Jennifer Caryn Brand Nutrition

Jennifer Brand, MPH, MS, CNS Clinical Nutritionist

Nutrients for Living in Larger Bodies

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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, copper, magnesium, selenium, 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 professional about 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.