We often hear about the importance of getting our micronutrients through eating fruits and veggies if we want to be healthy. We also hear that many of us are deficient in these micronutrients. I can understand why it can be difficult to buy into this idea. Personally, when I’m going through periods where I know damn well I’m not getting enough nutrients, I still look and feel just fine. So, if that’s the case, what’s the big deal?
Well, there is a really interesting theory out there called the ‘Triage Theory of Aging’ proposed by Dr Bruce Ames that explains why it’s a big deal. It suggests that just because we look and feel fine NOW, we won’t necessarily be this way in the FUTURE.
This premise is based on the fact that we need micro nutrients to help run our (very) complicated metabolism. We have 1000s of metabolic pathways and c22% of these require micronutrients as co-factors.
Some of these pathways are much more important for our short-term survival than others. One could make a strong case for our ‘biological’ purpose in life is to stay alive just long enough to reproduce and keep the species going. Living to be old and grey is not a priority.
Let’s say we eat a bowl of salad and we now have a little amount of micronutrient ‘X.’ Now let’s say that X is required for two pathways, one for short term survival and one for long term. Which pathway do you think X will be used for as a co-factor?
A great example of this is magnesium. Magnesium is required for both the production AND use of the energy ‘currency’ of the body, ATP. Without ATP, we’re screwed. Dead in 10 seconds.
Magnesium is also a co-factor for DNA damage repair. If we don’t repair DNA damage in the short term, it’s no big deal. However, if we do a lousy job of DNA damage repair over decades, we are dicing with cell mutations and cancer.
The moral of story; we might not feel the effects of nutrient deficiency, or even see them in the mirror, but we may well pay for it in the future.
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