So in the past week I’ve been adding a bit of zinc into our tanks! It’s actually made a noticeable difference.
Like many nutrients, Zinc is one that our bodies uses a lot and one we can quickly become deficient in.
I was going to share a bit about it, but got distracted thinking about nutrients generally. The more I thought about them and how much they form the basis of our well-being and how vital they are, the more I realised… we’re malnourished! Especially our children.
In this post I share WHY this is so and why nutrients are a panacea for modern day illness.
I know we have an abundance of food. ‘Malnourishment is just not possible’, you might be saying. However, before dismissing this… listen in, as it just might be a panacea to safeguarding your longevity and future wellbeing.
Malnutrition in the pure sense is a lack of proper nutrition. It’s a term commonly associated with poverty and lower socioeconomic groups, not a condition for those of us living a modern, western way of life.
So let’s understand why, in western societies where food is abundant, we could be malnourished and thereby unknowingly setting the scene for chronic illness and disease.
There are 3 causes of malnutrition;
And there is a fourth cause… disappearing nutrients.
For most of us we’re fortunate to access an abundance of food, so number one isn’t one of the causes in this instance.
It’s the other causes that are silently affecting us…
How can this be? Firstly, lets remember what nutrients do.
A nutrient is a substance that provides nourishment essential for maintaining life. They are the basic, raw materials that build the strong foundation of a healthy and vital body. Understanding these things and dealing with them is a cornerstone of my work, in tandem with detoxification and managing stress / emotional health.
If we’re deficient in any of the many, many raw materials e.g. zinc, magnesium, copper, selenium, b vitamins, vitamin c or d etc… then our bodies are left vulnerable to dis-function and dis-ease. Many diseases are escalating not diminishing e.g. autoimmunity, digestive issues, mental illness and chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. Could it relate to a basic nutrient deficiency i.e. malnutrition?
It’s a big question and a big topic that can’t be fully answered here OR I’m not sure we can ever fully answer. But we can reflect on our history and some ideas about the causes of malnutrition.
You’ve heard it before, but perhaps not in this context.
My clients come to me making healthy choices, but they can’t resolve certain conditions or they might just want to make sure they’re ‘doing it right. After a couple of sessions, one of the most common comments I get, usually from those that are the healthiest, is ‘ … and I thought I was healthy?!’.
Which is absolutely okay, our wellbeing is an ongoing journey of learning, of personal growth, development and evolution.
We are healthy based on the knowledge that we have. However – is that knowledge and the choices we’re making, giving us the basic raw materials (the nutrients) our cells MUST have for communication, function and a well-being?
Let’s get back to food. Some examples…
For over 50 years we were lead to believe that a diet heavily loaded with carbohydrate (a non essential nutrient, manufactured in the body) and lean on fats, (an essential nutrient, needed from our diet, and important for absorbing some nutrients) was the way to eat!
It was misleading and damaging to our health with an incorrect balance of macronutrients being eaten, leaving us unsatiated and undernourished. Sadly the only thing that got healthy from this belief was the bottom line of some BIG corporations making dodgy low fat and high sugar ‘food’. Check out my previous post, ‘Breakfast. The food that makes billions’.
I too grew up on cornflakes and sugar, followed by toast and a good spread of soft margarine. At the time we did what we thought to be right and ‘healthy’.
‘When we know better we do better’ ~ Maya Angelou
This way of eating has left a whole generation depleted in key nutrients. Then, unknowingly, passing a weakened genetic inheritance onto the next generation.
(Note each generation is also unknowingly inheriting a toxic load accumulating from one generation to the next, which also plays a big part in weakening our genetic makeup, more info. below and here)
As examples of other dietary choices that are unknowingly depleting our nutrients, let’s look at phytic acid and food diversity.
Unless properly prepared, nuts, seeds, pulses and grains i.e. cereals (all the foods at the bottom of our standard American and Australian food pyramids), deplete us nutritionally.
Here’s why. These foods come neatly packaged up with phytic acid.
The problem arises when we consume large amounts of these foods (as we’ve generally done for the past 50 years) and the phytic acid bind to those important minerals within us, it depletes our bodies of calcium, iron, zinc etc. thereby compromising the systems that rely on these raw materials e.g. our immunity, blood, bone health and much more.
Note that when nuts, seeds and grains are soaked, activated and / or sprouted it helps release the phytic acid, making them kinder on our digestion and mineral stores. It’s the way our ancestors prepared these foods thousands of years ago when they began to consume them more frequently.
Our microbiome (natural bugs that live with us symbiotically) need food diversity to create their own diversity and therefore our wellbeing.
Diversity not only within their own kind, but diversity in the food we feed them. It is vital. I heard once that as we evolved, in a single day we ate up to 100 different types of plant species i.e. leaves, tubers and grasses! This diversity not only gave us diversity in taste and flavour, it gave diversity in our microbiome (bugs). Our bugs are instrumental in helping us digest and absorb our food. Thinking about it – not washing food was beneficial back then – perhaps a topic for another time.
Compare this to our modern day lives, where the diversity of foods we eat in a single day has become very narrow and very sanitised.
The plethora of ‘wild’ bugs and nutrients we require and were historically exposed to a thousand years ago (and for a hundred thousand years before that) is dramatically reduced.
The next cause of our modern day malnutrition is how we are absorbing food / nutrients?
We may have the best ‘diet’ in the world, but relatively speaking it’s limited … and it doesn’t help us if we aren’t absorbing it.
There are many different factors. Below are a couple of common ones.
Heavy metals and toxins.
Most of us have heavy metals stored away in our cells. It’s not IF we have them it’s a matter of how much we have and IF we are detoxing them?
Metals such as mercury are ‘opportunistic’ in that they will jump into a cell receptor site in place of important minerals e.g. very simply, mercury can jump in and push zinc out.
Heavy metals and toxins can hamper absorption of nutrients and effect organ health, especially the liver, again leaving us nutritionally depleted.
This is one of the most important reasons for nutrient mal-absorption.
When our microbiome i.e. the population of bugs that live symbiotically on and within us, is out of balance, we don’t absorb nutrients efficiently.
Our bugs help us metabolise our food e.g. some species help produce vitamin B12 in the small intestine, B12 is vital for healthy nerves (ie stress management and brain function) and blood cells. Then if we have disbyosis, i.e. a greater population of pathogenic bugs these too can rob us of vital nutrients.
This is an evolutionary cause that’s not in the standard definition of malnutrition, yet it’s significant.
Humans evolved drinking fresh water from natural, mineralised streams and eating food from nutrient rich soils and oceans. Good quality nutrients were readily available, helping us evolve as one of the most successful species on the planet. This is no longer the case.
Our soils are drastically depleted with very few minerals left, particularly in Western Australia. The food we eat is nutrient depleted. Plus most of us drink chemically treated water that has barely, if any, nutrients.
Although our oceans are still one of the few places with good mineral stores (notwithstanding the polution), we are a long way from the naturally mineralised streams, water holes or nutrient rich soils we would have enjoyed and evolved with.
We can see how unknowingly, physically and genetically weaker frames can be inherited from one generation to the next, as we are nutrient depleted.
Other factors causing a lack of nutrients include our emotional wellbeing and stress levels. Two factors that if left unmanaged also quickly deplete key nutrients. Read more about managing stress here and here.
So how do we know if we’re malnourished i.e. nutrient deficient?
There are many, many different symptoms that indicate nutritional deficiencies, for example;
Some great Nutrient Rich Foods we can be adding in;
And a colloidal mineral supplement if need be.
Adopting a diet full of a diverse range of organic, whole foods rather than processed, refined and packaged foods is a big step in the right (nutrient) direction.
The topic of nutrition is huge and complex. I’ve skimmed across the surface and tried to simplify it as much as possible. I hope it’s introduced you to a concept or reminded you of the vital importance of good nutrition. It is the first step in a healing or wellness journey.
Replenishing our bodies with deep nutrition helps build and maintain strong, healthy, disease and symptom free minds and bodies.
In affect, it is a panacea. Now I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts?
If you want to ensure you or your family are enjoying foods that really are healthy and nourish your body deeply, contact me for a free consultation here or book in for one of my programs here. I’d love to give you the guidance you’re looking for, simply.
This information is based on my scientific training, research, personal experience with healing myself and my immediate family and personal conclusions. I continue to learn while working with different health professionals and coaches to ensure our families wellbeing and harmony. It takes knowledge and it takes a team.
Always consider the reliability of where your knowledge is coming from and who’s on your team.
Worry… it’s (was) in my bones.
When I was a child I worried about playing with the purple crystals in the chemistry set, going to bed thinking I was going to die because I’d spilt it on myself. Worrying about my horse, worrying about my parents and that the minor disagreement they had at dinner… they were splitting up for sure! Later stressing out that I’d upset my friends with a comment or I was going to fail my exams etc. You might relate. However none of this prepared me for one of my most stressful and worrying stages of life… i.e. being a Mother and Parent.
Wow, the worries I created in my head, especially when they were babies (& I’ve got still got teenage years ahead of me)! How would they survive the night ahead let alone a few hours without me right there with them? For the Mums reading this I’m sure you can relate.
I realise now, for me, these stressors weren’t real. Rather, a self imposed, newly evolved type of anarchy within my own mind.
Note: My reference to stress is in regard to any thing that seriously threatens our homeostasis, (balance).
Knowing what I know now I would’ve been a lot kinder on myself and probably a better mother. No regrets though.
‘When the student is ready the teacher appears’ (or the lesson is heard) ~ Zen Proverb
What I’ve questioned as I’ve got older (and a bit wiser) is ‘what have I ever gained from worrying?’ As hard as it is to not worry, how has it ever helped resolve the situation or the issue at hand? (A reminder to self).
Even though stress responses are an adaptive process, ongoing or persistent worry and stress can create dis-ease.
Disease in our body is a lot more complex but very simply – along with nourishing our bodies deeply and eliminating toxicity – emotional health and managing stress (i.e. a balanced nervous system) is THE most important thing we can do for our energy, longevity, graceful ageing and joie de vivre.
When stress is activated it affects pretty much every system in our body.
Stress has many, many different guises and many we wouldn’t consider a stressor. Each stressor can weaken our ability to handle stress e.g. we snap at the family, fly off the handle, don’t sleep well, overreact etc. OR it creates a physical reaction in our bodies e.g. headache, loose bowels, sweaty, don’t feel hungry, sugar cravings, increased heart rate etc.
Whatever it is and irrespective of the cause, the body uniformly activates the stress response in the same way.
Here’s what we need to know about the impact of stress on our body and 13 different guises of stress…
Stress and Our Body. What We Need To Know;
1. Stress hormones e.g. cortisol and adrenalin are produced by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the HPA (hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal axis) making energy available for the body to use immediately.
Note: the hypothalamus sits inside the brain and links the nervous system to the hormonal system via the pituitary gland. The pituitary is a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus, to which it is attached via nerve fibres. Our adrenals sit on top of our kidneys.
2. Energy is diverted to the tissues that become more active during stress i.e. the muscles and the brain. Less critical activities are put on hold e.g. digestion and the growth and sex hormones.
With the change in chemistry that comes with stress, eating, growth, and reproduction go into a form of ‘shut down’ mode to ensure survival.
When stress is a one-off it can be considered ‘a good thing’ i.e. eustress, however much of the stress we experience today is persistent with long term damaging consequences.
Causes of persistent stress and it’s many guises;
In addition to the above in isolation, with our constant exposure to pollutants and toxicity, less than ideal eating patterns and the busyness of our modern lives, most of us are not just dealing with one stressor, but many. Our bodies and our brains are not coping. We are experiencing low energy, overwhelm, disrupted sleep, digestive issues, mental illness, auto-immune issues, hormonal diseases and chronic illness.
We’re familiar with most of the causes listed above and we’re acting on it or them in some way. There are others however that we’re not familiar with and that are placing a constant stress on our bodies. Perhaps choose one or two that you know or you haven’t yet explored e.g. investigating heavy metal toxicity with hair tissue analysis or slowing down enough to discover your true purpose or work more on limiting beliefs with a qualified practitioner. Begin to make the preventative changes you need to make now before stress forces you to STOP & listen and manifests into something far more chronic and debilitating.
We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain and the best part is it’s in our control.
It’s a very big topic and we go into it in more detail at my next workshop ‘Redefining Stress’ this week on Thursday 25th of May. Jill Dare and I will be giving practical and simple ways to alleviate stress and improve energy, joy, longevity and overall wellbeing while looking at how to get to the core of stressful beliefs. If managing stress is something you know you need to do, join us for an engaging and practical session with simple ways to ‘Redefine Stress’, this Thursday 25th May, 9:30am – 11:00am.
And I’m excited to have Toni Everard, Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner and Life Coach joining me for my online workshop of ‘Redefining Stress’ the following Tuesday 30th of May at 7:00pm WA time! I did a short interview with Toni and Jill last week, chatting about what we’ll be sharing, find our videos on my Facebook page. Register for either workshop at https://www.katebarnes.com.au/workshops-events/
‘To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world’
~ Bill Wilson
A while ago I had a conversation with the kids while driving to school. I can’t remember the full context of it but we were running late and I had some work on I wanted to get to, when the kids grumpily said, ‘all you care about is your work’! It was a comment that made me stop mid flow. We pulled up at school and I looked at them and said… ‘my work is important to me but my most important job is being your Mum and it’s a job I take very seriously….’ I can’t remember what else I said, however the look from my youngest is etched in my mind… It was a look of adoration with a loving smile on his face. Nothing else had to be said and the conversation stopped.
I’d never said anything like that to them before so how would they know how much I value being their Mum?
It made me realise that one of the few ways our kids understand that being a parent, especially a primary caregiver, is an important role to have is by telling them and showing them. We teach them how to read, write, use their manners, the value of money, of getting a job etc. What about parenting and mothering?
One day it’s likely they’ll be parents and mothers, I’d like our kids to value their new role, to know the privilege and importance it bestows and that it’s something they can be very proud of and enjoy whole heartedly.
The statement, ‘I’m just a Mum’, is a real term alive and well in our homes and communities. I’ve said it myself! We all do and have done. Even if we don’t mean to marginalise the role of being a Mum, subconsciously it does.
I think the belief begins at home and it begins with us, as Mums. I’m not suggesting we add more responsibility to the heavy load we already carry, but rather to remember and be strong in the knowledge that shaping the lives of future generations and citizens IS an important job. It’s a tiring, thankless job at times yet there is no one that can do it better than we can or our family can. So that kind of makes it one of the best jobs in the world too!
I know it starts with me. If I’m not proud of the role I have or if I don’t value it how can my children?
Which is also why it’s so important to take time out to refuel and recharge, especially when children are little and we’re more tired from lack of sleep and we’re running on empty. If we’re not looking after ourselves and taking time to do more of what makes us happy, how can our children or our families be happy? And how can they look forward or prepare themselves for that most important job in the world, being a Mum?
For more inspiration to help navigate motherhood and reignite your joy of life, visit my 21 day vitality reset – Get up & Glow with Kate at https://www.katebarnes.com.au/getup&glowwithkate
‘We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home’ ~ Australian Aboriginal Proverb
Gubinge in the Nyul Nyul language of the Kimberley in Western Australia, has one of the highest known contents of Vitamin C on the planet! Incredibly good for our immunity.
Our native plants e.g. bush rosemary, desert lime, davidson plum, kadadu plum or gubinge commonly have an extraordinary amount of medicinal nutrients. Perhaps their evolution across predominantly harsh conditions and their high tolerance for heat, drought, salinity etc has equipped them with a unique intensity of nutrients, in particular antioxidants such as Vitamin C (that help fight cell damaging free radicals).
For example, let’s take a closer look at the kakadu plum or Gubinge…
Gubinge has been used by indigenous Australians for healing and strengthening for thousands of years. It is said they’d take it on long hunting expeditions as it was considered as medicine more than food. The sap and the bark was used to treat skin conditions, sores and as a tea for sickness.
It’s a small green fruit with a slightly sour taste that goes by many other names including, the bush plum, the billygoat plum, and murunga.
Gubinge truly is Natures Medicine.
1. Vitamin C. The incredible thing about Gubinge is it’s vitamin C content. At 1000-5000 mg of vitamin C per every 100 grams of the fruit, gubinge contains over 5% vitamin C by weight. This is about 50 times more vitamin C than an orange, making it a fabulous whole food, that includes all the additional cofactors (nutrients to help with absorption), to be adding into our diets and to help boost our immunity naturally. And check out this article for more great reasons to be including vitamin C in our diets.
Vitamin C is one of the first nutrients to go when undergoing stress, smoking, drinking alcohol, medications or engaging in any other stress inducing activities. When this happens, our immune systems are compromised. Taking vitamin C or foods high in Vitamin C helps give our immune systems a much needed boost.
2. Antioxidants and Phytonutrients. Gubinge contains even more antioxidants than blueberries, making it one of the most remarkably high-antioxidant foods available and we know of.
‘Edith Cowan University’s Foundation of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease explains that the Kakadu plum contains antioxidant properties possibly up to seven times greater than curcumin, which is what places turmeric so high on the list of superfoods. The foundation states that the Kakadu plum has a protective ability that may make it even more powerful than turmeric’ (Dr Joshua Axe).
That’s all well and good, but HOW do we source these wonderful foods and how do we use them?!
Gubinge is becoming more readily available and I’ll be sharing lots more about it and simple ways to use it, even for sensitive kids in my workshop next week. I’ve also shared a list of suppliers below.
As for other incredible foods to boost our immunity, most of them can be found in our local supermarket or farmers market, a much cheaper alternative to Doctors visits and medications. At my next workshop, ‘Building Strong Immunity in Little Bodies‘ I’m sharing what those key foods are, plus common, natural foods that can also feed illness unknowingly, loads of quick recipes and remedies, all packaged up into a neat mini book to take home with you and use straight away!
Come and join me at ‘Building strong immunity in little bodies‘ either online or sample some delicious, immune boosting produce at my morning tea! y u mmm. I hope you can join me.
FYI businesses supplying indigenous foods online include;
Australian Desert Lime. http://www.australiandesertlimes.com.au
Dandelion Eco Store. https://dandelionecostore.com.au
The Australian Superfood Company http://austsuperfoods.com.au