are going to determine the health of the foods that come from them.
Sea veggies are fantastic. They're very, very rich in the trace minerals as well (more so than land veggies)
All organic plant foods will also be rich in minerals, but especially green veggies and green powdered foods. Think algae, super blue-green spiralina, barley grass, alfalfa, wheat grass, and chlorophyll.
Nutritional yeast is a great source, as well. It's high in B vitamins and trace minerals.
Organic nuts and seeds. (Pumpkin seeds and walnuts are unusually high in minerals)
Herbal teas are also wonderful because the roots of their plants grow so deep and wide in the soil. The roots grow much deeper than the topsoil and pull nutrients from the rock, substrata, and water from deep in the earth.
Factors that contribute to mineral deficiencies
It's important to note that we're dependent on our diet for minerals because our bodies don't make them.
Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water, and therefore remains mostly unchanged as it moves through the digestive tract. It's important to consider, especially with more and more people taking fiber supplementation (ex: Metamucil). It will combine with the minerals and carry them out of our body before they have a chance to be absorbed
Then there are the phytates and the oxalates.
Phytates are found mostly in unsprouted seeds, nuts, and grains. Similar to fiber, phytates have the ability to bind with minerals and cause them to be excreted from the body.
To reduce the phytates in these foods, washing, soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them will help remove the phytic acid.
Oxalic acid is found in cocoa and many of the dark leafy greens, spinach, chard, and beet greats (it's less in kale). There's a bit of controversy around how to reduce or eliminate the oxalic acid. Some say cooking will liberate the minerals. Others say cooking isn't enough, and we'll also need some kind of acid medium (think vinegar or lemon)
When I read heat and acidity, I can't help but think of our stomach. In utopia, our stomach would be a really hot environment (generated from all of the hydrochloric acid), which ought to be enough to liberate the minerals from the phytates and oxalates. (They're then broken down into individual ions so our small intestines can absorb them)
The problem, of course, arises when people are low in hydrochloric acid and have reduced function in their stomach (especially common in those 60 years young and above)
Every mineral has a certain capacity to be absorbed. For example, calcium. Under the most idyllic conditions, it can only be absorbed up to 40%.
Then there are the non-nutritive minerals in our diets to consider. A few examples include fluoride, chloride, mercury, aluminum, and lead. All of these compete with the good nutrients for access to our cells. These dietary toxins can also propel food too quickly through our digestive tract. Too rapid of transit time (< 18 hours) will reduce our body's ability to absorb.
On the other hand, if transit time to too long, there will be an increase of toxins and cholesterol that's continuously being reabsorbed via the large intestine and back into the bloodstream. Therefore we'll need more macro and trace minerals to bind to them and help our body metabolize and excrete them
There are other factors that contribute to mineral deficiencies as well, such as stress, over-exercise, and heavy sweating.
Where do we go from here?
As this series draws to a close, my sincerest wish is that the information will give you a jumping off place to explore the topic on your own. That it's offered some food for thought or sparked additional questions that you can now talk about with your doctor, nutritionist,
or health professional.
As always, thank-you for reading. I'm so very grateful for the community of people who stop by The Veggies every now and again. I hope it's of service to you; whether it's a new recipe, some food for thought .. or a small bit of happiness to
brighten your day
ps: You can read more about Micronutrients in Part I | Part II | Part III of the series
References used include: The Micronutrient Miracle by Jayson Calton and Mira Calton .. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon .. Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Nutrition by Carolyn D. Berdanier and Lynnette A. Berdanier .. Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch .. UnitedCallToAction.org .. SightAndLife.org .. Unicef.org .. The South Coast Insider .. WorldHealthOrginization.org