Are You Missing Out on These 10 Essential Nutrients? Check Your Plate!

To maintain good health, it’s important to consume a diverse range of nutrients. However, recent research from the University of Illinois shows that most Americans are seriously lacking in 10 essential nutrients. Could you be one of them? Even worse, the situation is most critical for those living with disabilities.

In their comprehensive study, the researchers assessed the daily eating habits of 11,800 adults, including 4,200 individuals with disabilities. The results revealed that, alarmingly, the majority of the people consume far less of important nutrients than their bodies require. For example, only 11.3 percent of those assessed met the recommended daily fiber intake, while a mere 4.7 percent consumed enough potassium.

Aside from fiber and potassium, the study found that the average American’s diet is also significantly lacking in vitamins A, C, and D, as well as calcium and iron. The irony is that at the same time, most people tend to consume excessive amounts of cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium, all of which could further put their health at risk.

The dire situation for individuals with disabilities

As challenging as it is to maintain a healthy diet for the general population, the study revealed that the situation is even worse for those with disabilities. Disabled individuals are more likely to be deficient in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.

This stunning result prompted researcher Ruopeng Ang to stress the need to address the nutritional gap between disabled and non-disabled individuals: “In general, people with disabilities are also disadvantaged nutritionally compared with people without disabilities, even though the bar is already so low.”

The benefits of supplements and better food choices

The researchers found that taking dietary supplements could help to fill in some of these critical nutritional gaps, but there is a more reliable way to ensure better nutrition: improving our eating habits. By incorporating more nutrient-rich foods, especially fruits and vegetables, into our daily meals, we can improve our overall health and well-being.

A balanced diet, along with regular exercise, is crucial to keeping our bodies functioning optimally. Below are some ways to improve the nutrient content of your meals:

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables

The absolute stars of any balanced diet, fruits and vegetables are packed with vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Try to consume a wide variety to ensure your body gets what it needs. Aim for five portions per day, with at least three of those being vegetables.

Eat the rainbow– different colors of fruits and vegetables are indicative of different nutrient profiles, so make sure you consume various colors in your diet. This may also help to keep meals exciting and appealing to the eyes.

2. Choose whole grains over refined grains

Refined grains have had most of the essential nutrients stripped away, so always opt for whole-grain options when it comes to bread, pasta, and rice. In addition to providing more nutrients, whole grains are also a slow-release energy source that keeps you feeling satisfied for longer.

3. Opt for lean proteins

Instead of processed meats that tend to be high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and additives, choose lean proteins like fish, poultry, beans, and legumes. Plant-based protein sources can also provide additional fiber and micronutrients.

4. Boost up on healthy fats

We need fat in our diet, but it’s all about choosing the right types. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial for the body, so include oily fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil in your diet.

5. Remember that moderation is key

Lastly, remember that the keyword in achieving a nutrient-rich, balanced diet is moderation. It’s okay to indulge occasionally as long as you maintain an overall healthy eating pattern. By consuming a wide range of nutrient-dense foods, you’ll be much better equipped to maintain optimal health.