The word nutrition is defined in many ways but at K3 NOW we define nutrition as the intake of nutrients meant to nourish, repair and balance the body. We address the issue of nutritional deficiencies using a functional medicine approach. This means we look at the way food and other nutritional substances affect your body on a cellular level. Each person’s body absorbs and uses nutrients in different ways for the growth and replacement of their tissues. We aim to educate and help supply a strategy to supply your cells with the right amount of nutrients they need to function optimally. Eating healthy and supplying our bodies with the right nutrients is critical for feeling good, preventing illness, maintaining optimal body functions and recovering from disease. Our bodies depend on us to fuel it with the right nutrients so that it can do its job digesting, extracting useful molecules and supplying them to the target organs and cells for proper function. To support and keep our cells healthy, we need to supply them with a variety of high-quality nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
How Our Body Extracts Nutrients
Food is processed by the body in 3 stages: digestion, absorption and elimination. What we eat must be broken down into smaller and easily digested molecules. Those molecules travel from the stomach to the small intestine where most nutrient absorption happens. Those nutrients are then passed through the intestinal wall where they are released into the bloodstream and transported to other cells, either for storage or chemical exchange. Anything ingested that cannot be broken down into nutrients is considered as waste and passes out of the body through a process called elimination.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
Nutrients are defined as substances that provide nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. The major functions they serve include providing energy, promoting growth and development, preventing disease and regulating body functions. Macronutrients are those needed in large amounts and provide calories that are metabolized for energy. These macronutrients include:
- Carbohydrates are used as the body’s main source of fuel.
- Protein is broken down into amino acids and used for growth and tissue repair.
- Fats are needed for normal growth and development. They act as solvents for hormones and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Water can also be considered a macronutrient because it is required in large amounts to sustain life. It is responsible for regulating body temperature, distributing nutrients to cells and removing waste through urine.
Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals essential for the many chemical reactions in the body. They play important roles in regulating metabolism, maintaining appropriate cellular pH, supporting cardiac health and supporting healthy bone density. They enable us to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for healthy function. They are needed in smaller amounts than macronutrients but are vital to development, prevention of disease, and wellbeing.
These micronutrients include:
- Vitamins are essential organic compounds responsible for normal cell function, maintaining healthy tissues, and promoting normal growth and development. The amount of vitamins chemically available in a food depends on a great deal of factors, such as the quality of soil, growing conditions, processing, method of storage and transport, and cooking methods.
- Minerals are inorganic chemical elements. Your body cannot make these and they must be supplied through diet or supplementation. Minerals support nervous system function, regulate the balance of water in the body and act as a catalyst for many biochemical reactions.
Studies show that many Americans take in less than the reference dietary allowance (RDA) for many essential micronutrients. This should be a major cause of concern considering the RDA reports are designed to present guidelines to avoid obvious deficiency and do not take into account what is needed for optimal health. The amount of people suffering from nutrition deficiency is not surprising when we look at what the typical American diet consist of:
- hormone and antibiotic treated meat
- pesticide and herbicide laden produce
- enriched food products
- artificial sweeteners
- genetically modified organisms
Common Micronutrient Deficiencies
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Poor nutrition can occur when we don’t get enough of the right foods and when we ingest foods that are not compatible or are toxic to us. A poor diet consuming foods that are devoid of or lack nutrients does not supply the substances we need to keep our body systems working properly.
Eating poorly leads to increased cellular toxicity, increased levels of free radicals and other toxins that contribute to chronic and acute diseases. Digestive issues, medications, lack of water and stress are also things that can cause toxin overload and interfere with the way we process and absorb nutrients. While our bodies are meant to get rid of waste and excess toxins, the body can easily become overloaded and over time, becomes less effective at getting rid of these wastes.
Medications Effect on Nutrition
Studies show that nearly 7 out of 10 people are on at least one type of prescription drug for a wide variety of health issues. Certain types of prescription drugs can bind to nutrients in the body and actually inhibit nutrient absorption. Others can disrupt the natural flora in the digestive tract and cause imbalances. The following are some ways that medications can interfere with nutrient intake:
- They can speed up or slow down metabolism
- They can bind to nutrients and effect the amount absorbed and the rate at which absorption occurs
- They can alter how the body breaks down and utilizes nutrients
- They can speed up or slow down the rate that food is processed through the digestive system
Since some drug therapy may have an effect on the patient’s nutritional status, a nutrition assessment should be part of the patients drug therapy review.
The main function of the digestive system is to absorb nutrients from the food we eat and eliminate waste. Poor digestion or digestive issues alter the body’s ability to do this. We know that eating a healthy and nutrient dense diet can provide great benefits for the body but only if the foods can be broken down and assimilated properly.
Common types of digestive problems include:
- Leaky gut
- Crohn’s disease
- Bacteria imbalance
Stress and Its Effect On Nutrition
Periods of stress activate our body’s central nervous system which sets off a sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses. When our bodies enter this state of distress all other functions such as digestion are determined lower priority and take a back seat until the stress has subsided. If stress becomes chronic, it can impact your ability to digest food. This is due to in part to the fact that stress can alter gastrointestinal mobility and affect secretions of digestive juices. Without proper function of these processes it is difficult for nutrients to be broken down and absorbed properly.
Nutrition is not meant to be a once size fits all approach or idea. If it was, there wouldn’t be countless diet and nutritional programs on the market. Everyone’s nutritional needs are different and depend on a variety of factors such as age, sex, activity level, diet, current health conditions, environment and food and chemical intolerances. We offer a combination of diagnostic testing, nutritional counseling, detoxification, nutrient injection therapies and supplementation to address declining health.
Functional medicine practitioners consider the patient’s history, physiology, lifestyle, and test results to provide healing for all systems relating to their disorders.
``Your Nutrition Is Your Medicine``
– Hippocrates Circa 400 BC