How to Identify and Resolve Nutrient Deficiency

Posted April 24, 2024 in Health, Nutrition Tip No Comments »

If you’ve been having health issues, you may be wondering if you’ve got a nutrient deficiency. It isn’t hard to imagine these days. Documentaries and Instagram Reels alike share information about depleted soil and inadequate diets. You may be feeling fatigued and wondering if it’s a nutrition issue or just a lack of sleep. The subject can get confusing, to be sure. 

Understanding Nutrition

To begin, it helps to understand nutrition and the role it plays in the functions of your body. At a basic level, the human body performs at peak levels, or optimal health, when all of your organs function properly. Your brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are the five vital organs that keep you alive and well. Your stomach, gallbladder, and pancreas are organs that also play a role in your total wellness. 

Your body is, in many ways, like a machine. All of your organs, plus your nervous system and circulatory system are interconnected. When one area of your body suffers, your systems send help, which redistributes resources. If it’s temporary, this process is fairly simple. The affected area heals, and your body gets back into balance. Your body is always aiming to keep everything in homeostasis.

When your body gets the basic resources — sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition — it has a better shot at maintaining homeostasis. Over time, the human body can get thrown out of balance when those basic resources are lacking. Sleep deprivation can kill a person in a matter of days. Lack of exercise can lead to organ failure. Poor nutrition can slowly deplete organs and lead to serious disease.

Immediate Ways to Improve Nutrition

While sleep and exercise can usually be relatively quick and easy to address, nutrition deficiencies can be complex, especially if you grew up ignorant about food and the role it plays in your health. You might feel like you’re in the dark, and the dark can be scary. Fortunately, you can start to improve your nutrition today without even thinking about nutrient deficiencies. 

First, make an effort to cut back on junk food and sugary treats. A lot of those foods are highly processed and filled with chemicals that interfere with the basic function of your body. While you may not see the effects immediately, over time, junk food can clog arteries and lead to heart problems, obesity, and diabetes. Too much sugar can cause chronic inflammation in your body, often leading to problems like chronic pain and disease. 

Next, start eating more whole foods. This means fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, fish, and eggs. If you’re just starting, use the best macro tracking app to give you insight into your diet. A tracker will help you monitor your intake of macros — proteins, carbohydrates, and fats — and your micros — vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Hitting your targets in these areas helps give your body what it needs to function optimally. 

Signs of Nutrient Deficiency

If you’re struggling with a specific issue, you might need to get more serious and target the troubled area. Obvious signs of nutrient deficiency are bleeding gums, poor wound healing, cramping muscles, and cognitive problems. Physically, you may also notice hair, skin, and nail issues. When you’re dealing with a chronic issue, meaning it has been going on for months or years, it may be due to poor nutrition. 

In this case, it helps to investigate the connection between your issue and your diet. If you’re suffering from lackluster, dry, or irritated skin, hair, or nails, look at your intake of fats, protein, iron, and vitamins A, E, and D. And don’t worry, you don’t have to eat all the things every day. You can have a healthy meal that includes lean red meat, cooked leafy greens, and eggs. In that dish alone you’ll get protein, fat, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin D. 

The great thing about food is that it often carries more than one macro- or micronutrient. So eating from a variety each day, and cutting back on junk food, will often get you everything you need. You can take this same approach for most heart issues, or problems with other organs, as well fatigue or cognitive problems. Just identify the health issue, connect it to the proper nutrients, and work on improving your diet. 

You Can’t Exercise, or Supplement, Away a Bad Diet

A note on exercise and supplements: a lot of people think they can simply take a pill or hit the gym and solve their health problems. Unfortunately, the human body is not easily tricked. If you’re existing on a steady supply of fast food and soda, the gym won’t undo the damage. Exercise will get your heart and lungs working, but it won’t provide the nutrients your body needs to rebuild. 

Furthermore, there seems to always be some vitamin or mineral craze going around. People hear they need magnesium to sleep, so they buy a bunch and start taking it daily. The internet tells you you’re probably vitamin D deficient, so you run out and get a lifetime supply. The problem is nutrient deficiency is more complex than a pill or two. And your body absorbs vitamins and minerals much better from food and the sun than from a supplement. 

This is not to say to never take supplements. It is merely to point out that you are usually better off eating a well-balanced diet in moderation and getting outside for daily movement and sunshine. Supplements should do just that — supplement a healthy lifestyle. Don’t rely on exercise or supplements to do all the work for your body. You’ll have to get the bulk of your nutrients by eating good food and cutting back on treats. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, if you have developed symptoms that show signs of nutrient deficiency, all hope is not lost. In many cases, you can reverse the health issues you’ve created by changing your lifestyle. It will take work; you’ll need to understand your body, your issue, and how to address it. But it’s worth it to have an optimally functioning body. As a bonus, you may just live a longer, happier life too. 

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