Understanding Dietary Changes And The Importance

Question 2.1

A friend of yours has been told by her naturopath to cut out all salt and high sodium items from her diet, as well as tea and coffee, and to her horror she has been told to drink a minimum of 2 litres of plain water each day. As she has been very fond of tea, coffee and salt, and her naturopath has given her very little explanation beyond telling her that this is part of a cleansing regime, she is feeling somewhat irritated and undecided as to whether to follow this regime.

Take your friend through the issues involved, explain the importance of water and the sodium/potassium balance in the context of cleansing the tissues, and introduce her briefly to the concept of an alkaline biased diet. Given that she has to your knowledge always complained of being clogged with mucus and feeling bloated give your opinion as to whether she should commit herself to her naturopath’s regime.



Naturopathy holds that a disease is a result of disturbance of the function or the structure of any organ or part of the body. It is therefore the accumulation of foreign matters and dead cells that causes diseases. The accumulation of these foreign matters lowers the body’s vitality and the end result to decreased functionality of body tissues and organs. Whenever the body’s vitality is weakened, a naturopathic plan is in order so as to help the body regain good health. Naturopathic medicine seeks to promote ones health through the belief that the body has fully ability to heal itself. Therefore, a naturopath will identify the obstacles affecting the body’s vitality and advising the patient to cease from them or take them sparingly. This helps the body in the healing process thus moving towards optimal health. Once a naturopathic plan has been developed, I would encourage you to follow it, as the main goal of a naturopathic plan is to treat underlying diseases, which helps restore normal body functioning by promoting the bodies healing ability.

The naturopathic plan is also essential in disease prevention. For example, you are experiencing bloating, which results from dehydration hindering complete digestion. As a result, food clogs in the gut producing gas that result to bloating. One of the components in your naturopathic plan is adequate intake of water, which will prevent other illnesses caused by dehydration such as high blood pressure. Thus, it is in order to follow the naturopathic plan as the naturopath knows the future dangers and is after helping you live a healthier life in future. A naturopathic plan consists of right foods that will promote the body’s health, as it is believed that the right food is a medicine. In this case, your naturopath found increased water intake an optimal solution to your body’s health. It is advisable you take the recommended 2 litres of water every day as water has many health benefits in the body. One of such benefits is that water helps flush out toxins in the body: through sweating and urination, the body excretes toxins from the body that if left to accumulate would lead to kidney stones. Additionally, drinking enough water promotes digestion, which ensures all the food you take is digested. This helps prevent constipation and bloating. Taking enough water will also help regulate body temperature, which is achieved through sweating. Therefore, it is essential you take 2 litres of water every day as the naturopath recommended. The other requirement in your naturopathic plan is to cut out all salt and high sodium items from your diet. In as much as you were fond of salt, it is advisable you follow the naturopathic regime. Salt is disadvantageous to the body and reduced intake of it promote optimal body health. The kidneys help excrete excess sodium from the body but if you take too much salt, the kidneys will

not be able to work out effectively as it processes is aided by osmotic pressure. This implies that too much sodium will accumulate in your body, which adversely affects your health. The risks involved is an increase in blood volume, which requires the heart to pump harder, which results to an increase in blood pressure. Another disadvantage of taking too much salt is fluid retention in the body, which has adverse health effects such as swelling of feet, weight gain, and stiff joints among others. Reduced sodium intake in one way to control and treat fluid retention in the body, which is why you should follow the naturopathic plan.
Your naturopath also recommends that you cut out coffee and tea from your diet, which you should follow. There are many health effects of tea and coffee. For example, caffeine increases the blood sugar level, which lowers the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. Caffeine is also acidic and therefore increase stomach acid, which results to bloating and can cause stomach ulcers. Tannin slows the absorption of minerals like zinc and calcium and can cause constipation. Tea also hinders absorption of iron in the body. If you must take tea, I would suggest you take herbal tea as it helps counter the adverse effects of tea. For example, taking lemon tea helps counter the iron-binding effect, which promotes absorption of iron in the body. Other herbal teas such as ginger and elderberry tea help the body fight diseases through eliminating oxidative stress. Others such as cinnamon and peppermint tea help in the breakdown of fats, which prevents indigestion, vomiting, and bloating. Since bloating is common with you, I would recommend you cease from tea and coffee and take cinnamon and peppermint tea.
I would also recommend adequate intake of water as it helps maintain the sodium/potassium balance in the body. Sodium is the most common electrolyte in extracellular fluid and its main role is to control water distribution and fluid balance in the body. On the other hand, potassium is the main element in the intracellular fluid with a primary role of controlling cellular metabolism

and maintaining acid-base balance in the body. An increase in the amount of extracellular sodium results into a shift of intracellular fluid out of the cells causing cellular dehydration. Intake of water can be used to reverse this situation in that it lowers the amount of sodium in the extracellular fluid causing more water to be drawn into cells. On the other hand, high intake of sodium/salts results to high amount of sodium in the extracellular fluid, which implies more water is drawn out of intracellular cells, which results in dehydration and cell collapse in the adverse cases. Therefore, it is in order you take much water and cut out on salt intake for your body to maintain a healthy water and sodium balance.

Water also controls the process of osmolarity, ensuring the body has the right amount of sodium and potassium. When you are dehydrated, the body conserves water and excretes sodium to prevent the sodium concentration from rising. On the other hand, when there is excess water in your body, sodium is retained and water excreted to prevent sodium dilution. Maintaining this balance regulates blood pressure and the volume of blood.

At some point, your naturopath may encourage you to take an alkaline biased diet. This is a group of foods that can lower the acidity of body fluids thus helping treat diseases. An alkaline biased food discourages intake of grain and proteins since they produce phosphate and sulphate, which is detrimental to bone health. Instead, an alkaline biased diet encourages intake of vegetables and fruits because they have potassium-organic-anion content. Such foods will play a key role in ensuring your body has adequate water for all its functions.

Question 2.2

You have been asked by (another) friend to comment on her sudden enthusiasm for calcium supplements. She is in her mid-thirties and is worrying about the future of her bones. As well as suddenly doubling her intake of skimmed milk, she has taken to consuming dolomite in quantities of 2000mg per day with no other supplement. Take your friend through the issues involved, the benefits and otherwise of taking this supplement, and the best course of action to maintain good calcium levels in the body. Be sure to mention magnesium.


Calcium is essential in the body and plays a primary role in bone formation and maintenance. Calcium requirements in the human body vary based on age. For infants, high amounts of calcium are required for bone formation and they require about 400my a day. In children, enough calcium is needed for bone growth and they require about 120mg of calcium every day. During adolescence, there is increased need of calcium for bones to reach the peak bone mass. Thus, teenagers require between 500 to 1000mg of calcium every day. In adults, aged between 19 and 50 years, bone formation and resorption is balanced since bones have already attained peak bone mass. Although bone mass density is stable, women at the premenopausal age would require higher amounts of calcium and often, they require calcium supplements to slow down bone loss. The required amount of calcium at this age is 800mg every day.

As a nutritionist, I would say that it is normal to have increased urge for calcium at mid-thirties as this is the premenopausal age and it requires more calcium. During the premenopausal period, there is a decrease of estrogen production and an increased resoption of calcium from bones, which influences a reduction in bone density. Researchers have also established that bone loss is more rapid in the early years of menopause and 10 years before menopause. By you worrying about the future of your bones, it is advisable to have adequate calcium to slow down bone loss ensuring you will have string bones in late ages.

Skimmed milk is a better source of calcium that whole milk and therefore you are right to increase your intake of skimmed milk if you are seeking to raise the amount of calcium in your body. However, you need 1000mg of calcium a day, which can be served by 1 cup of skimmed milk. This means that you do not have to double your intake of skimmed milk unless you were taking less than half a cup every day. You therefore need to spread out your intake of skimmed milk, since the body cannot absorb more calcium than it requires.

Other than calcium, skimmed milk contains other nutrients such as protein, potassium, carbohydrates, and vitamin B6 among others. Therefore, by doubling you intake of skimmed milk, you are also increasing consumption of such nutrients, which could not be as beneficial as desired. To ensure better health outcomes, you can consider other sources of calcium, which include dark, leafy green vegetables and foods fortified with calcium such as orange juice.

Calcium supplements are also a great source of calcium required in bone formation and resorption. Your choice for dolomite supplement is good but the quantity you are taking it in is double the amount your body requires every day. You only require a maximum of 1000mg of calcium everyday therefore when you take quantities of 2000mg per day, you are taking more than required. The body will only absorb what it require and the extra 1000mg will not be useful. You are not taking dolomite with any other supplement, which is great but let us consider you have doubled you intake of skimmed milk. As earlier said, 1 cup of skimmed milk is enough to provide the body with 1000mg of calcium. This implies that if you take a cup of milk today, you

do not have to take calcium supplements since your body already has all it needs. Therefore I would recommend that you spread out intake of skimmed milk and dolomite to different days. When calcium accumulates in the body, it is no longer beneficial. The most common adverse effects of increased calcium intake are constipation, bloating, and increased risk of developing kidney stones. There is also evidence that continued intake of excess calcium adversely affects cardiovascular functions, which is why you need to maintain a healthy calcium intake. Excess intake of calcium can also lead to hypercalcemia, which is an electrolyte imbalance caused by too much calcium in the blood. When taken in the right amounts, calcium has other health benefits including aiding muscle contractions, transmission of neural impulses, blood clotting, and cell membrane permeability and stability.
There are various actions you can take to maintain a good calcium level in the body. Calcium is majorly excreted in urine, feces, and sweat. Therefore, increasing your water intake would help your sweat and urinate more, which would flush out excess calcium from the blood. At times, you may take the require 1000mg per day but find that they are not absorbed, which would result in increased calcium in the blood. This is because there are various factors that influence absorption of calcium such as physiological factors, stage of life, and medications among others. Additionally, lack of some nutrients in the body such as magnesium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and zinc decreases the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Magnesium is particularly important in absorption of calcium in that without sufficient magnesium, excess calcium is not correctly utilized. Magnesium helps keep calcium dissolved in the blood and therefore you should increase your intake of magnesium as well. This can be attained by increasing your intake of foods like green leafy vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts,

legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and dark chocolate among others. While increasing your intake of foods rich in magnesium, be sure to maintain good levels as this will not only promote bone health but also overall body health.

Question 2.3

Write about 1000words on the subject of iron, zinc, copper, and manganese, their functions in the body, and therapeutic uses.



Iron is known to play very crucial role in the human body. Only two states of iron are relevant in the body, which are iron in oxidized ferric form (Fe 3+) and iron in reduced ferrous form (Fe 2+). Iron catalyzes electron transfer in the body. Iron is only healthy is it is bound to protein or other organic molecules in the body. Iron has various core functions in the body including transportation of oxygen in the body and storage and use of oxygen by muscles. For blood transportation, blood has to be a component of hemoglobin in the red blood cells and for storage and usage of oxygen in muscles; iron has to be in the form of myoglobin. There are two forms of dietary iron, which are heme and non-heme iron. The sources for heme iron are meat, fish, and poultry while the sources for nonheme iron are legumes, cereals, vegetables, fruits, and pulses. Once consumed, heme iron is easily absorbed in the body since dietary factors have minimal influence of absorption. The absorption of non-heme iron is influenced by many dietary components, which implies that at any time, the amount of heme iron in the body is higher than that of non-heme iron. The body does not require high amount of iron

and the amount require varies among ages and stages of life. The group that requires the highest amount of iron is menstruating women (2.38mg per day) and teenage girls aged between 12 and 16 years who required 2.02 mg every day. The most use of iron in therapy is in treatment of anemia. Anemia is caused the lack of enough iron is the body and therefore boosting levels of iron in the body could help reverse this condition. Iron supplements are available to people suffering from anemia. The recommendable amount of iron intake for adults is 150-200mg per day, when treating anemia. Large doses of iron are toxic, which implies that patients should be careful with the quantity in the advised supplement.


Zinc is required in the human body for the immune system to work correctly. This is so because zinc helps in cell division, wound healing, cell growth as well as in breakdown of carbohydrates. The dietary sources of zinc are meat based products including chicken, beef, lamb, oyster, blackfish, and rabbit meat among others. Zinc can also be obtained from mushrooms, edible fungus, day lily flowers, and dates among other vegetables. However, fruits and vegetables are not a good source of zinc and therefore one should rely on the other mentioned foods f zinc. Lactating mothers and pregnant women require the highest quantities of zinc, which are between 13 and 14 mg per day. Most of the consumed zinc is absorbed in the body except after long term exposure to 100 to 300 mg of zinc every day, which becomes toxic. Zinc is used in treatment of various conditions such as diabetes, wound healing, as an antioxidant, promotion of the functions of the central nervous system, and in treatment of skin diseases.


Copper is transited as a metal, which implies it is requires in a number of biological processes in the body such as respiration, biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, metabolism, and detoxification. Copper is readily available in the soil and is taken up by plants as they grow, which implies that plants are a good source of copper. The major sources of dietary copper are whole grains, shellfish, nuts, beans, organ meet, and potatoes. Copper could also be obtained from dark leafy greens and dried fruits such as black pepper, cocoa, and prunes. Normally, humans do not require high amount of copper except infants, which implies that we can get enough copper from the foods we eat. The groups requiring high quantities of copper are pregnant and lactating mothers, which is up to 1300mg every day. When taken in large amounts, copper is toxic and can cause Wilson disease, which is caused by availability of copper in the brain, and liver. Excess copper also increases the risk of developing hepatitis, brain disorder, and kidney problems. The major therapeutic use of copper is in treatment of osteoporosis: when used with other nutrients such as manganese, zinc, and calcium, it slows the rate of bone loss. Copper is also effective for treating anemia caused by copper deficiency.


Manganese is necessary for a number of functions in the body. Manganese activates some enzymes in the body promoting different body functions such as processing of cholesterol, proteins, and carbohydrates. The sources of manganese include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, tea, and leafy green vegetables. In most cases, manganese is used with calcium for treatment of weak bones and painful joints. Manganese is also essential is treatment of premenstrual syndrome, manganese deficiency, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Further, manganese can be applied on the skin for wound healing.

Manganese is not required in high quantities and therefore available in our diet. Additionally, most of nutritional supplements contain manganese, which provides the amount required by the body. In general, the tolerable amount of manganese in the body is 11mg per day, which only applies to adults. However, pregnant and lactating mothers should lower their intake of manganese up to 9 mg per day. Consuming more than 11mg of manganese is toxic. When taken in excess and over long durations, manganese can cause liver disease. Additionally, people suffering from iron-deficiency anemia have more manganese absorbed in their bodies, which is not healthy. Thus, such persons need to control the amount of manganese they take since their body does not have the ability to control its absorption. To date, no manganese supplements have been developed in that the amount available in diet is enough for the body. Additionally, the purposes serves by manganese can be served by other nutrients such as calcium, zinc, and copper.

Question 2.4

Someone (lets call him Tony) has come to you asking for advice. He is complaining of very low energy levels, and is periodically plagued by involuntary twitching, his diet is not ideal, while he is mostly a vegetarian, he tends to avoid whole grains, drinks large quantities of coffee, and smokes 20 cigarettes per day. He is not really feeling ready to make radical changes in his diet/smoking and has already put himself on the cheapest multi-mineral and vitamin supplement he can find. He wants your opinion.

Place yourself in the role of a nutritional Therapist and answer by writing a Nutritional Advice Plan- covering each point fully with reasoning for your suggestions. In the plan, take Tony through his situation step-by-step, first of all looking at his diet and smoking and the likely mineral and vitamin depletions that are occurring, and then suggesting individual minerals and vitamins that would be of help, explaining why. Finally try and encourage a few modest dietary changes by stressing the likely benefits.


First, Tony is a vegetarian, which implies that his diet is free from animal products. When you chose not to consumer animal products and meat products, then it is advisable to take supplements of the nutrients that the not contained in a vegetarian diet. One of such nutrient is calcium, which is essential in bone formation and resortion. Additionally, a vegetarian diet is low in proteins and energy. Meat and meat products are a major source of energy, which is the reason Tony has low energy levels. Meat is a major source of protein and protein is an essential source of amino acids that promote growth and repair of tissues as well as enzyme synthesis. By avoiding meat and meat products, Tony has reduced amount of amino acids thus slow growth of tissues and reduced enzyme synthesis. Red meat is a good source of zinc, iron, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A, which implies that Tony has reduced intake of these micronutrients. Second, Tony tends to avoid whole grain. Whole grains are majorly composed of starch, which is a major source of energy, which is another reason Tony has low energy levels. Whole grains also have a high concentration of B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and iron, which implies that Tony has reduced intake of these minerals and vitamins.

Third, Tony takes large quantities of coffee. Coffee contains caffeine, which has adverse health effects when taken in large quantities. Intake of high quantities of caffeine results in depletion of some nutrients in the body such as vitamin B6 and interfere with absorption of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins. Among the side effects of increased intake of caffeine are anxiety, irritability, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and muscle twitching. The intake of large quantities of coffee explains why Tony experiences involuntary twitching.
Finally, Tony takes 20 cigarettes a day. Evidence reveals that smoking adversely affects the way our bodies use minerals and vitamins. Nicotine and other toxic substances not only drain vitamins and minerals but also hinder absorption of these nutrients. For example, it has been established that a single cigarette drains the body 25mg of Vitamin C. Therefore, with 20 cigarettes every day, it is possible that Tony does not have Vitamin C in his body. Smoking is also known to interfere with absorption of vitamin D, thus hindering effective absorption of calcium. This implies that Tony’s body is not able to effectively use the available calcium.
From the above information, we can identify the nutrients that are deficient in Tony’s body. These include calcium, proteins, zinc, iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Additionally, Tony’s diet had hindered absorption of vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Other than choosing to take a multi-mineral and vitamin supplement, there are foods that Tony should consider to provide him with the required nutrients as well as promote absorption of the available nutrients.

First, Tony needs calcium as his diet is deficient of calcium and the little that is there is not properly absorbed due to high intake of caffeine. One of the side effects of lack of calcium is hypocalcemia, whose major symptom is nerve and muscle spasms and twitches. Given that Tony is already complaining of involuntary twitching, it is evident he needs calcium. To promote the body’s ability to absorb calcium, Tony needs to reduce intake of coffee while increasing his consumption of foods rich in vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and magnesium to ensure the consumed calcium is effectively absorbed into the body.

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Second, Tony needs different minerals and vitamins that will help boost his energy levels. The major source of energy is carbohydrates followed by lipids, and then proteins. Therefore, tony will need to increase his intake of these nutrients. Additionally, foods rich in zinc, iron, vitamin A, Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and Vitamin C would also be of help to Tony. These will be beneficial to the body as they provide essential nutrients while assisting in absorption of carbohydrates and proteins among other minerals. For example, vitamin B6 is essentially important in that it aids metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This will play an active role in helping Tony gain higher energy levels.

Recommendable Dietary Changes

Given that Tony is not ready to take radical dietary and smoking changes, it is essential he takes supplements as well as gradual dietary changes. The first recommendable dietary change is intake of skimmed milk, which is an excellent source of calcium. However, it will not be of any need to take calcium, which is not absorbed in the body, which underscores the need of taking another nutrient that will promote absorption of calcium. Considering that Tony is not willing to instantly quit smoking, he should consume foods rich in Vitamin D, C and K as well as magnesium. Good sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese. This implies that Tony has gradually quit his vegetarian diet.

Second, Tony needs to embrace intake of whole grains, as they are a major source of energy. Proteins and lipids would also be necessary in increasing his energy levels, which can be obtained from meet and meet products. However, for effective absorption of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, Tony needs to increase his intake of vitamin B6. Foods rich in B6 include pork, wholegrain cereals, fish, poultry, and eggs.

While taking the above foods, Tony needs to start lowering his smoking and coffee consumption. Modestly, it is not recommendable that Tony quits smoking and coffee at once but he can start reducing the quantity. For example, in the first week of observing this nutrition plan, Tony should take 15 cigarettes every day and lower his coffee consumption with 20%. In the second, week he could further lower his coffee and smoking rates all the way to the time he feels he can do without smoking and with minimal coffee. In future, he should also consider herbal coffee, as it has optimized health benefits as compared to normal coffee.

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