Even though many people have a medical kit that an accident and emergency department would be proud to own, that alone will not be enough to guard against dietary deficiencies. As our life-styles get ever more fast moving and the need for instant-everything grows by the month serious deficiencies caused by bad diet are becoming far more commonplace.
Most of these issues are remarkably easy to sort out by simply adjusting what we eat but you wouldn’t think that as the incidences of malnutrition in the wealthiest First World nations are rising to levels never seen before.
The reason for this is simple we are not eating right.
More and more people are relying on fast food and instant meals to fill them up and whilst quick those foods don’t have the nutrient content to keep us healthy. Most of them are high in salt, sugar and calories. They are highly processed and contain a whole list of additives that the human body doesn’t need.
These additives have been linked to everything from hyperactivity in children to cancer and by simply producing meals from scratch we can cut many of these ingested risk factors from our lives.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not the most riveting subject but a working knowledge of the most common, and some of the most dangerous deficiency diseases is an absolute must for anyone who wants to live a healthy life and who wants to ensure that their families get an adequate mix and amount of the vitamins and minerals we need to achieve optimum function.
There are many factors that can put us into a situation where our dietary requirements are not being met. Goring on fast food, snacks and microwave meals is part of the problem but not by any means the only way we can slip into dangerous territory.
A long term reducing diet can easily and quickly lead a person into deficiency of vital nutrients, as can long term debility and the inability for whatever reason to be able to cook a nutrition meal.
Some of the more common deficiencies can be dealt with by simply taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement but one that can’t be rectified so simply is protein deficiency.
This is becoming increasingly common as the price of good quality proteins increase. Fish, meat, eggs and cheese don’t come cheap, especially if you are a family or individual with a low income. There are however some cheaper sources of protein around that can either be eaten in their own right as part of a meal or added to more expensive proteins to bulk them out and make them go further.
Unlikely as it sounds protein deficiency is surprisingly common. Unsurprisingly it is more common in vegetarians and vegans but it can and does affect people eating a regular diet as well.
The symptoms of protein deficiency are many and varied and include:
· Weight loss
· Brittle hair
· Pale skin
· Nail ridges
· Low blood sugar
· Passing out/fainting
· Impaired wound healing
· Disturbed sleep
Now to state the obvious the way out of this is to consume more proteins, but as stated earlier for some the cost is prohibitive…enter….beans. generally most forms of beans are cheaper than meat and fish. Beans of all forms are full of protein and they can be cooked in a variety of ways.
They are a very valuable source of dietary fiber and are low in sugar, which prevents blood-sugar spikes and the associated feelings of hunger that follow. They have less harmful fats in them than meat and are a great source of anti-oxidants.
Lentils and other legumes are also a good source of protein and also contain a high proportion of magnesium along with some potassium, zinc and folate, all essential for good health.
Humans need a wide variety of foods, from all food groups in order to sustain themselves and without exception the addition of fresh foods to our diet is the best way to ensure we are not deficient in vitamins and minerals in the long term.
It should be noted that B12 is only available from animal and dairy sources and even a regular supply of protein via, beans, legumes and pulses will not maintain B12 levels. We are born with a good supply of B12 but that does deplete over time and needs to be topped up. there is a condition, Pernicious anaemia and sufferers could ingest B12 all day and they still wouldn’t absorb enough to stay alive, this will be covered in a future article.