Humans have been hunter gatherers, gardeners, and now grocery shoppers. Today, in our shining citadels of civilization, we have become far removed from the process by which our food is produced. Food comes in boxes, wrappers, and cans. We open it and then we eat it. We buy in bulk, buy for price, and buy for the convenience. We buy things we like, but do we buy what we need?
Humans can survive eating all kinds of food. In fact, foods like bread, rice, potatoes, dairy, and poultry have been staples across all kinds of societies throughout history. If you eat only certain types of food though you might become stuck in a nutrient deficient diet. Think of the sailors with diets high in carbohydrates that got scurvy due to a lack of Vitamin C, or those living in around the Great Lakes in the 1920s who had diets filled with food but lacked iodine, leading to the area being termed the “Goiter Belt” as people’s thyroids inflated. Neither diet left the person hungry, yet both diets led the body to starve for nutrients.
This is the 21st century. That stuff does not happen anymore you might say. Believe it or not, nutrient deficiencies still exist today in the United States! According to data collected in 2012, nearly 16 million Americans have deficiencies in Vitamin C and 23 million have deficiencies in Vitamin D (Bird, Ciappio, Murphy). The deficiencies are caused in the exact same way they have been caused before, only now we know how to fix them!
Humans in our society have access to foods grown across the globe, and it is important make use of them. Let us eat our dark leafy greens, our deep red beets, our bright orange carrots, our purple plums, and our golden, whole grain wheats. It takes a rainbow of color to provide human beings with the wide array of nutrients we need. These colors, in their natural and raw forms, once prepared right, are delicious and far more nutritious than wrapped, canned, or packaged foods!
If you cannot manage to eat right, you may be able to take a multivitamin. The study cited above found that non-users of nutritional supplements were 2.5 times as likely to have a nutrient deficiency. While a simple pill may do the trick, there is no comparison to eating whole foods on their own. The moral of the story is: do not discriminate with your fruits and vegetables. All are welcome on the plate of the healthy and balanced individual.
Bird J, Ciappio ED, Murphy RM. Adult full spectrum multivitamin/multimineral supplement users have a lower prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Presented at: Experimental Biology 2015, Boston MA; March 29, 2015.
Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Oz