So if you’re serious about living #theEPIClife- a healthy, whole, balanced, and energetic life- then you know that just logging hours in the gym won’t cut it. As they say “You can’t out-train a bad diet” and they are right. What you put into your body has a huge impact on what you get out of it. This is why the second pillar of #theEPIClife is Holistic Nutrition.

Holistic Nutrition focuses on a natural approach to healthy eating that takes into account an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical health and lifestyle to determine what food choices can help you feel your best. Foods are judged less on what their caloric count is and more on its nutrient count. Holistic nutrition focuses on guiding people to consume foods in their most natural state, meaning no processing, no GMO food, no chemical additions, no long ingredients lists.

Now, this may surprise you, but even those that eat food holistically and are part of the 5% of people that eat right for their metabolism, eat organic, local and seasonally, will not get all the nutrients they need from food in order to be bulletproof bio-chemically in their body.

Below are the reasons why that is. A lot has changed with farming and our societies in the past 100 years, heck, in the past 10 years! We need to adapt to these changes if we want truly to live an EPIC life. As Troy Jones, documentary filmmaker, puts it perfectly, “In North America, we are overfed and undernourished”.

Modern agriculture
For the longest time, farming would run in cycle of seasons, fruits and veggies seeds would go in, crops would grow, be harvested, the soil would be turned and the next season new seeds would be planted. This way, the soil would continuously get different nutrients from the variety of plants making it healthy and able to give these varied nutrients back to the crops it was growing. Today, industrial farms dedicate an area for each crop so once it is harvested they simply replant it. When the same crop is repeatedly grown on the same soil it loses nutrients and obviously isn’t getting the varied supply it would from seasonal growing. This modern way of agriculture has been causing soil depletion so over time the plants have fewer and fewer nutrients to grow. So, fewer nutrients in the soil = fewer nutrients in our fruits and veggies = fewer nutrients absorbed in our bodies.

What if you source your produce from local farms to get the freshest product? While much better and healthier alternative, even locally sourced foods are not going to be enough for your nutrients requirements. Unfortunately, city pollution affect local farmers by contamination soil with pesticides and chemicals. A local farmer can be running their farm to the T but the sad truth is that city pollution can still find its way into the soil through wind or water. This is where buying organic can make a big difference. It takes seven years for a farm to get organic status and involves numerous soil testings BUT even then, nothing is perfect. Even organic farms are still at risk of pollution hurting their crops.

Our 21st-century culture sure is a stressed one so much so that we are desensitized to it. We have had countless conversations with clients who report their stress as a 5/10 but aren’t haven’t gotten more than 5 hours of sleep in years or, who report major anxiety and depression. We don’t even know what stress is anymore we are so used to it. When we are stressed, our bodies have to use more energy to ensure it functions properly which is why a lot of body function issues are related to stress. Stress manifests in many different ways on the outside but on the inside the first thing to go is often proper digestion. This of course affects how well we break down and assimilate the food we are eating. The key is absorption, if you are eating the greatest, most nutrient-dense food on the planet, but your digestive system is off, you will not absorb what is in the food. So not only do we need to ensure we get enough nutrients but we need to really take care of ourselves in order to get the full benefits from them.

We all have our go-tos. The meals that never let us down and that we can make without a recipe so we make them over, and over, and over, and over … the problem here is that you’re then getting the same nutrients over, and over, and over, and over. We end up overdosing on some nutrients and being extremely deficient in others.We forget that we need to have variety in our diets to get the different required nutrients. For example, there are 3,000+ varieties of potatoes in the world. Think of the nutrient makeup of all those different potatoes! Then, think about the one or two at most that you are exposed to - think about all those nutrients that you are missing by only eating one or two varieties. We do this with all our foods. We are truly limited in terms of what the grocery stores stock, yes limited. Make sure to mix it up and expose yourself to new foods and vegetables to get your nutrient count higher as you are also supplementing your deficiencies.

Fad Diets
Guess what low-calorie diets have? Low or non-existent nutrients! We need large amounts of nutrient-dense foods to fuel our bodies so when you’re constantly restricting your calorie intake it is that much easier to become malnourished. A focus on calories is an old way of thinking, one that is difficult to get people out of but once they understand that low calories often means dead food, we see a huge shift. Think of it this way - if the food item you are about to eat is dead, when it is inside of you it will steal life. We want to eat foods that bring life to us. That is why fresh food is so important. We want living food. Foods with active plant cells, active mitochondria! More life in our food = more life in us. And then, the rest that we cannot get through food, we supplement with natural food supplements that are derived from living things!

We’re Misinformed
Straight up, most people don’t realize what they’re putting in their bodies. It’s scary how much crap really is in our food. As a whole, we don’t recognize how much junk we consume and we often overestimate how much activity we get. Unfortunately, modern foods contain a lot of processed sugar that ends up cancelling out any nutritional value from the “healthy foods” we eat. (On this point, if you haven’t watched “That Sugar Film” on Netflix yet- go watch it! And read our movie review, Eating Healthy: The Fastest Way to Gain 15 lbs in Three Weeks- shameless plug!)

Okay, this isn’t a doomsday alert, it’s neutral information to be able to give you insight into the state of our food and our lives today. The good news is that there are wonderful, natural, Naturopathic-Grade supplements available on the market to get you to your optimal state.

The inspiration for this article came from our poll of people online asking if they believed they could get all their nutrients from food alone. 73% of people thought they could. We thought this info was majorly important to share.

There of course are ways to get all of the essential nutrients you need, it’s just a matter of knowing how. Aim for local, organic produce, get some variety into your meal plan, practice more self-care to reduce stress and find the right supplements to, you guessed it, supplement the nutrients you’re still not getting (because, trust us, you’re not getting them all). Also, understand that not all “pills” are created equal. See the irony in not popping vitamins, but being quick to go for the aspirin or the tylenol when you have a headache. Or, if you are not a medical pill popper, know that pills that are derived from food and specially formulated without additives, chemicals or additional questionable ingredients are not “pills” they are nutrient-dense vitamins. A nutritionist or naturopath can help you get on the right track if you’re not sure where to start.

If you want to learn more about the intricacies of holistic nutrition attend our workshop: Smart Food with Jessie Lindley. It’s the first workshop of The School of EPIC Series. Free for all members (plus one guest) and open to the public for cash donations to the #EPICkids Foundation.