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Nutrition Basics: A Mini Lesson in the Fundamentals

“Leave your drugs in the chemists pot if you can cure the patient with food.:

-Hippocrates, father of medicine, 420bc

The science of nutrition is defined as the study of nutrients in foods and the body’s ability of how it uses these nutrients (i.e., ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, metabolism, interactions, storage, and excretion).

Interestingly enough inadequate emphasis is placed on nutrition. In our currently system of conventional medicine, nutrition is often regarded as an extraneous science to be relegated to nutritionists. Most of the time, only when a person is faced with a life threatening disease, is the role of the nutritionist viewed as an important one.

It is according to my experience (I apologize that Western Science has not yet backed me up on this) that the more toxic a world we live in, the more our bodies need nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in greater demand and at a greater frequency. The key is to identify which systems in the body need therapeutic nutrition in order to bring the body back into balance. In general, most people’s digestion, absorption and metabolism can be greatly compromised, creating the frame work for many disease states in the body. You may be eating all the right foods yet is your body actually absorbing what you eat?

Preventative nutrition is something that is not really talked about. It is nutrition that supports a body throughout the years and different stages of life. Many times I hear “My friend can eat this. But when I eat that, I feel terrible. Why?” Because you are different. You are unique and awesome and your body is telling you what it does and doesn’t need.

We were not all created the same, which is why we must listen to the symptoms that our bodies are telling us. Gas, bloating, belching, acid reflux, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, polyps, abdominal lesions are not normal symptoms. Your body is actually trying to tell you something!

Nutrition can be used therapeutically or prophylactically. Discovering and maintaining your truest potential is not just about how far you can run. It is about how you feel the majority of the time. Nutrition is the foundation for everything that you do, think and feel. Without it you are not able to complete that paper for your boss, go to the gym and maximize your weight loss potential or look and feel your best. There is a reason why each culture has a prized food that gives them vitality.

Bringing the body back into balance requires some basic fundamental knowledge about nutrition.

Here We Go:

The Six Classes of Food Are:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Fat
  3. Protein
  4. Vitamins
  5. Minerals
  6. Water

We obtain nutrients from the foods that we eat.

Macronutrients are nutrients that the body uses in large amounts. This includes proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Micronutrients are considered vitamins and minerals which the body needs small amounts of (compared to foods).


Much emphasis in the nutrition world is placed on metabolism. This in fact is due to the prevalence of many being overweight. I will then explain the basics of metabolism:

Food protein, fat, and carbs are broken down into simpler compounds. This process allows for energy (or ATP) to be used by the body to build and repair itself. The energy from your food may also escape as heat (used to cool the body in tropics) or to keep it warm during cold winter months.

It is from the food that you eat – the protein, fat, and carbs – that you YIELD energy from. Vitamins, and minerals do not provide energy that the body can use (They can be metabolized to help the body with certain function, or functions in general—think of them as helpers but not building blocks).

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are essential organic nutrients that are required in small amounts. They are available in food sources; however you can take them in pill form. The body metabolizes vitamins but doesn’t actually get energy from them. They are essential to life and all of your body’s processes.

Fat Soluble Vitamins are

A, D, E and K

Water Soluble Vitamins are:

Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Nicin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Cobalamin (B12), Folate, and Biotin.

The body stores fat soluble vitamins which can be toxic at high dosages. Fat soluble vitamins are better taken with foods that contain fat – if taken alone or between meals, can cause some nausea.

The body needs water soluble vitamins on a regular basis because it does not store them. It absorbs what it needs and excretes the excess on a daily basis (therefore, take your B complex vitamins daily so that you get enough). Many people say vitamins don’t work – the type, brand, the amount, timing of taking them, and frequency plays a big role with optimizing your health. When it comes to vitamins and nutrition, consistency is the key. It’s what you do most of the time that matters, not ALL of the time.

What are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic elements that serve a variety of functions needed by the body. Co-factors, enzymatic reactions, regulation of acid alkaline base balances, nerve conduction, and muscle movement need minerals.

Major minerals: Are found in the body in quantities greater than 5g: Calcium, Chloride, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Potassium, Sulphur, Sodium.

Trace minerals: Are found in the body in quantities smaller than 5g: Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Chromium, Selenium, Fluoride, Molybdenum, Copper, and Manganese.


It is essential to life. Water provides the medium in which all of the body’s activities are conducted. It supplies vital materials to your cells and takes toxics substances out from the body (think of it as the canvas for a painter, without it there is no vision for the masterpiece to be created!).

The amount that you consume verses macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals requirement is ENORMOUS. 8 glasses per day is a starting point for most people (this does not include coffee or tea!)

What is RDA?

RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowances. It is calculated by the mean requirement of a nutrient and increasing it by 2SD’s.

Caution: RDA recommended values are just above a disease state and do not constitute therapeutic values. Considering how widespread chronic fatigue, depression, ADHD, ADD, allergies, digestive disorders, arthritis and cancer are, the RDA guidelines are not applicable and are just “guidelines.” They are NOT INDIVIDULAIZED.

What does this mean?

It means that the RDA value of a vitamin and or mineral and or fat, carb, protein (anything basically that is a component of nutrition) is not catered to you. The RDA simply cannot give a number that works for everyone. Most RDA daily recommendations are set low for a variety of reasons – don’t know therapeutic values, no money to study therapeutic values, fear of being sued, and or drugs are easier to sell. The statement that I hear “vitamins don’t work for me” usually is because they are taking the RDA value and not the value recommended for that person and what that body needs in order to come back into balance.

Should I stop taking vitamins due to the low amounts recommended by the RDA?

Absolutely NOT! Your body needs nutrition, vitamins and minerals! A RDA amount is better than none at all! Understand that there is more to the picture—work with a medical provider who understands your bodies needs and you can optimize your health by knowing which amounts are best for you.

In summation: many people can feel better by understanding that balanced nutrition, vitamins and minerals catered to the individual can bring about sustained vitality and energy. By just tweeking the basics (a little) you can feel much better.

Emily Farish (L.Ac., Dipl. Oriental Medicine, NCCAOM and NCBTMB certified) is Atmanjai’s Resident Integrative Medical Practitioner. Her passion is healing – Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbal Treatments. Emily can be contacted for consultations at Atmanjai.


For further learning about the fundamentals of Nutrition we recommend following up with this book:

Nutrition for Dummies – by Carol Ann Rinzler

Nutrition For Dummies is a one-size-fits-all guide to nutrition for anyone who may have fallen asleep in health class, wants to brush up on what they already know, or is looking to keep up-to-speed on the latest guidelines and research. It shows you how to manage your diet so you get the most bang (nutrients) for your buck (calories) and gives you the skinny on how to put together a healthy shopping list, how to prepare foods that are good for the body and soul, and ten easy ways to cut calories.

Pure Water – Hydrating for Health

Pure Water – Hydrating For Health

Why should I do this: because without water no cell in your body can function properly. The blood turns sticky, inhibiting the immune system from functioning effectively and causing organs to dysfunction, thereby allowing disease to spread.

What are the benefits: clearer and calmer mind, better memory, more energy, better digestion, younger skin, weight loss,
increased ability to handle stress, to name just a few!

What conditions can this help: relieves neck and back pain, headaches, migraines, constipation, bad skin, weight issues. Studies show increased hydration significantly reduces the risk of breast cancers, bladder cancers and colon cancer!

What is it: pure filtered water

What do I need: a water filter and a non-toxic water container (see below)

How does it work: hydration is an essential part of every cellular function in the body, without enough of it everything stops working well.

How long will this take: seconds, just fill the glass or bottle and drink.

How often should I do this: every day of your life.

When should I do this: start with a large glass upon waking and then another large glass every 90 minutes or so throughout your day.

How much should I drink: aim for 1 fl. oz/ 30ml for every 2lbs/0.9kg of body weight. This equates to around 2.3 litres per day for a 155lbs/70kg person.

Further information: video interview with health practitioner Andreas Moritz (10 minutes)

Where can I get this: filters and bottles from amazon.com, ebay.com, specialist websites, shops

Cost: Low to medium, depending on the quality of the water filter you

About Drinking Water

You have probably heard it many times before ‘we don’t drink enough water’ and it’s true. Without enough water our blood dries up and turns to a consistency more like ketchup. Red blood cells can’t carry the oxygen and nutrients as easily, white blood cells can’t get about to destroy invading microbes and toxins can’t be easily flushed out. Sticky dehydrated blood is the perfect ‘fertile soil’ in which disease spreading microbes will appear and spread.

So let’s find a practical solution to help you have good quality water on hand throughout the day. It requires just 2 things – a good quality water filter and a non-toxic water container to keep it in.

Firstly, forget drinking tap water. If you didn’t know already, all tap water contains toxic pollutants such as chlorine, fluoride, sediments, heavy metals, chemical compounds, residue from the tonnes of pharmaceutical drugs flushed down toilets every year, cysts and infectious microbes. In short, tap water is typically dangerous to drink and can cause the body a host of complications such as hormone imbalance, migraines and skin disorders.

Here is a study from the International Journal of Cancer, showing how ingesting chemicals found in tap water have been attributed to a 50% INCREASE in bladder cancer!

Here are two brief videos for further information about what is in tap water and why drinking it should be avoided:
· Video – Dr Joseph Mercola – The dangers of tap water (7½ minutes)
· Video – Dr Mercola & Dr Robert Slovak – chemicals in tap water (7 ½ minutes)

Pre-bottled water is not much better either, as most plastics leach (leak out into the water or food contained in them). Many plastics contain chemicals such as BPA which mimic human hormones causing issues such as structural damage to the brain, hyperactivity, abnormal sexual behaviour, increased fat formation, early puberty and disrupted reproductive cycles. See here for more info: Scientists Warn of Dangerous Chemicals in Water

Both tap water and bottled water frequently contain fluoride. The addition of this toxic chemical to our drinking water has caused much controversy around the world. I encourage you to learn more about this by watching this free 5 part interview:

· Video – Dr. Mercola & Dr. Paul Connett – the dangers of fluoride

Metabolism – what is it, how to rev it up?


Metabolism- The basal metabolic rate is the rate in which the body burns calories to maintain functions at rest. Metabolism is affected by genetics, age, diet, exercise (type of exercise as well), vitamin deficiencies, thyroid level, amount of sleep, amount of body fat, digestion (how you as an individual break down foods that you eat and convert them into energy), body temperature and weight.

That’s a lot!

Yes it is. Many of us correlate metabolism SOLELY to the foods that we eat and exercise. Many people may eat and exercise, yet feel frustrated that they aren’t losing weight. This is because metabolism is unique to the whole individual (i.e., organ relationships, digestion, genetics, are just a few examples). Understanding how your own metabolism works, coupled with weight loss, is the key to loosing and/or maintaining healthy weight.

Misleading concepts behind losing weight.

Some people restrict their caloric intake in order to lose weight. While this may produce weight loss for the short term, it may not provide long term solutions to maintaining a more efficient metabolism that sustains weight loss. If you put your body too much into “starvation mode,” your body actually will begin to store what you eat as fat. It’s purely mechanical. If your body thinks it’s going to die, it is going to store things as fat for later storage because simply, fat is the most easily burned, readily available energy.

What about eating cayenne pepper? Sweating in saunas? Can these help me to lose weight?

Saunas are lovely and help you to sweat. Sweating is a very effective way to reduce toxins in the skin and/or superficial layers of the body. Sweating helps you to loose water weight, but it does not make your fat cells smaller. Regular exercise, eating a varied diet and correcting any imbalances in the body (current or preventative) help the body to shed pounds.

Ditch the sugary products. This will help your body to lose weight FAST.

Much research now states that eating sugar has just as much potential and perhaps even more potential for storage as fat.

Do you have sugar cravings around 4pm? Do you have sugar cravings in general? Address your cravings with nutrition, herbal and supplements that are unique to you and the weight will come off.


“I am doing a detox. Why have I gained 1 or 2 kilos so far?!!”

While this may be frustrating for some people who are on a cleanse, I tend to ask them these questions: Have you been exercising? Are you engaging in a new exercise routine? What I mean by this is that muscle burns fat. It does. Muscle in fact, weighs more than fat.  If you have started a new exercise program and are moving your body differently, your weight on the scales may not reflect your new metabolic functioning (or new body composition).

Are you drinking lots of water? Yes, water will affect the numbers on the scales!

You can also hold up to 15 kilos of fecal matter in your colon. Think again when you jump on those scales. Good digestion and elimination are major players in the metabolism game—and to any form of good health really.

Food Wise-What to Do

To rev up metabolism you must exercise and eat “clean” foods. What that means is eating foods that are local to your region, no-no on heavy sauces and condiments, lightly steaming vegetables and ditching the cream sauce. Eating foods that are unique to your metabolism can be of great benefit as well and by working with a medical provider you can really target foods that are unique to you.

Why should I eat foods that are unique to my metabolism? What does this mean?

Are you always cold? Or are you the one who wears shorts outside during the winter? Do you have diabetes, hypothyroidism, fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, easily get colds, or in chronic pain? If your body is spending lots of energy trying to repair something or in an inflammatory state, it can be more challenging to lose weight and or rev up metabolism. The body is simply busy doing something else!

How do I rev up my metabolism then?

You can eat foods that are unique to your body’s constitution. This is not just the blood type theory. There are vitamins, supplements and herbs that can correct any imbalances in the body that are keeping it busy from having optimal metabolism. In order for the body to lose weight and or have an optimal metabolism, it MUST BE ALREADY WORKING AND COMMUNICATING very efficiently. Eat foods and take herbs to REMIND the body to go there and do what is was meant to do.

Why do I have to do that? Why doesn’t my body just lose weight if I am just eating salads?

Have you ever been on your cell phone and listened to the static? You can hear the other person talking to you but the message isn’t clear? That is what happens when a person’s metabolism is not working optimally. You clear up the “static,” and your body gets clear instruction on what to do.

We are all unique reflections of different metabolic rates.  Even if you do not have a dis-ease, everyone has a unique metabolism that can be “revved up” in its own unique way.  Everybody’s body is different. Just look outside at people walking by on the street. Diversity is fantastic! Knowing how to work with your own body is the key to metabolism.

To leave you with one really amazing factoid on how to rev up metabolism:

Don’t eat late. Don’t eat dinner after 8pm. Your food just will sit there in your stomach and intestines. Eat your biggest meal during the day when your digestion and metabolism are highest. Correct any sleep imbalances. When the body is able to sleep (and repair) adequately, you are able to have efficient metabolism (it’s not busy doing something else).


Emily Farish (L.Ac., Dipl. Oriental Medicine, NCCAOM and NCBTMB certified) is Atmanjai’s Resident Integrative Medical Practitioner. Her passion is healing – Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbal Treatments. Emily can be contacted for consultations at Atmanjai. 

Food – what to eat and what to avoid

Foods To Eat, Foods To Avoid

Why should I do this: Because food is the single largest determiner of your health!

What are the benefits: Incredible energy, resilience to disease, emotional well-being, clear and powerful mind, strong muscles and bones, the necessary foundations for an enjoyable life.

What conditions can this help: Virtually every disease/illness/aliment known to man responds favourably to a more nutrient dense diet.

What is it: Foods that are nutrient dense, fresh, raw, in the whole state (as found in nature), without anything removed, without preservatives, without additives and without processing.

How does it work: Food = our fuel and our medicine. Good food = lots of energy and a healthy body. Cheap fuel = low energy and disease. It’s that simple.

What do I need: Nutrient dense foods, whole foods, living, fresh, raw, organic, prepared in non-toxic ways (such as raw, juicing, blending, steaming).

When should I do this: Every day! Particularly when you’re feeling sluggish or feel your body calling for fuel.

How often should I do this: For as long as you would like to have health.

How long will this take: Just the duration of your life time, no longer.

Cautions: Food related diseases are the number one killer in the world.

Where can I get this: Organic section on your supermarket, farmer’s market, online. If you cannot get fresh nutrient dense foods where you live, you should invest into some high quality supplements without delay.

Cost: Low to High depending on your taste and the number of people you are buying for. At the very least invest into fresh greens and fruits and bring Green Smoothies into your life and the lives of your loved ones.

This is a GREAT start!


Source: “Tools to be Well Now!” Atmanjai’s Guide to Living a Vibrant and Happy Life… This ebook is available from Atmanjai, please click here to learn more.

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