There is a common misconception that our fruit and vegetables are nutrient dense because New Zealand has rich organic soils.
'There is a common misconception that our fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense because New Zealand has rich organic soils.'
That is not necessarily the case. When looking at soils, the mineral density is dependent on the rock bed and the breakdown and release of those minerals into the soil. As a country and land, NZ is still very young – meaning our soils are also very young. And beyond this, where our soils have been rich in nutrients, our agricultural and farming practices have continually worked to deplete these, without ever putting them back in.
In this blog, we'll look at the mineral density of NZ soil, how our farming practices are impacting this, the key nutrients we are missing in our soil and produce and what you can do about adding them back into your diet.
In New Zealand, we are situated on the Alpine Fault, which is the where the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates meet. As a result, NZ has had ample volcanic activity and the majority of our soils get their mineral density from our volcanic rock bed.
Volcanic soils have a great ability to hold carbon and plants are able to grow well, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to have the micronutrients needed for human health.
'Volcanic soils have a good ability to hold carbon and plants are able to grow well but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to have the micronutrients needed for human health.'
In NZ there are a number of well-known deficiencies within our soils:
The key to nutrition is getting all the macronutrients, micronutrients, minerals and vitamins and antioxidants your body needs. Nutrients in soils are transferred to plants when they grow. Therefore, if the nutrients we need for our optimal health are not in the soil, then they cannot be in our food. This is why soil depletion is such a critically important issue for us to all be aware of.
'...if the nutrients we need for our optimal nutrition are not in the soil then they cannot be in our food.'
Plants extend roots into the ground to absorb the nutrients needed for growth. In a synergistic relationship, the bacteria and fungi help plants absorb the minerals and vitamins in the soil, while plants provide the bacteria and fungi with carbohydrates. Plants then use minerals just like we do, as enzyme cofactors for essential functions such as growing and immunity.
The problem is minerals cannot be made by living organisms, so if the minerals are not in the soil – and we know they're not – then they cannot be in our food.
'Minerals cannot be made by living organisms so if the minerals are not in the soil then they cannot be in our food.'
The issue of soil depletion isn't unique to New Zealand alone. While studying nutrition I was blown away but how severe this issue has become internationally. I talk in further detail about this in the 'Essential Health and Wellness for Women' seminar I did last year.
As you can see the first part of the problem is that the nutrients aren’t in the soil to begin with.
Livestock farmers have known this for a long time. Since the 1950’s most have given their sheep zinc supplements to help support their immune system against prevalent issues like facial eczema. They will also test selenium levels and give selenium injections to dairy cattle.
The other part is our modern farming techniques.
'The issues in soil depletion is that we're not paying farmers enough to put trace minerals back into the soil.'
When the nutrients are in the soil, we're intensively farming the land to keep up with the food demand. In doing so we're stripping these nutrients out of the top layer of the soil. The issue in soil depletion is that we're not paying farmers enough to put these trace minerals back in.
However, probably the biggest issue right now is the use of nitrogen in growing our food. When you put a lot of nitrogen on a plant you speed up the growth rate, but in the process you lose up to 90% of the plant's root structure.
If the plant's roots are only growing into the soil 10% of what they would without nitrogen, then its access to nutrients is heavily limited and we're breaking down the relationship between the bacteria and fungi.
So, in losing the root structure of plants, we're losing the capacity for the roots to access the minerals within the soil.
'In losing the root structure you’re losing the capacity for the roots to access the minerals within the soil.'
The result is fruit and veggie candy floss – produce that looks huge but that doesn't contain the nutrition we need to maintain optimal health. You'll notice fruit and veg often taste like nothing, and that's because they are completely pumped up with water – essentially because of the nitrogen use.
'You'll notice fruit and veg often taste like nothing, and that's because they are completely pumped up with water – essentially because of the nitrogen use.'
Learn more about this excerpt from my the 'Essential Health and Wellness for Women' seminar.
Because of the lack of minerals in NZ soils, it's important to give our bodies the nutrients it needs for optimal health.
'...it's important to give our bodies the nutrients it needs for optimal health.'
Several years ago I created BePure One, an incredibly powerful multivitamin with a base of greens, to give our body all of the missing nutrients it needs in one go.
I always recommend taking BePure One in conjunction with a high quality, omega 3 rich fish oil, such as BePure Three. Among other things omega 3 fish oils keep your cell membranes flexible and allow good nutrients into the cell, while allowing unwanted toxins to be expelled from your cells.
See the BePure Everyday Health Pack to grab both BePure One and BePure Three at the discounted Autoship price.
There are also some key foods that we should be including in our diets to pick up some of these deficiencies. You can also read my blog post '5 Key Nutrients Essential to Your Health,' to learn more about the impact these nutrients have on your body.
'91% of New Zealanders tested were Iodine deficient. The biggest groups at risk of Iodine deficiency are pregnant mothers and people with autoimmunity issues or concerns.'
First up is Iodine. 91% of New Zealanders tested were Iodine deficient. The biggest groups at risk of Iodine deficiency are pregnant mothers and people with autoimmunity issues or concerns.
Food sources: Seaweed, especially kelp – we love this traditional miso soup recipe that has both! If you don't like the taste of seaweed you can also put it on your vegetable garden. This means your vegetables will be able to absorb iodine minerals from the soil.
Supplement: We have two forms of Iodine in BePure One, potassium Iodine and also Iodine from kelp.
It is estimated we get only 10-20% of the Selenium we require to hit our recommended daily intake of 60 mcg per day (RDI).
Food sources: Brazil nuts, beef and fish.
Supplement: BePure One contains 150 mcg of selenomethionine in order to help you maintain optimal Selenium levels.
Zinc is involved in over 200 enzyme reactions within our bodies and is a vital nutrient for healthy immune function, energy and metabolic regulation, as it is needed to make insulin. It is also used as a cofactor for the production of many hormones.
'Zinc is involved in over 200 enzyme reactions within our bodies.'
Food Sources: Seafood is great as it is very mineral rich – especially oysters, and red meat.
Supplement: It is easy to test zinc levels at home with a functional test. Our BePure Zinc Test is an easy way to test yours and the families Zinc levels easily. If zinc levels are a concern to you, our BePure Zinc Restore is a high strength form that includes 1000 mg of buffered vitamin C to assist in the absorption and in BePure One we have 15mg of Chelated Zinc to help maintain Zinc status.
Chromium is essential to stabilising blood sugar levels, chromium supports insulin function.
Food Sources: Again seafood is very mineral dense – both mussels and oysters contain high levels of chromium. Broccoli, pears and brazil nuts are also good sources.
Supplement: Our high strength daily multivitamin, BePure One contains 150mcg chromium.
Boron is a vital trace mineral and without it, your body will be unable to lay down bone necessary to protect against osteoporosis.
Food Sources: Nuts like almonds and walnuts and avocados are all good sources.
Supplement: In BePure One we have 2.5mg of Boron in the form of Boron Glycinate.
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