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Are There Hidden Nutrient Gaps in Your Diet?

The answer is probably yes—but filling them is easier than it seems

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Your diet is filled with fresh, colorful plant foods, your water bottle is never far from hand, and you make time to work up a sweat on a regular basis.

By Kirby Stirland

May 15, 2020

By all accounts, you’re the picture of health. So why do you still feel just ok? Generally healthy, no serious illness, but vexed by issues like brain fog, bloating, moodiness, dull skin, sleeplessness, and low-grade lethargy?

Hidden nutrient gaps—holes in the nutritional makeup of your diet—may be the reason you're showing up as less than your best. Even if you feel fine, these deficiencies are sneaky in that they can affect otherwise healthy people. While you might not notice them in your day-to-day life, some experts say they’re essentially the root of all disease. At the very least, being unknowingly undernourished could be holding you back from feeling like your strongest, most energetic, and vital self.

Food For Thought

According to the CDC, in 2018 only 9.3 percent of American adults got the recommended daily serving of vegetables, meaning more than 90 percent of people fell short. (And we’re of the mind that the recommended daily serving of vegetables is a minimum you should aim to exceed.)

The reality is, no one is perfect all the time. Even if you’re eating organic, plant-rich meals most days of the week, there are days when life gets in the way. Days when juggling childcare and career means a healthy lunch slips through the cracks. Days when our emotional state demands a cookie instead of a kale salad. We not only allow for so-called imperfection, but embrace it every time we enjoy a celebratory glass of champagne or a slice of birthday cake. The healthiest life is one lived in balance.

So no one is perfect, and that’s ok. The sooner we acknowledge and accept it, the sooner we’ll find freedom, along with better physical health. Deprivation and guilt cause stress, stress causes inflammation, and inflammation causes disease. The fact remains that nutrient deficiencies are common everywhere, and particularly if you fall into certain groups. According to the World Health Organization, 75% of adults may be deficient in magnesium, a mineral that’s crucial for digestion, mood, and heart health. And given our homebound circumstances, it's no surprise that between 40 and 80% of people are also deficient in vitamin D, which comes from exposure to sunshine and is essential for our all-important immune systems.

And perhaps the most shocking part: even if you’re in that well-nourished, plant-eating minority, much of the produce you eat today is less nutritious than that of decades ago. The reasons are complex, but all related to the way food is now grown, as shown by a landmark study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. Industrialized agriculture practices are known to deplete the soil of minerals and other nutrients. Mega-farms favor high-yield crop varietals, which tend to be lower in nutrient density to keep up with demand. Unsurprisingly, climate change also plays a role; the ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide in our environment are linked to produce with fewer nutrients. (All the more reason to focus on abundance and flood your body with as much plant nutrition as possible each day.)

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The Stress Effect

The lackluster nutrition in that carrot you’re eating is probably the last thing you need to add to your list of worries. We are living in unprecedented times, amid an ever-evolving collective trauma that’s thrown our very way of existence into question. Our current reality is fraught with uncertainty. Even under regular circumstances, stress is widespread, and it's a formidable foe to bodily health. In a poll conducted prior to the Coronavirus pandemic (so we can only imagine it’s increased since), 55% of Americans reported daily stress, 20% higher than the global average.

Beyond the most immediately noticeable effects—sleeplessness, skin breakouts, emotional eating, G.I. issues—stress wreaks havoc at the cellular level. It depletes your nutrient reserves, chipping away at the stores of essential information your cells rely on to perform their all-important functions as the machinery of your body. It also affects your body’s metabolic response to food, inhibiting its ability to absorb nutrients. So even if you’re eating well, your stress may be obstructing your body’s ability to reap the benefits.

A triple-shot latte to power you through an extra-long workday. A half a bottle of wine to unwind after a long week. Coffee, alcohol, and sugar are well-worn coping mechanisms for the stressed-out masses. But the temporary sweet relief provided by these vices belies negative effects in the long-term. Take that wine, for instance: your liver has to work overtime to break it down, and it requires B vitamins to get the job done. Where does it get those B vitamins? The very ones necessary to regulate stress and support overall wellbeing? From your body’s existing reserves. Alcohol consumption also negatively impacts digestive enzymes, whose job it is to extract nutrients from your food. Suddenly, chasing that vegan macro bowl with a stiff martini sounds counterintuitive. 

Waves of Change

If you’ve noticed a few new fine lines in your forehead, they might be due to stress—or maybe not. Production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin youthful, decreases starting at age 25. Around age 40, bone density slowly begins to decline. Some studies suggest that the beginnings of cognitive decline may show up long before middle age. Not to scare you, but you simply can’t entirely escape the effects of time on your body.

Age aside, maybe you’ve heard the “seasons of life” metaphor, which purports that just as the natural world goes through cycles, so do our individual lives. In the same way that you need a heavier jacket to keep warm in winter, your body requires different kinds of support depending on what you’re going through at a given time. You could be dealing with a particularly stressful or traumatic event, recovering from injury or illness, trying to get pregnant, or weathering other hormonal changes—all states in which specific nutrients can be beneficial, or even transformational.

Tuning into what your deepest needs are at any particular moment, and being sensitive to those needs as they shift due to age or lifestyle, is a hallmark of body intelligence. Miss those signals and you could inadvertently fail to provide your body what it needs to really thrive.

Mind the Gaps with a Simple Daily Ritual

By focusing your diet on abundance and plenty of fresh plant foods (organic when possible), you’re going a long way to ensure peak physical wellbeing. Mindfully supporting your diet with supplements can help make up the balance. On that note, meet The Foundation: advanced daily nutrition essentials of superior quality, in convenient daily doses. Think of these palm-size packets of supplements as your nutrition insurance, and your everyday protection against the aforementioned nutrient gaps that may be holding you back from feeling your best.

Into each pack, we’ve poured a decade of nutrition knowledge, the expertise of the brightest minds in the supplements industry, and unmatched quality standards. We’ve done the research (years of it, in fact) to curate the nutrients you need to cover your bases, buffer against those sneaky deficiencies due to diet and lifestyle, and generally feel as good as you possibly can—or better—in your body. To ensure your system can absorb and use every nutrient therein, our supplements are formulated with research-backed levels of active ingredients, food-based ingredients, and cofactors to encourage maximum absorption (while all but eliminating the chances for digestive issues), and delivered in perfectly balanced dosages. And because we have equally strict standards for quality when it comes to supplements as we do for our meal program, they are sparkling clean—no toxic ingredients, junky fillers or additives, animal products or byproducts, or common allergens.

We think we’ve cracked the ideal daily regimen for smart supplementation, and it looks like this:

Superfood Multi: All the essential nutrients from A to zinc, sourced from whole, organic plant foods and botanicals for easy digestibility and maximum absorption, neatly packaged in two pills.

Algae Omega: 100% of your daily EPA and DHA for brain and heart health, in an ocean-safe, vegan-friendly form sourced from nutrient-rich marine algae. 

Complete Probiotic Formula: A comprehensive gut health blend that promotes digestion and immunity with 11 complementary bacterial strains, four functional enzymes, and prebiotic fiber for increased efficacy.

Macro Minerals: Essential calcium and magnesium in the ideal balance for healthy skin, teeth, and bones, plus mood and sleep support.

Adaptogenic B Complex: All the B vitamins required to build back up your body’s reserves on a regular basis, plus the Ayurvedic herbal remedy ashwagandha working in synergy to support energy, mood, sleep, and stress response.

The supplement market is a crowded one, with pills and powders promising to give you everything from longer hair to a flatter stomach. Rather than take that piecemeal approach to results, we view supplements the same way we view food. There’s no single magic ingredient that will fix your problems or guarantee health. The perfect plate is varied and balanced, and the result is all-encompassing health that starts deep within your body and extends outward to your skin, your moods, your entire sense of self.

The notion that you could be doing seemingly everything right for your health and still fall short seems discouraging at first blush, but the solution can be simple. In fact, we engineered it that way—because we know that when it comes to any pursuit of self-improvement, the habits that yield the best results are the ones you’ll actually stick to. If it’s easy you will do it, and if you do it, it will work. Add this single step to your existing routine—and perfect health, or close to it, is within your reach.