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You wouldn’t end a friendship if they liked Kanye West.  Arguably you should could, but you know better.  You know that ending that friendship would mean you’d also lose their (usual) insight-fullness, kindness and the love and laughter that comes with being around that person. Yes you hate Kanye, but focusing on that single aspect would distract you from everything else, good and bad, that makes up your friend’s character.  After all, we’re complex beings.

And so is your body…

People’s personalities are complex and their physiology is arguably more so.  To illustrate this, it was only until the end of last year that a team of scientists humbly published an attempt to estimate the number of cells in the human body… a whopping 37.2 trillion.

A possible 37.2 trillion cells, reacting, communicating and fulfilling sophisticated jobs simultaneously throughout the day, that we’re just beginning to understand. Take adipose (fat) cells for example, that vary in type and behavior.  Some make up healthy brown fat and others collect under your abdominal muscles, coating and suffocating organs like a ticking time-bomb.  Fat isn’t only responsible for sabotaging bathing suit season but also takes part in the regulation of hormones such as insulin and those that tell the brain whether or not you’re full.

 With our busy schedules and limited memory space, it’s no surprise that the loudest, simplest messages are enthusiastically accepted, published and repeated over and over again.  Moving, crowd-pleasing speeches follow that same formula; simplify the problem, single out a villain to carry the blame, give a simple solution and promise immediate results.  Does this sound like the latest diet trend to you?  Nobody ever followed the person who started with, “There is a problem indeed!! But unfortunately it’s complicated! So now let’s get riled up and analyze those tedious details and we’ll take it from there!  WHO’S WITH ME?!”  The only thing following that speech is uncomfortable silence.  In this case, it might mean you’ve already stopped reading    For those of you who are still here with impressive stamina:

Food is also complicated.

Macronutrients (fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates) dominate health and nutrition media because they are extremely important.  They are crucial to providing us with energy in a system called the metabolic system. However, an increasing amount of research is pointing to the promise of better health through micronutrients including phytonutrients.

While macronutrients are critical for our metabolic system (obtaining, processing, using and storing energy), micronutrients are critical for a lot of other functions.  Your metabolic systems is one of many systems and overall health is accomplished by ensuring that all of your body’s systems are balanced and working properly.

For example, antioxidants are important since free radicals are constantly being produced in our cells.  Another important example is the immune system.  Macronutrients might play a marginal role in your body’s immune system while micronutrients are critical and central to an efficient, functioning immune system.  If you’re reading this, you probably already know that these imbalances are thought to be the root cause to most modern diseases such as cancer.

Ignoring the details and the Whole Truth.

If you’re still reading this, your patience by now is probably wearing thin.  ‘BUT What IS the connection between pomegranates and Kanye West??!’, you might be asking.  We evaluate people around us and hopefully take all of their qualities into consideration.  Why not apply the same principle to something as comprehensive as nutrition?

Sugar, a subcategory of macronutrients under carbohydrates, is a specific chemical found in food.  It’s today’s new villain.  We thought we had identified fat as the monster but after our waistlines continued to grow, we needed a new suspect. Like the boogieman, it hides in unsuspecting places, tempts us with ice cream, and casts a powerful spell over us.  There is a lot of truth in this message but sugar is only one characteristic within a food.  Remember that good friend who liked Kanye?  Judging a food based on a single component is a one dimensional way of thinking that could be detrimental to your health, specifically to all of those complicated systems that depend on diverse nutrients in large, frequent quantities to work properly.

A healthy compromise: Whole Analysis

Pomegranates, for example, have A LOT of sugar!  Seeds from 1 whole pomegranate have almost 40 grams of sugar.  Equivalent to about 1.25 cups of ice cream.  However, pomegranates are also full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that boost not just one system but many systems.  Pomegranates is one of a handful of foods that have an extremely important phytochemical. The high fiber content also slows down the rate of sugar absorption, making it difficult to compare to refined sugar.  Cutting out sugar from your diet will certainly make you lose weight and even cutting back on fruits can give you a boost in the beginning.  If your looking to reduce the sugar in you and your family’s diet, having half of a pomegranate will give you the benefits and take the sugar amount to less than 20 grams.

Table sugar, on the other hand, has no nutritional value whatsoever.  Absolutely no redeeming qualities.  None. This is a complete/whole analysis of table sugar.  Pomegranate is considered to be The most antioxidant dense fruit.  Judging it then based solely on it’s sugar content might rob you of all the other qualities pomegranates have.

Applying this evaluation method to the latest diet trend will empower you and not leave you and your family vulnerable to incomplete, misleading information.  The key is whole, critical analysis.

Macronutrients have dominated our view on what constitutes health.  How much fat does that have?  Am I getting enough protein?  It’s only been the past 10 years that we’ve started to really consider the significance of micronutrients. While macronutrients are essential to living, more and more experts are looking to vitamins, trace minerals and phytochemicals to truly achieve optimal health and prevent today’s most common ills and diseases.

Micronutrients are essential in:

  1. Maintaining and boosting the immune system

  2. Keeping organs healthy and working properly

  3. Regulating body weight

  4. Preventing disease (such as autoimmune disorders, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes…)

  5. Detoxification

  6. Regulating mood

  7. Growth & Development

  8. Healing

  9. Cognitive function

  10. Inflammation

This is just a small, simplified list that continues to grow since we’ve just started to discover their benefits.  Here are 5 easy tips and tricks to get the most nutrients into your diet.

1. Reduce your cooking time and heat

Why? The longer the cooking time, the less nutrients.  Raw vegetables, in general, have the highest nutrients but lightly steaming them can increase your overall vegetable intake and nutrient absorption. 


Steamed vegetables such as broccoli, for example, are easier to chew (and digest) than raw broccoli, making it easier for your body to absorb more nutrients.   An extreme example of this would be flax seeds.  These miracle seeds are wonderful, unfortunately, our teeth can’t chew through the tough shell which means it’ll likely pass through the system intact without releasing any of the benefits inside its shell.  Grinding flaxseeds (a coffee grinder works perfect) allows us to access and absorb these nutrients.


How to:  Bring water to a boil, add the vegetables, cover, reduce heat and simmer for the least amount of time until tender.

2. Keep it colorful

Why?  Phytochemicals (only found in plants) are often expressed in the plant’s color.  Not only is adding color to your dishes visually appealing, expanding the spectrum of colors will ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.  This is another reason why overcooking should be avoided since the lack of color indicates the loss of nutrients.


How to:  Make it a habit to include colorful foods such as purple cabbage, carrots, red peppers and greens in each meal.  The more colorful, the more variety, the better!


3.  Buy frozen foods

Why?  Seasonal foods tend to be more nutrient dense. If you don’t have access to seasonal foods or a farmers’ market, frozen fruits and vegetables are a surprisingly good option.  The average nutritional loss is 5% for freezing and foods are usually frozen at their peak ripeness, which = more nutrients.

How to:  Thaw in the fridge or kitchen counter before steaming to avoid excess heat and cooking.

4. Steaming with water – Drink up or cut back

Why? Vitamins and minerals leach into the water used to boil or simmer vegetables.

How to: You can either use the least amount of water possible so that the vegetable reabsorbs the water or use the remaining liquid in sauces or soups.

5. Add healthy raw fat

Why? If you find yourself starving after having just a salad it could be because a slice of tomato and iceberg lettuce isn’t cutting it… nor should it.   This is a common problem for those trying to increase whole, plant foods in their diet.  Healthy fat from raw, unprocessed plants can help boost your energy, keep you satisfied, provide you with essential nutrients and increase their absorption.

How to:  Add these to your daily diet – Avocados, seeds, raw nuts, sesame seed paste (tahini), coconut,  and olives.


{delicious slivers of coconut sprinkled over fruit salad}

*Tip:  Keep a few mason jars on your dining table with different seeds such as hemp and pumpkin seeds next to the salt and pepper.  This way you can easily sprinkle your food or salad to enhance the flavor and reap the nutritional benefits on a daily basis.

Check out this great recipe from Kimberly Snyder that incorporates most of these tips to make a delicious, easy, decadent meal for less than $6 and under 10 minutes to make!


Cold War Bomb Testing is Solving Biology’s Biggest Mysteries 
A PBS article written by Carrie Arnold, Published: Dec 11, 2013

Dynamics of Fat Cell Turnover in Humans

Kirsty L. Spalding, Erik Arner, Pål O. Westermark, Samuel Bernard, Bruce A. Buchholz, Olaf Bergmann, Lennart Blomqvist, Johan Hoffstedt, Erik Näslund, Tom Britton, Hernan Concha, Moustapha Hassan, Mikael Rydén, Jonas Frisén & Peter Arner
Nature.  June 5, 2008.

Fats and Cholesterol in the Diet
Sherry Henley, Instructional Specialist, Scottie Misner, Associate Nutrition Specialist
The University of Arizona. August 1999.

Fat cell number is set in childhood and stays constant in adulthood
Ed Yong, popular science writer
ScienceBlogs. May 4, 2008

Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood.
Guo SS, Chumlea WC.
Am J Clin Nutr. 199 Jul;70(1): 145S-8S. via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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