Eating from the Rainbow


Nutrients are the nourishing substances in food that are essential for the growth, development, and maintenance of the bodily functions.

“Essential” means that if a nutrient is not present, certain aspects of function and, therefore, human health, decline. This sounds simple, right? When nutrient intake does not regularly meet the nutrient needs dictated by the cell activity, the metabolic processes slow down or even stop, and this is when dis-ease can take over.

In other words, nutrients give our bodies instructions about how to function. In this sense, food can be seen as a source of “information” for the body. Thinking about food in this way gives us a view of nutrition that goes beyond calories or grams, good foods, or bad foods. This view leads us to focus on foods we should include rather than foods to exclude. Instead of viewing food as the enemy, we look to food to create health and reduce disease by helping the body maintain function. The nutrients in food give our bodies the information and materials they need to function properly, and your daily diet may not always be providing all the information your bodies need.


We all know that we need to get a basic balance of nutrients every day. But we may not be aware that our standard daily diet lacks nutrients. Moreover, processed foods include chemically-altered fats and sugars that give our bodies the wrong signals.

Food and Disease

As a society, we are facing significant health problems.

• Our work forces are plagued with absenteeism and reduced productivity because of chronic health problems, including depression.

• A large percentage of all country’s healthcare expenditures is for the treatment of chronic disease.

Many researchers now believe that these problems are partly related to diet. While they used to believe that diseases, such as type II diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, were caused by a single gene mutation, they are now generally attributing these conditions to a network of biological dysfunction. And the food we eat is an important factor in that dysfunction, in part because our diets lack the necessary balance of nutrients (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 2004). 

To prevent the onset of these diseases, we need to know how multiple nutrients in a diet interact and affect the human body’s functions, according to the Nutrition Society, Europe’s largest nutritional organization.

Functional Medicine Perspective

One component of Functional Medicine focuses on how diet impacts health and function. When Functional Medicine practitioners examine the role of nutrition in chronic disease, they look at multiple systems, such as the digestive system, the immune system, and the detoxification system, because of the interconnections between those systems. For instance, because the gastrointestinal system houses 80% of the immune system, a person’s issues with immunity could be related to faulty digestion. Functional Medicine maintains that chronic disease is almost always preceded by a period of declining health in one or more of the body’s systems. One of the ways Functional Medicine seeks to address declining health is to provide the foods and nutrients needed to restore function. This is a cost effective, non-invasive intervention.

Fruits and Vegetables

While the health related benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is known to most, the scientific literature in the last nine to ten years has increasingly pointed out the influence of these food groups on a variety of diseases. For example, several studies, such as one recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show that the higher the consumption of fruit and vegetables, the lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease, including stroke.

In conclusion…

You need only to view the documentary movie “Super-Size Me” to understand how foods impact the body. In the movie, the director, Morgan Spurlock, chronicles the adverse health outcomes he experienced from eating nothing but fast-food for several weeks. He not only gained weight, he experienced alarming metabolic changes that put him at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Spurlock was eating foods that gave his body the wrong messages. In addition, the fast-food diet failed to provide the information necessary for normal metabolic function, which also contributed to the health changes. Morgan Spurlock is a good example of what happens when food breaks down into nutrients, which then impact the metabolic programming of cells and the homeostasis (balance) in the body.

There is a growing realization that the effects of nutrition on health and disease cannot be understood without a profound understanding of how nutrients act at this molecular level (Nature Reviews Genetics, 2003).

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