Identity Theft vs. Nutrient Theft
Sure we’ve all heard the discouraging reports about Identity Theft. Some 15 million residents in the US have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion. In fact, the Bureau of Justice places the number as high as approximately 7% of all citizens over the age of 16, have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
Grim indeed BUT, a staggering 85% of Americans are suffering from Nutrient Theft daily!
So you’ve loaded up your plate with a variety of brightly colored, organic, farm-fresh veggies, nibbled on raw organic nuts or seeds, had a serving of farm-raised salmon, 8 glasses of filtered water, and complimented all this with a wonderful multi-vitamin, Omega-3 oil, and topped it all off with some additional Vitamin C and D3 ~ yet your body absorbs less than a quarter of all of this nutritional goodness! What’s going on? Who is stealing all the positive benefits that you've earned through all of your good behavior?
Who is the Villain? One word ~ Absorption!
Serving-up the right foods and dietary compliments are not the end of the nutritional story. Simply because the nutrient rich goodies make it into your stomach doesn’t mean that your body will actually be able to use them as planned.
“Whether they’re from food or supplements, nutrients aren’t technically in your body until they’ve been absorbed,” explains Stella Volpe, PhD, RD, Associate Professor of Nursing and Miriam Stirl Term Endowed Chair in Nutrition at Drexel University. “Until absorption, things are just passing through.”
60% percent of the US adult population will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) within a 12 month period and 20 to 30 percent will have weekly symptoms. As you read this, approximately seven million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD. The statistics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome are just a little better. Studies estimate IBS affects 20 percent of the adult population, with most studies ranging from 10 to 15 percent. IBS affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than age 45. Here’s the tricky part, only 5 to 7 percent of the adult population has been actually diagnosed with the condition.
But those are the extreme causes of poor nutrient absorption. There are other more common, everyday thieves robbing you of valuable nutrients. Let’s look at 5 of these thieves:
1. Prescription Drugs: Antibiotics are #1 on the list. They non-selectively destroy both “bad” bacteria and also the “good” bacteria in your digestive system that plays a central role in your digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals. Your other medications themselves can also bind with nutrients and inhibit their absorption. For example, acid-reducing drugs impact your absorption of Vitamin B12. On the other side of this, certain nutrient-rich foods and dietary supplements will interfere with the effectiveness of your medications.
2. Age: As you mature, your body just naturally becomes less capable of actually extracting and absorbing nutrients from foods that you eat, as well as supplements that you take.
3. Caffeine: In fact can promote the excretion of vitamins and minerals and negatively affects hormonal secretions. It’s important to hold your consumption of caffeine to 1 or 2 cups of coffee or tea per day. Also try to have it between meals so that it has less direct effect on nutrient absorption via your meal. In high amounts, the tannins (a type of plant compound) found in caffeine can also prevent your absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins and Vitamin D contributing to bone loss.
4. Alcohol: There are a number of ways that alcohol affects the absorption of nutrients. It speeds-up the breakdown of pills and capsules before they reach your small intestine where absorption happens. That’s not all; it damages the cells in your stomach and intestine which interferes with just normal digestion, while also interfering with the release of important digestive enzymes to break down foods. Alcohol is known to act as a diuretic, which promotes excretion of stored minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Avoid alcohol within four hours of taking supplements, in order to reduce some of alcohol’s negative impact on nutrient absorption.
5. Stress: It should come as no surprise to anyone that the constant stresses of your daily life take a toll not only on your body, but on your digestion depleting nutrient stores and preventing absorption.
So the bottom line as I tell my clients is that you must take care of your digestion. Statistically speaking most people reading this blog are currently having some type of digestive issue. Stop ignoring it. Stop dulling its affects with over-the-counter aids that merely delay and potentially worsen the issue. Take the time to actively begin the steps necessary to restore your digestion. This is the only way to optimize your health.
Last but, not least ALWAYS consult your physician or other health professional before implementing ANY supplementation. The information here is not in any way intended as a recommendation.
Jeanne Ricks, CHC