Studies on the Relationship Between Diet & Health
The relationship between diet and health is intricate; there are consequences for eating too little, too much or even the wrong types of food.
Your body relies on specific vitamins and minerals, absorbed from the foods you eat, for regulating a range of bodily functions. Nutrient deficiencies caused by a poor diet can lead to serious health complications over time.
Poor diets and inactive lifestyles are primary causes for the rise in chronic disease and poor health among the general U.S. population.
Average U.S. dietary patterns are “too low in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy,” creating nutrient deficiencies, “and too high in refined grains, saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium.” Chronic nutrient deficiencies causing “obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers” has become more common over the last two decades.
"About half of all American adults—117 million individuals—have one or more preventable, chronic diseases that are related to poor quality dietary patterns and physical inactivity." - 2015 DIETARY GUIDELINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE REPORT
The report also “pinpoints the characteristics of healthy dietary and physical activity patterns that can reduce chronic disease risk, promote healthy weight status, and foster good health across the lifespan.” Prioritizing nutrient-rich foods is the most effective way to ensure you’re eating enough of essential vitamins and minerals.
People who are at a higher risk for nutrient deficiencies, such as vegans or those who have digestive problems, especially need to prioritize nutrient-dense foods to prevent future health problems.
Microgreens & Nutrient Deficiencies
The DGAC report recommends eating healthy foods instead of taking dietary supplements to increase your nutrient intake. Dietary supplements contain high amounts of nutrients–more than what’s needed for a typical diet–and some nutrients (such as iron) can be toxic when taken in excess.
Microgreens are excellent sources of essential vitamins and minerals. These superfoods are tiny vegetable sprouts which are harvested at peak nutritional density, around seven to fourteen days after planting. They provide more essential vitamins and minerals in smaller quantities than their matured counterparts.
Microgreens are versatile foods that can be cooked in a variety of ways (garnished, blended in smoothies, added into sauces, incorporated into a herby butter, etc.) and their spicy tastes make for a more flavorful dish.
Microgreen Teas & Health
Brewing microgreens infuses the water with essential vitamins and minerals. The longer the microgreen leaves are steeped for, the more nutrients will be released. You can also over-steep your teas for more of the antioxidant properties.
Adding a slice of lemon also helps for a more nutritious tea. Low pH water (acidic) supports a more effective nutrient extraction from the microgreen leaves than high pH (basic) water. Most tap waters have a pH of around seven, which is neutral, so it can be beneficial to add a slice of lemon in your tea.
Microgreen Teas for Preventing Specific Nutrient Deficiencies
Microgreens contain high concentrations of essential nutrients. Five of the top nutrients of “public health significance” that microgreen consumption, obtained either in a meal or throughout the day as tea, can help increase intake of are iron, magnesium, vitamin A, folate and zinc.
- Iron is an essential mineral whose primary function is to transport oxygen in the blood. Inadequate iron status in the form of iron deficiency leads to poor growth and development and the potential for cognitive deficits in children.
Arugula microgreens are an excellent source of iron, containing 67% more of the daily recommended value than full-grown arugula.
- Magnesium plays a role in digestion, bone health, sleep, mental health and cardiac health. Magnesium deficiency can cause health issues such as osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and even kidney damage.
Broccoli microgreens are high in magnesium, containing 25% more of the daily recommended value than full-grown broccoli.
- Vitamin A facilitates reproduction processes and breastfeeding; supports vision, lungs, and the immune system; helps form and maintain healthy teeth, skeletal tissue and skin, hair and nails. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include night blindness, dry skin and frequent infections. 51% of U.S. adults are not meeting dietary requirements for vitamin A.
- Folate is one of the most important nutrients needed during pregnancy and infancy but 29% of pregnant women were found to have folate intakes below the estimated average requirement (EAR). It assists with red and white blood cell formation in bone marrow, is used by the body to break down carbohydrates and produce energy, and supports DNA and RNA production.
Red cabbage microgreens contain 150% more of the daily recommended value than full-grown red cabbage.
- Zinc helps maintain taste and smell sensory functions, your immune system fight off viruses and bacteria, and boost your metabolism. Zinc deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function.
Prioritize High Impact Nutrition
Your diet is the signifying, determining factor of your current and future health. If you’re not getting enough vital nutrients, there are short term and long term health risks.
It’s recommended that you eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy to get the essential nutrients your body needs, and limit refined grains, saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. Microgreen teas are nutritional shots of essential vitamins and minerals. Regular ingestion can significantly improve dietary nutrient intake and support a healthy, balanced diet.
Related: How to Make Microgreen Tea