The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) teaches that in order to reach optimal health and well-being, we must focus on balancing the Nutritional Foundations. Though everyone’s body is different and we each have unique bio-individual needs, the NTA teaches that the Nutritional Foundations must be in balance in order to truly thrive when it comes to our health (Nutritional Therapy Association, 2018). I have to say that I would agree, especially after experiencing my own health transformation while working with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. As many people are not very familiar with the Foundations, I will provide the formal definition and also break them down a bit further to explain below.
There Are Six Nutritional Foundations:
1. Nutrition: Eating a properly prepared, nutrient-dense, whole food diet.
“Properly prepared” = This can refer to using specific cooking oils that are appropriate for certain temperatures. For example, saturated fats are actually the best choice when cooking at high temperatures (i.e. baking, roasting, or frying), because they are the most stable and do not go rancid easily. Some examples of saturated fats include grass-fed butter or coconut oil. On the contrary, polyunsaturated fats (such as safflower oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil) are oils that you actually do NOT want to heat or use for cooking, as they go rancid easily. I’ll explain more on fats and recommendations in another blog post later, because I’m sure I have many people scratching their heads as I actually recommend cooking with saturated fats (which we have all been taught is incredibly unhealthy to ever consume – hint: it’s not).
Nutrient-dense, whole foods diet = The term “whole foods” refers to consuming foods as close to their most original form as possible. This means consuming a diet high in foods such as vegetables, fruits, grass-fed and pasture-raised animal protein sources, and fats such as avocados, sprouted nuts and seeds, and other healthy cooking oils. If your body tolerates it, this may also include sprouted grains and/or legumes, and maybe grass-fed organic dairy products as well. The key is: less boxed and processed food.
**Something to note here is that I whole-heartedly believe in BALANCE.
I believe that humans can be incredibly healthy with a balance of whole foods, while still occasionally enjoying some of their favorite “not so whole” foods. I also am a huge advocate for eating disorder recovery/intuitive eating and I am very ANTI diet culture, so I never want anyone to feel like foods are “off limits” or like certain foods are being labeled as “good” or “bad”. More on this topic in another blog post later on as well 😉
2. Digestion: Absorbing and assimilating the nutrients we eat
This one may seem simple, but there is really SO much more to digestion than just consuming food & excreting it out. There is an entire digestive process that our bodies must complete, and it starts all the way up in our brains. In order to truly digest and absorb our food (and thus, the nutrients in our food), all aspects of our digestion must be working properly.
3. Blood Sugar Regulation: Ensuring a steady, balanced supply of energy.
Balancing our blood sugar is absolutely essential when it comes to so many aspects of our health. Having imbalanced blood sugar can negatively impact our hormones, energy levels, mood, concentration, and more. The first step in blood sugar regulation is consuming a whole-foods nutrient dense diet in a macro-nutrient ratio that works well for your body. Some individuals do well with more carbohydrates and less fat, while other individuals thrive with a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet. We are all unique and bio-individual, so the macro-nutrient ratio will vary from person to person and there is no “one size fits all”. In order to figure out a macro-nutrient ratio that will allow you to feel your best and provide you with stable energy, I recommend working with a practitioner!
4. Fatty Acid Balance: Absorbing and utilizing healthy fats for fuel, structure, and healing.
Consuming adequate dietary fats is SO IMPORTANT. I cannot preach this enough. Fatty acid imbalance can have a direct affect on many other health issues within the body such as musculoskeletal issues, endocrine issues, cardiovascular issues, immune issues, allergies, skin issues, and depression. After years of being told that a “low fat” diet was healthy and recommended by many doctors, I was awakened with a host of health issues. Now, I consume a hearty amount of fat with every meal that I consume and it is one of the factors that has truly transformed my health. More on that in a later post!
5. Mineral Balance: Absorbing and utilizing macro- and microminerals.
Minerals have various important roles in the body, such as maintaining proper nerve conduction, contracting and relaxing muscles, regulating tissue growth, and more. They make up about 5% of the human body, and are critical for every cell to function. Our body cannot produce minerals, and therefore we must consume them through our food.
6. Hydration: Supplying cells and tissues with sufficient water.
Our bodies are comprised of at least 55-60% water! Proper hydration plays numerous important roles in our body, and cannot be ignored if we want to feel and function our best. To calculate the proper amount of water your body needs each day, take your body weight and divide it by 2. The number you get is the minimum number of ounces of water you should consume each day to meet proper hydration.
There is so much more than I can (and will) share about these foundations, but I hope that I have been able to provide you with a brief understanding of what these essential aspects of our health are, and why they are so important. If you are experiencing unwanted physical health symptoms and are looking for some assistance, I recommend working with a practitioner to get to the root cause of your symptoms and support your body in a holistic and empowering way.
Nutritional Therapy Association (2018). Welcome Module Student Guide. Olympia, WA: Author.