JUNE NUTRITION CHALLENGE!
As part of our #fitnessisalifestyle campaign, I am going to create small nutrition challenges that you can work on each month! The goal isn’t perfection here.. it’s just to become a “little bit better” than you were yesterday. This is how we create new habits and lasting change. Let’s use each other for motivation and new ideas!!
The challenge for JUNE is:
FIND YOUR MICRONUTRIENTS!
To be successful with this months challenge, we need to understand what MICRONUTRIENTS are. Micronutrients are chemicals such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in trace amounts in our foods. Micronutrients play an important role in every process in our bodies, are vital for good health, and are essential to get from our diet. Some examples are Vitamins A, B, D, K and iron, iodine, zinc, calcium and selenium… and there are many more!!
So what’s the difference between MICRO and MACRO nutrients? Macronutrients are protein, carbs and fats and needed in larger amounts from our diet. Proteins are broken down into amino acids and used to build things throughout the body. Carbs are broken down into glucose and used for energy. Fats are broken down into fatty acids and used to store fuel, manage inflammation and as building blocks for certain cells. Micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts, but are crucial to all of the processes above.
This is why it is best to eat a WHOLE FOODS diet (minimally processed).. so you get both the macronutrients you need along with the micronutrients to break them down. PROCESSING foods strips them of many of their micronutrients while enhancing shelf life. Foods like cereal grains, sweets, bread/muffins, fried, and fast foods will give you a lot of calories and MACROnutrients, but not a lot of health promoting micronutrients.
The list below was taken from this Dr Axe post and shows examples of many common Vitamins and Minerals and the important roles they play in our body:
- Fiber: lowers cholesterol, helps control blood sugar, helps with that “full” feeling and with digestion
- Potassium: lowers blood pressure, helps combat heart disease
- Vitamin A: antioxidant that fights free radicals, help with skin and eye health, fights cancer by stopping DNA mutations in cancerous cells
- Vitamin B12: helps produce hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body, fights fatigue
- Vitamin C: improves immune function, prevents oxidative stress, fights cancer and common illnesses of the skin, eyes, etc.
- Vitamin D: promotes healthy bone metabolism, helps prevent depression, might help fight cancer
- Vitamin E: has antioxidant properties, protects cell membranes, protects heart
- Vitamin K: critical in blood clotting, works with vitamin D, protects against heart disease, osteoporosis, and other types of cancer
- Zinc: boosts the immune system, supports brain functioning, improves cardiovascular health
- Iodine: important for fetal development and thyroid health
- Beta-carotene: turns into antioxidant vitamin A in the body, helps with strengthening the immune system and mucous membranes
- Calcium: maintains bone strength, helpful antacid, regulates high blood pressure
- Choline: prevents fat accumulation in the liver, promotes brain development, helps prevent liver damage
- Chromium: removes sugar from the bloodstream and converts into energy, helps control blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes
- Copper: anti-inflammatory, helps combat arthritis, known as a brain stimulant
- Flavonoid (antioxidants): reduce the risk of cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, help fight free radical damage, protect brain health
- Carotenoid (antioxidants): help protect eye health, fight macular degeneration and cataracts
- Folate: role in fetus development, cervical cancer prevention, antidepressant properties
- Iron: helps transport oxygen to the entire body, prevents anemia and low energy
- Manganese: improves bone density, helps combat free radicals, regulates blood sugar, plays role in metabolism and inflammation
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2): helps prevent cervical cancer, fights headaches and migraines, can help with acne, muscle cramps, carpal tunnel and fatigue
- Selenium: has antioxidant properties, reduces the chances of prostate cancer, helps with asthma, arthritis and infertility
So where do you get all these MICRONUTRIENTS? From whole plant based foods like vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and animal meats (make sure you know your source… grass fed beef, pasture raised chickens and wild caught fish are best). You should be eating a wide variety of foods to obtain as many vitamins and minerals as possible; different foods have varying nutrients! Ever heard the phrase “Eat the Rainbow?” 🙂 You should also try to vary the way you prepare foods… roasting, sauteing, steaming and even try eating veggies raw.
For the purpose of this challenge, let’s focus on some of the most common micronutrient deficiencies. Try to add in minimally processed foods from the lists below through the end of June!
Vit D: Sunlight! Get outside!!
Omega 3’s: Chia, Hemp, Flax seeds, Walnuts, Anchovies, Salmon and Sardines
Magnesium: Avocado, Brazil nuts, Dark leafy greens, Oily fish and Raw cacao
Iodine: Eggs, Fish, Spirulina and Sea vegetables (like Kelp)
Zinc: Dairy products, nuts, red meat, seafood, asparagus, green peas and spinach
Vitamin B12: Grass fed beef and liver, Lamb, Venison, Pastured eggs and Poultry, Seafood (Salmon, Scallops and Shrimp).
I’ll leave you with this last resource… Precision Nutrition has a great article that lists many of the Micronutrients, what their deficiency symptoms are and where you can find them in foods!
And, as always, let’s post some pictures of you crushing this challenge on Facebook and Instagram with #fitnessisalifestyle and #diablocrossfit.
Written by: Coach Jennifer Ismar