Photo Credit: Ellen Stevens/Hacker Noon. Double exposure of an apple and a calculus book.
I love working during the day and I love working late into the night. If I could train my body to function properly without sleep, I would work 24/7.
During university, I was employed at multiple jobs in order to sustain my life. The loan that I had taken out for school simply didn’t cover all of my daily needs.
I had moved—by myself— to a new city, where I didn’t know anyone, and tried to embrace the adventures of both academia and independence as much as I possibly could.
I got really good at a lot of things in those days, but the one thing that I was particularly skilled at was avoiding cooking.
It got to the point where one of my staff members would bring home-cooked meals for me to the office because he “thought I might die.”
At the time I thought this was pretty amusing and I was obviously flattered that literally anyone cared or noticed. My schedule was frequently so crazy and hectic that I didn’t give my body much thought.
I should probably also note that I’ve always hated cooking, HATED it. Which is why my newly developed 'expertise in nutrition' is slightly comical and terribly ironic.
I wasn’t raised with cooking being a big part of my life, nor was I raised to be a foodie. I was raised with a general appreciation for healthy food choice practices, and an understanding that fruits, veggies, and various grains and meats were better than fast food.
That much I knew.
But the intricacies and scientific whys of the matter were never covered in any thorough detail. Nor was I ever given a thorough education in nutrition from anywhere else.
I figured: 'Eh I’ll wing it for now.'
Photo Credit: Ellen Stevens/Hacker Noon
After years of a steady diet on the same basic few foods —to note, they actually were not horrendous choices—energy drinks and stress, my body’s sluggish performance was starting to get in the way of the intensity of my goals.
This was unacceptable. How was I supposed to continue to pursue my passions with the drive that I encompass, if I felt consistently subpar?
This is when I began my research into nutrition science.
The below assortment of links and suggestions is an outline and summary for potential topics — in what may unfold to become a series here on Hacker Noon. With that being said (or written), a summary such as this something I would have died to come across when I was first starting out.
There is so much questionable nutrition content out there— too much of it is scattered, with very little depth, promoting a specific diet agenda, and a lack of a full picture presented —that I wanted to create something that would give readers the fullest picture of nutrition— at least that I could summon.
Furthermore, part of the value of this article is it addresses the importance of treating the potential underlying deficiencies your body may have. Thus, presenting a pretty thorough map of the points from which to start.
There is an overwhelming amount of natural or pharmaceutical solutions to treat all sorts of symptoms. Some of them work great! However, when it comes to deficiencies, treating the deficiency is likely more efficient than the symptoms you get from it. If you treat the root of the problem, things like sleep, digestion, energy, are likely to fall into place.
Being deficient in any one mineral or other nutrient can cause a plethora of physical and mental ailments.
Please also read ALL of the disclaimers found at the bottom of this article. It is very important for you to be aware of how to approach any ‘medical advice’ you find on the internet.
Notably, it's also important to understand that contrary to many popular beliefs, it is frequently NOT ‘a normal part of adulthood’ to experience one or more of the following symptoms: Being constantly tired (especially after meals), not being able to sleep properly, being bloated, and experiencing constant brain fog. It's entirely possible it has to do with a deficiency or food choices.
The first piece in this series will show a framework and summary of what you might consider when reprogramming your approach to nutrition and supplements. The future content will take you through some of the brilliant nutrition science research currently available.
It's probably most important to note that all of this research wasn't a waste of time, I feel incredible.
Just because are an ‘ideal weight’ or not an ‘ideal weight,’ super fit, or not super fit, or live in the West, absolutely does NOT mean that you are automatically meeting your body’s requirement for nutrients.
It also doesn’t mean that you are not meeting them. How you feel overall is a pretty important indicator on whether or not to go in for testing (although it is my personal opinion that everyone should go in for testing just in case). Simply eating fortified foods, or even a ‘balanced diet’ doesn’t guarantee a 100% ‘nutrition success rate.’
(The below organizations and people are in no way affiliated with me at
the time of publishing this article. They are simply sources I found throughout my own research that I have personally found to be excellent.)
Harvard Health Publishing in partnership with the Harvard Medical School provides a thorough Listing of Vitamins in a chart. This incredible chart compiles an outline of the daily nutrients that your body needs. They list the required amounts per vitamin, the upper limit, the foods that you can find it from, as well as what happens when you have deficiencies.
The below image is just a small portion of it, the chart is much larger.
Eat This Much is a small company “focused on providing tools and support for people who want to take control over their nutrition.” They have a tool on their website that allows users to type in pretty much any food, and have a relatively accurate measurement of the amount of nutrients in it.
You can map your diet into the above chart and see what you are likely not getting. If you find that you are ‘scoring’ lower in a particular nutrient, do a separate search for the particular food and nutrient information to double-check. While the above site does a pretty remarkable job, it sometimes doesn’t capture every single nutrient.
Joanna Soh Official’s YouTube Channel is fantastic in aggregate, but her video called “5 Must Eat FOOD for a Flat Tummy (Healthy Digestion)” is one of the best videos about digestion I have ever seen. You may have to skip the first few minutes of the video while she discusses a related function, however, the rest of this video is information gold. According to the video the categories of food to eat are: 1) Food containing high PROBIOTICS 2) Food high in FIBRE 3) Food high in WATER 4) Food containing high PREBIOTICS 5) Certain HERBS & SPICES.
Thomas DeLauer’s Youtube Channel has fantastic nutrition-oriented content. He will actually go to different stores and break down an available product’s ingredients, how they impact your system, and how they are produced. He’s a bit keto-obsessed but has very good links to legitimate research. He has videos on fasting, various supplements and ingredients, various #biohacking tips, and more! He’s an unbelievable source of excellent nutrition information. Go Thomas!
Protein Bar Ingredients
(For when there are nutritional gaps not being met by food.)
Omega 3 Fish Oil
ZMX (Zinc, Magnesium, and B6)
Collagen and Biotin
1. Stop equating healthy eating with bad-tasting food. You can make delicious meals and snacks from ingredients that won’t inflame your system and give you a plethora of disorders.
2. Processed sugar has little to no nutritional value. Try and limit its consumption. There are plenty of natural sources of sugar that are delicious and have nutritional value. [Source]
3. Exercise is important, but you have to make sure you’re doing it in the right way. This means eating the right diet and taking the appropriate breaks to make sure you are not doing more harm than good to your body. This usually means consuming more protein and supplementing your electrolytes.
4. Don’t buy into fad diets. Consider a holistic approach. My personal preference is to follow both a Mediterranean and paleo-style diet. Please note that there is a whole plethora of factors to consider when you make a decision for what you include in your diet or you don’t.
5. Keep in mind that if you cut out certain types of foods, you may need to supplement with a particular nutrient. For example: Not eating dairy means that you may have to consider a calcium supplement.
6. If your body tends to react badly to a particular food, it may be time to reconsider how much you are eating of it. Sometimes you may not even know that your food consumption preference is what is making you feel bad, so be aware that this is a possibility.
7. Consider soups, various meats, seaweed, as substitutes for sugary snacks.
8. Consider tea as a substitute for coffee. Many teas have caffeine and more nutritional value.
9. The ‘crashes’ you may be feeling during the day may be due to carb intake and coffee. Consider starting the day with protein and switching to tea.
10. Get enough sleep. Granted, it’s easier said than done, but actively making an effort to maintain proper sleep hygiene is essential.
11. Green tea, apple cider vinegar, and various spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and turmeric are staples which should be found in every kitchen.
12. It’s ok to “cheat” just make sure you’re making better choices more often than not.
13. If you look at this content and think you have to make a dramatic change, start slowly. Instead of buying multiple sugary snacks, consider getting frozen or unfrozen berries instead. Make the changes sustainable. Otherwise, you are more likely to go to bad habits.
14. The healthy lifestyle has to be sustainable for you. Find a way to make that happen.
15. You don’t have to run after every new health fad, wait until there is more research available.
16. Look and research the ingredients in your food. It’s time-consuming and frustrating, but eventually, you will learn to recognize what to avoid. You will probably be shocked at not only what is in some popular foods but also how much better you feel when you are more selective of what
goes into your system.
17. Fasting has been a practice in many cultural and
religious circles. There is an abundance of research available now for its
benefits. Learn how to do it properly.
18. Consider taking one of the following nutrition courses.
19.Many people are opting out of eating wheat, dairy, and processed foods. In future articles, I will cover the reasons for why that is.
We are bombarded with a plethora of disastrous information that placates terrible health choices and decisions. All the while having to grow up with a serious lack of unbiased and quality nutrition science information from formal education. This is genuinely backwards from how modern societies should be.
What you put into your system can dramatically alter the outcome of your life. Food and body interactions are complicated. Nutrition science is complicated. The way different substances interact with your particular body is very sophisticated. Food and body interactions are literally biochemistry.
It’s so crucial and fundamental that we somehow manage to take food choice practices completely for granted, and then wonder why we need a cocktail of pharmaceuticals and energy drinks to keep us going past thirty.
Follow Ellen on Twitter @escvdotca