The Fundamentals of Nutrition and its Effects on Your Health

As the holiday season approaches and the new year arrives, it’s time to start re-evaluating some of those sneaky foods that you’ve been eating and how they’re affecting your health. 

Nutrition has been shown to have a huge impact on your health, including mental health, disease, and even oral health. If you take this one step further, your genes can also be impacted by nutrition. Your genes can be changed by what you eat, making you more susceptible or resistant to disease – this is called epigenetics.

Oral Care and Its Relation to Digestion and Health

It is vitally important to obtain good dental care throughout your life. One study found that “tooth loss affects dietary quality and nutrient intake in a manner that may increase the risk for several systemic diseases.” Digestion begins in the mouth with how well we chew our food. If food is not chewed well, digestion is not as effective because the enzymes in the mouth are not breaking down the food. 

When we allow sufficient time for the saliva in our mouths to break down the food, we increase the ability of our body to absorb more nutrients as the food travels throughout the digestive system.  

What Foods Should I Eat and Why?

A good rule of thumb when determining whether or not food is healthy is to recognize whether the food is in its most natural state. Why is this important? Because the less that food has been altered, the more likely it is to retain the essential nutrients it provides to your body. It’s also likely to have less chemical manipulation that interferes with the proper absorption of the food. 

A fun trick to remember is to look at the shape of the food in its natural state. For example, if you look at a walnut or pecan, that food is important and beneficial to brain health. Science teaches that the omega-3 fatty acids that a walnut provides are vital to the health of your brain. 

Other examples that may give you a good indication of what part of the body they benefit are mushrooms for ears, carrots for eyes, celery for bones, oysters for testicles, avocado for the uterus, tomatoes and strawberries for the heart, ginger for the stomach, sweet potatoes for the pancreas, and grapefruit for breasts. When you begin to apply this idea to how you approach food, you can start to make more well-educated and healthy choices with food.

Nutrition and Its Effect On Health

In the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, connections to mental health, heart health, brain health, and many other health issues like diseases and cancers are addressed. 

A recurring aspect she discusses is how certain depletions over time can have a negative impact on your health, but an even greater negative impact on your posterity. This is a well-known phenomenon for mothers in relation to folic acid helping to discourage spina bifida, but it extends beyond the physical, also impacting the mental development, as well as chemical reactions in the body in relation to the proper balance of dopamine levels. 

For example, zinc deficiencies in the mother can lead to mental impairments in the child. This idea relates to epigenetics and how what we introduce to our body via food, chemicals, and stressors change the reactions in our body, rewiring the DNA and contributing to generational impact. This is epigenetics!

Interesting Health Take-Aways

When we evaluate the health of different cultures, societies, and peoples, there are several recurring findings that further educate us in our pursuits for health. The top things that we can do are limit sugars and processed grains, as well as other processed foods. 

Processed foods that are good for you include naturally fermented foods that help to break down certain enzymes, making the food easier to digest. Some of these foods include sourdough bread, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. These foods help to create a healthy digestive system – which if not kept healthy, is linked to a myriad of health problems (colon cancer, obesity, nutrient deficiencies, etc.) 

Some have even speculated that vegetarianism, when adopted as a lifestyle, can lead to a reduction in oral health and a decrease in height over time.

Closing Thoughts

When we apply the rule of minimally processed foods to our life, we avoid the confusing diet trends, marketing ploys, and fad diets that tend to lead us further away from obtaining a healthier lifestyle.