Health & Habits
Quality of Nutrition or Quantity of Nutrition?
Posted April 29, 2021
What’s more important? The quality of our nutrition or the quantity? Trick question - both are equally as important. Our bodies need quantity to fuel and quality to thrive. The number of calories we consume, the quality of food we eat, and our ability to digest it all play critical roles in our health. After all, we’re all different, and should approach this question individually based on our own needs and goals.
Many argue that the quantity of our food isn’t as important as long as we focus on the quality, and that the processed foods lacking vitamins and minerals are the cause of health issues today. Nutrients like vitamins and minerals are important, but they can be seen as catalysts, helping facilitate the changes and transactions in the body. However, if we don’t consume enough calories, there simply won’t be much for these nutrients to support, except maybe an activation of the body’s stress response due to lack of food.
Food Quality Is Immensely Important
Food quality is immensely important, but we must meet the energy demands of our bodies. When we need 2,500 calories per day, but are only consuming 1,200, that 1,300 deficit still exists whether we eat processed meals or fruits and vegetables from an organic farm. Unfortunately, no amount of vitamins and minerals can make up for that caloric shortfall.
With that, being mindful of the number of calories we consume and burn is crucial regardless of our goals for weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain. Many nutritionists and holistic practitioners emphasize the quality of those calories, and contend that, for example, eating 100 calories of organic quinoa is superior to eating 100 calories of cookies. It’s a reasonable argument - especially in terms of weight management - so a study was conducted to investigate. Researchers admitted 20 healthy adults, and for four weeks participants were randomized to receive an ultra-processed diet or unprocessed diet for the first two weeks, then the alternate diet for the second two weeks.
The meals from each diet were matched to provide equivalent quantities of calories, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber. Participants were instructed to consume as much or as little as they desired, and researchers found that those who were presented with ultra-processed foods tended to consume more calories and carbohydrates but not protein. The study found that those consuming the ultra-processed diet gained weight (about 0.9 pounds over two weeks), and those consuming the unprocessed diet lost weight (roughly 0.9 pounds over two weeks). These results suggest that when higher-quality, unprocessed foods are available, we naturally tend to eat less.
The Old Adage “We Are What We Eat”
All that being said, even if we keep both our quantity and quality in line, the missing piece that’s rarely talked about is nutrient absorption. The old adage “we are what we eat” makes for a nice sound bite, but it’s incomplete. We are not what we eat, but what we digest and absorb. With this in mind, there are a few simple tips that can help us make the most of the foods we consume.
The first, and arguably the most important, is eating in a calm, unhurried atmosphere with a relaxed frame of mind. When the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight mechanism is engaged, the parasympathetic’s rest and digest doesn’t stand a chance. Second, there are certain “hacks” that exist to boost absorption, like pairing vitamin C-rich foods with iron, soaking nuts, seeds, and grains, and eating vitamin A, D, E, and K-rich foods with healthy fats. Lastly, drinking enough water is imperative, as our digestive system is incredibly reliant on our level of hydration. Our blood simply cannot transport nutrients without enough water in our system.
Armed with this information, it’s important to know that not only the quality of our foods, but also our supplements can play large roles in enriching our health. Our main priority at Vedge is to optimize both the quality and functionality of our ingredients, so we arduously test each ingredient before it even gets into our formula during the research and development process. We then test our approved formula in-house, and ultimately send final products for third-party testing to confirm our results. We relentlessly test for microbes, pathogens, heavy metals, glyphosate, pesticides, herbicides, purity, and potency, and always use organic ingredients whenever commercially available. We never use GMO's, artificial flavors, artificial dyes or colors, unnecessary flow agents, or fillers, so our customers can feel comfortable knowing they’re receiving optimal products that are easily assimilated to the body.
When it comes to overall health, both quality and quantity are of utmost importance. Buying and cooking wholesome, unprocessed, nutritious foods is the foundation of any healthy diet. Giving thought toward the construction of meals with certain food combinations can play a big role as well. Finding what works best for both our bodies and our budgets can be a process in and of itself, but when we’re equipped with the right knowledge, finding balance, feeling our best, and reaching our goals is most certainly attainable.
Vedge Nutrition keeps these values in mind during the formulation of all of our products. We go the extra mile to acquire only the best ingredients available on the market and cutting out any BS ingredients.
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Written by Brett Maloney
Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, Cai H, Cassimatis T, Chen KY, Chung ST, Costa E, Courville A, Darcey V, Fletcher LA, Forde CG, Gharib AM, Guo J, Howard R, Joseph PV, McGehee S, Ouwerkerk R, Raisinger K, Rozga I, Stagliano M, Walter M, Walter PJ, Yang S, Zhou M. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell Metab. 2019 Jul 2;30(1):67-77.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008. Epub 2019 May 16. Erratum in: Cell Metab. 2019 Jul 2;30(1):226. Erratum in: Cell Metab. 2020 Oct 6;32(4):690. PMID: 31105044; PMCID: PMC7946062.
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