What's Nutrient Density? - Duke's Materia Tonica
Nurient density, an integral part of nutrition, is the overall amount of essential nutrients, found in any group or portion of food, that is required by the body to function, heal, grow, and develop, such as the combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals within balanced meals. The bodily feeling of hunger is a craving for more nutrients which is satisfied by increasing nutrient density.
Unique plant constituents such as colored pigments, called bioflavonoids, found in vegetables, fruits, spices and medicinal herbs, are not necessarily essential, but further promote nutrient density by adding additional raw materials that support the functions of bodily systems, organs, glands, tissues.
Why is Nutrient Density Important?
The more nutrients someone consumes, the more available raw materials for the body, systems, organs, glands, and tissues to function and work for supporting a healthy bodyweight and for promoting health.
Balanced meals of various food groups are required to achieve a variety of essential nutrients in combination for optimal health, since different nutrients and constituents found in food and supplements have different functions that are used in the structures of the body.
Most Important Nutrient Dense Food Groups Contain Protein
The most important nutrient for the body is protein which must be consumed consistently at every meal. Foods, like eggs, meat, and dairy, contain plenty of protein as part of a balanced meal when used with other food groups to further increase the overall variety and density of nutrients.
Most nutrient dense foods to least nutrient dense foods:
- Meat, like Chicken, Beef, and Fish
- Dairy, like Milk, Cheese, and Butter
- Nuts, Beans, Legumes
- Grains, Bread, Cereal
- Sweets, like Chocolate
- Junk food
Fruits, Sweets, Grains, Breads, and Cereals are Poor Nutrient Dense Sources
A lthough fruit has vitamins, it lacks many other nutrients and when overconsumed will take the place of better choices for nutrient dense foods; use fruit as a small portion of complete meals for flavor and medicinally for their unique constituents.
Grains, breads, and cereals are not dense with an amount of nutrients, which is why they are often fortified before being introduced for sale. Examples are pasta and cereal which are often fortified with vitamins and minerals to increase poor nutrient density, but are still lacking in protein, fats, minerals, and unique plant constituents. 'Whole grain' breads, pastas and cereals also lack a density of nutrients and are not often fortified, so they too will take the place of nutrient dense foods.
Sweets which are made with medicinal foods and herbs, such as dark chocolate, ginger chews, and herbal lozenges may be used sparingly with meals for additional health benefits.
Junk food has very little to no nutrients and should be avoided since junk food will replace any other nutrient dense foods that someone may consume as better choices.
Nutrient Density Supports a Healthy Bodyweight
Importantly, consumption of non-nutrient dense foods will lead to someone becoming overweight and lacking in healthy performance of systems, organs, glands, and tissues. The more nutrient density someone eats, the more the body has to support a healthy weight. Becoming overweight is a form of nutrient and fluid storage where the body compensates for lacking nutrients in an attempt to maintain healthy performance. Becoming overweight is countered by eating complete balanced meals with nutrient dense food groups and additional supplementation of vitamins, minerals, and medicinal herbs, superfoods, tonics, and adaptogens.
Fasting and Dieting is Counterproductive to Nutrient Density
Fasting and dieting for weight-loss and weight management do not promote nutrient density and are counterproductive to supporting a healthy weight and promoting healthy performance. Fasting and dieting for the prevention, management, treatment, and cure of health conditions and diseases is known as medical quackery.
Fiber is a Medicinal Non-nutrient Constituent
Fiber is not an essential nutrient and does not promote nutrient density. Fiber is most found in vegetables, fruits, and many 'whole grain' foods; overconsumption of any of these fiber filled foods as part of complete meals will decrease the density of the nutrients in the diet. When someone eats fiber foods as part of complete balanced meals, with additional supplementation, they will receive enough fiber to assist the transport of digested food and bowel elimination.
Drugs Do Not Promote Nutrient Density
Drugs are substitutes for non-functioning part of the body, and any systems, organs, gland, and tissues for which they are prescribed. Using drugs to increase nutrient density is not applicable to supporting and maintaining health, wellness, and well-being since drugs treat health conditions and diseases and do not support, maintain, or promote healthy performance of the body, systems, organs, glands, and tissues.