nutrients

Food Sources Of Vitamins And Minerals

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway

In functional medicine (of which functional nutrition is the core), we often use supplements to enhance our health status, and doing so can be necessary to help replete nutrient deficiency, and to help address underlying metabolic imbalances and blocked biochemical pathways (for example).

 

It is important to keep in mind that while supplements can be helpful, they cannot and should not replace whole, real food sources of nutrition. Food is medicine and is our first line of defense against illness and disease. Food is also the primary vehicle for fueling our bodies with the nutrients we need to function.

 

Below are food sources of vitamins and minerals. This is not an exhaustive list, these are examples of foods containing these important nutrients. Do take into account your individual food allergies, sensitivities and tolerances, and health needs. Everyone is different, there is no one size fits all approach!

 

Incorporating food sources of vitamins and minerals into your diet daily is important for overall health and wellness, as well as for combating illness and disease. 

 

Vitamins: Biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K

Minerals: Calcium, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc

Essential amino acids (essential means you need to get them from your diet, your body doesn’t make them): Lysine, histidine, threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan

Other nutrients: Choline, essential fatty acids (need to get them from your diet, your body doesn’t make them), fiber

 

Vitamins

 

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches

Niacin (B3): Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

Pantothenic acid (B5): Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

Riboflavin (B2): Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

Thiamin (B1): Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach  

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Vitamin K: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver,  sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria

 

Minerals

 

Calcium: Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans (white, red, pinto), lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), broccoli, amaranth, dried figs, orange, yogurt, cheese, milk

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), nuts (cashews), seeds (sunflower seeds), garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans, raw kale, oysters, avocado

Fluoride: Canned crab, rice, fish, chicken

Iodine: Cod, shrimp, milk (cow's), boiled egg, navy beans, baked potato with skin, turkey breast, seaweed

Iron (heme iron is found in animal products and nonheme iron is found in some plant foods): Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna, mussels, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, white beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Molybdenum: Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, and grain products and nuts

Phosphorus: Salmon, yogurt, milk, halibut, turkey, chicken, beef, lentils, almonds, cheese (mozzarella), peanuts, egg, whole-wheat bread

Potassium: Banana, potato, prune juice, prunes, orange, tomato, raisins, artichoke, lima beans, spinach, acorn squash, almonds, sunflower seeds, molasses

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (yellowfin), oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, crab, pork, beef, chicken, brown rice, sunflower seeds, milk

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

 

Essential Amino Acids

Lysine: Meat, eggs, soy, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, black beans

Histidine: Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, whole grains

Threonine: Wheat germ, cottage cheese

Methionine: Eggs, grains nuts, seeds

Valine: Cheese, peanuts, soy, mushrooms, vegetables, whole grains

Isoleucine: Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts, seeds

Leucine: Dairy, soy, legumes, beans

Phenylalanine: Meat, poultry, fish, soy, dairy, beans, nuts

Tryptophan: Cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, wheat germ

Other Nutrients

 

Choline: Beef liver, wheat germ, egg, beef, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, Atlantic cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, milk, peanuts and peanut butter

Essential fatty acids (Omega 3s/DHA and EPA): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

FiberLegumes (navy beans, split peas, lentils, kidney beans), cereals/grains (oats, bulgur, oat bran, quinoa, rice), vegetables (artichoke hearts, spinach, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, mushrooms), fruit (prunes, berries, apples), nuts and seeds (almonds, pistachios, pecans, peanuts)

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, lycopene (pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots, tomatoes), beta-carotene (peaches, apricots, papayas, mangoes, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, beet greens, spinach, kale), lutein (spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, papayas, oranges)

 

Avoid high mercury fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting


General recommendations

 

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.


Nutrients Important For Cancer (Breast and Prostate) Prevention And Support, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: Christiana Rivers

Photo credit: Christiana Rivers

Disclaimer: The information presented here does not and will not tell you to treat cancer or how to treat cancer. We have not treated cancer. Make sure you receive medical care and are under the supervision of a qualified physician.

Cancer

Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells, and there are over 100 types of cancer, including breast and prostate.

There are environmental, lifestyle and dietary factors that can contribute to, as well as lower your risk for cancer, and help protect against recurrence.

Each unique case has an intricate network of factors to address, so be sure to explore what will work for you with your health and medical care team.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as endocrine disrupting chemicals have been linked to cancer. Examples of these chemicals include (1):

Lifestyle Factors

Lack of exercise may increase risk for breast cancer, whereas moderate to intense exercise 4-7 hours per week may lower risk. Physical activity is associated with a reduced likelihood of developing cancer. Exercise may also influence cancer recurrence.

Stress may be a factor, and emotional stress may even contribute to the development of cancer, and reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatment (1).

Dietary Factors

Cancer cells need glucose to survive and proliferate, and much more of it compared to normal cells. Avoid excess glucose intake, as well as (1):

  • Commercially farmed meats and red meats

  • Charred and browned meats

  • Dairy products including processed and imitation butter, ice cream, all dyed and pasteurized milk and cheese

  • Simple carbohydrates and grains including white, refined flour, processed grains and seeds, white rice, refined cereals and refined flour pasta

  • Smoked and processed meats

  • Processed, GMO soy and soy products

  • Canned or bottled foods

  • Excess salt

  • Trans fats/hydrogenated fats

  • Processed junk foods and snacks, and beverages

  • Artificial colors and flavors

  • Alcohol

What should be included? A healthful, anti-inflammatory diet (1, 2):

  • Clean, lean protein sources

    • Wild caught salmon, mackerel, cod, sardines

    • Organic, pastured chicken and eggs, and organic turkey

    • Grass-fed beef, wild game

    • Grass-fed protein powders

    • Beans and lentils

    • Vegan protein powder

      • Organic rice, pea, hemp

  • Healthy fats

    • Ghee

    • Avocado and olives and their oils (cold pressed, extra virgin)

    • Coconut, coconut oil (cold pressed, virgin)

  • Nuts, seeds and butters

    • Coconut

    • Flax, chia, and hemp seeds

    • Raw pumpkin, and sunflower seeds

    • Raw almonds, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts

  • Rainbow assortment of organic, low glycemic vegetables and fruits

  • Herbs and spices

    • Turmeric

    • Variety of others

  • Beverages

    • Filtered water

    • Green tea and herbal teas, unsweetened

    • Nut milks

Ketogenic diets may be helpful, talk to a qualified professional to see if it is right for you.

There are a variety of nutrients found in foods that may be supportive in breast and prostate cancer, including (2):

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Resources

  1. Jurgelewicz M. Nutritional Support for Cancer, PowerPoint Lecture. University of Bridgeport. 2016.

  2. Kohlstadt I. Advancing Medicine with Food and Nutrients. 2nd Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012.

Nutrients Important For Healthy Skin, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

How is skin health related to nutrition and detoxification? Problems with digestion and the gut can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut allows food particles and toxins to escape the digestive tract and make their way into the blood stream, where they trigger an immune response. This immune response can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including as skin conditions.

Digestive imbalances and impaired gut health also can cause a deficiency in nutrients needed for skin health, as well as overall health. Poor gut health and dysfunction, leaky gut, and nutrient deficiency can adversely affect detoxification processes in the liver (poor detoxification capacity results).

When we have a build of up toxins that cannot be excreted through normal routes (the liver is our major detox organ), those toxins will make their way out somehow, often that somehow is through the skin, and this can cause all sorts of skin conditions.

If you suffer with skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis (among others), you likely have digestive and gut imbalances and dysfunction, leaky gut, and impaired detoxification capacity.

Keep in mind that common food triggers for eczema include gluten, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter), and eggs. Dairy products also adversely affect the lining of your gut, contributing to leaky gut. Yogurt in particular is not eczema friendly because it can be loaded with extra sugar, and it contains histamine (amines) because it's fermented where histamine is also a trigger for skin problems. Grapes, oranges, kiwi, soy, tomato, avocado, broccoli, dried fruit, deli meat/processed meat, and junk food can all wreak havoc for your eczema. Foods noted below are examples of those that contain nutrients important for skin health. If you suffer from eczema avoiding the common trigger foods may help, and determining which components of certain foods cause your reactions can help as well as they can be found in a very wide range of foods. Histamine and amine foods, salicylates, oxalates, nightshades, citrus foods, among others are often offenders in eczema sufferers.

Discovering your personal triggers may take some trial and error, everyone is different. A qualified health care practitioner skilled in the functional approach to medicine, like a functional and clinical nutritionist, can guide you through the appropriate testing and interventions customized for your case.  

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for healthy skin and detoxification

Nutrients important for healthy skin/skin barrier: Carotenoids (Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene), Zinc, Vitamin C, Biotin, Calcium, Selenium, Silica, B3, K2, Sulfur, Essential Fatty Acids (omega 3 and 6), Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Peptides, Protein, Vitamin E, B5, Vitamin D, CoQ10, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Curcumin, Resveratrol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione, Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine

Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II):  Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol

Foods containing nutrients for skin health and detoxification

Peptides: Food derived bioactive peptides include milk, egg, fish and meat, soybean, grains (corn, rice, wheat)

Protein: High-quality proteins of any kind are the best choice, including lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. Remember to choose wild-caught  fish, as farmed varieties may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Vegetarian: miso, natto, tofu, tempeh, rice/hemp/pea protein powders, plant based burger alternatives

Omnivores: eggs, fish, meat, poultry

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Vitamin K2: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver,  sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Calcium (non dairy sources): Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans, lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), amaranth

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Silica: Leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, rhubarb, Fiji brand water

Sulfur: Chicken, haddock, sardine, cod, beef, dried peaches, egg, turkey, spinach, onion, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, figs, beans/peas, leeks, endive, potatoes 

Flavonoids (a class of polyphenols): Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes 

Curcumin: Turmeric, curry powder, mango ginger 

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate): Green, oolong, and black teas, carob flour, pecans, filberts, hazelnuts, raw cranberries, pistachios

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish 

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs

Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs 

Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb 

Taurine: Meat, fish

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice

Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots 

Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle

Pycnogenol: Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums 

Avoid high mercury fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

Protein and collagen supplements

Collagen: Provides skin and gut barrier support.

Protein: Provides much needed amino acids. In a state of "illness" or rather chronic inflammation/chronic immune responses your body has higher protein needs. Protein is needed to build all cells and structures in the body, including those involved in skin. 

General recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.


Nutrients Important For Methylation And Detoxification, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: John Jackson

Photo credit: John Jackson

What is methylation? Methylation is a biochemical process in you body that acts sort of like a switch, to turn things on and off. It takes place in almost all parts of your body and it is constantly happening. It’s needed for DNA and RNA synthesis, it helps control inflammation, it's needed for detoxification pathways in the liver to help clear your body of toxins, and it also is necessary for the metabolism of neurotransmitters that control your mood.

MTHFR is a common genetic polymorphism. It affects the way your body metabolizes folic acid, and it plays a role in methylation. If you have the MTHFR mutation consider taking a supplement that contains the appropriate, activated forms of your B vitamins, including folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. If you are familiar with MTHFR, you may be familiar with the concept of taking methylated forms of these vitamins. The methylated forms aren’t necessarily the only ones you need to consider. Depending on other genetic polymorphisms you have in how you metabolize B vitamins, there are other forms of Bs you may need.

With MTHFR, it’s also important that you avoid folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate. Folic acid is added to many food products, so make sure to read labels. Folate is the natural form of this important B vitamin and it is found naturally in a wide variety of foods.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to support methylation, detoxification and mood

Nutrients important for methylation: folate, B6, B12, Betaine, Magnesium, Zinc, B2, Choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, DHA (omega 3s), Probiotics

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione,Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine

Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II):  Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol

Nutrients important for mood: B1, B2, B3, Biotin, B5, B6, Folic acid, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), magnesium

Nutrients and Foods Containing Them

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is only found naturally in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods contain carotenoids)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Betaine: Quinoa, beets, spinach, amaranth grain, sweet potato, turkey, veal, beef

Choline: Beef liver, beef, eggs, salmon, chicken, cod, Brussels sprouts

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans 

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans 

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef 

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Branched Chain Amino Acids: Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs 

Flavonoids: Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes 

Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs 

Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb 

Taurine: Meat, fish

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice 

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish 

Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots 

Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle

Pycnogenol (antioxidant): Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums 

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Probiotics: Prescript Assist, Ther-Biotic (both recommended - reassess probiotic when current one runs out)

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

Nutrients Important For Your Mood And Sleep, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: Hernan Sanchez

Photo credit: Hernan Sanchez

Imbalances in our neurotransmitters can cause depression, anxiety, OCD, problems sleeping, and a wide range of other troublesome symptoms. 

Neurotransmitters have nutrient based precursors including amino acids, in particular phenylalanine, tyrosine, GABA (gamma aminobutyriuc acid), and tryptophan. Also iron, BH4, B vitamins (active forms of B12, folate and B6), copper (don't supplement with copper without balancing with zinc) and vitamin C are needed to build neurotransmitters from these amino acids.

As an example, the amino acid tryptophan is required for your body to make serotonin. B vitamins, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals are also required. Serotonin is then converted into melatonin. Serotonin is well known for playing a role in depression, and melatonin in sleep.

Eating foods that contain nutrients that are involved in neurotransmitter metabolism may help improve your mood and help you get a good night's rest.

Managing stress is also important for good sleep, as well as for improved mood. There are dietary interventions, and lifestyle interventions that can help you manage stress. 

Nutrients for Mood and Sleep

Nutrients important for mood: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folate, B12, Biotin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), magnesium, iron, copper, amino acids (phenylalanine, tyrosine, GABA, tryptophan)

Nutrients important for sleep: Selenium, vitamin C, tryptophan, potassium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), melatonin, B6

Nutrients and Foods Containing Them

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is only found naturally in animal products, Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Calcium: Tofu prepared with calcium sulfate (raw), plain yogurt, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, white beans (cooked), Bok choy/Pak choi (cooked), figs (dried), orange, kale (cooked), pinto beans (cooked), broccoli (cooked), red beans (cooked)

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans 

Copper: Oysters, shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, organ meats (kidneys, liver), dark leafy greens, prunes, cocoa, black pepper

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Potassium: Bananas, potatoes, prunes, plumes, oranges and orange juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, raisins, artichoke, avocados, broccoli, lima beans, acorn squash, spinach and other leafy greens, sunflower seeds, almonds

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (yellowfin), oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, crab, pork, beef, chicken, brown rice, sunflower seeds, milk

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Melatonin: Pineapples, bananas, and oranges can help boost levels. Tart cherries and walnuts contain small amounts.

Phenylalanine: Cheeses, nuts and seeds, lean beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, lean pork, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, whole grains

Tyrosine: Cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, whole grains

GABA: Almonds, tree nuts, bananas, liver (beef), broccoli, brown rice, halibut, lentils, citrus fruits (oranges), spinach, walnuts, whole grains

Tryptophan: Turkey, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, chia and hemp seeds, bananas, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

Nutrients To Help Manage Your Stress, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: Nik Shuliahin

Photo credit: Nik Shuliahin

Stress is complex in terms of its biochemical effects on the body, and everyone has their own level of tolerance for it. Exposure to stress leads to a series of reactions in the body cumulatively known as the stress response. The reactions that occur cause changes in behavior, autonomic function (the part of your nervous system that controls blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, digestion, elimination, body temperature, metabolism, and more), secretion of hormones, and physiological changes in the body.

Stress is an unavoidable aspect of life. There are strategies we can implement to help manage our stress levels to prevent the detrimental effects stress can have on the body. Exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, reading a book, breathing exercises, taking part in a favorite hobby, spending time with loved ones, walking your dog, and being in nature, are just some examples of activities that can help reduce stress levels.

Stress creates greater demands on the body and therefore a greater need for metabolic cofactors (vitamins and minerals) to make biochemical reactions happen. If you are under stress, you need a more nutritionally dense diet. This means that another important strategy for combating stress is to eat foods rich in nutrients that can improve brain function and strengthen immune function, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce toxins in the body. There are also nutrients that play important roles in reducing levels of stress related hormones like cortisol and adrenalin, and the chemicals that stimulate the fight or flight stress response.

Stress also adversely affects the gut and can lead to leaky gut and imbalanced but flora, so addressing gut health is an important cornerstone of a comprehensive stress management protocol because if you can’t digest and absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat, eating the right foods won’t matter much, nor will it help reduce your stress levels.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for stress management

Nutrients important for stress management: Complex carbohydrates, proteins (tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine, theanine), vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, zinc, glutamine, selenium

Foods containing nutrients for stress management

Complex carbohydrates: Green vegetables, whole grains, starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash), beans, lentils, peas

Proteins: High-quality proteins of any kind are the best choice, including lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. Remember to choose wild-caught  fish, as farmed varieties may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Tryptophan: Turkey, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, chia and hemp seeds, bananas, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt

Phenylalanine:  Soybeans, cheese, nuts, seeds, beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, dairy,  beans, whole grains

Tyrosine: Cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, whole grains

Theanine: Green tea

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens

B vitamins

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Pork, ham, dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, green pea, lentils, almonds, pecans

B2: Milk, yogurt, cheese, asparagus, spinach (dark green leafy vegetables), chicken, fish, eggs

B3: Chicken, turkey, salmon, canned tuna packed in water, legumes, peanuts, whole wheat

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Poultry, seafood, bananas, leafy green vegetables (spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard), potatoes

Folate: Leafy greens (spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard), fresh fruits and vegetables

B12: Animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B12, shellfish, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Omega 3 fats: Flaxseed, eggs, fish (salmon) and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Antioxidants: Rainbow assortment of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables

Magnesium: Dark leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard), dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, bananas, yogurt or kefir

Calcium: Tofu prepared with calcium sulfate (raw), plain yogurt, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, white beans (cooked), Bok choy/Pak choi (cooked), figs (dried), orange, kale (cooked), pinto beans (cooked), broccoli (cooked), red beans (cooked)

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.


Nutrients Important For Preventing And Managing Insulin Resistance And Diabetes, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

Deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals that play important roles in glucose metabolism and insulin signaling pathways may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Shifting from a diet that is nutrient-poor to one that is nutrient-dense, low glycemic and high fiber is important, and a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals can help you avoid nutrient deficiencies that are associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. A diet rich in plant foods including fresh whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains (like a Mediterranean style diet) can improve how genes that control insulin function and obesity work (where obesity is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes). Along with eating a nutrient-dense diet to resolve nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle modification (including stress management), engaging in interval training and physical activity, and the appropriate use of dietary supplements can enhance mitochondrial function (energy production) and reduce oxidative stress, where these factors are important for improved glycemic (blood sugar) control.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help manage insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

Nutrients important for managing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes: Vitamin B3, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, inositol, carnitine, glutamine, CoQ10, glutathione, cysteine, lipoic acid, zinc, magnesium, chromium, vanadium, quercetin, resveratrol, omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA), PABA, GABA, antioxidants

Foods containing nutrients for the management of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice

B12: Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Inositol: Inositol is found in cereals and vegetables as phytic acid (combination of inositol and phosphorus). Lecithin granules, beef heart, desiccated liver, wheat germ, lecithin oil, liver, brown rice, citrus fruits, nuts, leafy green vegetables, molasses

Carnitine: Beef steak, ground beef, pork, whole milk, cod, chicken breast, avocado, asparagus

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Lipoic acid: Broccoli, spinach, red meat, organ meat, Brussels sprouts, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, Brewer's yeast

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Chromium: Brewer's yeast, mussels, oysters, pears, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, tomatoes, broccoli, egg yolk, prunes, herring, dried basil, turkey breast, cheese, organ meats. Food rich in vitamin C (red peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries) can improve absorption of chromium.

Vanadium: Mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsely, dill weed, beer, wine, whole grains, tomatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, garlic, radishes, onions, cabbage

Quercetin: Apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, raw asparagus, raw red onion, olive oil, black and green tea, beans/legumes, cocoa

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

DHA and EPA: (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats) Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): Whole grains, folate rich vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches), Brewer's yeast

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): Fermented foods (kimchi, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt). Flavonoid phytonutrients may enhance GABA function (berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, tea, cocoa, wine).

Antioxidants: Virtually all plant foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, kidney beans, dark chocolate

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.


Nutrients Important When You Are Living In A Larger Body, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

It’s not news that weight gain has been, and continues to be on the rise. In order to combat this epidemic, we need to shift from our current siloed thinking into a systems based approach that takes into account the entire body. All our body systems are connected and when one is not in balance, others will also fall out of place. This is why addressing your needs holistically is necessary for optimal health and wellness. The complete picture is much more complex than being at a certain weight and BMI, and it must involve lifestyle with an emphasis on nutrition.

There are genetic, environmental and behavioral factors involved that contribute to the problem. It isn’t just what you eat! Of course it’s a lot about what you eat, but it’s not the entire story.

Conditions that occur more often in those living in larger bodies include insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, sleep apnea, GERD, and many others.

In addition to making lifestyle changes to address your health challenges, studies have shown that there are certain nutrients more likely to be deficient if you are living in a larger body. These include vitamin D, chromium, B vitamins (including folate, B12 and biotin), and antioxidant vitamins (vitamin A, E and C). As well, coppermagnesiumselenium, iron, zinc, beta-carotene, and lycopene have appeared low in studies. Omega 6/omega 3 fat ratio can be high (too much omega 6, very inflammatory) so balancing this ratio is important by reducing intake of omega 6 fats (processed foods) and increasing intake of omega 3 fat foods (see below).

When our bodies are depleted of nutrients, our metabolic processes can become imbalanced and impaired. This can lead to metabolic dysfunction, making it even more difficult to manage your weight. And when we are living in larger bodies, we have greater metabolic needs so more nutrients are needed to keep those processes running smoothly. This is why eating a diet of whole, real foods is so important, because this is where those nutrients occur naturally!

Again, lifestyle changes are necessary. 100%. Nutrient supplementation can be important for restoring deficiencies that food alone may not be capable of. Talk to a professionalabout what supplements may be right for you. Everyone is different and has different needs.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet

Nutrients important for those living in larger bodies: B complex vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, chromium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, beta-carotene, lycopene, omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA)

Foods containing these nutrients

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Beta-carotene: Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), squash, sweet red peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, dried apricots (high in sugar)

Lycopene: Guava, watermelon, tomatoes (cooked has higher content), papaya, grapefruit, sweet red peppers (cooked has higher content), asparagus (cooked has higher content), mango, purple cabbage, carrots

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil.

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

 

Nutrients Important For Your Tonsils And Adenoids (Immune System), And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: Nhia Moua

Photo credit: Nhia Moua

Tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system, and are made of lymphatic tissue. They work by trapping germs that come into the body through the nose and mouth. Adenoids usually shrink after age 5.

Because of their location, tonsils and adenoids are the first line of defense against pathogens that we eat or inhale, making them an important part of our immunological defense mechanisms. They also are important for the health of our oral and digestive microbiomes (good bacteria in our mouths and guts respectively).

When we have enlarged, inflammatory and infectious problems with our tonsils and adenoids, it means our immune system is in overdrive and something is chronically triggering this heightened response. Problems with tonsils and adenoids are a symptom that something else is happening in the body.

Removing the tonsils and adenoids (the usual treatment for persistent issues) does not necessarily address the underlying cause of why the immune system is chronically stimulated. Leaving this issue unaddressed leads to further health problems over time. 

Seventy percent of our immune systems reside in our gut microbiome. Imbalances here adversely affect our entire bodies. Gut dysbiosis (abnormal gut bacteria) and leaky gut are primary causes of chronic immune system stimulation, dysregulation, and inflammation in the body.

Before undergoing surgery for tonsil and adenoidectomy, many patients have been on multiple rounds of antibiotics, and use over the counter pain medications to manage symptoms.

  • Antibiotics damage the gut microbiome leading to dysbiosis and leaky gut, weakening the immune system, and impairing digestive health.

  • Pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can adversely affect the integrity of the gut, the microbiome, and therefore the immune system.

Whenever we have gut involvement and impairment of the microbiome, this also adversely affects the digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients from foods we eat, leading to further complications of nutrient inadequacy and deficiency.

To support the immune system from a nutritional perspective, it is beneficial to explore diet, food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, and the health of the microbiome.

  • Poor diet can adversely affect the microbiome and lead to dysbiosis and leaky gut.

  • Food allergies and sensitivities cause dysregulation of the microbiome, and dysregulation of the microbiome can cause food allergies and sensitivities, resulting in leaky gut.

  • Food allergies and intolerances are linked to adenoid and tonsillar enlargement. 

A qualified health care practitioner skilled in the functional approach to medicine, like a functional and clinical nutritionist, can guide you through the appropriate testing and interventions for YOUR case to address your gut and immune system.  

There are interventions that can be implemented now to strengthen your immune system and calm down its chronic stimulation. Food is medicine and is our first line of defense against illness and disease. 

We start by removing inflammatory processed, sugary, and artificial foods from the diet. Gluten, dairy and soy are frequently problematic.  We can also incorporate foods containing immune boosting nutrients into our diets.  

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help boost your immune system

Nutrients important for boosting the immune system: Vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E, folate, iron, selenium, zinc, probiotics

Foods containing nutrients to help boost your immune system

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, hazelnuts, cashews

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Probiotic foods*: Kefir, cultured vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchi), kombucha, coconut Kefir, natto, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, salted gherkin pickles, tempeh, miso, brine-cured olives

*Some probiotic foods are dairy and soy, and can be problematic for some people. Probiotic foods are also high in histamine, which some people are sensitive or intolerant to.

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

Tonsil and Adenoidectomy Post Op Diet Ideas

It is important to stay nourished and hydrated after surgery, therefore getting in adequate protein and liquids is important for healing and for overall health and wellness. 

Hot (temperature and spicy), acidic foods (like citrus and tomato), and crunchy foods may irritate the throat after surgery and should be avoided. Think cool and soothing.

Start with liquids and add soft solids as you are able.

What to eat and drink:

  • Lots of water

  • Coconut water is a natural and healthy source of electrolytes (instead of Gatorade or sports drinks)

  • Coconut ice cream (preferred over regular dairy* ice cream)

  • Milk alternatives: almond, coconut, flaxseed, hazelnut, hemp, and rice

  • Banana ice cream    

    • Frozen banana, berries, other favorite items (even raw cacao to make it chocolate), can add coconut oil and/or avocado for healthy fats and calories, blend in food processor or blender

  • Chocolate pudding (made healthy)

    • Mashed avocado, raw cacao powder to taste, honey or maple syrup to taste (really tastes like chocolate pudding AND is loaded with healthy fats)

  • Applesauce, soft canned fruits like peaches, mashed bananas

  • Cooled soups, bone broths (with soft, well-cooked rice, vegetables and protein sources like very soft tender chicken or fish) 

  • Oatmeal (cooled)

  • Well-cooked rice (cooled)

  • Mashed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes are more nutrient dense) (cooled)

  • Mashed butternut squash, other mashed squashes (even zucchini) (cooled)

  • Very cooked/soft/pureed vegetables (cooled)

  • Add grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or ghee to foods for healthy fats

  • Smoothies are a great way to get in all sort of nutrients

    • Add fruit, vegetables, coconut oil and/or other healthy fats, other as desired, include probiotics, vitamins, pain medications, etc.

    • If feeling adventurous, add some baby kale or spinach to the smoothies, it might turn them green, carrots (orange), or beets (red of course), etc., but really has no taste to it otherwise, and it’s a great way to get in some vegetables and extra nutrients (and fun to drink different colored smoothies!).

  • Protein ideas

    • Add a favorite protein powder to smoothies, banana ice cream, avocado pudding, yogurt, etc.

    • Use an unflavored protein powder to add to mashed potatoes and oatmeal (and other foods) for example

    • Coconut or Greek yogurt (full fat versions)

    • Canned tuna or salmon

    • Soft, cooked and cooled fish

    • Scrambled eggs

    • Mashed beans, bean dips, hummus and lentils

*Dairy is a common allergen, is often loaded with hormones and antibiotics, and can cause leaky gut and inflammation.

For reference, examples of non-dairy foods high in calcium that can be eaten after surgery and as the area begins to heal include yogurt, mashed canned salmon, mashed beans and lentils, spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli juiced/added to smoothies, and enriched rice, almond, hemp and coconut milks.