Understanding Basic Nutrition

Basic Nutrition

We have all heard the saying – “You are What You Eat” there is some truth in that, but we must also be aware of how we digest and assimilate the nutrients from what we eat, along with the state of our mind and emotions and stress levels at the time of eating.

All of these factors play an important role in our overall nutritional health.

Foods Are Classified Into Different Groups

A vegetarian diet excludes all meats including fish.

A vegan diet excludes meats, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk. Meats from land animals such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey etc. Fish of all types from ocean and cold water



In order for us to stay fit and healthy we must consume a certain amount of nutrients a day, these comprise of minerals and vitamins.

Minerals are far more important than vitamins, and your vitamin content in the foods you eat is reliant on a good mineral content, which is assimilated and absorbed into your body.

We are all unique, and that being the case we all have different mineral and vitamin requirements. This all depends on our physical constitution and the energy output, whether we exercise, do physical hard work or are sedentary in our lifestyle habits.

We must ensure that we take the following food groups into our daily diet, proteins, fats and high complex carbohydrates

What Is Occurring During The Digestive Process?

All the foods we eat are modified in the digestive tract, and nutrition from this digestive process which is then distributed throughout the body; this modification is both mechanical and chemical, but mainly chemical.

In the chemical process, digestive enzymes convert the large molecules of proteins, fats and carbohydrates into simpler, smaller particles.

The mechanical factors assist in the process by preparing the food for rapid chemical digestion by breaking the large masses into smaller pieces and moving the food mass along the alimentary canal, where the food is acted upon by different enzymes.

Further mechanical movements mix the mechanically broken-up food with the digestive juices. This is another good reason why we must chew (or another term is masticate) our food thoroughly.

When the foods are finally in a state in which they can be absorbed, the mechanical churning movements direct this liquid mass (known as chyme) to the absorbing surface of the intestines.

The waste matter excreted by the intestines is moved along the canal to be finally excreted or eliminated as faecal matter.

Relax When You Eat

Ideally, we must be in a relaxed state and take time out to eat our food, chewing well and not rushing around or working at the same time. If we do not relax when we eat, this will interfere with our digestive function.

You can eat the best diet in the world but if you or rush through your meals, or stressed out and drink liquids at the same time you will not assimilate and digest your foods and nutrients efficiently.

We have digestive enzymes that have particular tasks to perform in our digestive tract, some assist in digestion of proteins, some for carbohydrates, sugars etc.

When we consume too many acidic foods or drinks, or foods with preservatives in over time, we disturb our digestive flora.

The same can occur through experiencing too much stress in your life.

When we have bowel problems due to insufficient roughage or water in our diet, or again we have poor bowel habits or experience, too much stress in our lives then the bowel flora can become imbalanced.

This is when we need to address our food and drink consumption, make necessary changes to establish an alkaline system.

For instance, if anyone ever suffers from bloating, wind, gas, reflux, colic, thrush, tinea, constipation etc then this means your entire gastrointestinal tract is not functioning efficiently and if not corrected in accordance with your unique symptom profile, ill health will manifest.

If the stomach i.e. your digestive system is not absorbing, assimilating, processing and digesting what you consume efficiently, then this will impact on every cell in your body.  It will certainly affect your colon and elimination.

When you fail to absorb, assimilate and digest your food efficiently, you can suffer from nutritional malnutrition.

Keep It Simple

Look at everything in nature and only eat that which is natural, avoid everything that has been tampered with and man-made, anything with preservatives and colouring in. Choose certified organic foods whenever possible since they will offer higher nutrient value.

Avoid foods with salt and sugar added. Avoid foods that have additional minerals and vitamins added to them. For instance, Omega 3 oils with milk. When did you see a cow coming into contact with a fish!

Since you are eating fresh natural healthy foods, you will not need to eat those that have been modified and enhanced in some way.

The Different Food Categories We Need To Take On Board Each Day Are:

High Complex Carbohydrates

Your daily diet should consist of high complex carbohydrates such as grains, seeds and nuts. For example: Rolled oats, barley (unless you are allergic to barley), millet, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and any other seeds you like, almonds, walnuts etc.

All these grains and seeds contain many vital minerals, for your bones, tissues, skin, nails, teeth, eyes and hair.

Brown rice flakes, rolled oats & muesli are the best cereals to take on board – they are unprocessed and give you lots of energy, support your nervous system and your adrenals, so you can power through the morning without fatigue and need for a snack, keeping you going until lunchtime!

Avoid all wheat, since wheat is a potential allergen

Breads made from Chia, Black Rye, Sourdough and spelt are what I recommend. Sourdough and Spelt breads are made with a different process and are less likely to be potential allergic triggers even though some wheat flour is used in the baking.

Avoid all breads made with white flour and baker’s flour, which has been bleached and over processed.

Avoid all cane sugar and products containing sucrose – white and brown sugar has NO nutritional value and robs you of many minerals and vitamins when you consume foods and drinks containing them.

Look for any sweet foods containing honey or fructose instead.


You should consume fresh healthy protein, such as deep-sea fish, cold-water fish, poultry, pasture fed beef etc, and eggs.

Vegetable protein, such as soybean, lentils. Eggs are excellent foods to have in your diet; they contain a full balance of the 8 amino acids, far more than a piece of steak.

They do not raise your cholesterol either. As far as cholesterol is concerned we need to focus on the protective type of cholesterol the HDL thereby eliminating an increased level of the LDL which is the risk related Cholesterol.

We can do this with a healthy diet, including natural fats like olive oil, flaxseed/Linseed oil and avocado etc.


Sheep and goat milk, cheese, and yogurt are better for the digestion than cow products.

Fruits Of All Types


Fats are essential for our health and well-being. We need fats in our diet. Fats give us energy, and warmth. We must ensure that we include good quality natural healthy fats and oils in our diet.

These can be found in olive oil, flaxseed/linseed oil, avocado, fatty fishes, such as salmon, tuna, trout, bream, sardines etc, unsalted butter, thaini and other nut pastes.

Avoid all polyunsaturated fats such as regular cooking oils, canola oils, safflower etc, along with saturated fats such as lard, margarines of all types.

Alkaline/Acidic Balance

For optimum health, we must maintain an alkaline system. Too much sugar consumption can contribute to acidity along with processed foods, and all refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice.


Everyone is aware of Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Chromium and Zinc, but there are many more minerals that we need for optimum health.

Some of these minerals are known as micro minerals such as boron and selenium for example.  All these minerals are obtained from crops that grow in the earth as well as ocean seabed.


Vitamins, A, C, D, and E are more well known by most people, with the B vitamins also known as B Complex being the most commonly used supplement around.

Healthy Cooking

When it comes to cooking your food, steaming, stir-fry, and grilling are the best methods.  Boiling can remove too many of the nutrients from vegetables and micro waving changes the molecular structure of the foods

Eating good quality fresh food is important so ideally focus on certified organic crops and meats.

Benefits Of Chemical Free Certified Organic Food

  • You avoid consuming pesticide residue and other chemicals used on the crop or animal food
  • You have higher nutrition value
  • Taste is usually much better and distinguishable from non organic plants/meats/eggs
  • You often need less to satisfy your appetite due to higher nutritional value
  • You are assured that your health and wellbeing are taken care of by avoiding ingesting toxic chemicals

Here Is A Quote From Australian Standards For Use Of Pesticides On Crops

“Chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones are used in plant and animal farming to boost production and ensure adequate food supply.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) sets the maximum permissible limits for agricultural and veterinary chemical residues present in foods in Australia within the FSANZ Food Standards Code.

The levels of agricultural and chemical residues that are allowed in foods are considered safe and must represent the lowest level possible complying with best industry practices.

The use of pesticides can dramatically increase crop production and ensure a higher quality of produce. However, pesticides are also toxic chemicals designed to kill agricultural pests, and some can cause problems if they are consumed by humans in large amounts.

In animal farming, drugs such as antibiotics and hormones are used to boost growth and cut down on feed requirements. Residues of these drugs can also be hazardous to humans.

The level of harm from exposure to pesticides, animal antibiotics and hormones is dose related; the more you consume, the greater the potential risk.”

This topic is extensive but what you need to know is the impact it has on your body and what you may need to do if by chance you consume foods that are not organically grown.

How Does The Body Deal With These Toxins?

The focus here is on oral ingestion of pesticides and toxic chemicals and not by inhalation or topically exposure.

The Liver is the “detox factory” in your body.  The kidneys and bowels are also required to eliminate toxins.

Liver tonics are available at many health food stores. Herbal remedies have been used for many decades to help eliminate toxins and “fine tune” the function of the liver, kidney and bowels.

Homeopathic detox remedies are also available and very effective in clearing and cleansing the cellular level of the tissues/organs to assist in healthier function.

If the eliminatory organs are over loaded with toxins from “food grade” pesticides and other chemicals used to grow crops then they cannot function efficiently.

This will affect oxygenation of the cells. You will begin to feel fatigued, decreased zest for life affecting your moods; you could experience nausea in extreme cases and headaches/migraines.

Bowel function could change, your skin could flare up and rashes occur, resulting in allergies, symptoms like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), muscular aches and pains (could be diagnosed with fibromyalgia), vision problems, short term memory can be affected, reduced co-ordination, seizures and in some cases coma.

Chemical poisoning has often contributed too many brain disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Many of these serious disorders occur over a long-term ingestion of toxic chemicals and the body’s inability to eliminate them due to the weakened function of the eliminatory organs.

Other factors can come into play with each individual such as genetic weakness or viral attack on certain organs. If you consume foods laced with chemicals then any other inadequacies you may have with organ function will only be compounded.

The medical view is that the body is able to eliminate toxins naturally without the need to detox with natural remedies.

Often their first impression of elimination is fasting. However, it is not always necessary to fast – fasting needs to be monitored and done in conjunction with an experienced therapist.

Natural remedies are very effective in cleansing the cellular tissues of the body without abstaining from food, although cutting back on some animal protein, which is harder to digest can assist the process.

They are also extremely effective in resolving many of the abovementioned disorders and often people may underestimate this assuming that conventional medicine maybe the only avenue of help they can obtain when suffering any of these diseases.

All herbal remedies are safe to use in trained hands and positive results occur without subjecting your body to toxic chemicals of pharmaceutical drugs where many interfere with the digestive system!

Majority of pesticides and chemicals are carcinogenic! Therefore, you might question why they are used in our food chain.

Aside from the debate on counteracting pests during growth of the crop and the need to have abundant crop growth for financial reasons, we really need to look at organic healthy alternatives to expand crop growth and encourage natural methods of farming that can generate abundant delivery for consumers yet still be financially rewarding for farmers and affordable for consumers.

It is a situation where organic farmers are constantly challenged, especially if their properties edge onto conventional growers who use chemicals and pesticides and worse still genetic modified crop growers!

Many vegetables and fruits are not only affected by pesticides sprayed on them during growth but are waxed when picked! The waxing is considered “food-grade” and safe, simply to enhance appearance and shelf life!

Unfortunately, waxes do not always dissolve in detergent solutions. The common foods often waxed are apples, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and squash. Not all waxing generates a shiny finish!

If you are buying organic and you are wishing to check that is actually organic you can run your fingernail over the surface and if you have an accumulation of wax showing you will know it has been waxed.

Peeling does not always ensure you are “safe” from chemicals since often it is absorbed by the plant during growth.

At the end of the day if you can purchase certified organic food for yourself and family you can be assured of quality, highly nutritious food that is not contaminated with toxins, which will not affect your health and well-being.

You can find much more information on living a holistic lifestyle in these free magazines and on our YouTube channel.

Lyn Craven is a Practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki Therapist, Meditation Teacher, a Corporate Health Facilitator and Presenter for Health Expos.  Lyn is health researcher/writer of health topics for Health magazines and has produced a meditation CD assisting people manage stress.  She runs a private practice in Sydney.

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