We always focus so much on what we should be eating, doing, drinking, exercising… I thought today I would touch on a topic which I think is often quite overlooked: anti-nutrients, better known as nutrient-thieves.
Anti-nutrients prevent important vitamins and minerals from being absorbed by the body – and could be just as important in causing disease as not getting the right nutrients in the first place. So, in other words, you are throwing all the nutrition diamonds into your system, but these anti-nutrients are the burglars robbing the best bits, and your system is left all the poorer for it. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Cigarettes, painkillers, pesticides, herbicides, fried foods, contaminated tap water, city living, plastic, alcohol… They all contribute towards anti-nutrients.
It is estimated that the fruits and vegetables that the average person consumes in a year has about 3,8litres of pesticide sprayed on it… and that only 0.1% of that actually kills the intended bugs. South Africans consume around 460 cigarettes per adult per year, and even if you aren’t a smoker - you are still being exposed to harmful second hand smoke. It is also estimated that the average person could take up to 50 courses of anti-biotics in their lifetime… All of these factors are competing heavily for our health and our nutritional status!
Although we can most certainly not change everything, we can change some things. So, here are a few practical tips:
- Keep making sure that you are eating nutrient dense foods – in other words, every meal needs to be as nutritious as possible. Make sure you are overdosing your system with foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
- If it is possible for you to buy organic fruits and vegetables, then that might be a good option. There is, however, no need to go organic on bananas and avocados – they have their skins to protect them. Otherwise, just make sure you are washing all your fruits and vegetables really well before eating them. (Studies have shown that even washing can still leave more than 50% of pesticide residue on the produce, so wash well!)
- If you’re a smoker, stop. If you live with a smoker, ask them to stop. I know: it’s a blanket approach. But let’s be honest, there is NOTHING positive about smoking. Nothing.
- Next time you feel a cold or flu coming, why not just let nature take its course, rest and dose your system with vitamins and minerals. We too easily opt for anti-biotics. I’m not saying there isn’t a time or a place, but if you’re on antibiotics every year, perhaps you should be looking at why your immune system isn’t doing so well.
- Don’t fry your foods! And definitely don’t burn any of them either! Anything baked, cooked at high temperatures, fried or processed affects the nutrients of foods, and creates harmful anti-nutrients. Eat as raw, unprocessed as possible, and when cooking, rather opt for high temperature, short time.
- Other practical tips: filter your water if possible, and steer clear of buying and storing foods wrapped in cling-film.