I want to connect a few dots for you today with regard to your immune system and your general health, especially as it pertains to your metabolic health, which we’ve talked about many times.
Metabolic health includes the health of things such as your blood sugar metabolism, your blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular wellness and fitness. It’s also things like your triglycerides, your body weight, and your waist circumference. All these things together make up your metabolic health. And if you have certain symptoms around these criteria, you could be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
This can put you at a significantly increased chance of developing conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And we now know from reviewing Covid-19 statistics that the vast majority of those who were hospitalized with Covid had at least one of these conditions.
We also know from recent literature, as I’ve mentioned a few times, that only 12.2% of U.S. adults are metabolically healthy. That leaves over 87% of the U.S. adult population metabolically unhealthy and at a major risk factor for these conditions. Consider that these statistics include 20 year olds, 25 year olds, 30 year olds, which skews the figure. If we exclude adults on the younger side, those stats are surely much worse. This is unfortunate and that’s why I wanted to discuss this topic.
We know that metabolic syndrome, compromised metabolic health, puts even your immune system at significant risk. This leads us to think about things such as your intake of micronutrients. Things like magnesium, zinc, Vitamins D and C, your B vitamins — all of these are nutrients you’ve heard of and they have a recognized RDA (recommended daily allowance) or RDI (recommended daily intake). This is because these nutrients have a well established symptom profile when they become deficient.
For example, scurvy is the known result of a Vitamin C deficiency, and beriberi is the common term for a Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) deficiency. Pellagra comes from a deficiency of Vitamin B3 (niacin) and rickets from a lack of Vitamin D. It was easy to create an RDI for these nutrients because they have a very clear symptom profile when a deficiency exists. It was easy to discover how much of the nutrients we need to consume on a regular basis in order to avoid deficiency.
However, when these dietary guidelines were developed, something was overlooked, or unknown at the time, that I consider very important. There isn’t yet a widely accepted Recommended Daily Intake for what we call phytonutrients.
-Dr Chad Larson
Phytonutrients aren’t as well known, and the signs and symptoms of their acute deficiency are not as well understood. We don’t have familiar names like scurvy attached to deficiencies or insufficiencies of phytonutrients. But we do know that in populations where there is a significant lack of phytonutrient consumption, we often see them plagued by chronic illnesses such as those associated with metabolic syndrome.
So, what are phytonutrients? Simply put, they’re nutrients found in plants (the prefix phyto means plant). And they’re not especially well known to the general public. Maybe you haven’t heard of carotenoids and glucosinolates, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. These nutrients are very rich in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts. Leafy greens are a rich multi-nutrient of these phytonutrients.
It’s unfortunate that today these foods aren’t being consumed at the levels that our ancestors consumed them. When we look at indiginous cultures, we see that they have a rich variety of these phytonutrients in their standard daily diet. Unfortunately we don’t have that in our culture.
It’s also unfortunate that diet science has not come up with guidelines for the minimal RDI of phytonutrients. These nutrients are very efficient. Remember that only about 12.2% of U.S. adults have good metabolic health, and that estimate is on the optimistic side. When we overlay that with our phytonutrient non-consumption, there seems to be a significant correlation.
So it’s really key to get this broad array of nutrients in your diet on a daily basis, and a lot of people just aren’t consuming enough of the right foods. This leads me to something I recommend to a lot of patients; something I use regularly. My diet is better than average for the U.S. in terms of consuming a broad variety of vegetables rich in phytonutrients. But I still take phytonutrients in supplement form on a daily basis.
Like this one. This is a Superberry superfood drink, made with 40 plus ingredients. How often are you getting European elderfruit, organic amaranth sprouting seed, buckwheat sprouting seed, adzuki bean sprouts; as well as things like highly-concentrated and nutrient dense kale and blueberry. These things aren’t in everybody’s daily diet, but each of the foods I just named is loaded with phytonutrients.
Here’s another one that I switch to and from. This is a kind of lemony-mint greens drink from the same company, NewGreens, with more than 40 ingredients, all foods that aren’t present enough in people’s diets. Things like flax seed, chickpea bean sprout, quinoa sprouting seeds, various tubers, parsley leaf, things that aren’t widely consumed on a regular basis.
The ideal is to eat a broad variety of these nutrients. When they’re working together, it’s not like one plus one equals two. One plus one equals five or ten, because the nutrients potentiate one another. We’re designed to have them.
The way our body works, we’ve clearly developed over perhaps thousands of generations an ability or a necessity to consume these nutrients. Our liver, our gastrointestinal tract, all the cells in our body can use these nutrients at a level that unfortunately is being missed.
This is a great, simple, and delicious way to ensure that you’re getting these very important nutrients. Because I think it’s a deficiency or an insufficiency of phytonutrients that is contributing to and correlating with a lot of the chronic illness that we are dealing with today.
So enjoy your phytonutrients. Use one of these NewGreens products as a way to ensure that you’re getting them on a daily basis. I think you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll be doing something really key for your body that not enough people are talking about.
I hope this has been helpful to your health. I’ll keep reading the studies and bringing you the information. Until then: keep it real.